There are 5 major airports serving Greater London. Here we walk you through the fastest and most cost-effective options for getting from the airports to Central London when travelling as a family.
For more on how to get around within Central London please head over to see our “How to get around London” guide.
How to get from Heathrow to Central London
There are many options to get from Heathrow to Central London with kids. Heathrow is situated to the South West of London and has five terminals.
- The quickest and easiest is the Heathrow Express train. If you are transporting a group, however, the costs can add up. Arriving into Paddington Station, you will still have to make the connection to your hotel.
- The cheapest way is to catch the Tube. The Piccadilly Line runs through popular tourist areas such as Kensington and the West End through to Covent Garden. Getting suitcases and kids up and down the escalators and lifts isn’t always straightforward.
- Catch a black cab from the taxi rank. The most convenient door to door service but not the cheapest.
- Arrange a private hire transfer. Probably the best option for travelling with kids and luggage. Drivers will wait in the arrivals hall for you and deliver you door-to-door.
How to get from Gatwick to central London
Gatwick is actually quite far south of London, outside of the M25 (generally used as the marker for Greater London). There are two terminals, North and South connected by a free Monorail. The train station is connected to the South Terminal.
- The Gatwick Express train takes approximately 30 minutes and is the quickest and most effective way to Victoria station in Central London, but not necessarily the cheapest. Trains leave every 15 minutes and run non-stop. You can book tickets and check train times using the Gatwick Express App. Note Oyster Cards are now accepted on the Gatwick Express.
- A cheaper but often equally speedy option is to use Southern trains. These are ordinary commuter trains so could be crowded at peak times, but otherwise, run on the same train line at the Gatwick Express with pretty much the same frequency. They take about 5 to 15 minutes longer as they make a few stops, though you can get lucky as some services only make two stops at East Croydon and Clapham Junction.
- There is also a train service called Thameslink that runs from Gatwick via London’s business district, stopping at London Bridge and Blackfriars, through to St Pancras, even as far as Luton Airport. You can use your Oyster Card on this service too.
- National Express run a bus service to Victoria Station. It is cheaper than the train but takes longer (approximately 1 hour 15 minutes).
- A black cab from Gatwick is exceptionally expensive. For a door-to-door service, use a pre-booking private hire vehicle.
(NB if you are only transitting from one London airport to another, National Express bus is your best direct option with several services per hour between Gatwick and Heathrow).
How to get from Luton Airport to Central London
London Luton Airport is around 55km north of Central London. Many budget airlines use this smaller airport as their London base.
- Train services don’t connect directly to the airport but a shuttle bus runs frequently to take passengers to Luton Parkway station (approximately a 10-minute journey), where trains operate several times an hour to St Pancras Station. After a 25-minute journey, you can connect to the Tube or Eurostar services.
- There are 3 different bus services from Luton into Central London. They are cheaper than the train but can take 60 to 90 minutes depending on traffic. These are National Express, Terravision and EasyBus.
- With a group, a private transfer service may be the cheaper option.
How to get from Stansted Airport to Central London
Stansted Airport is located 64km north-east of London. Again this is a popular choice for mostly European budget airlines.
- The Stansted Express train is the quickest route to Central London leaving every 15 minutes and arriving into Liverpool Street Station. The journey takes 47 minutes. Children under 5 travel free and 5-15 year olds pay a child fare.
- National Express buses run a couple of different routes into Central London via both Liverpool Street and Victoria Station.
- Terravision runs bus services to Victoria Station, Liverpool and Stratford.
- EasyBus runs a service terminating at Baker Street.
- Buses run the risk of being delayed by London’s heavy congestion but are cheaper per person than the train.
- Black cabs do not run from the airport but can be caught from the city. The cheaper alternative though is to group book a private hire vehicle.
How to get from City Airport to Central London
City Airport, situated only 10km east of the city, is a popular choice for many business travellers. As the runway here is only short, it only supports smaller jets on European routes.
- Docklands Light Rail (DLR) is the easiest way into town. Regular services run every hour throughout the day. It’s only 7 minutes to Canning Town station where you can transfer to the Tube system, or the DLR terminates at Bank in the heart of the City.
- Local bus services operate to Stratford where you can connect with the Tube and overland train services.
- Black cabs operate from a cab rank. You can expect a journey to the West End to cost 35-45 GBP.