A Traveler’s Guide to London Heathrow Airport

Welcome to Heathrow Airport. The airport is located 20 miles or 32 kilometers to the west of London, and is known to be one of the busiest airports in the world, second only to Dubai .

There are departure lounges and family facilities (so if you are traveling with a baby, look out for these when baby needs to be changed). There are entertainment play areas as well. There you will find a specialist lounge, a game zone, quiet children’s room and many slides to keep the kids entertained. If you need to get a quick gift there are a range of stores available.

When you get off in Heathrow on your trip to London, The first thing that you will have to find is a big yellow sign that will show you where to get the various modes of transport. London has one of the largest transportation networks. You have a choice between the Tube, a Taxi, and Heathrow Express, Uber, rental car.

It is advisable to use Google Maps or the Citymapper app to figure out your route options to get from the airport to your hotel.  Ensure that you enter in the specific date and time day that you’ll be traveling so that you can get as accurate results as possible. It will also give you an idea of the traffic. There’s no way to predict which option is “best” for you because it varies for each situation.

When traveling from Heathrow airport, a quick and easy way to get to Central London (Paddington) is the Heathrow Express. If you’re not trying to get somewhere that’s near Paddington, it’s not worth taking the express. Use Google Maps to determine your best route.

I must warn you however that taking big bags on London’s tube system is difficult. There are a lot of stairs to go up and down and escalators. Lifts and elevators are not available in every station. If you have many bags or you will struggle carrying them up and down stairs, consider a taxi or one of the other options. There are apps available for the London tube checker and the London bus checker.

London Underground or the Tube

The Tube or the underground rail network will be something that you will use often for your stay in London. You will need to get an Oyster card. There is a minimum deposit that you will have to pay, but the good news is that it is refunded if you return the card when you are leaving London. You will also have the option to pay for daily, weekly or monthly. This is a fast way to travel. Warning… it gets very busy during the rush hours. Be prepared to walk fast to keep up.  There are a lot of up and down staircases and escalators.

Underground, there are clearly marked maps with different colored lines to tell you which way to go. All you have to do is follow the color. The underground is divided into 9 zones. There are red, blue, yellow and green lines that show different routes to north south east and west.  If you take the wrong train, you will have to backtrack and it can be done by just following the route maps.

Heathrow Express and Heathrow connect train

Takes you to Paddington, One train goes directly to Paddington. And the other stops along the way and is slightly cheaper. If you buy tickets for twelve people you get a discount for one.

The Bus

At the stations, there are machines available to buy your tickets. There are double-decker buses.  If you book tickets in advance or during off-peak times, their prices are more economical. You cannot pay your bus fare in cash. You will need the oyster card.  London is known for their iconic double-decker buses. I am sure you will get better sight-seeing opportunities this way. You can just imagine how fabulous it could be to see London from the top level of the double-decker bus. You can book a London bus tour. There is an onboard tour guide. Now you can enjoy the splendor of the architecture and monuments.

If you make a journey using pay as you go on a bus, and you can make unlimited bus journeys for free within one hour of first touching it. All 5 to 10-year-olds travel free on buses and trams.  Bus travel is free for wheelchair users. How do you get the driver to stop at your destination? Press the red button that is situated on the upright metal posts, when your stop is next. This gives the driver enough notice to stop safely. You can find bud timetables and route maps online. If you go out at night there are buses that are available for 24 hours.

Trams

Trams also prove to be very useful in London. They run in the south of London. The good news is that they are easily assessable and frequent. The work

Car Rentals

Car rentals are also an option. If you are going to be driving yourself around London, do remember to drive on the left side of the road. I am sure it takes a little getting used to but it gets easier as you drive. There are many online websites that you can look at and hire from. Easirent LHR Car Hire is one of them.

They have a selection of economy and family-sized vehicles. If you like to travel in style they do have luxurious vehicles as well. They are situated away from the airport so they offer a free shuttle transfer to and from the airport. Note that you will have to show the bus driver your rental agreement so do keep it in a place where it is easily accessible. Car rentals are advisable if you prefer to travel at your leisure, or if you are traveling with a baby. If you have your own vehicle then you can stop when baby gets restless. Some people like to explore the city at their own pace and not have to hail a cab or rush to get the next Tube.

Taxi

There are many taxies stands outside the airport. You can take up to 5 people in a taxi. You can grab a black taxi easily. The price varies significantly depending on where you’re going.  You can check prices online.

Some interesting points to remember while in London and using the Taxi. Only the Black Cabs can be hailed in the street. Look at the TAXI sign on the car, if it is lit, it is available. These cabs are metered. Minicabs are also available. Ask for a price before you get it as these are not metered.

Uber 

If your phone works upon your arrival, you can call an Uber. If you do not have a lot of luggage and are traveling alone or as a couple, you can do UberPool to save money. You can also do your bit to help the environment. You will ride with someone else who’s going to the same area as you.

Enjoy your visit to London. It is an amazing experience. The more prepared you are when it comes to the transport options available, the more enjoyable your trip will be, It pays to do your homework beforehand.

Useful Travel Resources for London

London Heathrow to London Map – Mobile directions from Google Maps
RentalCars.com – Great site for comparing rental car prices
Skyscanner.net – Our favorite place to book cheap airline flights
Expedia.com – Book affordable accommodation or bundle flights and hotels in London.
Recommended Guidebook: Rick Steves London: 2019
Suggested Reading: 1000 Things to Do in London for Under £10  

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