Some 15 miles west of central London, Heathrow Airport (www.heathrowairport.com) is one of the world’s busiest international airports and has four passenger terminals (numbered 2 to 5), including the revamped Terminal 2. It's Britain's main airport for international flights.
Each terminal has currency-exchange facilities, information counters and accommodation desks.
Left luggage Facilities are in each terminal and open 5am (5.30am at T4) to 11pm. The charge per item is £7.50 for up to three hours, £12.50 for up to 24 hours, up to a maximum of 90 days.
Hotels There are four international-style hotels that can be reached on foot from the terminals, and over 20 nearby. The Hotel Hoppa bus links over 25 hotels in the surrounding area with the airport’s terminals, with 900 services around the clock every day.
Three Underground stations on the Piccadilly Line serve Heathrow: one for Terminals 2 and 3, another for Terminal 4, and the terminus for Terminal 5. The Underground, commonly referred to as ‘the tube’, is the cheapest way of getting to Heathrow; paper tickets cost £6 one way, Oyster or contactless peak/off-peak £5.10/3.10. The journey to central London takes one hour and trains depart every three to nine minutes. Leaving from the airport, trains run from just after 5am to 11.45pm (11.28pm Sunday), and heading to the airport they run from 5.47am to 12.32am (11.38pm Sunday); tube trains run all night Friday and Saturday, with reduced frequency. Buy tickets at the station.
Heathrow Express, every 15 minutes, and TfL Rail, every 30 minutes, link Heathrow with Paddington train station. Heathrow Express trains take a mere 15 minutes to reach Paddington. Trains on each service run from around 5am and between 11pm and midnight.
National Express (www.nationalexpress.com) Coaches (one way from £6, 40 to 90 minutes, every 30 minutes to one hour) link Heathrow Central bus station with Victoria Coach Station. The first bus leaves Heathrow Central bus station (at Terminals 2 and 3) at 4.20am, with the last departure at 10.05pm. The first bus leaves Victoria at 1am, the last at around midnight.
N9 bus At night, the N9 bus (£1.50, 1¼ hours, every 20 minutes) connects Heathrow Central bus station (and Heathrow Terminal 5) with central London, terminating at Aldwych.
A metered black-cab trip to/from central London will cost between £48 and £90 and take 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic and your departure point.
Located some 30 miles south of central London, Gatwick (www.gatwickairport.com) is smaller than Heathrow and is Britain's number-two airport, mainly for international flights. The North and South Terminals are linked by a 24-hour shuttle train, with the journey time about three minutes.
Left luggage There are left-luggage facilities in both terminals, open 24 hours in the South Terminal and from 5am to 10pm in the North Terminal. The charge is £6/11 per item for 3/24 hours (or part thereof), up to a maximum of 90 days. You can prebook left luggage online (www.gatwickairport.com/at-the-airport/passenger-services/luggage).
National Rail (www.nationalrail.co.uk) Has regular train services to/from London Bridge (30 minutes, every 15 to 30 minutes), London King’s Cross (55 minutes, every 15 to 30 minutes) and Victoria (30 minutes, every 10 to 15 minutes). Fares vary depending on the time of travel and the train company, but allow £10 to £20 for a single.
Gatwick Express Trains run every 15 minutes from the station near the Gatwick South Terminal to Victoria. From the airport, there are services between 5.59am and 11.11pm. From Victoria, they leave between 5am and 10.44pm. The journey takes 30 minutes; book online for the best deals.
National Express (www.nationalexpress.com) Coaches run throughout the day from Gatwick to Victoria Coach Station (one way from £8). Services depart hourly around the clock. Journey time is between 80 minutes and two hours, depending on traffic.
EasyBus (www.easybus.com) Runs 13-seater minibuses to Gatwick every 15 to 20 minutes on several routes, including from Earl's Court/West Brompton and Victoria Coach Station (one way from £1.95). The service runs around the clock. The journey time averages 75 minutes; must be booked in advance.
A metered black-cab trip to/from central London costs around £100 and takes just over an hour. Minicabs are usually cheaper.
