Getting to London

By plane:

Due to London’s huge global city status it is the most served destination in the world when it comes to flights.

London (all airports IATA code: LON) is served by a total of six airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, City, Stansted, Luton, Southend). Travelling between the city and the airports is made relatively easy by the large number of public transport links that have been put in place over recent years. However, if transiting through London, be sure to check the arrival and departure airports carefully as transfers across the city may be quite time consuming. In addition to London’s five official airports (of which only two are located within Greater London), there are a number of other regional UK airports conveniently accessible from London. Since they offer a growing number of budget flights, choosing those airports can be cheaper (or even faster, depending on where in London your destination is).

For transfers directly between London’s airports, the fastest way (short of a taxi) is the direct inter-airport bus service by National Express. Buses between Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton run at least hourly, with Heathrow-Gatwick services taking 65min (£18) and Heathrow-Stansted services 90min (£20.50) (note that services between Stansted and Luton run only every two hours). However, it’s essential to allow leeway, as London’s expressways, especially the orbital M25 and the M1 motorway, are often congested to the point of gridlock. Some buses have toilets on board.

For details on individual airport and it’s connections to the city and the campus please follow this link.

By train:

London is the hub of the British rail network – every major city in mainland Britain has a frequent train service to the capital, and most of the smaller, provincial cities and large towns also have a direct rail connection to London of some sort – although the frequency and quality of service can vary considerably from place to place.

Rail fares to London vary enormously from very cheap to prohibitively expensive – the golden rules are to book Advance tickets for a particular train time, don’t travel into the city on Friday afternoons and Sundays, and avoid buying tickets on the day of travel. There are three basic types of ticket, which are summarised below. Note that much of the advice applies to rail travel in general within the United Kingdom.

For more specific info on National Rail, Eurostar and other rail options please see this Wikitravel link.

By bus:

Most international and domestic long distance bus (UK English: coach) services arrive at and depart from a complex of coach stations off Buckingham Palace Road in Westminster, close to London Victoria rail station. All services operated by National Express or Eurolines (see below) serve Victoria Coach Station, which actually has separate arrival and departure buildings. Services by other operators may use this station, or the Green Line Coach Station across Buckingham Palace Road. The following are amongst the main coach operators:

National Express, ☎ 0870 580 8080, link to the website, is by far the largest domestic coach operator and operates services to / from London from throughout England, Wales and Scotland. Advance ticketing is usually required and recommended practice in any case. Fares are low – especially when booked in advance via the web. A few journeys are fast but most are notably slower than using the train.

Eurolines, ☎ 0870 514 3219, link to the website, is an associate company of National Express, and runs coach services to / from London with various cities in Northern Ireland, Ireland and continental Europe. Advance ticketing is required.  edit

Megabus, ☎ 0900 160 0900 (premium rate), link to the website, operates budget coach services from/to London (Victoria Coach Station) to/from several major regional cities in the UK and continental Europe. Fares are demand responsive but can be very cheap (£1.50 if you book far enough in advance). Megabus also offer a Sleeper service to Scotland.

By car:

London is the hub of the UK’s road network and is easy to reach by car, even if driving into the centre of the city is definitely not recommended. Greater London is encircled by the M25 orbital motorway, from which nearly all the major trunk routes to Scotland, Wales and the rest of England radiate. The most important are listed below.

M1: The main route to/from the North, leading from the East Midlands, Yorkshire and terminating at Leeds. Most importantly, Britain’s longest motorway – the M6, branches from the M1 at Rugby, leading to Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, the Lake District and onwards to the Scottish border, and ultimately Glasgow.
A1/A1(M) The A1 is the original, historic “Great North Road” between England and Scotland’s capital cities and has largely been converted to motorway standard; it runs up the eastern side of Great Britain through Peterborough, York, Newcastle and continues north through Northumberland and the Scottish Borders to Edinburgh.
M40/A40: Arrives in London from a north westerly direction, linking the city with Oxford and providing an additional link from Birmingham.
M4: The principal route to/from the West – leading to Bath, Bristol and cities South Wales (Cardiff and Swansea). It is also the main route towards Heathrow Airport.
M3: The main route to London from the shipping port of Southampton. Additionally, the A303/A30 branches off at Basingstoke, leading to Exeter, Plymouth and through the heart of Devon and Cornwall to finish at Land’s End.
M2/M20: Together, these motorways are the main link to the coastal ferry (and Channel Tunnel) ports of Dover and Folkestone from Continental Europe.
M11: The M11 connects Stansted Airport and Cambridge to London, and it terminates on the north eastern periphery of the city.

All info on source and authors are available here.