If you’re planning to visit the great city of London, well my friend you’re in for a treat. And if you’re looking at flights, you might have noticed a lot of choices with airports. And maybe as you try to work out the logistics you’re wondering, how many airports are there in London?
Yes, there are several major international airports serving London, so let’s take a look.
What are the airports serving London?
Here in London we are spoiled with six, yes six, major international airports. They are:
- London Heathrow (LHR)
- London Gatwick (LGW)
- London City (LCY)
- London Stansted (STN)
- London Luton (LTN)
- Southend Airport (SEN)
If you’re flying into London from Europe or the UK, you could be landing in any of those. But, if you’re coming from further afield, for example from North America or Asia, you will be flying into one of the ‘major’ London airports. These are Heathrow, Gatwick and, to an extent, Stansted.
Which is the biggest airport in London?
The biggest and busiest airport in London is Heathrow, which is located to the west of the city and sits just beyond the city limits. With 5 terminals and 2 runways, Heathrow serves extensive global destinations in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe. If you’re on a long haul flight to London then you are about 60% likely to be flying into London Heathrow.
The second biggest airport is Gatwick, which is located south of the city in the county of Sussex. There are 2 terminals and one runway – well, there is a second runway but they don’t use it, which is a bone of contention for Gatwick operators.
The third largest airport in London is Stansted, located to the north east of the city in Essex. Stansted mostly serves budget airlines and European, North African and Near Eastern locations (Dubai, Jordan etc). However the airport is fast opening up to the world, with new connections to destinations inclduing Mumbai in India, Dakar in Senegal and Dubai.
Which London airport is closest to the city?
London City airport is located in the East End of the metropolitan area of London, and is the only airport within the city limits. Historically London City Airport was used by business travellers, and is still popular for connections to financial hubs like Zurich, Frankfurt, Milan and Paris. However there are an increasingly diverse selection of flights to popular holiday destinations.
London City Airport is the smallest and most compact of the London airports, but the approach is spectactular (usually flying right above the Shard and the City of London) and the connections into town are hard to beat.
After London City, Heathrow is the most convenient and well connected… But as we’ll see, the connections are decent across the board.
Which London airport is best connected to the city?
If you’re worried about connecting from the airport into London, you don’t need to worry. Pretty much all of the airports serving London are well connected by public transport, or even taxi if you want.
In terms of the best, London Heathrow is served by the Piccadilly line (tube), the Elizabeth Line (new crossrail train), Heathrow Express (premium fast connection) and the Heathrow Connect (slower rail but faster than the tube). You can also take an Uber or a black taxi cab from Heathrow to London, as well as an assortment of coaches and buses. In short, Heathrow is very well connected.
London City is within the city limits and is served by the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), as well as the bus service and taxis.
Although London Gatwick sits nearly 30 miles south of the city, it is also very well connected by a variety of trains, coaches and taxis. The Gatwick Express will drop you at the South Terminal station in around half an hour – or take one of the Southern or Thameslink services at around 40 minutes.
Stansted, Luton and Southend are both well served by both national rail connections and coach services.
How much does it cost to get from the airport to London?
As we’ve seen there are six airports and various different ways to get into town. Also, ‘town’ is huge so it will depend where you’re heading too.
If you book in advance, you can get an airport coach connection for around £10 one way. If you jump on a train on the day, you’ll pay in the region of £10-20 one way. (depending on the airport and where you’re headed).
Hotels and parking at London airports
If you have a late or early flight, you might want to consider staying at a hotel close to your London airport. This is especially true for Gatwick, Stansted and Luton as the connection times at night can be long.
Luckily, there are plenty of great hotels close to all of the major London airports. Travel Airport Plus is a useful resource for anyone looking for airport hotels or parking near the London airports.
So if you’re coming to London, don’t worry about your airport connections. But if you’re looking to be as economical as possible, check connection times and prices before you arrive.