London – Heathrow Airport and Back

The famous Heathrow airport is located in the western outskirts of London and it’s a massive international hub. It can be reached by tube (Piccadilly line), in zone 6, and has three different stops. Make sure you know which terminal you are flying from before you leave London: moving form one terminal to another might take time!

London – Heathrow by:

 

Tube

As mentioned above, Heathrow is reached by the Piccadilly Line (the dark blue one) that runs across the whole city in a never-ending underground trip. It’s truly a bit of a long journey: from a central station such as Holborn or Covent Garden it takes up to one hour. But it’s also very comfortable as, if you manage to sit, you can dip in your book and relax, and it’s also the cheapest way to get there. Find out more in the getting around London guide:

  • One way ticket: £5,50
  • Oyster card fare (Monday-Friday, 06:30 – 09:30 and 16:00 – 19:00): £5,00
  • Oyster card fare: (Off-peak) £3,00

Again, make sure you know which terminal to get off to. At the end of its line the tube splits in two and makes a loop. If you’re on the wrong train you can just get off at Hounslow and change.

Bus

I never dared to take a bus – a proper London red bus not a coach – all the way to Heathrow, but few people I met working at the hostel did it. It’s only a realistic option very early in the morning: the line N9 will take you from Aldwych to the airport, with a hour-and-half long panoramic trip through the city. On this page you’ll find the timetables of the stops on the N9 route.

You can always opt for the National Express services (www.nationalexpress.co.uk), leaving from Victoria Coach Station. The coach has to wade through the London traffic so it might take one hour and a half during peak times.

Train

From Paddington station trains regularly leave westbound to Heathrow. It’s a very expensive way to reach the airport, but also the quickest: the Express only takes 15 minutes!

The standard train service comes for £9,50 (£19 return), you can find more info here: www.heathrowconnect.com

If you’re in a hurry try the Heathrow Express (www.heathrowexpress.com), the tickets cost from £20 (£34 return) up. Which makes more than £1 a minute for this trip!

Taxi

Taxi is obviously an option but, honestly, I don’t see the point, unless you have some heavy luggage and you need to limit the walking distances at a very minimum. It might be a quiet expensive option, and not too fast as it has, just like the bus, work its way through the London streets.

Sleeping rough in Heathrow

Early morning flights are always a pain in the neck but, oh coincidence, always the cheapest. Travelling in the weekend might cause you to miss the tube, as the service starts later than during the week. If you don’t want to take the N9 route, or any of the other option available then take the last tube the night before and have a sleep in the airport!

Terminal 5 is not too bed: padded seats and dim lights. Try to stay as far as possible from the café and the lifts, if you don’t want to be woken up by a noisy buzz and the familiar “doors opening… doors closing“.

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After being in Rome a few times without even looking at the Coliseum I realised that there's more to travel than sightseeing: meeting the local culture is what, 10 years later, determined the birth of this blog.

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