We’ve talked about getting from Heathrow to Gatwick, Luton and central London, but one thing we haven’t covered is the problem of arriving in London via Heathrow Airport and leaving it via a train or coach – or vice versa. Depending on which station you need, this can be a breeze or fiendishly complicated!
The first thing to note is that London doesn’t have one central train station, just like it has more than one airport. Depending on where you want to go, you might need Victoria, Charing Cross, Kings Cross St Pancras, Waterloo or Paddington. If you’re taking a long-distance coach, you’re most likely to be heading for Victoria Coach Station, which is right next to Victoria train station. Be sure to leave plenty of time between your arrival at Heathrow and your departure, because getting across London can be time-consuming and tricky.
From Heathrow, the easiest and cheapest way to get to Victoria is via the Underground. Take the Piccadilly line to Hammersmith station, and then change to an eastbound District line train to take you to Victoria. There are several stations where you can make the change, but smart travellers use Hammersmith because it’s just a few steps across the platform to the District line. You’ll save time as well as the effort required to drag a heavy suitcase through a train station.
The whole journey will take you about 50 minutes if you land at Terminal 5. Terminal 4 will mean a slightly longer travel time while Terminals 1, 2 and 3 will mean a shorter trip. You’ll also need to factor in waiting time, congestion and the walk of a few hundred metres from the Underground to Victoria Coach Station. London’s rush hours are 7am to 10am and 4:30pm to 7pm every weekday, so if you’re likely to be travelling during that time, consider a different option. Perhaps you could book a longer stopover and get some rest at one of the comfortable hotels near London Heathrow.
Cabs outside Heathrow airport
If you’d rather not deal with the Tube, you can take a taxi. You’ll see a rank of the iconic black London cabs outside Heathrow airport. They look like the perfect way to start your London experience, but watch out! A trip into central London from Heathrow will cost around £70 and the cabs only take cash. It’s definitely worth it to take a cab ride during your stay in London for the experience, but perhaps not the best idea to cover the long distance between the city and the airport. However, if you’re staying near Heathrow at a hotel like the Park Grand London Hounslow, feel free to hop in a cab for a smooth ride with plenty of English charm that won’t break the bank.
Stay in West London near the airport
Many travellers choose to stay in west London near the airport when they only have a short time to spend here. If you are only stopping over in London for the night, you might not want to go all the way into the city centre to find a comfortable bed when there are plenty of hotels near Osterley, Hounslow and Feltham. Simply take a train or cab from Heathrow, get a good night’s sleep, and head to the next stage of your journey feeling refreshed and relaxed. Do your best to time your journey carefully to avoid peak hour, but if you can’t get around it, make sure you give yourself an extra half an hour or so to account for crowds and delayed trains. London’s train system is getting on in years and there’s often a breakdown or signal problem during the busiest hours – so don’t get caught out!