So you’re visiting London (yay!), and you’re wondering how to get from Heathrow Airport to Central London. Luckily, there are several ways to get to Central London from Heathrow, so I’ll share which I think is best.
Option 1: Take the Underground
In my experience, the best way to go from Heathrow Airport to Central London is by taking the Underground. Londoners call it the tube, New Yorkers call in the Metro, but either way, it’s a cheap and very easy way to get to Central London. The first thing you’ll need to do is buy an Oyster card.
However, if you’re in London for a short period of time, it might not be worth buying an Oyster card. Instead, you can just use contactless payment, as long as your credit or debit card has tap and pay.
Buying an Oyster Card:
1. Buy an Oyster card at your terminal, and choose the best option for your trip. I bought a 7 day Oyster pass, which allows me to use the tube as much as I want for 7 days. This included my transportation from Heathrow Airport.
2. When you buy your Oyster card, the machine will ask you to choose your zones. The tube routes are broken down into zones. The most popular zones are 1 and 2, which is where you’ll find most of the tourist attractions, and Heathrow Airport is in zone 6. I bought an Oyster card for zones 1-6 because it covered the airport, as well as the main attractions, including Camdentown.
3. A new Oyster card costs 5 pounds (about $6), and the 7 day pass costs 70 pounds (about $84). This is less than $100 for a week of unlimited transportation, which is a great deal considering the cost of just one Uber ride.
4. It will take 45-60 minutes to get to Central London, depending on where your stop is. My stop was Camdentown, which is north of Central London, so it took me about an hour.
5. If you have a lot of luggage, it might be more difficult to take the tube. That’s why I recommend packing carry-on only luggage. It’s also why I’m obsessed with packing light. It’s so freeing and less stressful! You can check out my blog about how to pack carry-on only for a month in Europe.
I Have My Oyster Card. What Now?
Follow the signs for “Underground” at your terminal. The Underground is accessible through terminals 2, 3, 4, and 5. Keep in mind that the tube is literally connected to the airport terminal, so it’s very easy to navigate.
Take the elevator to the ground floor, which is where the Piccadily tube station is. It will also be labeled in the elevator. I took this photo from terminal 5.
Swipe your Oyster card, and wait for the Piccadilly to Cockfosters train. It’s impossible to get on the wrong train because Piccadilly is the only option. Just make sure you screenshot the Google Map directions because you’ll lose service below ground. Google Maps is essential, which is why I recommend using a SIM Card. I have an entire blog post about which SIM Card I recommend.
I got off at Leicester Square and transferred to the Northline High Barnet tube. My final stop was Camdentown. Again, this is all very easy if you use Google Maps. I’ll admit that I have a lot of experience with the Metro in Washington D.C and NYC, so I’m used to navigating. But even if you aren’t familiar with taking the tube, I still recommend it because it’s simple from Heathrow and will save you money.
Option 2: Take the Heathrow Express
The Heathrow Express is a fast train that will take you to Paddington in Central London. Here’s some things to know about the Heathrow Express.
1. It takess 15 minutes to take the Heathrow Express from the airport to Paddington. As of July 2022, it costs 25 pounds (about $30.00) for a one-way ticket.
2. If you take the Heathrow Express, you’ll probably still need to take the tube to your final destination, unless you’re staying in Paddington. This means it could end up taking about the same amount of time as taking the Underground from Heathrow.
(I’m staying in Camden, so I would’ve taken the tube to reach my final destination.)
3. If you choose this option, you’ll need to buy an Oyster Card that comes with a train ticket, which is an option on the Oyster card machine. You can also buy your ticket ahead of time online.
Option 3: Take an Uber or Taxi
The final option is to take an Uber or taxi, which takes 50-60 minutes to arrive into Central London. Public transport in London is amazing, so I don’t see a reason to spend money on such a long Uber or taxi ride. As of July 2022, it will cost between £35-40 (40-50 US dollars) for an Uber from Heathrow to Central London. You’ll also have to wait 10-15 minutes for the driver to get into the airport.