London is a bustling metropolis through which about 30 million visitors pass per year. Due to its many annual visitors, the city has to accommodate traffic from around the world with six different airports and the popular Eurostar train line through Europe! Don’t let those numbers intimidate you, though—air travel to London is exciting and relatively simple thanks to the city’s comprehensive transportation system.
If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve compiled a complete guide to London’s airports and how to get from each airport to the center of the city. Plus, if you book a London furnished apartment or vacation rental with New York Habitat, you can be confident that you’ll have a place to call home when you arrive in the city. Our licensed agents are available to connect you with your host in the event of any unexpected travel delays or cancellations, and before you even book, we conduct due diligence to ensure that rentals are legal and fit to host.
Besides being fit to host, the London apartments in our inventory are integrated into the fabric of the city, near public transportation and attractions, and allow you to live like a local in this fabulous city! Ready to jet? Let’s start with London’s most popular airport, and one of the most famous airports in the world!
London Heathrow Airport (LHR)
Heathrow Airport is a major international airport that’s known around the world—in fact, it’s the second-busiest airport in the entire world for international traffic! As you can probably guess, if you’re coming to London from abroad and outside of Europe, it’s likely that you will be flying into Heathrow. The airport is the primary operating hub for British Airways and carries over 80 other airlines that fly to 185 destinations in 84 countries.
Heathrow is also relatively convenient to London proper: the airport is only 14 miles west of Central London. Because it’s relatively close, there are a variety of options to transport you from the airport to the city (including the famous London Underground!).
The airport has its very own rail link between Heathrow’s terminals and Paddington Station in the heart of London. This train, the Heathrow Express, is one of the fastest and most convenient ways to get between the airport and Central London, as the train only makes three stops: Paddington, Heathrow Central (Terminals 2 and 3), and Heathrow Terminal 5. The express rail transports passengers from the airport to Central London in just 15-20 minutes! Tickets vary in price (advance online bookings can save you money), but are generally £25 during rush hours and £22 during off-peak times.
For travel to West London, TfL Rail from Heathrow may be your best bet. The rail line serves multiple stations in the suburbs of London, as well as making stops in Stratford and Liverpool Street Station in Central London. The train also stops at Terminals 2 & 3 and Terminal 4 at Heathrow, and journey time between the airport and the city is about 30 minutes. London Oyster Cards are accepted on TfL Rail.
For a true London experience, you can also take the London Underground directly to Heathrow! The Piccadilly Line on the Underground makes three stops at Heathrow Airport: Terminals 1, 2, and 3 (sharing one stop), Terminal 4, and Terminal 5. Though the Underground is a slower option than the express trains from the airport, it’s the cheapest way to travel and makes more stops throughout the city (possibly preventing you from having to make an Underground transfer once you arrive at London’s major train stations!).
London taxis are also available for hire at taxi stands outside Heathrow’s terminals. Make sure to only accept a ride from an official, licensed cab! While taxis can be a bit more expensive than public transportation (taxis are metered based on the distance of your journey and incur a gratuity for the driver), they can be a good option for people with disabilities, those traveling with a lot of luggage, or those staying in London’s suburbs or other areas that are not as well-connected by public trains.
Various coach bus services and public buses are also available at Heathrow Central bus station and vary in price and travel time depending on your destination.
London Gatwick Airport (LGW)
Gatwick Airport is London’s second busiest airport, and the ninth-busiest airport in Europe. Its claim to fame as a busy airport in Europe is partially due to the vast number of European cities to which flights from Gatwick connect, though the airport also offers regular stateside service to Orlando International Airport and JFK International Airport in New York City.
If you’re looking to save money on air travel, Gatwick might be a great choice—the airport serves many low-cost airlines (including being a major hub for EasyJet), but is no less easy to access from London! Despite being a bit further away from Central London than Heathrow (29.5 miles, to be exact), the airport is well connected by train.
Gatwick also has its own train station, Gatwick Airport Rail Station. The station serves several major rail lines that will connect riders with destinations around Southern England, most notably London (particularly to Victoria Station and London Bridge Station). The Gatwick Express departs every 15 minutes at peak times and connects riders with Victoria Station in just about 30 minutes. The rail station is accessible on foot from Gatwick’s South Terminal, but transport is just as easy from the North Terminal. The airport’s Inter-terminal shuttle is a people-mover that connects the two terminals for free!
