We’ve all been there. You’re heading on an international adventure, but to secure the cheapest flight you need to book a trip that includes an awkwardly long layover. And if this is happening to you, chances are good it’s going to be at Heathrow, which sees a lot of connecting flights.
So, if you’ve found yourself with more time between flights than you care to spend sitting by your gate sipping a coffee and tapping your foot, read on for a guide to quickly see a little bit of London during your Heathrow layover.
The Nuts and Bolts
First things first, unless you travel extremely light, you’re going to want to stow your luggage before you leave the airport. You can check out this page for prices and how to reserve your spot ahead of time.
Once your bags are out of the way, it’s time to leave the airport. You have a few options here, including the Tube, which is cheap but takes around an hour each way, so it’s not a good idea for shorter layovers. You can also take a cab which will be more expensive but can be better if you’re tight on time. However, your best bet is to take the Heathrow Express Train, which will get you to Paddington Station in about 15 minutes. If you book online in advance, you can secure a reduced fare of £5.50 each way.
You made it out of the airport! Now, what to do? Here are a few options for an awesome day near Paddington Station:
· The Sightseer: Jump on the tube and in 20 minutes you’ll be at Westminster Station. This puts you right next to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. From there, you can walk about 15 minutes to Buckingham Palace or up the Thames for views of London Bridge and Tower Bridge.
· The Cultural Aficionado: Take a 15-minute ride on the tube to South Kensington where you’ll be near three great museums on Exhibition Road. Your options include the self-explanatory Science Museum and Museum of Natural History, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, which is one of the world’s largest art museums.
· The Tourist: If you have kids with you or just want to lean in to the fact that you’re a tourist, then you’re only a 10-minute ride away from Baker Station, which is right next to Madame Tussauds. After enjoying the wax sculptures, head across the street for a stroll around Regent’s Park or a visit to London Zoo.
· The Foodie: If you’re hankering for a good meal that’s not in the airport, the good news is that you’re less than 20 minutes away from London’s best food neighborhood: Soho. Take the train to Oxford Circus and then walk a short way to the heart of the neighborhood where you’ll be surrounded by lots of delicious options.
Once you wrap up your adventure, be sure to head back to Heathrow to leave yourself plenty of time to go through security, pick up your bags, and navigate to your correct terminal and gate. Arriving at the airport 2-3 hours before departure is suggested.
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