Destinations Europe United Kingdom

How to get to downtown London from the airports (2023)

Knowing how to get to downtown London from any of London’s airports, whether Luton, Gatwick or Heathrow, can be a little confusing at first. In this article, you’ll find all the information you need for a worry-free journey!

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I went to London a few weeks ago for a few days, and I have to admit that I had quite a few problems finding clear information on how to get to downtown London from the airport.

Check out my 3-day itinerary in the British capital here!

We landed at Luton airport, which is served mainly by low-cost airlines. I had done some research before leaving, but nothing very conclusive. Once we got there, we immediately thought of taking the train, which theoretically allows us to reach the city center quickly. But of course, the train wasn’t running. In the end, we opted for the bus, which takes a little longer, but works well.

Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of how to get to central London from the city’s various airports. I’ve tried to gather as much information as possible, and I hope this helps!

How to get to downtown London from the airports: the complete guide

As you probably know, London has 4 airports: Luton, Heathrow, London City and Gatwick. Luton and Gatwick are mainly used by low-cost airlines connecting London to various European cities. Heathrow is the largest of the 3 airports, and generally handles intercontinental flights. London City connects London to various European cities.

From Luton

Luton airport is located 48km north of London. There are two ways to get to the city center. You can either take the train or the bus.

Luton Airport Express

The Luton Airport Express is the best way to get to downtown London from Luton airport. The journey takes around 32 minutes at a frequency of every 30 minutes. The train takes you to St Pancras International station.

Once out of the airport, take the first train to Luton Airport Parkway, a 4-minute journey. Once there, make your way to the Luton Airport Express departure point. From St Pancras, you can use the subway network to get to your final destination.

Occasionally, the Luton Airport Express does not operate. I recommend that you check a few days before your departure if a strike or work is scheduled on the line.

Book your tickets here!

Bus – Megabus / National Express

The second option is to take the MegaBus or National Express bus to downtown London. These buses stop at several points in the city. It takes between 60 and 90 minutes to get to the city center, depending on traffic.

You’ll find the buses right outside the airport, so you can’t miss them.

Book your National Express tickets here!

From Heathrow

Heathrow airport is located 22 km west of London and is one of the largest airports on the European continent. Thanks to its size and traffic, it’s easy to get to downtown London. Here, too, there are train and bus options.

Heathrow Express

The Heathrow Express departs from terminals 2 and 3 towards Paddington station, from where you can easily connect to the subway network. The journey takes around 20 minutes and departs every 5 minutes from Heathrow.

Buy your tickets here!

Bus – National Express / Megabus

The second option is to take the National Express bus to downtown London. These buses leave every 30 minutes. The journey takes between 50 and 70 minutes. Mega Bus also offers a similar journey time.

Get your bus tickets here !

How to get to downtown London

From Gatwick

Located on the outskirts of London, Gatwick airport is one of EasyJet’s bases. So if you fly with this airline, there’s a very good chance you’ll arrive at Gatwick. As for Luton and Heathrow, you can either take the bus or the train.

Gatwick Express

This train connects Gatwick airport with London’s Victoria station. It’s a quick and easy solution. The journey takes no more than 30 minutes.

Book your Gatwick Express tickets here!

Thameslink

This is the second train linking Gatwick with downtown London, London Bridge, Farringdon, St Pancras,…. The journey also takes around 30 minutes.

Click here to book your tickets!

Bus – National Express

The last option on how to get to downtown London from Gatwick airport is to take the National Express bus. This, however, is much slower than the first two options. Allow between 1h50 and 2h30 depending on your destination and traffic conditions.

Book your tickets here!

From London City

London City Airport is 10 km from the city center. This makes it the closest of the four airports. An excellent way to get to downtown London is by light rail.

Docklands Light Railway

The Docklands Light Railway station is directly connected to the London City Airport terminal. You can take it as far as Canning Town, from where you can join the London Underground system on the Jubilee line.

The Docklands Light Railway is not directly part of the London Underground network, but you can still use your Oyster card.

How to get to downtown London from the airports, here’s the summary !

From Luton – Use the Luton Airport Express if it operates otherwise the National Bus or Megabus

From Heathrow – Visit Busbud.com to see all available options and timetables. From Busbud, you can buy your tickets directly.The quickest and easiest way is to take the Heathrow Express.

From Gatwick – Take the train if you can, to save precious minutes. Check timetables directly on the Gatwick Express website or via Google Maps route.

From London City – Take the Docklands Light Railway to Canning Town, where you can join the London Underground system.

General tips

  • Use the Google Maps application and its itineraries to see your transport connections and timetables.
  • Take the train instead of the bus to save precious minutes.
  • Read my article on how to use public transport in London to best prepare yourself 🙂


I hope this little guide has answered your questions about how to get to downtown London from the city’s various airports! Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any other suggestions !

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