The Cheapest Way To Get to All 6 London Airports

We’ve cracked the code on the cheapest way to get to all six London airports from central London – Heathrow, London Gatwick, London City, London Luton, London Stansted and London Southend.

In this article, we’re breaking down the cheapest prices for bus and rail journeys, and the best routes to use to get to these airports.

Heathrow Airport taking off looking to T5

Heathrow Airport

Being the UK’s biggest airport, it’s no surprise that there’s a multitude of options for getting to Heathrow Airport. From the spendy Heathrow Express (£25 one way) to the new Elizabeth Line (£12.20 one way), there’s plenty of speedy options but what about the most affordable?

Cheapest Train to Heathrow Airport:

Route: Piccadilly line to Heathrow Airport
Transport: Transport for London (London Underground)
Price: £5.60 one-way
Duration: ∼ 50 minutes from Central London

Whilst technically not a train – it’s the Piccadilly Line on the London Underground after all – we thought you’d let us slide with this one!

Even if you got on at Cockfosters at the other end of the line, it would only cost you £5.60 for a single fare – and even less if you have a railcard attached to your Oyster card. The only drawback is the speed… a full run of the Piccadilly line would take you 85 minutes.

Chelsea’s extra money saving hack:
If you get off the tube before Heathrow at Hatton Cross Station and swap onto the bus, you enter the ‘Free Travel’ area where you can use a free H30 bus to reach the airport! This means you’ll swerve the tube’s airport add-on fee  – making your journey just £3.50 at off peak times, or £5.10 at peak times.

Cheapest Bus to Heathrow Airport:

Route: London Victoria to Heathrow Airport
Transport: Megabus
Price: £5.99 one-way
Duration: ∼ 50 minutes

There are lots of local buses with a £1.75 fare if you’re travelling from somewhere nearby, but for heading into Central London you’ll need to spend a bit more. We’ve found journeys between London Victoria and Heathrow with National Express for as little as £6.20, though they’re more often £10.50 each way, but Megabus sweeps in with the win with plenty of £5.99 one way tickets on offer.

Chelsea’s extra money saving hack:
This one’s niche, but I have to shout out to Go2Gate if you happen to live in the Dedworth area in Berkshire. It’s a minibus that is basically like your own personal taxi but for an absolute bargain – just £5pp for a single ride, and even less if there’s more of you travelling.

Gatwick Airport

Getting to Gatwick airport offers quite a few options. You’ve got pricier routes like the Gatwick Express at £20 for a one-way trip, and then there are coach services like National Express, which’ll set you back £7.50 for a one-way ticket. But which route will save you the most cash?

Cheapest Train to Gatwick Airport:

Route: Central London to Gatwick Airport
Transport: Southern and Thameslink
Price: £10.10
Duration: ∼ 35 minutes from Central London

The Southern Railway train rolls into Gatwick from major and local stations across London and the South-East, hitting places like London Victoria, Clapham Junction, East Croydon, Brighton and Portsmouth along the way.

The Thameslink train also whisks you to Gatwick Airport from London stations like London Bridge and St Pancras International, as well as Brighton.

When it comes to the cheapest route, the answer can actually change based on whether you’re travelling peak or off peak.

If you’re travelling off peak, you’re best using a contactless card or Oyster card to tap in and out as that will cost you £10.10 – much cheaper than buying a train ticket for the same route which starts at £13.20 for Southern services, and £14.40 for Thameslink.

However, if you’re travelling at peak times (Monday to Thursday from 0630 to 0930 and from 1600 to 1900) tapping in and out on this same journey will cost an eye watering £18.40!

Chelsea Gatwick Airport Thameslink

Therefore, it’s worth checking how much it would cost you to buy a ticket instead for these times. You can buy this online on any train booking websites, or at the station.

In addition, if you have a railcard, it often works out cheaper to buy a ticket since you’ll get an extra discount applied.

Overall, the main thing here is to check both Transport for London’s single fare finder for the tap in and tap out fare and compare it with how much it would cost you to buy a standard train ticket for your journey.

Chelsea’s extra money saving hack:
Most of the trains to Gatwick stop at East Croydon and so if you jump out the train there and ‘tap out’, then tap back in and get on the next train then this will save you money!

This is because the fare between Central London and East Croydon is £4.20 off peak (£6.30 peak) and between East Croydon and Gatwick it’s only £3.90 (£6.30). 

Therefore, if you’re travelling off peak, your journey total will only be £8.10 (£12.60 peak). And the great news is there’s often around 10 trains an hour from East Croydon so you may not even have to wait that long until the next train.

Cheapest Bus to Gatwick Airport:

Route: Victoria Coach Station to Gatwick Airport
Transport: Megabus
Price: From £5 one-way
Duration: ∼ 1 hour 25 mins

As standard, National Express has options to run you into Central London from Gatwick Airport, starting at £7.50. Just brace yourself for the often 2 hour + journey! However, Megabus is actually your cheapest option with one-way tickets from Victoria Coach Station to Gatwick Airport for as little as £5.

Chelsea at London City Airport

London City Airport

Being the city’s most central airport, London City Airport offers plenty of wallet-friendly ways to get there using public transport. Which is super convenient, especially if you’re travelling from the city centre.

Cheapest Train to London City Airport:

Route: Bank to London City Airport
Transport: Transport for London (DLR)
Price: £3.00 off peak (£3.70 peak)
Duration: 23 minutes from Bank station

Train-wise, you can opt for the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) from Bank to London City Airport. An off-peak single fare will cost you £3.00. In fact, you can travel on the underground from up to Zone 3 and connect onto the DLR for the same price!

