Transit Options from Heathrow Airport to London
Once landing at the bustling LHR Airport, you’ll most probably be anxious to reach your final destination in London. Lying 16 miles/26km from the city center, London Heathrow Airport is well-connected to almost every part of London. As far as rides from LHR to London are concerned, the alternatives are various. From comfortable and efficient airport taxis (black cabs and minicabs) to fast trains (Heathrow Express and Elizabeth Line) and from handy Heathrow airport car rentals and premium private airport transfers to low-cost coaches and buses and affordable subway lines, finding the best transit option is a matter of perspective. Thus, after defining your requirements, priorities, and budget, you should be able to settle on your ideal transit mode from Heathrow to Central London.
|Options||Price (£)||Price (€)||Price ($)||Duration|
|Night Bus||1.75||2||2.10||70 min|
Heathrow to London by Taxi
Heathrow airport taxis are considered one of the most popular and convenient transit options from London Heathrow to downtown London. The iconic black cabs and the private-hire minicabs are ideal for door-to-door journeys. Even though being costly and dependent on the often heavy traffic in London, Heathrow airport taxis provide top-rated services.
Verily, the spacious and purpose-made black cabs (usually accommodating up to 5 passengers) can be pre-booked or hired from the airport taxi ranks, located outside the Arrivals area of each terminal. Thus, the T2 taxi stand lies opposite bus stop 12, and the taxi rank in T3 is next to next to bus stops 16-22. On the other hand, the T4 official taxi stand is to be found on the Ground level, accessible once exiting the Arrivals doors, and the T5 lies opposite bus stops 10-12. London black cabs (also called hackney carriages) are all accessible. What’s more, despite their name, they aren’t always black. In any case, they have the “Taxi” sign on their roof, a white license plate displaying essential cab info, and a yellow or green license sticker on their windshields, while their drivers must wear a yellow or green badge as well.
During rush hours, you may find a waiting line in the airport’s taxi stands.
Alternatively, the pre-booked minicabs can’t be hailed from the taxi ranks. Conversely, passengers having booked a minicab must head to the Short-term Parking Lot of their terminal (waiting time there is added to the final fare). Licensed minicabs have a Transport for London license disk on their windows, while their drivers must wear their private-hire ID.
Both black taxi and minicab drivers pass through regular medical examinations and are background checked.
The fares and prices of all Heathrow airport taxis (black cabs and minicabs) are somewhat similar. As a matter of fact, minicabs are slightly less expensive and offer set prices, whereas black cabs are metered based on a rather complicated system. Some taxi drivers may negotiate a fixed price. Still, if the taximeter displays a lower fare, that’s what the passenger ought to pay.
The Heathrow black cabs charge in an overcomplicated way. In general terms, the flag fare (and the minimum charge) is 3.80£/4.40€/4.70$. Airport journeys come with a 3.60£/4.10€/4.40$ fee, while luggage brings no extra charge. Thus, the 50-minute ride from Heathrow Airport to London should cost 56£/64.50€/69$ under normal traffic conditions and up to 105£/121€/130$ during rush hours, when traveling time can be up to even 100 minutes. Respectively, the minicab fares are slightly cheaper.
Heathrow to London by Train
You’ll have two options for your rail ride from LHR to London: the 2022 value-for-money Elizabeth Line and the fast Heathrow Express. No matter which Heathrow airport train line you may choose, your journey to downtown London will be unaffected by the traffic levels.
The fast, modern, and efficient Elizabeth Line departs from all LHR terminals. Verily, it stops at the London Underground Station lying within a 10-minute walking distance from terminals 2 and 3, and at the T4 and T5 Stations located underneath the terminals’ Arrivals levels. It needs around 40-50 minutes to reach downtown London.
Elizabeth Line operates from 05:21 am (05:54 am on Sundays) to 00:12 am from the T2/T3 Station and from 05:30 am (06:03 on Sundays) to 11:47 pm from the T4 Station. Finally, it departs from T5 from 05:15 am (05:49 am on Sundays) to 00:07 am.
