London is very well served by no less than 4 major and one smaller airport. Most visitors on long-haul flights land at Heathrow. Gatwick is also now a busy gateway to London, as are Stanstead and Luton. There is also the smaller London City Airport which is in the very center of the city in the old docklands areas on the Thames, though that is mainly used for short-haul flights to other parts of the UK and closer European destinations on smaller aircraft. All London’s airports are modern and very well managed. Transit times from the airports into the city center will vary depending upon your exact final destination and the transport method you select. Heathrow to London by train can be around 35 minutes. Stanstead and Gatwick will perhaps take a little longer and Luton a little longer still. London City is already ‘there’ and just a few minutes by taxi into the heart of the capital. All London’s airports can be very busy at peak times but are usually regarded as ‘safe’ in crime terms, when compared to some other European airports but caution with belongings is always advisable.
All London’s airports are well connected by road and/or rail. Heathrow, Gatwick and Stanstead all have excellent rail services embedded in the airport to connect into the center of London. Luton involves a shuttle transfer to the train station.
Warning, Heathrow is the busiest airport in the world and on a main east-west road system out of London. So, even though it has large, modern and impressive road networks around it, it is one of the most heavily congested traffic spots in Europe. Delays due to traffic jams are frequent. Make sure you allow plenty of time if you’re travelling to the airport by road for a flight.
Do note that traffic congestion can be an issue now anywhere in southern England. As a general rule, rail transfers will be faster and more reliable than travelling by road though that might not be the case if you have lot of luggage with you – something that can be awkward on trains.
Coach and airport shuttle transfers into London are commonplace and reasonably priced. Taxis will be considerably more expensive but they may know the ‘back routes’ to avoid traffic delays that busses can’t use. If you opt for a taxi, do make sure you are using an officially registered and licensed vehicle. DO NOT use unmarked cars offering “taxi services”. These are called “touts” and they usually do not have the required full insurance and your personal safety could also be at risk – though they are rare in major airports in the UK due to strict policing.
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All London’s airports, with the exception of London City Airport, are very large and busy. Heathrow in particular is vast and it can be intimidating for newly-arrived tourists.
Fortunately, the Withlocals service can help you avoid traumas! A local guide can meet you directly off the flight and arrange for your on-transport. Not only that but they can also accompany you to your accommodation if that’s what you’d like to help make you feel that bit more secure upon arrival!