We landed at Gatwick Airport the first time I ever visited London. As a teenager, I remember the lengthy ride in a van all the way to our hotel in Central London.
For a while, I tried to avoid landing at Gatwick, but sometimes the cheapest flights land there. In one case when our original flight was canceled, it was our only option to get home that day.
It doesn’t have to be that bad actually. While it may take a bit longer to travel between London Gatwick, there are several reliable transportation options. In this post, I will explain how to get from Gatwick to London (or vice versa).
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COVID-19 Update: As of June 8, 2020, all passengers arriving in the UK (with the exception of those coming from Ireland) must comply with a 14-day quarantine. Everyone is also required to wear a face-covering inside the terminals and on any public transportation. Public transportation services have been reduced and you are encouraged to avoid if possible. During this time, it is best to take a private car or taxi.
About Gatwick Airport
Gatwick (LGW) is one of London’s six airports (the others are Heathrow, Stansted, Luton, Southend, and London City), located 28 miles south of the city near Crawley in West Sussex. It is the second-busiest airport by total passenger traffic in the UK, after Heathrow Airport, and the ninth-busiest airport in Europe.
There are two terminals at Gatwick, the North Terminal and the South Terminal. The terminals are connected by a 0.75-mile, elevated, two-way automated shuttle service. The shuttle runs every few minutes around the clock and the journey time is only two minutes.
Planning Your Journey From Gatwick to London
It’s a good idea to think about how to get from Gatwick to London in advance so you can take advantage of promotional prices which are offered if you book your transportation in advance. Plus, it’s one less thing to worry about when you are tired after your flight.
If you are planning a trip, you also might find my free printable travel checklist helpful.
How to Get from Gatwick to London
In the table below, I summarize the different ways that you can get to London from Gatwick Airport.
|Gatwick Transportation Option||Cost for one way ticket*||Journey Time||Frequency||Operating Hours||Best For||Booking Link|
|Gatwick Express||£17.80||30 minutes||Every 15 minutes||Approximately 6:00 am to midnight||Speed||Book Gatwick Express here.|
|National Express Bus||£6.00||90 minutes or more if there is traffic||About every 30 minutes||24 hours||Budget||Book National Express Bus here.|
|Thameslink Train||£9.70||35 minutes to an hour depending on the number of stops||Frequent, varies throughout the day||24 hours||Budget||Book Thameslink here.|
|Taxi/Car Service||£50.00 and up depending on where you want to go in London||Approx 75 minutes. Varies depending on where you want t go in London and the traffic||on-demand||24 hours||Convenience||Book car with Suntransfers here.|
* The cost of the different transportation methods from Gatwick will vary depending on several factors including how far in advance you make the purchase and whether you are traveling during peak times. Also, note that you may also need to pay for transportation from the train or bus station to your hotel.
Gatwick Express Train
The Gatwick Express is a non-stop train service between Gatwick Airport and London’s Victoria Station. It runs every 15 minutes and the ride is only 30 minutes. This is the fastest way to get from Gatwick to Central London.
The first Gatwick Express train is at 5:00 am from Victoria Station and the last train is at 12:30 am. Departing from Gatwick Airport, the first train is at 5.50 am and the last train is at 1:35 am.
To catch the Gatwick Express, you will need to go to the South Terminal. If your flight lands at the North Terminal, just take the free shuttle and then it is a 2-minute walk to the station.
To get the best price on the Gatwick Express, buy a round-trip ticket online before you travel. An Anytime Return ticket allows you the flexibility to travel on any train and complete the return journey within 30 days. In some cases, the flexible ticket may be the same price as choosing specific train times. Booking here through the official site also gets you a 10% discount.
Gatwick Express gives you the option to travel first-class or standard. The standard cars on the train are pleasant enough, so normally I don’t think it is worth the splurge. The thing that makes the first-class more appealing to me is that now it includes access to the No1 Lounge at Gatwick Airport when you buy a return first-class ticket online here. (Note: You can get 20% off the entrance fee when you buy a standard return ticket online.)
If you don’t buy your Gatwick Express tickets in advance, there are kiosks at the station where you can buy them. In addition to the typical payment options, you can also use your Oyster card.
Gatwick Airport Bus
The National Express bus service is the cheapest way to get to London from Gatwick. It stops at both Gatwick Terminals and then takes you to London’s Victoria Station (after stops at Banstead and London’s Vauxhall).
On one trip, when we landed late in the evening, I decided we would try the bus because I knew the traffic wouldn’t be too bad. It was comfortable and I slept most of the journey.
The bus runs about twice an hour around the clock, but the journey will take around 90 minutes (or longer during peak traffic). It is a comfortable ride as the buses have reclining leather seats, air conditioning, and restroom facilities. They do have a baggage limit of two medium suitcases and one piece of hand luggage per person.
You will find the cheapest tickets on the National Express website by booking a specific bus in advance here. For just £5 each way you can add the Change Coach & Go Add-on to give you flexibility in the event of any changes to your flight.
Alternatively, you can get a flexible voucher that you exchange for tickets through Visit Britain here. If you don’t plan ahead, you can buy tickets on the bus, but it will be more expensive and the driver can only accept cash.
Thameslink Trains to London from Gatwick
The Gatwick Express is not the only train to London from Gatwick Airport. You can also take one of the Thameslink trains that makes a few stops. It may take a little bit longer but it is a cheaper way to get from Gatwick to London.
The Thameslink will take you from Gatwick Airport to London Blackfriars, Farringdon, London Bridge, or St. Pancras Stations. It can take from 35 minutes to about an hour depending on how many stops the train makes and which London station you choose.
To catch the train, you will need to go to the South Terminal. If your flight lands at the North Terminal, just take the free shuttle and then it is a 2-minute walk to the station.
