London has four main airports: Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, and London City. Most international flights arrive and depart from Heathrow, Gatwick, and Stansted, while London City Airport offers internal and European flights. The quickest and easiest way to travel to and from the airport is to take the train. Heathrow, Gatwick, and Stansted all have their own rail networks offering the shortest travel times.
- The Stansted Express departs from Liverpool Street train station and takes approximately 47 minutes.
- The Gatwick Express departs from London Victoria and takes approximately 30 minutes.
- The Heathrow Express leaves from Paddington and takes approximately 15 minutes.
There are up to four trains per hour for each service but it is always best to book in advance at the train station.
London City Airport has its own stop on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) which can be accessed from Canning Town station.
Other options include taxis (ideally pre-booked) and National Express coaches.
London’s transportation system is extensive and very dependable — there’s an incredible network of trains, tubes, buses, and boats to suit all needs. Consequently, travel times around the city are short; the quickest mode of transportation is the London Underground, also known as “the tube.”
London’s underground network is easy to navigate. There are 11 tube lines in total, each one interconnecting to enable travelers to reach their destination smoothly. The system is divided into nine zones with a different price for each zone you travel to. An Oyster card or a contactless bank card are the cheapest and easiest modes of payments when traveling through London. For example, to travel in zone one with cash would cost around £4.90 compared to £2.40 with an Oyster card or contactless payment. Oyster cards and daily travelcards can be purchased at most train and underground stations throughout the city. Be sure to pick up a London Underground tube map when you arrive at the airport.
London’s iconic red double decker buses are also a great way to get around the city. Costing only £1.50 per journey or £4.50 for a day pass, this is by far the cheapest means of transportation and a good way to tour the city. Bus stops are located frequently throughout the city and can also be found outside most train and tube stations. Be warned, though, as London has a lot of traffic and journey times can be unpredictable. The buses are cashless and only accept Oyster and contactless bank cards so make sure you have enough money on your card before heading to the bus stop.
If you are in need of a taxi, look out for the large black vehicles with a “TAXI” sign on the top. All taxis in the city charge by meter. Uber is also widely used.
If you wish to cycle around London, Santander Cycles offers affordable bike hire. The bikes are located all around the city with 750 docking stations that are easy to spot. Just head up to the docking station and follow the instructions on the screen. Cash is not accepted as payment so be sure to bring your bank card. Alternatively, download the app to manage your payments and journeys. It costs £2 to access a bike and the first 30 minutes of every journey are free. After the first 30 minutes, it will cost £2 for every further 30 minutes.