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Plan your journey from/to London Heathrow Airport by finding out which transport links are available upon arrival—whether its an airport transfer by bus or a local train which gets you to where you need to be. We recommend booking your ticket with Omio.
London Heathrow Airport is the busiest airport in Europe and the second busiest in the world, behind Dubai International. It handles more than 80 million passengers per year, many of whom begin or end their journeys in central London. It is therefore not surprising that the airport is very well served by public transport, with many services operating 24 hours per day, even at weekends. Heathrow has three different stops on the London Underground, the oldest underground railway network in the world.
As with any international airport, there are a number of factors to consider when deciding how best to travel to London Heathrow Airport from London city center. As far as public transport is concerned, the most reliable way to get to the airport is on the London Underground using the Piccadilly Line. Trains on this line stop at regular intervals through central and west London, and terminate at either Terminal 4 or Terminal 5. Those serving Terminal 5 also stop at Terminals 2 and 3. From central London the journey takes around one hour.
A faster alternative, albeit a more expensive one, is the Heathrow Express train service, which operates to and from London Paddington mainline station. Trains depart Paddington every 15 minutes from 5:15 a.m. until 23:25 p.m., with the journey lasting just 15 minutes to Terminals 2 and 3, and 21 minutes to Terminal 5. WiFi and power sockets are available onboard the trains. There are numerous bus services between central London and Heathrow, including night buses which run regularly between around 1:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. When traveling in a group, and/or with lots of baggage, it may be preferable to use a taxi or minicab. If you do so, it is well worth making the journey outside rush hour, otherwise you are likely to spend time sat in stationary traffic.
London Heathrow Airport is situated around 22.5-kilometers west of the city center. The most direct route to the airport using public transport is by using Heathrow Express, which leaves from London Paddington to the northwest of the city center. By contrast the Piccadilly Line (London Underground) takes a less direct route and stops every few minutes en route. Allow around an hour for the journey to Heathrow. Trains on the Piccadilly Line can be very busy. Buses to Heathrow from London city center are possibly the slowest option and are susceptible to being caught in heavy traffic. Allow not less than 90 minutes for the journey by bus, or even a little more at rush hour.
Heathrow currently has four operational terminals: 2 and 3 in the center of the airport, 4 to the south and 5 to the west. Most (but not all) British Airways flights operate from Terminal 5, which is the biggest terminal. Terminal 5 has a very good range of shops and boutiques, including some exclusive brands of international renown. Wifi and power sockets are both available, toilets (including disabled toilets) are plentiful, and there are cafes and restaurants for every taste and budget. Terminal 4 hosts Etihad, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways. It too has an abundance of shops and restaurants, including duty free. Terminal 3 hosts Emirates, Virgin Atlantic and Qantas, while Terminal 2 hosts numerous airlines including United, Air Canada and Air China. Both terminals have a good range of cafes, restaurants, and shops.
For those with limited mobility, Heathrow Express is the best way to get to Heathrow Airport from the city center. The train floors are at the same level as the platform to enable wheelchair access and all stations have step-free access. Not all stations on the Piccadilly Line have step-free access and the trains themselves can become overcrowded at busy times. There are lifts in all terminals which connect the subsurface stations to arrival and departure areas. All terminals at London Heathrow Airport have disabled toilet facilities.
A good tip for getting to Heathrow quickly is to get the train to either Kingston or Teddington and then catch the X26, an express bus service which runs non-stop from Teddington to Heathrow Terminals 2 and 3 in around 25 minutes, costing just £1.50 (as of October 2019). If using the Heathrow Express, it is much cheaper to buy your ticket online in advance. There are so many food outlets at Heathrow that there's rarely any need to take food with you, unless traveling late at night or in the early morning.