Trains run on a 30-minute frequency from T5 (with Shenfield as their final destination) and every 30 minutes from T4 (with Abbey Wood as their terminus). Moreover, they pass every 15 minutes from the T2/T3 Station heading to Abbey Wood and every 30 minutes traveling to Shenfield (both routes call at the central London stations).
In general terms, London is divided into 9 public transit zones. London Heathrow Airport is located in Zone 6, whereas downtown London is Zones 1 and 2. On the other hand, the most central stops of the Elizabeth Line are Paddington Station, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, and Liverpool Street. The ticket from Heathrow Airport to downtown costs 12.20£/14.10/15$ when the alighting stop is Paddington and 13.30£/15.40€/16.40$ when disembarking at Liverpool Street. The time of the day (peak hours vs off-peak hours) doesn’t affect the cost of the ride.
As far as the payment methods are concerned, you’ll have various options in your hands as well:
- Paper Tickets
Paper tickets are available from the airport ticket machines and ticket offices. The ticket desks lying in the train stations are open from 05:00 am to around midnight. Although paper tickets are a convenient payment method, they are the most expensive one.
- Oyster Cards
Transport for London Oyster Cards charge based on the “pay as you go” system. Alternatively, they can be topped up with Travelcards. They are rechargeable cards, costing 7£/8.10€/8.65$, that can be used in all London Public transit modes and be bought from the airport’s Ticket Stops, the automatic vendors, the ticket offices, and the T2/T3 Visitor Center operating from 09:00 am to 04:30 pm only on weekdays.
The “pay as you go” system allows passengers to pay for their tickets up to a daily cap. Daily caps are calculated based on the traveling zones, the traveling time, the time of the day, etc. Once reaching the daily cap, you are no longer charged for your rides (until 04:29 am the next day). To make full use of the “pay as you go system”, you’ll have to touch the Oyster Card in at the yellow card readers before hopping on the Elizabeth Line and out before leaving your destination station. Otherwise, you risk getting charged the full fare for rides between Zones 1-9 (even though Heathrow is located in Zone 6).
Oyster Cards can be used by more than one passenger, yet not for the same ride. What’s more, children younger than 11 travel for free (4 children for each paying adult), and kids between 11 and 15 years of age can add a discount to their Oyster Card. You can always ask the airport’s personnel to do so.
- London Travelcards
London Travelcards aren’t but paper tickets that can be bought exclusively online (from the VisitBritain Shop) and be mailed to the buyer’s home address before the onward flight to LHR Airport. They offer unlimited public transit rides and a 33% discount on the Thames Clippers River Bus. Depending on your plans, you can buy a 1, 2, or 3-day card. In any case, to travel from London Heathrow to downtown London, you’ll have to buy a Travelcard valid for Zones 1-6. A 1-day Travelcard for Zones 1-6 is priced at 15.20£/17.60€/18.80. If you decide to top it up to an Oyster Card, you can use it for journeys inside Zones 1-6 and travel to Zones 7-9, benefitting from the Oyster Card’s perks.
- Visitor Oyster Cards
Travelers visiting London usually opt for a Visitor Oyster Card for their ride from LHR to London. Visitor Oyster Cards are rechargeable. However, you can top them up with money but not with Travelcards. They cost 5£/5.80€/6.20$ and must be bought online and delivered to your home address. They offer out-of-charge rides with all of London’s public transit means and discounts to various shops and restaurants. They can be loaded with any amount of money ranging from 15£/17.40€/18.60$ (the actual credit will be 10£/11.60€/12.40$ if removing the 5£/5.80€/6.20$ card’s price) to 55£/63.70€/68$ (with an actual credit of 50£/58€/62$).
If you are planning to use the city’s public transit system a lot for 2 days, topping the Visitor Oyster Card with 15£/17.40€/18.60$ should be enough.
With a Visitor Oyster Card, you can also benefit from “the pay as you go” charge system. Therefore, you should always remember to touch it in and out.
- Contactless Payments
The easiest payment method for your Elizabeth Line ride from Heathrow Airport to downtown is contactless payments. Nevertheless, you should use the same device for all contactless payments and touch in and out before and after your train ride to benefit from the “pay as you go” fare system.
