London has no fewer than six international airports, which makes the London region the busiest flight hub in the world. Every year, nearly 150 million passengers fly out to destinations all over the world from one of the six London International Airports.
With so many airports, it can sometimes be difficult to choose which airport is best to fly to. After all, there are major differences between the distance, ticket prices and the additional costs for transport. Some airports seem cheap but are a long way from the center and others seem to be close by, but airline tickets are very expensive (hi London City Airport!). If you choose the wrong airport, your city trip to London can suddenly become a lot more expensive. To make it easier for you, I have made an overview of all six airports in London below, including information, tips and the options to travel from the airport to central London.
The six different airports of London are scattered around London at distances of 14 to 64 kilometers from the center. One of the six airports, London City Airport, is not outside the city but in the middle of the city on the River Thames, just 14 kilometers from the center. On the map below you will find all six locations of the London airports. We will not be talking about Farnborough as this is mostly an airport for Private flights or small 12-seater charters that are incredibly expensive.
When it comes to the exact distance from the airport to the heart of London, the following top 6 can be made:
1. London City Airport (14 kilometers from the center)
2. London Heathrow Airport (22 kilometers from the center)
3. London Gatwick Airport (45 kilometers from the center)
4. London Luton Airport (55 kilometers from the center)
5. London Stansted Airport (56 kilometers from the center)
6. London Southend Airport (66 kilometers from the center)
Cheap Plane Tickets to London
If you are looking for cheap plane tickets to London, have a look at flights going to Luton and London Gatwick.
London Heathrow and London City Airport are the most expensive airports to fly to.
If you are looking for ways to get cheap plane tickets, have a look at the blog post I made about my top tips for finding and buying discounted tickets.
London City Airport
London City Airport (LCY) is located, as the name suggests, in the city itself, East of central London near the A13 motorway in the Royal Docks area. Thanks to its central location in the middle of the city, the airport is particularly popular with business people who fly to London early in the morning and return home in the evening.
The airport is located almost directly on the Thames near the City of London business district and Canadry Wharf. The airport is relatively small, making it an oasis of peace and quiet compared to the business of Heathrow Airport. Due to the fact that this is a very small airport, you will pass customs relatively quickly and you can pick up your bags at the baggage claim in no time.
The location of London City Airport may be ideal, but London City Airport is the most expensive international airport in London. This is mainly because low-cost airlines do not fly to this airport and airport taxes are very high. Travel costs to the city of London on the other hand will be very low.
How to get from London City Airport to Central London
London City Airport is 14 kilometers from the center of London, and 20 minutes from Bank Station by public transport (DLR). The fastest way to travel from London City Airport to central London is through the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). Tickets are cheap and within half an hour the DLR will take you from London City Airport station to Bank Underground Station in the City business district. From here you can transfer to the other metro lines that will connect you with the rest of London.
London Heathrow Airport
London’s largest airport is London Heathrow Airport (LHR). Almost all intercontinental flights depart and land at London Heathrow and if you have to transfer during an intercontinental flight, this will almost always happen via Heathrow.
Is London your final destination? Then it is probably cheaper to fly at one of the other airports in the city. Low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet do not fly to London Heathrow airport.
How To Get From London Heathrow To Central London
Heathrow Airport is approximately 22 km from the center of London. If you travel by public transport you can use the metro or train from London Heathrow. With the metro it takes about an hour to travel from the airport to the center, the train takes between 15 minutes and half an hour depending on the the train’s timetable. Most people choose to travel by metro as it is a lot cheaper than train (Heathrow Express). A single trip via the metro will set you back between 6 and 3 pounds. Heathrow Express will set you back 25 pounds for a single trip.
London Gatwick Airport
South of London lies London Gatwick airport, airport code LGW. After Heathrow Airport, Gatwick is the busiest airport in London. This is strange in itself since the airport only has one runway and one runway. This makes Gatwick directly the busiest airport with only one runway in the world. Due to this low capacity, flights to and from Gatwick suffer from delays more often than average.
The advantage of Gatwick is the fact that in addition to Emirates, KLM and British Airways, low-cost airlines such as EasyJet, Norwegian and Ryanair also fly from this airport. This allows you to fly to London fairly cheaply.
How To Get From London Gatwick To Central London
London Gatwick is located approximately 45 kilometers south of the center of London. Fortunately, there are numerous transfer options to and from the airport. With the National Express and Easyjet buses the journey time is between 75 minutes and two hours, depending on the traffic on the road and your final destination in London.
In addition to the bus, you can also travel by train from Gatwick Airport to London, the Thameslink train from Gatwick to London St. Pancras takes about an hour. The Gatwick Express also runs to London Victoria station. This train connection is a bit faster, within half an hour you are in the heart of London.
London Luton Airport
London Luton Airport (LTN) is the smallest airport in the London region after London City Airport. In terms of location, London Luton is not immediately the most logical choice for a short visit to London, but on the other hand you can often fly cheaply to Luton with Ryanair, Easyjet and Vueling.
If you are flying to London Luton, you can also combine your short city trip to London with a visit to the the surrounding cities such as the student city of Oxford, which is approximately a 1.5-hour drive from the airport.
How To Get From London Luton To Central London
London Luton Airport is located about 55 kilometers north of the center of London. There are various ways to travel from Luton Airport to central London. The cheapest way is with the Easyjet bus that will take you to Victoria Station in central London within 1.5 hours. The Green Line 757 bus also takes 1.5 hours to reach the center of the city. Both bus services depart twice an hour.
Another option is the train, within 30 minutes the train will take you from Luton Airport to London. East Midland Trains and First Capital Connect provide train connections to central London. A free shuttle bus runs from the airport and takes you to Luton Airport Parkway station in about 5 minutes. From this station you can take the direct train to St Pancras International station, City Thameslink or London Blackfriars. From these stations you can travel quickly and easily by metro to your final destination.
London Stansted Airport
Stansted airport is the third largest airport in London in terms of size, only Heathrow and Gatwick are larger in terms of passenger numbers. Despite the fact that Stansted is a relatively large airport, the airport itself is well organized, resulting in a streamlined check-in and customs. This allows you to go through customs relatively quickly and check-in can also be quick, which means you don’t have to be at the airport hours in advance to be able to catch your flight on time.
How To Get From London Stansted To Central London
Stanted airport is located about 60 kilometers north-east of central London, which means that you can be in the center of London for an hour to an hour and a half.
The easiest and cheapest way to travel from London Stansted Airport to central London is by bus. There are several bus operators present at London Stansted Airport that can take you to the center of London. In addition to the bus, there is also a train from the airport to London, the Stansted Express. This train takes you from the airport in about 47 minutes to central London to Liverpool Street Station train and tube station. From here you can easily switch to the metro.
London Southend Airport
London Southend’s air gifts are from all airports in the region furthest from the center of London. That also makes the name London Southend very misleading since the airport is located almost 70 kilometers from the city. The airport is therefore ideal if you are not in London itself but in one of the places east of the city such as Southend-on-Sea or the county of Essex.
However, that location far outside the city has an advantage, the ticket prices for airline tickets to London Southend are often attractively low.
How To Get From London Southend To Central London
London Southend Airport is approximately 66 km from the center of London, close to the mouth of the Thames. And a stone’s throw from the coastal town of Southend-on-Sea. It takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes by car to drive from London to the airport, provided there are no traffic jams. The beach is only a 5 km drive away.
Southend Airport has a direct train connection with Liverpool Street Station in London. The train journey from the airport to central London takes around 60 minutes and is operated by Greater Anglia. Do you want to go to the beach from London Southend? Then you can catch the train to Southend-on-Sea and you’ll be there in no time.