Time For a Stop-over in London?
Many long-haul travellers passing through the UK in the middle of a long-haul trip will be faced with having to travel between two of the UK’s major airports – Heathrow and Gatwick. Although they’re only about 40 miles apart, with no direct train route between the two, they’re not the easiest of places to travel between.
There are basically three ways to travel between Heathrow and Gatwick.
Take the train – with a tube from Heathrow on the Piccadilly Line to South Kensington, then a Circle and District line tube to Victoria, you can then catch the Gatwick Express from there.
Go on the coach – the most direct option is the National Express coach service which runs between the two airports.
Catch a taxi – if you don’t like the idea of coach or train travel, you could always book a taxi; though bear in mind this will probably be the most expensive option. Also, with either the coach or a taxi, you have to factor in possible delays because of the traffic.
Most airlines recommend that passengers allow at least three hours to travel between the two airports so there is sufficient time to catch their connecting flight. If your flight isn’t connecting, you’ll obviously need longer in order to check-in for the next flight and don’t forget how long security checks can take these days.
Depending on the length of your overall trip, you may decide it’s better to give yourself a longer break between flights and take advantage of being able to see one of the world’s most vibrant capital cities.
A day in London
If you’ve not been to London, then it’s definitely worth incorporating an extra day into your trip to simply see the sights – even if you leave with the feeling that you’ve barely scraped the surface of what London has to offer. Arriving at Heathrow, you can catch the tube directly to the centre of London via the Piccadilly line in about an hour and this is probably the easiest way to get to the tourist hotspots.
Get off the tube at Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square and you’ll have places like Covent Garden, Oxford Street and Trafalgar Square all within easy walking distance – a great way to stretch your legs after a long flight. With so many of the big museums and art galleries free to enter, a day in London doesn’t need to be a costly one. You can then make your way out to Gatwick at the end of the day, so that you’re all ready for your connecting flight the next day.
Take a chance to chill
If you’ve been to London before, a day’s sightseeing may not interest you, but you still might value a decent break between two long flights. If that’s the case, then it’s perfectly possible to book a night at one of the many airport hotels. Ideally, book your accommodation at the airport you’re flying from the next day, so you get the travelling over with first. Many of the Heathrow and Gatwick hotels have great facilities such as spas and swimming pools so you can really just kick back and enjoy a few hours’ downtime before getting on the next flight the next day. You’ll also feel much more ready for another long flight if you’ve had a proper meal and a good night’s sleep before continuing your journey. Or just press on through.
You may not have the luxury of an extra day to play with, or perhaps you are the kind of traveller who just wants to reach their end destination as quickly as possible and then unwind. If you’re looking to travel directly between Heathrow and Gatwick, it’s perfectly possible – you just have to leave enough time for any contingencies, such as traffic delays or problems with the public transport network. Never underestimate the traffic in and around London, problems can occur at any time, but particularly on Monday mornings, and on Friday and Sunday afternoons and evenings, when rush hour reaches its peak.