International airports in London

International Airports in London

Almost 20 million international visitors arrived in London in 2018, making it one of the world’s most important tourist destinations.

People from across the globe are attracted to the capital by world-famous sites such as Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge.

Whether visiting the English capital for business or leisure, foreign nationals in London can also take the opportunity to enjoy one of the city’s 4 World Heritage Sites: The Tower of London, The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, The Palace of Westminster, and Maritime Greenwich.

Tourists and business travellers from overseas are able to fly into one of London’s 6 international airports:

  • London Heathrow
  • London Gatwick
  • London Luton
  • London City
  • London Stansted
  • London Southend

Arriving in London with the Electronic Visa Waiver

Citizens of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, or the United Arab Emirates are now able to cross the border at these international airports with the UK Electronic Visa Waiver.

TheUK EVW allows travellers from these countries to stay in the UK for up to 6 months visa-free for tourism, business, studying, or medical treatment.

The online UK EVW application takes just minutes to complete and, once approved, a link is sent via email to download the visa waiver.

London Heathrow and London Gatwick offer direct flights to and from these destinations. A connecting flight is required if arriving at one of the city’s smaller airports.

London Heathrow Airport: arrival and connections

London Heathrow is the UK’s largest airport and the main gateway into the country for visitors arriving from outside Europe.

Nationals of all of the countries eligible for the UK EVW can travel to London Heathrow Airport with direct flights from Dubai, Muscat, Doha, and Kuwait.

Key information about London Heathrow Airport:

  • Located in the London Borough of Hillingdon, in the city’s western suburbs
  • There are 4 terminals and 2 runways
  • Heathrow serves 6 continents
  • It is the main arrival point for USA flights

London Heathrow Airport transport connections

London Heathrow Airport is connected to the M4 and M25 motorways. The centre of London can be reached by car in around 1 hour.

A pre-booked taxi from the airport to central London can cost £50 or more.

Heathrow to central London by tube

A convenient way to travel from London Heathrow into the city centre is using the Underground. The Piccadilly Line of the tube services the airport and is the cheapest way to get to London.

  • Journey length: 1 hour
  • Price: £6 one way, Oyster or contactless peak/off-peak £5.10/3.10
  • Frequency: every 3 to 9 minutes
  • Timetable: 5 am to 11.45 pm (11.28 pm Sunday); all night Friday and Saturday

Heathrow to central London by train

Heathrow Express is the overground train service from Heathrow airport to Paddington station. This is the quickest way to access the city centre.

  • Journey length: 15 minutes
  • Price: off-peak single ticket from £22.00
  • Frequency: every 15 minutes
  • Timetable: daily from around 5 am to midnight

Travelling from Heathrow to other parts of the United Kingdom

Domestic flights depart Heathrow terminals 2 and 5 with numerous and frequent flights to other parts of the United Kingdom.

It is also possible to travel onwards by train. Tourists arriving into Paddington Station by Heathrow Express can take a connecting train to another part of the country.

London Gatwick Airport: arrival and connections

London Gatwick is the UK’s second-busiest airport, behind Heathrow. Flights depart from Gatwick to around 230 destinations and 70 countries, including over 60 long-haul routes.

Visitors from most EVW eligible countries can fly directly to London Gatwick, with flights arriving from Kuwait, Doha, and Dubai.

Key information about London Gatwick Airport:

  • Located in Crawley, West Sussex
  • There are 4 terminals and 1 runway
  • Gatwick offers flights to more destinations than any other airport in the UK
  • Over 50 airlines currently operate from Gatwick

London Gatwick Airport transport connections

London Gatwick airport is accessed by road via the M23. The centre of London can be reached by car in around 1 hour 30 minutes.

A pre-booked taxi to the centre costs in the region of £60.

Gatwick to central London by train

As the UK’s best-connected airport by rail, travelling into London from Gatwick is hassle-free. It was the first airport in the world to have a direct mainline train link with its own railway station.

Southern and Thameslink trains serve London Victoria and London Bridge.

The Gatwick Express is the quickest and most convenient way to reach the city centre:

  • Journey length: 30 minutes
  • Price: off-peak single ticket from £17.80
  • Frequency: every 3 minutes
  • Timetable: daily from around 5.50 am to 1.35 am

Travelling from Gatwick to other parts of the United Kingdom

London Gatwick has domestic flights to many UK airports as well as excellent train connections. There are currently more than 120 direct train connections, with links to more stations than any other airport in Europe.

Advice for travelling to London

Before flying to the United Kingdom, foreign nationals should check they have all the required documentation for travel including the relevant visa or EVW.

Tourists are recommended to consult the UK online visa requirements to confirm eligibility for the Electronic Visa Waiver.

To save time and ensure a smooth journey, visitors are advised to plan their route into London in advance.

If using public transport, money can be saved by obtaining an Oyster card or using a contactless bank card, as in both cases, the maximum amount that can be spent is capped at the daily rate.