Heathrow Express is the fastest way to get from Heathrow Airport to London. It is equipped with power sockets, TVs, and luggage space and offers free Wi-Fi. Heathrow Express leaves from the T2/T3 Train Station and the T5 Rail Station, heading to Paddington Station in the city center. It runs from 05:20 am to midnight at a 15-minute frequency (every 30 minutes after 10:00 pm). Its traveling time from LHR to Paddington is just 15 minutes from terminals 2 and 3 and 21 minutes from T5.
Thus, Heathrow Express is faster than Elizabeth Line. However, it is also pricier. Indeed, the ticket from Heathrow to Central London costs 25£/29€/31$ if bought from the airport’s automatic machines and the ticket kiosks lying in the terminals Arrivals halls, and train stations. However, if you opt for a well-in-advance booking, you can find tickets at an even 5.50£/6.40€/6.80$ price. Please note that even though express single tickets are charged differently during peak and off-peak times, return tickets and tickets reserved in advance are the same, no matter the time of the day. You can use Oyster Cards for your Heathrow Express rides. Still, daily caps won’t apply for those journeys. Contactless payments are accepted as well.
Our Tip: Children up to 15 years of age travel out of charge.
Heathrow to London by Subway
Heathrow airport subway (Picadilly Line) runs from the Heathrow Terminal 2 and 3 Station, lying 10 minutes from the two LHR terminals on foot, and the T4 and T5 London Underground Stations, located below each terminal’s Arrivals area. Picadilly Line runs every 5-10 minutes, with more frequent routes during rush hours. Its traveling time from London Heathrow to downtown London is around 50 minutes. Nevertheless, journeys from T5 are slightly longer (3-5 minutes). Heathrow Underground’s timetable varies depending on the day of the week. In detail:
|Heathrow Terminal||Monday - Thursday||Friday||Saturday||Sunday|
|T2/T3||05:12 am - 11:45 pm||05:12 am - 03:07 am||03:17 am - 03:07 am||03:17 am - 11:20 pm|
|T4||05:02 am - 11:35 pm||05:02 am - 11:37 am||05:06 am - 11:38 am||05:42 am - 10:37 pm|
|T5||05:22 am - 11:42 pm||05:22 am - 03:04 am||03:14 am - 03:04 am||03:14 am - 11:25 pm|
Travelers arriving late at night at LHR Airport (not on Fridays and Saturdays when the subway runs around the clock) can take the Night Bus N9.
Picadilly Line is much cheaper than Heathrow airport trains. Still, if settling on an Oyster Card, Travelcard, or contactless payment, its price is even lower. Overall, you can choose one of the following payment methods:
- Paper Tickets
Single paper tickets are available from the ticket offices (open from 05:00 am to midnight) and the automatic machines scattered around the Heathrow terminals. The paper ticket for the ride from LHR to London costs 6.70£/7.80€/8.30$.
- Oyster Cards
Alternatively, you can use a Transport for London Oyster Card for your LHR to London journey. Please keep in mind that London Underground fares differ depending on the time of the day. Thus, during rush hours (6:30 am to 09:30 am and 04:00 pm to 07:00 pm), fares are higher. However, journeys from outside-zone-1 stations to stations inside Zone 1 are charged as off-peak from 04:00 pm to 07:00 pm, even on weekdays.
You should remember to always touch in and out the Oyster Card. Otherwise, you’ll be charged for a ride between Zones 1-9. Overall, your ride to downtown London will cost you 5.60£/6.50€/7$.
Our Tip: If traveling with kids aged 5-10, you can also buy a Zip Oyster Photocard, offering unlimited public rides. Still, it requires a photo and charges 10£/11.60€/12.40$ for administration fees. On the other hand, 4 kids up to 11 years of age for each adult travel for free anyway.
- London Travelcards
Travelcards are also accepted at London Underground. Hence you can buy a 15.20£/17.60€/18.80$ 24-hour Travelcard and be charged 5.60£/6.50€/7$ for your airport journey.