Buses are also easy to catch at Gatwick. Besides offering connections to London, various bus services stop at the airport that will connect you with other airports (including Heathrow and Stansted), as well as cities and towns throughout the region like the popular day-trip destination Oxford.
London Stansted Airport (STN)
It’s a bit of a distance from Central London (42 miles to the northeast), but Stansted Airport gives a mighty welcome to travelers from over 200 cities in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Like Gatwick, Stansted is a base for numerous low-cost airlines and also boasts modern facilities as the newest passenger airport in London.
Like Gatwick and Heathrow, Stansted is well-connected by train. A Stansted Express train ride from Stansted Airport Railway Station will connect you with Liverpool Street in Central London in 50 minutes, as well as numerous other destinations in South England. The rail station is directly below the airport, a short walk from the terminals, and if you need to connect to the terminals from one of the airport’s satellite buildings, transport on the Stansted Airport Transit System people mover is available. Bus service to Stansted is a lower-cost alternative, but will incur a longer travel time than taking the train.
London Luton Airport (LTN)
Luton Airport may be considered the happy medium and a minimal-fuss alternative to more busy airports like Gatwick and Heathrow. The airport mostly serves destinations in Europe, with a few exceptions in North Africa and Asia, and also only has one terminal, making it somewhat easier to navigate. Because it’s smaller, Luton doesn’t have a train station directly on the premises, but it’s still easy to reach. Luton Airport Parkway is served by trains to St. Pancras Station in London. To reach the train station, you’ll have to take a shuttle bus over the 1-mile distance, but fortunately, the bus ride is included with your train ticket! Coach bus service to Luton is also available—be sure to check online for routes and pickup locations.
London City Airport (LCY)
City Airport is somewhat of an outlier, not just in London, but among most major cities in the world. The small airport transports passengers directly within city limits, so if you fly here, you’ll land right in London! Because the airport is so close to the heart of the city, it does come with certain restrictions, however. City Airport is mostly popular with holiday travelers to leisure destinations such as Palma de Mallorca and ski resorts in Zurich. The airport also has restrictions on aircraft size, and flights board directly on the tarmac.
City Airport is about 7 miles east of the City of London, and close to Canary Wharf to the east. Due to its proximity to London’s two major financial districts, business travelers are also popular arrivals to City Airport. Business travelers looking for corporate accommodations for business trips to London can use New York Habitat to find an apartment in City or Canary Wharf to make arrivals to this small airport even easier.
City Airport’s unique location puts it right on the route of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), so travel through East London and the city’s business districts is a breeze. Travel time between the airport and Bank Station in City is about 20 minutes. The airport is also a stop on London city bus lines 473 and 474 (so you can take a red double-decker bus as your transportation from the airport!).
London Southend Airport (SEN)
Like Stansted, Southend Airport is also a bit far from Central London—36 miles, to be exact—but makes up for the journey in customer satisfaction. The small, single-terminal airport was voted the best in Britain for 3 years in a row from 2013 to 2015. Of course, this is only of concern to European travelers, as only intracontinental flights land here. However, the airport is occasionally used for diverted flights in the case of unpredicted weather events. Southend Airport railway station connects travelers with Liverpool Street Station in London via rail link, with 3 trains per hour. There are also 2 coach bus services directly to the terminal: First Essex Bus Services and Arriva Bus.
Convenient accommodations in the heart of London
Travelers to London are fortunate to have a variety of options for their arrival between the city’s six airports and the high-speed Eurostar line between St. Pancras Station in London, Paris, and the South of France. Yes, London is well-connected, but that doesn’t undermine the importance of having welcoming accommodations to receive you after a long plane or train journey into the English capital. When you book a furnished apartment or vacation rental with New York Habitat, you can be sure your accommodations will be squared away for your arrival to London!
The assistance of a licensed agent can help you find an apartment ideally located along your travel route, and keep you updated in the case of any changes upon check-in. All of our apartment listings also conveniently come fully furnished and equipped with kitchens, eliminating the need to worry about bringing extras like linens or cookware that can take up space in a suitcase! If you’re looking for convenient travel, consider synthesizing your London journey with New York Habitat. Start your search for an apartment online or submit a request for help finding an authentic apartment to welcome you!