As with other trains in England, you will get the cheapest price if you book a specific train time in advance and avoid rush hour. Sometimes it is difficult to estimate how long it will take to get through the airport as the immigration line and baggage wait time can be unpredictable. It might be worth it to spend the extra money on a flexible ticket.
You can check the train schedule and book your ticket for the Thameslink on Trainline. Note that Trainline does also sell Gatwick Express tickets but they don’t offer the discount that you get if you book online directly.
Taxi / Car Service from Gatwick to London
In general, a taxi from Gatwick Airport to Central London will be expensive and take a while. Depending on the time you arrive, there could be heavy traffic. However, if you are traveling with a small group it could be cheaper than some of the other Gatwick to London options (like Gatwick Express) where you need to pay for a ticket for each person.
If you are traveling alone, I can see how taking a taxi from LGW to central London would be tempting. You don’t have to worry about getting lost or carrying your bag upstairs but there are better ways. If you are not worried about the cost but have a lot of luggage, take the Gatwick Express to Victoria Station and grab a taxi there to your final destination.
If you want to take a taxi, it’s best to prebook to avoid waiting in line after your flight. That way you will also know the cost of your ride from Gatwick to London before you are in the car. There are many different cab/car service companies that serve Gatwick Airport.
I recommend using Suntransfers, who offer high-quality door-to-door transfers at reasonable prices. You can choose a car or a van. If your flight is delayed, you don’t have to worry because the price quoted includes unlimited waiting time. If plans change, it’s free to cancel up to 48 hours in advance (or for a small fee you can add the option to cancel up to the time of your transfer). They don’t charge fees for using credit cards and tolls and gratuities are included in the price. Click here to get more information and make a reservation with Suntransfers.
Note: I caution you against using Uber in London. Transport for London has recently revoked its license. Uber is appealing. You can read more about it here.
The Best Way to Get from Gatwick to London
Personally, I think the best way to get to London from Gatwick is the Thameslink train. It doesn’t take much longer than the Gatwick Express but it is cheaper. If you are on a tight budget, the bus from Gatwick to London is the best option, but it will take longer.
For those that have a lot of luggage or travel as a family, it might make sense to get a car service like Suntransfers. It will cost a bit more but it does make things easier.
Getting Around London
After taking the bus or train from London Gatwick to Central London, you may still need to travel to get to your hotel or another destination. Public transportation is going to be the most efficient option. Trust me, the tube (aka the underground) will save time and money if you want to do sightseeing in London too.
You can use a contactless credit card, Apple Pay, or an Oyster Card to pay for rides on London Transport. Check the box above for more details about the Visitor Oyster Card.
Transferring from Gatwick to Other London Airports
If London is not your final destination and you need to transfer to one of the other London area airports, there are several options depending on where you want to go. For those that are looking for the easiest, most convenient option, you can always book a car with Suntransfers. If you are looking to use public transportation, I will go over the best options below.
Gatwick to Heathrow
National Express offers a direct bus from Gatwick to Heathrow. This only takes about 75 minutes depending on traffic. That is your best option. Prices start at £25. Click here for more information.
If you want to take a train you can, but you will have to transfer several times, it will cost more and take longer than the bus. For example:
- The Gatwick Express takes you to Victoria Station. Transfer to the underground and take the Victoria tube line to the Green Park, then switch to the Piccadilly Line which will take you to Heathrow. Be sure to choose the appropriate train for the terminal that you need.
- Take the Gatwick Express to Victoria Station. Transfer to the underground and take the Circle or District lines to Paddington Station. There you can catch the Heathrow Express train.
- Take the Thameslink to St. Pancras Station. Transfer to the Piccadilly line on the Underground which will take you to Heathrow Airport. Be sure to choose the appropriate train for the terminal that you need.
Gatwick to Stansted
This is probably the worst airport transfer, so please avoid it if possible. National Express does offer a direct bus between the two airports but it will take about three hours! Prices start at £19. Click here for more information.
Train options will be slighter faster, but more expensive. Here are two options:
- Take the Gatwick Express to Victoria Station, then the Victoria tube line to Tottenham Hale and pick up the Stansted Express there.
- Take the Thameslink to Farringdon, then switch to the Circle, Metropolitan & City, or the Hammersmith & City tube lines to go to Liverpool Street Station. Then catch the Stansted Express there.
Gatwick to Luton Airport
The transfer from Gatwick to Luton airport is not as bad as you might think. Thameslink offers direct service from Gatwick Airport to Luton Airport Parkway every 15 minutes during peak hours. That journey takes 75 minutes and then there is a free shuttle that will take you the last 10 minutes to the terminal. Click here to check pricing and schedule on Trainline.
Alternatively, if you are on a tight budget, there is a direct National Express Bus. The bus from Gatwick to Luton Airport will take about 2 ½ hours depending on traffic. Prices start at £20. Click here for more information,
Gatwick to London City Airport
If you are transferring from Gatwick to London City Airport, it’s best to take the Thameslink to London Bridge Station. From there, take the Jubilee tube line to Canning Town. At Canning Town, switch to the DLR train going to Woolwich Arsenal which will take you to London City Airport. This journey will take you a little more than an hour.
Traveling From London Back to Gatwick
When you go back to Gatwick to catch your flight, you have the same options to choose from but you need to be more conscious of time. Trains can be delayed and traffic can be unpredictable, so be sure to allow extra time so you don’t miss your flight. It’s better to allow extra time and relax in the airport lounge or bar than to be stressing about catching your flight!
What is your favorite way to get from Gatwick to London? If you have any questions about the different transportation options, please leave it in the comments and I will get back to you.
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