- Visitor Oyster Cards
Visitor Oyster Cards are another alternative for rides from Heathrow to London. If you opt for a Visitor Oyster Card, you’ll pay 5£/5.80€/6.20$ to purchase the card and 5.60£/6.50€/7$ for your subway journey. Please remember to touch in and out the card!
- Contactless Payments
Last but not least, you can use your bank cards, mobile phones, smart watches, etc., and pay contractless for your transit. However, when touching in and out, you’ll have to use the same device.
Our Tip 1: Some London Underground Stations don’t have lifts while cars aren’t equipped with luggage space and tend to get overcrowded during peak hours. Hence, Picadilly Line isn’t recommended for passengers traveling with heavy luggage or having mobility problems.
Our Tip 2: Some of the most central Picadilly Line stations (depending on your exact journey’s end) are: Gloucester Road, Green Park, Picadilly Circus, Convent Garden, and King’s Cross.
Heathrow to London by Shuttle/Bus
Various private coaches and local bus lines link London Heathrow Airport to downtown. Coaches are more expensive yet more convenient and comfortable, whereas local buses are the cheapest alternative for rides from Heathrow to Central London.
The Heathrow airport bus stations are to be found in all terminals. Heathrow Central Bus Station is linked to terminals 2 and 3 via underground walkways, while the T4 Bus Station is located outside the Arrivals, and the T5 lies on the Arrivals level, above the London Underground Station.
If you are planning to travel via a Heathrow airport shuttle, you should make your pick. Hence, you can travel on a National Express Route to Victoria Station in the city center. The duration of your ride will range from 45 minutes to 90 minutes (under normal traffic conditions), depending on the chosen line. The National Express Buses run approximately from 01:00 am to midnight every 30-45 minutes. They are all kitted with luggage space and leather seating and offer free Wi-Fi. The cost of the transit from Heathrow Airport to London is around 8£-10£/9.30€-11.60€/10$-12.50$. In-advance bookings usually come with better fares.
Moreover, the Megabus Coaches also head to Victoria. Verily, the spacious M3, M7, and M10 Lines, equipped with toilets and charging outlets, need around 45-50 minutes to reach their terminus. Their prices start from 16£/18.60€/20$. Please note that Megabus Lines also run at night. However, their routes are scarcer.
On the other hand, local buses are the most low-cost solution for rides from Heathrow Airport to downtown. However, you’ll have to change between 2 or 3 bus lines to reach London city center, making your journey time-consuming and tedious, especially if traveling with lots of luggage. Therefore, local buses aren’t recommended for rides from LHR to London. Still, if you arrive at Heathrow late at night, you can use the Night Line N9, traveling from Heathrow Central Bus Station and T5 Bus Station to Trafalgar Square. The bus runs from 11:40 pm to 04:50 am at a 30-minute frequency. It needs around 70 minutes to get downtown and costs just 1.75£/2€/2.10$. You can use an Oyster Card (and a Visitor Oyster Card) and contactless payments to pay for your fare. As long as you touch in the Oyster Card or the device used for the contactless payment (touching out isn’t necessary for bus rides), you’ll benefit from the “pay as you go” system and the Hopper fare.
What is the Hopper fare? The Hopper fare allows you to make unlimited, even not consecutive bus journeys for one hour, paying only the adult fare (1.75£/2€/2.10$). Should you want to use another public means of transit in the meanwhile, you’ll be charged for this in-between ride.
Travelcards are also an option to pay for your bus ride from Heathrow Airport to downtown. You should keep in mind that the bus fare isn’t affected by the traversed zones. Hence, you can even opt for the Travelcard for Zones 1-4.
Our Tip 1: Children up to 11 years old don’t pay for their bus rides. Moreover, kids between 11 and 15 can add a discount to their Oyster Cards (the airport’s staff will happily do so).
Our Tip 2: You can’t pay cash for your Heathrow airport bus journey.
