London Airports Guide

London has 6 international airportsHeathrow, Stansted, Gatwick, Luton, Southend and London City airport, making it the busiest city in the world by passenger numbers. London airports are connected to almost 400 international destinations and had served almost 180 million passengers in 2018.
Here we’ll summarise all the useful information about London airports.

Airports in London

Heathrow Airport (LHR) is the largest European and therefore the largest UK airport, serving more than 80 million passengers in 2018. Heathrow operates with more than 80 airlines so it has connections to virtually all major cities in the world. It is also the main hub for British Airways. Located 23 kilometers west of London, Heathrow provides frequent bus connections to the city.
For more information on reaching London center, make sure to visit our Heathrow airport guide.

Gatwick Airport (LGW) is another major international airport in London and the second biggest in the UK in terms of passenger traffic. Its two terminals serve more than 40 million passengers annually, with connections to more than 200 destinations around the world. Gatwick is located around 47 kilometers south of Central London and, like Heathrow, it boasts good connections to the city center. For more information on how to get from Gatwick to London, check out our airport guide.

Stansted Airport (STN) is the third largest airport in London, located 68 kilometers northeast of London. Whilst Stansted is a main hub for Ryanair, it also offers flights from other low cost airlines such as easyJet and Jet2.com. In 2018, the airport handled almost 28 million passengers, making it the 4th busiest airport in the UK. There are a number of ways of reaching London center, and you can read them all in our specialized Stansted guide. One of the most used transportation options when travelling to the city center is the airport bus.

Luton Airport (LTN) is another international London airport popular with on-budget travellers, with airlines such as Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air offering affordable flights. Luton is located approximately 45 kilometers north of London center, near the small city of Luton. More than 16 million passengers passed through Luton in 2018, making it the 5th busiest UK airport.
Taking an airport bus or train are among some of the ways to reach the city center. Read more about that in our Luton airport guide.

London City Airport (LCY) is the closest airport to London city center, located around 11 kilometers east of the city. Passenger numbers keep increasing each year, with almost 5 million people passing through the airport in 2018. Reaching the city is fairly easy due to the airport’s close proximity to Central London. Read more about reaching the city center in our London City airport guide.

Southend Airport (SEN) is the smallest London airport by passenger numbers, but still managed to serve around 1.4 million people in 2018. The airport is located near the city of Southend-on-Sea in Essex county, approximately 58 kilometers east of Central London. Southend airport is another popular hub for low cost airlines like Ryanair and easyJet. For more information about reaching the city center, read our Southend airport guide.

How to get from London airports to London

London airports are known for its good and frequent connections to the city, so whichever airport you disembark at, reaching Central London should be fairly easy. In most cases, passengers arrive at one of London’s main stations like Victoria train station or Liverpool street station.
Once there, London’s public transportation can get you almost anywhere in the London area.
The table below provides information on types of transport available from London airports to city center:

  Heathrow Airport Gatwick Airport Stansted Airport Luton Airport City Airport Southend Airport
Airport Shuttle

Coach

Tube

Train

Transfers

Taxi

Uber

NOTE:

  • When travelling to Central London from City airport, you’ll have to use DLR (Docklands Light Railway) transport.
  • Make sure to check the train and coach schedules online, in case you arrive late at the airport.
  • When using London Underground (Tube), keep in mind there is no luggage compartment,
    so you’d need to take your luggage in the seating area.

Which London airport is the best?

Deciding which London airport is the best depends on several factors, like your accommodation or hotel location and which city you’re departing from. All six of London’s airports have great connections to the city, so if your main objective is to reach Central London, there shouldn’t be any problem. Of course, some airports are further away from the city, so travel time may vary.
Once in London, you could use TFL (Transport for London) services to reach the city’s most iconic landmarks,
like Big Ben or Buckingham Palace, both of which are close to Victoria station.
Most of the London area is well connected via public transport, making it easy to visit other London sights, such as Hyde Park and Paddington in the west or London Bridge in the east.

If you need to reach North London and its suburbs, then the closest airports would be Stansted and Luton airport.St Pancras and Kings Cross station are also located in northern London, so keep that in mind.
On the other hand, Heathrow and Gatwick airport are nearest to London’s west and south areas, respectively.
Southend airport is located further away to the east, so it could be a good choice when travelling to London’s eastern suburbs or some of the cities on the UK’s eastern shore.