Stansted (www.stanstedairport.com) is 35 miles northeast of central London in the direction of Cambridge. An international airport, Stansted serves a multitude of mainly European destinations and is used primarily by low-cost carriers such as Ryanair.
Stansted Express rail service (45 minutes, every 15 to 30 minutes) links the airport and Liverpool St station. From the airport, the first train leaves at 5.30am, the last at 12.30am. Trains depart Liverpool St station from 4.40am (on some days at 3.40am) to 11.25pm.
National Express (www.nationalexpress.com) Coaches run around the clock, offering well over 100 services per day.
Airbus A6 Runs to Victoria Coach Station (one way from £10, around one hour to 1½ hours, every 20 minutes) via Marble Arch, Paddington, Baker St and Golders Green. Airbus A7 also runs to Victoria Coach Station (one way from £10, around one hour to 1½ hours, every 20 minutes), via Waterloo and Southwark. Airbus A8 runs to Liverpool St station (one way from £6, 60 to 80 minutes, every 30 minutes), via Bethnal Green, Shoreditch High St and Mile End.
Airport Bus Express Runs every 30 minutes to Victoria Coach Station, Baker St, Liverpool St and Stratford.
EasyBus (www.easybus.com) Runs services to Baker St and Old St tube stations every 15 minutes. The journey (one way from £4.95) takes one hour from Old St and 1¼ hours from Baker St.
Terravision (www.terravision.eu) Coaches link Stansted to Liverpool St station (one way from £7.90, 55 minutes) and Victoria Coach Station (from £8.90, two hours) every 20 to 40 minutes between 6am and 1am. Wi-fi is on all buses.
A metered black-cab trip to/from central London costs around £130. Minicabs are cheaper.
A smallish, single-runway airport 32 miles northwest of London, Luton (www.london-luton.co.uk) generally caters for cheap charter flights and discount airlines and serves almost 15 million passengers a year. There are chain hotels nearby and the usual range of facilities.
National Rail (www.nationalrail.co.uk) Has 24-hour services (one way from £14.70, 26 to 50 minutes, departures every six minutes to one hour) from London St Pancras International to Luton Airport Parkway station, from where an airport shuttle bus (one way/return £2.30/3.60) will take you to the airport in 10 minutes.
Airbus A1 Runs over 60 times daily round the clock to Victoria Coach Station (one way from £11), via Portman Sq, Baker St, St John's Wood, Finchley Rd and Golders Green. It takes around one to 1½ hours.
Green Line Bus 757 Runs to Luton Airport from Victoria Coach Station (one way £11) every 30 minutes on a 24-hour service via Marble Arch, Baker St, Finchley Rd and Brent Cross.
A metered black-cab trip to/from central London costs about £110.
London City Airport
Its proximity to central London, which is just 6 miles to the west, as well as to the commercial district of the Docklands, means London City Airport is predominantly a gateway airport for business travellers. You can also now fly to New York from here.
Docklands Light Railway (DLR; www.tfl.gov.uk/dlr) stops at the London City Airport station (one way £2.80 to £3.30). Trains depart every eight to 10 minutes from just after 5.30am to 12.15am Monday to Saturday, and 7am to 11.15pm Sunday. The journey to Bank takes just over 20 minutes.
A metered black-cab trip to the City/Oxford St/Earl’s Court costs about £25/35/50.
Main national rail routes are served by a variety of private train-operating companies. Tickets are not cheap, but trains between cities are usually quite punctual. Check National Rail (www.nationalrail.co.uk) for timetables and fares.
Eurostar (www.eurostar.com) High-speed passenger rail service linking London St Pancras International with Paris, Brussels and Lille, with up to 19 daily departures. Fares vary greatly, from £29 for a one-way standard-class ticket to around £245 each way for a fully flexible business premier ticket (prices based on return journeys). New direct links between London and Amsterdam and Rotterdam commenced in 2018. There are deals on Eurostar Snap (available on Facebook), with best-value fares for those with flexibility around the specific train they travel on.