Cheapest Bus to London City Airport

Route: 474 and 473 Bus Route to London City Airport
Transport: Transport for London (Bus)
Price: £1.75 one-way
Duration: ∼ 40 minutes (474 bus from Manor Park to London City airport)

The cheapest route to London City Airport is via the TFL bus services, which will set you back just £1.75 for a standard single fare.

The 474 bus route cruises between Manor Park and Canning Town, making a stop at the airport. The 473 bus from North Woolwich to Stratford also swings by the airport, making it super convenient if you’re based in East London.

Chelsea’s extra money saving hack:
Both the 474 and 473 bus routes aren’t quite what I’d class as Central London but the great news is that there’s a ‘Hopper fare‘ in London meaning that you get unlimited bus journeys for £1.75 in a 1 hour period from the moment you tap in on the bus. You can use any contactless payment card to do this, or an Oyster card if you have one!

Chelsea outside Luton Airport

London Luton Airport

There are a few different services that’ll get you to London Luton Airport, like the Green Line coach from Victoria Coach Station at £13 one-way and the Luton Airport Express train from London St Pancras International at £10 one-way. But hold onto your hats because there are even cheaper routes.

Cheapest Train to London Luton Airport:

Route: London St Pancras to Luton Airport
Transport: East Midlands Railway and DART
Price: £7.80 one-way
Duration: ∼ 33 minutes from London St Pancras

The cheapest train route to Luton Airport technically involves two types of transport, though you can often buy them at the same time.

The first part of the journey is an advance single ticket on East Midlands Railway for the quick 22-minute trip from London St Pancras International to Luton Airport Parkway. The cheapest price is just £2.90 but you need to catch it before the price increases since it can go up to £17 on the day! The best time to do this is around 12 weeks before your journey.

The second part is the speedy ride on DART, the 4 minute airport transfer from the railway. This costs a huge £4.90 (!!) but it does come every 5 minutes at peak times.

You can book these separately, but you can also use any train booking site to book the entire journey for the same price. Just make sure you put ‘Luton Airport’ as your destination and not just ‘Luton Airport Parkway’ which will leave you a few km away!

Chelsea’s extra money saving hack:
Can’t bear to stump up £4.90 for a 4 minute journey? I feel you! Instead, you can walk 11 minutes from Luton Airport Parkway to catch the 100 bus / A Busway for just £2. It comes every 10 minutes.

Could you just walk 2.2km to the airport instead? You could – it would take around 30 minutes – and reddit users have confirmed that it’s paved but it’s quite a big hill so take the hike at your own peril!

Cheapest Bus to London Luton Airport:

Route: London to Luton Airport Bus Station
Transport: National Express
Price: £8 one-way
Duration: ∼ 1 hour from Victoria Coach Station

National Express offers four coaches, all setting off from London Victoria Coach Station, but each with a slightly different route. Prices kick off at £8, and the journey from London Victoria usually clocks in at around an hour. If you’re going to Luton Airport from the Golders Green stop, you can expect the journey to take around 35 minutes and cost from £6.

London Stansted Airport

London Stansted Airport

When it comes to public transport, there aren’t as many options for getting to Stansted Airport as some of the other airports in London. But which one works out cheapest?!

Cheapest Train to London Stansted Airport:

Route: Liverpool Street Station to Stansted Airport
Transport: Stansted Express
Price: From £9.90 one-way
Duration: ∼50 minutes

If you’re after a train, there’s sadly only one option here – the Stansted Express! This is fine if you’re able to nab one of their advance tickets for £9.90 but often, they’re not quite that cheap… 

A standard single between London Liverpool Street and London Stansted will set you back a whopping £23 – though a Standard Open Return is £36.30 (working out as £18.15 each way).

The main takeaway here is to book in advance if you can!

Chelsea’s extra money saving hack:
Stansted Express does offer discounts if there’s more than one of your travelling. For 2 people, the saving is often negligible (but better than nothing!) but 4 Standard Open Returns work out at £24.10 each.

However, if you have a railcard I recommend you do not book direct. Instead, use any other train booking website where you will be able to apply your railcard and save more money!

Cheapest Bus to London Stansted Airport:

Route: London Stratford / London Liverpool Street to London Stansted Airport
Transport: National Express / Airport Bus Express
Price: From £7.50  / From £9 one way
Duration: ∼ 50 minutes

Whilst National Express brags the cheapest fare here, when checking for these cheap fares we discovered they’re often similarly priced to the Airport Bus Express and so we recommend just checking both of them before you book.

London Southend Airport

London Southend Airport

When travelling to London from Southend Airport, your best bet and cheapest option is hopping on the Greater Anglia train from London Liverpool Street Station, zipping through Stratford along the way.

Cheapest Train to London Southend Airport:

Route: London Liverpool Street Station to London Southend Airport
Transport: Greater Anglia 
Price: From £10.70 one-way
Duration: ∼ 55 minutes from Liverpool Street Station

Greater Anglia runs frequent services during peak times with one-way ticket prices starting at £20.90 and advance one-way ticket prices starting at £10.70. The journey time is about 55 minutes from Liverpool Street or a slightly quicker 45 minutes from Stratford.

Cheapest Bus to London Southend Airport:

There aren’t any buses from Central London to London Southend Airport, but if you’re travelling from Chelmsford or Southend itself, you can use the X30.

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The cheapest and simplest way to get to every London airport

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