There are three main airports that serve London and it is possible to get into London from any of them by some form of public transit. The airports are Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. Generally speaking, if you aren't in a hurry you can save a lot. Check out the following comparisons.
Heathrow to London
- Fastest (sometimes)*, but more expensive: Heathrow Express Rail — This comfortable service operates every 15 minutes from Heathrow Central Station located under Terminals 1 and 3. It takes just 15 minutes to reach Paddington Station in London. This might be your best choice if you have a lot of luggage, however, keep in mind that Paddington Station is not all that central therefore you may still have to take the tube or bus to get to your hotel depending on its location. Also the Travelcard and Oyster card are not valid on this service.
- Next Fastest: TLF Rail operated by Transport for London — This service is more comfortable than riding the tube, especially if you have a lot of luggage. The price is about half that of the Express. Like the Express it goes to Paddington Station, but has stops along the way, so it takes about 30 minutes. You can board the TLF Rail at Terminals 2, 3, or 4 Like the Underground, you can use the Travelcard or Oyster Card for payment.
- Least Expensive and (sometimes)* slowest: The London Underground — The Piccadilly line serves all the Heathrow Terminals and takes you right into central London. It stops at numerous stations and connects with several other tube lines along the way. While it takes longer (about 45 minutes) to make the trip, it may get you closer to your hotel with less connections so in many cases it may not be slower that the above options. Another upside is that you can use the Oyster Card or Travelcard. The downside is it can be extra busy at rush hour and there's no place to stow your luggage making it awkward and less comfortable if you have a lot.
Gatwick to London
- Fastest, but most expensive: Gatwick Express Rail — This comfortable service operates every 15 minutes from Gatwick Airport. It takes 30 minutes to reach Victoria Station in central London. We would highly recommend using the service below as it only takes about 5 minutes longer and it is far less expensive. Oyster cards and contactless payment cards are valid on this service.
- Slightly Longer, but less expensive: Southern Rail — The service also runs from Gatwick to Victoria Station with frequent departures throughout the day. It takes just a few minutes longer, as it makes a few stops along the way, but it is much cheaper. Oyster cards and contactless payment cards are valid on this service.
- Also Slightly Longer, but less expensive: ThamesLink — Also less expensive than the Gatwick Express, this service will get you to Farringdon and St. Pancras Stations in London which might be more convenient than Victoria Station for you, depending on where you are staying. Service is frequent, even running 4 times per hour throughout the night. Oyster cards and contactless payment cards are valid on this service.
Stansted to London
- Fastest, but most expensive: Stansted Express Rail — This comfortable service operates every 15 minutes from Stansted Airport. It takes about 60 minutes to get to Liverpool Street Station in the London financial district. From here you can connect to 4 different lines on the The London Underground: Central, Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City Lines. Travelcard and Oyster card are not valid on this service, but can be used on the Underground when you get to Liverpool Street.
- Longer, but much less expensive: National Express Coach or Terravision Coach — This bus service also operates from Stansted airport to Victoria Station with departures every 15 to 30 minutes. It takes about 90 minutes for the trip. These buses are about ½ the price of the Stansted Express and may not take much longer if your hotel is located anywhere near Victoria Station on the west side of London. The Travelcard and Oyster card are not valid on either of these services.