For everyone travelling on a budget, London has a couple of airports worth mentioning, most notably Stansted, Luton and Southend airport. These airports could be a good choice due to several low-cost airlines offering cheap flights to London. Gatwick is also a common choice, mostly because easyJet offers numerous affordable flights for London area.
London city airport is often a primary choice for business travellers, due to its close proximity to Canary Wharf financial center and Stratford borough.

Traveling between London airports

If you have long-haul flights or connecting flights to other cities, it’s useful to know how to get from one of London’s airports to another. Taking the airport shuttle is one of the fastest ways of travelling between airports. You can check the details and purchase your tickets below:

Heathrow to Stansted Stansted to Heathrow
Heathrow to Gatwick Gatwick to Heathrow
Heathrow to Luton Luton to Heathrow
Gatwick to Stansted Stansted to Gatwick
Gatwick to Luton Luton to Gatwick
Stansted to Luton Luton to Stansted

Traveling from London airports to UK cities

For everyone planning a trip from one of the London airports to other cities in the UK, you can find transportation using the search form on GetByBus homepage, or see the available routes in the table below:

  Heathrow Airport Gatwick Airport Stansted Airport Luton Airport London City Airport Southend Airport
London Airport to Manchester Heathrow to Manchester Gatwick to Manchester Stansted to Manchester Luton to Manchester
London Airport to Oxford Heathrow airport to Oxford Gatwick to Oxford Stansted to Oxford Luton to Oxford
London Airport to Birmingham Heathrow to Birmingham Gatwick to Birmingham Stansted to Birmingham Luton to Birmingham
London Airport to Milton Keynes Heathrow to Milton Keynes Gatwick to Milton Keynes Stansted to Milton Keynes Luton to Milton Keynes
London Airport to Cambridge Heathrow to Cambridge Gatwick to Cambridge Stansted to Cambridge Luton to Cambridge
London Airport to Southampton Heathrow to Southampton Gatwick to Southampton Stansted to Southampton Luton to Southampton
London Airport to Brighton Heathrow to Brighton Gatwick to Brighton Stansted to Brighton Luton to Brighton
London Airport to Bristol Heathrow to Bristol Gatwick to Bristol Stansted to Bristol
London Airport to Coventry Heathrow to Coventry Gatwick to Coventry Stansted to Coventry Luton to Coventry
London Airport to Leicester Heathrow to Leicester Gatwick to Leicester Stansted to Leicester Luton to Leicester

London airports map

London airports tips

  • Depending on the amount of passengers arriving at the airport, it may take longer to get out of London airports, so prepare yourself for a slightly longer wait.
  • Bus and train tickets to London can be bought online, this way you can save time and money.
  • When travelling in a larger group, consider booking a minicab to save some money.
  • Make sure to check if your contactless card can be used for payment in London’s transport network.
    Otherwise, use an Oyster card to pay for public transport needs.

London airports FAQs

  • Are there any hotels near London airports?
    Yes, all six London airports have hotels near or at the airport location. Most of the hotels can be reached on foot in minutes from arrival terminals. More information about London airports accommodation can be found online.
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  • Are there money exchange and luggage storage services at London airports?
    Money exchange services are available at all London airports, but note that it’s cheaper to pre-order your currency online and then collect it at the airport. As for luggage storage services, facilities are available at all airports apart from Southend, so keep that in mind when travelling to London.
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  • How early to arrive when departing from London airports?
    This depends on the location you’re flying to, but generally you should be at the airport at least 2 hours before departure for UK and European flights, and at least 3 hours before long-haul flights.
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  • Is smoking permitted at London airports?
    Smoking at London airports is permitted only in designated areas outside the terminal buildings.
    Beware that you are unable to smoke after passing the security control at the airport.
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  • Is there a free WiFi service at London airports?
    Yes, all London airports provide free WiFi service to customers. Heathrow, Southend and London City airport offer unlimited access, but note that you may need to register when connecting to the network.
    Luton and Stansted airport offer up to 4 hours of free WiFi, while Gatwick provide 90 minutes of free access.