London, the capital of England and the United Kingdom, is a 21st-century city with history stretching back to Roman times. This mix of modern and ancient historical buildings gives the city the magic aura that makes you fall in love with this city. In the city centre are the Houses of Parliament, the famous ‘Big Ben’ clock tower and Westminster Abbey, which is the site of British monarch coronations. Across the Thames River, the London Eye wheel gives amazing views of the entire city. This city is spread out but has effective public transit to visit everywhere cheap and quickly to avoid the bad traffic and expensive taxis and private driver fees. There is so much to see and do in this city. There are many walkable areas once you get to different portions of the city on public transport.
How to get there
London is huge and has 5 international airports. Heathrow Airport is an international hub for London with an express train link for easy access to the city center. Heathrow is bigger with 5 terminals and 4 runways and is the main and busiest airport of London and is normally preferred by Americans and foreigners. Heathrow is nearer to central London city (15 miles). London Gatwick Airport is the second largest and busiest airport in London and has 2 terminals and is the top recognized airport in Europe for direct flights and is preferred by Europeans. This airport is farther away (30 miles) from city center. The only way to travel in London is through public transportation which will cut your travel time in half in the overcrowded and trafficked city. The driving time from the airports to the city center is over 1 hour to 1.5 hours. The time on public transport is around 35-45 minutes.
Public Transportation to & from Heathrow Airport to London City
The Underground Tube
3 Heathrow Underground Stations, 4 Heathrow Passenger Terminals
Heathrow Airport has three Underground stations for the four passenger terminals. All trains visit the Heathrow Central Station that is for Terminals 2 and 3, some trains go to Terminal 4, the rest go to Terminal 5, no train visits Terminal 4 and 5. When you are returning to Heathrow make sure you board the right train.
Route 1 (Terminal 4) – Incoming trains from London will branch off after Hatton Cross station to Terminal 4. After Terminal 4 the train loops around to Central (Terminals 2,3) before going back to London. These trains do not go to Terminal 5 and do not travel the other way from Central to Terminal 4.
Route 2 (Terminal 5) – Incoming trains from London will go straight to Central (Terminals 2,3) before going onto Terminal where the train terminates. After a short while the train will return to London the same way. These trains do not visit Terminal 4.
- The first train to Central London leaves Heathrow at 5.10 am, (30 minutes later on Sundays). The last train leaves for Central London at 11:45pm (15 minutes earlier on Sundays).
- The first train from Central London arrives at Heathrow at around 06:40am and the last train leaves for Heathrow from London at 12:20am (11:30pm on Sundays).
- On Fridays and Saturday nights the Piccadilly Line goes all night at around 10 minute intervals between Terminal 5 and Cockfosters, stopping at Heathrow Central for Terminals 2 and 3. No trains run to Terminal 4.
- When the Underground is shut there is a night bus alternative, route N9 which goes through the night at 30 minute intervals from Terminal 5 and the central bus station (Terminals 2 and 3). The route includes stops at Hammersmith, Knightsbridge, Hyde Park Corner and Piccadilly.
- The full information, schedules and tips on taking the tube can be found here on their site
The fastest and most stress free transfer from Heathrow to London is the dedicated airport train the Heathrow Express. This takes just 15 minutes from Heathrow to Paddington Station running every 15 minutes.
However, if you are not staying in the Paddington, Bayswater or Marble Arch area it may be a tortoise and hare situation where once you get to Paddington you are still a long way from your hotel. If your hotel is in the Kensington High Street, Earl’s Court Road or Gloucester Road area you will be doubling back on yourself and the Underground will be quicker.
The Heathrow Express is fully priced. There is a cheaper stopping train, the TFL Heathrow train that runs the same tracks, is much cheaper, but less frequent and slightly slower.
Paddington Heathrow Express airport train
Heathrow Express trains run every 15 minutes.
Monday to Saturday
From Heathrow Airport the first train from Heathrow (Terminals 2 and 3) is at 05:12. The last train is at 23:48. From Monday to Thursday every 30 minutes after 22:00.
From Paddington the first train is 05:10. The last train is at 23:25. Monday to Thursday every 30 minutes after the 21:55 service.
From Heathrow Airport first train from Heathrow (Terminals 2 and 3) is at 06:23am. The last train is at 11:42pm.
From Paddington the first train is 05:10am (Sundays 06:25). The last train is at 11:25pm.
Heathrow (Terminals 2 and 3) and Paddington train trip is 15 minutes. Terminal 5, 21 minutes and Terminal 4, take 27 minutes.
TFL Rail Heathrow Hours (cheaper public train)
- TFL Heathrow trains come every 30 minutes in every direction 7 days a week.
