Transportation in London is costly. I am not afraid to say, one of the most expensive in the world. So, if you are traveling to London, it’s nice to know what your options are.
Transport options from Heathrow to London can get a little bit complicated because price and comfort greatly depend on the number of people traveling and where in London is your final destination.
The cheapest – Tube
The cheapest is the London Underground (Tube). Heathrow Airport is connected with Central London by Piccadilly line. It is usually very reliable, and the trains run at short intervals. However, depending on where is your accommodation in London, it can also be one of the slowest options.
It takes around 50-60 minutes to get to the Central London.
There are two ways how to pay for the Tube. Buying the ticket by cash or using a contactless card.
- Paying by cash: For £6.00 you can travel at any time.
Cash is the most expensive but easiest way. It’s also the recommended option if you are in London for just a short stay.
- Oyster or contactless card:
Peak: £5.10 (Monday to Friday from 06:30 to 09:30)
Off Peak: £3.10 (nothing beats this price)
Contactless card payment can be made by Oyster card or any other contactless payment card (if it doesn’t charge you any FX fees, look at my article about Revolut).
There is a small fee, but you can get discounts around London. Read more below.
Note: London Underground, as many other subway systems around the world, works amazingly well but is very small (small platforms, small trains, no air conditioning on most of the lines). If you are not traveling alone and with some heavy luggage, it can be quite a long and stressful experience. Personally, if I travel with family, I try to squeeze money from some other items on the budget and rather pay for the train.
When to consider Tube:
- Save money
- Accommodation in the West London or close to the station
- No big luggage, enough time
- Traveling alone
How to decide if to pay by cash or get Oyster card:
Go cash if you are in London for short stay (1-2 days).
Go for Oyster card if you are in London for a longer time and are planning to wander around a lot.
How to get the Oyster card:
- Buy it at the cashier window at the Heathrow tube station.
- Order Oyster card online before you come to London. Order here.
Oyster card also gives you discounts for some attractions around London (20-30%).
- There is a £3 activation fee, not refundable. This makes it less attractive for short stays.
- Delivery by post costs up to £13 and takes 3-15 days depending on your country of origin and delivery option. That’s why I would go for this option only if you plan to stay longer time or to plan a return visit. More about delivery.
You can also ask for a refund of up to £10 at Tube station ticket machine, Visitor Centre or by posting card back to TFL.
Bus from Heathrow Airport is the second cheapest option.
It takes around the same time to get to the central London as Tube, costs a little bit more and the departure times are less frequent than Tube.
- From terminal 2 and 3 where is the bus station, it can be every 15 minutes.
- From Terminal 5 and 4 it’s about an every hour.
£6-8 (return £12-15). Buy tickets here.
When to consider the bus:
- Your accommodation is close to the Victoria Coach Station
- You want more comfort (bus driver will help you to handle the luggage, and you have a guaranteed comfortable seat).
The fastest – Train
The fastest, very convenient but one of the more expensive ways is to take the train.
You can choose from the two options:
- The destination is Paddington Station.
- It takes only 15-17 minutes.
- The train departs every 15 minutes.
More information: www.heathrowexpress.com
- £22 per person off peak time
- £25 peak time (7:00 – 10:00 or 16:00 – 19:00 Monday – Friday)
- Return ticket costs £37
- Substantial discount if you buy online 14, 30 or 90 days before the date of travel and if you travel during the weekend. Discount can lower the price substantially down to only £5-12.
- Look for the deals here
Heathrow Connect operates on the same route as the Heathrow Express but is slower.
- The destination is Paddington Station.
- It takes 30 minutes.
- The train departs every 30 minutes.
More information: www.heathrowconnect.com
Price is only £10.30 for the one-way trip (£20 return).
When to consider the train:
- Your accommodation is close to the Paddington station
- You are traveling alone
- You need to be there in 15 minutes
I would justify taking Heathrow Express only if I managed to get some of the discounts. Other than that the double price is just not worth an extra 15 minutes (for £10 you can enjoy some really good food in London).
I would consider booking Airport Transfer when your final destination is further from the Central London and you are not traveling alone.
More information: 247airporttransfer.co.uk
It cost £42 from Heathrow to Central London for two people with two big pieces of luggage. I usually got the price around £35 to North London, including tip, which is a very competitive price for a door to door service.
It takes about 55 minutes.
When to consider the Airport Transfer:
- More than two people with big luggage
- Getting to your accommodation requires switching trains or combinations of train – taxi
- You are a business traveler and can expense it (most comfortable option)
The last option is to use Taxi (Black Cab) or Uber. It is the least preferred way as it can get expensive. There are no price caps for the taxi from Airport in London.
It is comfortable and takes around 50 minutes to Central London.
UberX estimates £30-36, but I would expect a few pounds more.
With London Black Cab don’t expect to pay less than £45 to get to Central London.
London Black Cab fares.
When to consider Taxi:
I can’t justify taking Uber or Taxi from the Heathrow Airport unless you are in an emergency or your accommodation is close to the airport.
There are some good options how to get to Central London. Because the price greatly depends on the location of your accommodation and how far ahead of your travel you book the tickets, you can’t save money without some proper planning.
Enjoy your stay in London.