Car Rental from Heathrow Airport to London
Although car rental isn’t recommended for travelers planning on mostly exploring downtown, it is the ideal way to visit London’s surrounding regions and other UK locations. Verily, London’s public transit network is extremely efficient. Still, public rides to long-distance destinations entail a significant amount of hassle and are time-consuming. On the other hand, London taxis are considered rather expensive. Conversely, Heathrow airport car rental companies offer tempting deals and prices. As a matter of fact, early bookings secure better prices and more available vehicles.
If you do opt for a London car rental, you should keep in mind that you’ll have to pay the Congestion Charge and the ULEZ fee to get downtown. The 15£/17.40€/18.60$ Congestion Charge applies for rides to Central London from 7:00 am to 06:00 pm on weekdays and from 12:00 pm to 06:00 pm on weekdays and public holidays. The ULEZ fee applies for the moment (it is expected to get expanded to all London boroughs on August 2023) to the zones within the South and North Circular Roads. The charge per day is 12.50£/14.50€/15.50$.
Your ride from Heathrow Airport to downtown will last around 50 minutes under light traffic. Still, the common London traffic jams may raise that time to even more than 90 minutes. Once reaching your destination, you’ll have to park the vehicle. It is advisable to check if your hotel offers parking services as parking in Central London is challenging. In fact, you won’t find free street parking, whereas paid street parking is difficult and pricey. In any case, you should note that parking in zones marked with red stripes is forbidden. During non-peak hours (from 06:30 pm to 08:30 am, on Sundays, and during holidays), street parking is free. Still, the parking spaces are limited. As a result, it is almost out of the question. On the other hand, you’ll find plenty of private car parks around the downtown area.
Heathrow Airport Transfers from LHR to London
Heathrow airport transfers are the most lavish way to travel from Heathrow to London. With a Heathrow airport transfer, you relish tailored rides, welcome services, and many side amenities. Your driver will be waiting at the Arrivals level, ready to take your luggage and safely store it in the vehicle’s trunk. During your door-to-door transfer, you can ask all your questions. Verily, all drivers are area-knowledgeable and will give you useful tips on how to make the most of your time in London. On the other hand, private airport transfers are somewhat costlier than black cabs and minicabs. Still, they offer set fares. Moreover, Heathrow hosts plenty of providers. Thus, if you search and compare your options, you’ll find the ideal Heathrow airport transfer service for you at an affordable price.
How do I get from Heathrow Airport to downtown London?
LHR Airport is adequately linked to the city center. Thus, if you are wondering about the available options for your ride from London Heathrow to downtown London, you’ll have plenty in your hands. Airport taxis, Heathrow airport transfers, and car rentals are the most convenient ones, whereas Heathrow Express, Elizabeth Line, and Picadilly Line offer fast and affordable journeys unaffected by the notorious London traffic jams. Last but not least, many coaches leave LHR heading to Victoria.
What is the easiest way to get from Heathrow to London?
Heathrow airport taxis and private transfers are the most convenient ways to get from London Heathrow to downtown London. Although dependent on the traffic conditions, they offer door-to-door services and minimize the journey’s hassle.
How much is a train from Heathrow to London?
The ticket for the ride with the Elizabeth Line from Heathrow to London costs 12.20£/14.10/15$ (to Paddington Station) and 13.30£/15.40€/16.40$ to Liverpool Street. On the other hand, the faster Heathrow Express is priced at 25£/29€/31$. Nevertheless, if you book your ticket early in advance, you’ll find cheaper fares. As a matter of fact, you may find available tickets priced as much as 5.50£/6.40€/6.80$.
How much does it cost to get from Heathrow to city?
A London black taxi and a minicab charge from 56£/64.50€/69$ to 105£/121€/130$ for their ride from LHR to London, whereas Heathrow airport transfers are somewhat costlier. On the other hand, Elizabeth Line is priced at around 12.20£/14.10/15$ and Heathrow Express at 25£/29€/31$ (it is much cheaper if booked in advance). Moreover, a Picadilly Line ride costs 5.60£/6.50€/7$ (if not bought on the spot), and shuttles to Victoria charge from 8£/9.30€/10$ to 16£/18.60€/20$.