- From Heathrow Airport, the first train from Heathrow (Terminals 4) is at 05:21am, (Sundays 06:01). The last train is a bit after midnight.
- From Paddington the first train is 04:42am, (Sundays 05:11). The last train is at 11:16pm, (Sundays 11:11pm).
Average journey time between Heathrow Terminals 4 and Paddington is 35 minutes. Full TFL train information here.
|LONDON – HEATHROW COMPARISON OF PUBLIC TR ANSPORT 2019|
|Service||Standard Adult Fare*|
|London Underground (Cash)||£6.00||£12.00|
|London Underground (Oyster Card)||£3.10-£5-10~||£6.20-£10.20~|
|National Express Bus to Victoria||£6.00-£10.00||£12.00-£15.00|
|TFL Rail Train (Peak)||£10.20||£20.40|
|TFL Rail Train (Off Peak)||£10.10||£20.20|
|Heathrow Express Train (Off Peak)||£22.00#||n/a|
|Heathrow Express Train (Anytime)||£25.00#||£37.00#|
|Heathrow Express Train (14 Day Advance)||£16.50/£12.10‡|
|Heathrow Express Train (30 Day Advance)||£14.30/£8.80‡|
|Heathrow Express Train (90 Day Advance)||£12.10/£5.50‡|
|Hotel Shared Shuttle Central London||£21.33||£42.66|
Public Transportation from Gatwick Airport to London City
- The Gatwick Express non-stop train service to Victoria comes every 15 minutes and takes 30 minutes.
- Book Gatwick Express online and save 10%.
- Southern trains services operate four times an hour to Victoria via East Croydon and Clapham Junction taking 35 minutes.
- Book Southern Trains
- Services to London Bridge, London Blackfriars, Farringdon and St Pancras International also run four times an hour taking between 30 and 45 minutes.
- Book Thameslink & Great Northern
EasyBus run a low-cost airport transfer service to London, with prices from just £2.00. easyBus also run a dedicated, direct service between Gatwick and west London via Earls Court/West Brompton, taking around 1 hour.
EasyBus runs seven days a week and operates from North Terminal, bus stops 10 and 11.
Book online with easyBus
Things to Do
Visit the trendy neighborhood Notting Hill & the Portabello Road Market
Notting Hill is a colorful, trendy neighborhood in the city. There are lots of cafes on the bohemian Portobello Road, famous for its market selling antiques and vintage fashion. Film enthusiasts appreciate the Electric Cinema in posh armchairs. There are lots of delicious higher end restaurants, brunch spots and boutiques. There is a wild annual Notting Hill Carnival, with parades and calypso music reflecting the area’s Caribbean roots. Full market history, schedule and information here.
Market opening times
09:00 – 18:00 Monday To Wednesday
09:00 – 13:00 Thursday
09:00 – 19:00 Friday Antique stalls
09:00 – 19:00 Saturday Main day
00:00 – 00:00 Sunday (closed) fashion under Portobello Green canopy
Above times are a guide only, shops & cafes open 7 days a week
Big Ben & Westminster Bridge
Big Ben is a Gothic clock tower that is 16 stories and is a national symbol at the Eastern end of the Houses of Parliament. The best views of the clock and for pictures are on the Westminster Bridge on the Thames river. Big ben has been under construction since 2017 as you can see when I visited. The tower is still being constructed so tours won’t resume until 2021. Find more information about Big Ben and Elizabeth tower here.
The Westminster Abbey is a Protestant abbey hosting daily services and every English and British coronation since 1066. This is a world heritage site and a gorgeous church near Big Ben, Parliament and the Westminster bridge. The church is open for tours daily 9:30am-3:30pm. Adult tickets are 20 pounds and kids are 9 pounds. Book tour tickets here.
House of Lords/Parliament
The house of lords and parliament are all in the Palace of Westminster historical and current functioning government building. These are grand buildings to explore and admire on your walk through Westminster and touring the historical sites. Tour times and prices listed below.
Palace of Westminster
This is the Neo-Gothic masterpiece and seat of the UK government. Guided tours are on Saturdays and in summer. This building is the gorgeous background of the view from Westminster bridge of Big Ben. An adult ticket for a tour is £18.50. Afternoon tea can be added to your tour for a small extra fee. Full details on tours and extra additions are here.
Coca Cola London Eye
This is a Huge ferris type observation wheel that gives riders a bird’s-eye view of the city’s landmarks. This is a cool way to see the city and get the best pictures and view. Adult tickets are £27.00 each. The wheel is open 11am-6pm or 8pm in the summer. There are all kinds of other passes available online check here.
This palace is the Queen’s official London residence and a working royal palace. Visitors can tour the palace’s opulent private and state rooms or watch the changing of the guard. The Palace can be seen for free from outside and see the changing of the guards without paying for a private tour. The hours are 9:30am-6:30pm for tours. An adult ticket is £25.00.
Take a walk through Kensington Garedens
These beautiful grounds are a part of the Kensington Palace. The vast park contains Kensington Palace and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground. The park is open from 6am to dusk all year round. There are park deck chairs all around in different areas to sit, and sunbathe catching some sun. The gardens are part of Hyde park which is free and open to the public.
Visit Camden & shop the market
Besides the Portobello Road Market this is the other eclectic market with youthful vibe and stalls/shops selling fashion and accessories, music and more that is very trendy. It has over 1,000 vendors and has all kinds of food, drinks as well as clothes and items to buy. More information about the vendors, hours or location can be found here.
EVERY DAY: 10AM-LATE
Camden Market by Train
- CAMDEN TOWN: 5 MINS
- CHALK FARM: 10 MINS
- CAMDEN ROAD: 8 MINS
Camden Market by Bus
- KING’S CROSS: 214
- VICTORIA: 24
- WEST END: 274
- EAST LONDON: 393
Take a day trip to Oxford
Oxford is a historic famous city in the burbs of London that holds Oxford University within it holding 38 colleges and is a city of spires.
This is a famous piaza in central London, where Nelson’s Column towers above the square’s LED-lit fountains, artworks and lion statues. The National Gallery art museum is across the street. This is a large public spot to hang out, take a rest from touring or eat a snack or have a coffee to people watch.
This is a hopping part of the city that has a bunch of popular shopping, restaurants, cafes and more. There are lots of neon signs and is a very busy famous intersection and hub for some of the best shopping and nightlife.
Soho is a trendy, artistic and modern part of town, in the West End, that has an eclectic mix of restaurants, nightlife and shopping. Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club is one of the famous spots to visit here. Theatre fans need to visit Shaftesbury Avenue, and shoppers check out Carnaby Street, Oxford and Regent streets and the Liberty’s department store.
Tower Bridge & Tower of London
This famous bridge over the Thames river has panoramic views from high level walkways and behind-the-scenes access to original lifting machinery. The bridge can be enjoyed and seen from free alongside the public river walk.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
This is a grand cathedral and gardens with a floor-plan of the original building. This cathedral looks gorgeous during the day and is lit up spectacular at night as well. The tour hours are 8:30am-4:30pm. Adult tickets are £20 and £8.50 for kids for walk up tickets. You can save a few pounds a ticket by buying them online in advance.
Millenium Pedestrian Bridge & the Shard
This is a cool experience walking on this giant pedestrian bridge in the city as well as a great view of the monument the Shard, the beautiful glass tower picture above. This bridge is right by Founders Arms pub and can be a great evening walk after dinner and drinks on the river. You can walk across the pedestrian bridge to see St. Paul’s Cathedral lit up at night which is beautiful.
The Sky Garden is known as the walkie talkie due to its unique shape, this skyscraper features a top-floor restaurant and a beautiful city overlook through the glass structure surrounded by a jungle of plants. Entering the Sky Garden is free, but a spot must be booked online in advance through this site. Tickets can be booked weekly up to three weeks in advance. Tickets are only valid for the date and time stated on the ticket and have a time limit of 1.0 hrs from time of entry. Turnstiles are in operation in the Sky Garden lobby for the members of the public who have booked tickets. Upon entry please ensure tickets are either printed or available on a mobile phone ready to be scanned on the turnstiles for entrance. BOOK SKY GARDEN TICKETS HERE FOR FREE!!!
Have a meat pie, chips & a Pims on the River Thames at a pub
Founders Arms Pub is on the Thames river by the Millennium bridge across the river from St. Paul’s Cathdral. This riverside pub has one of the best views of the river, the cathedral, and the historic skyline of London. They have a huge outdoor deck seating and it fills up fast so come early to reserve a table! They sell the best meat pies and chips as well as the classic pims cocktail. They are open daily 9am-11pm. Food service stops at 10pm. Check out this pub on the river and their site here.
Booking a Hostel
This is a chic, modern hostel and is a 10-minute walk from London King’s Cross train station and 15 minutes’ from the British Museum. The hostel has stylish, colourful mixed-sex and female-only dorms including free Wi-Fi and shared bathrooms. There are some private rooms too. There’s a hip bar/restaurant offering pub grub and a funky dining area with a Routemaster bus. Additional amenities include a laid-back cafe with a tin ceiling and a piano, as well as a screening room and a lounge area.
$124USD/night private room, $33USD/night for a dorm , BOOK HERE