Situated just 30 miles to the south of central London, Gatwick Airport is ideally placed for exploring all that the capital and the south of England has to offer. More than 50 airlines operate through the hub, which welcomes short-haul arrivals from across Europe with airlines like easyJet as well as long-haul flights from around the world with carriers such as British Airways. Britain’s second largest airport by passenger numbers, Gatwick has quick links to both London and the south coast.
Your travel options
The Gatwick Express service goes directly into London Victoria station, meaning you can be in central London in just 30 minutes. Thameslink services go to London Bridge and 3 other London hubs, while Southern trains also run services into London Victoria and London Bridge. Incredibly, Gatwick Airport has direct rail access to more than 120 destinations across Britain.
What you can do
If you’re heading to London having arrived at Gatwick, you’ll find that many of the capital’s top museums and attractions are just a short Underground ride away from the main terminal stations. Simply purchase a travel card for London Underground, top up an Oyster card or use a contactless payment card and you can discover the best of London in a matter of minutes.
1. Tower of London
Visit the capital’s iconic Tower of London and take in 1,000 years of history at the World Heritage Site. Having served as a fortress, palace and infamous prison throughout its time, the Tower is still home to the Crown Jewels and remains steeped in tradition. Explore during a Yeoman Warder tour, meet the famed ravens and get hands-on in the armoury.
2. Buckingham Palace
The official London residence of the UK sovereign since 1837, Buckingham Palace is also the administrative headquarters of the ruling Monarch. Although the Queen still uses the palace for official events and receptions, the State Rooms are opened to visitors for a limited period every summer. Don’t miss the regular Changing of the Guard outside the palace, when the Queen’s Guard is replaced by another regiment in a ceremonial display.
3. Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
The Houses of Parliament and the Elizabeth Tower, commonly known as Big Ben, look resplendent in the sunshine. While access to both is limited, you can take in the sights from Westminster Bridge or from the pathways alongside the River Thames. Big Ben actually refers to the huge bell in the clock tower, which is undergoing maintenance until 2021.
4. Saatchi Gallery
Providing a platform for largely unknown young artists and international artists who don’t regularly exhibit their work in the UK, the Saatchi Gallery displays an abundance of exciting contemporary art. Found near Sloane Square, the free gallery hosts regular exhibitions including photography, virtual reality, drawing and a wealth of other stimulating art forms.
5. London Eye
Views of London don’t get much better than from the top of the London Eye. The giant 135-metre-high cantilevered observation wheel is the largest of its type in the world and is an eye-catching part of the London skyline. In clear weather you can see more than 20 miles, meaning you can spot many of London’s famous sights.
Make a theatrical show in the West End of London part of your stay and choose from an array of musical and drama performances. While many of the big name shows have run in Theatreland for years, others are available for a limited time so pick your performance wisely! Les Miserables, the Lion King Musical and the Book of Mormon are just some of the shows to pick from in 2019.
7. Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum showcases war through the eyes of the people who lived it, seeking to tell personal and emotive stories from times of conflict. Exploring modern warfare from the First World War to the present day, the museum provides an incredibly detailed and eye-opening look into the past, delving into both European and global history.
8. Science Museum
Delve into the exciting world of science at the Science Museum where you can learn about everything from medicine and genetics to atomic science, space and robots! There are numerous interactive displays to enjoy as well as detailed exhibitions that explore some of the latest and most advanced scientific discoveries.
9. Kew Gardens
Discover the rarest and most threatened species of plants in the world at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, the most bio diverse place on the planet. You’ll find more than 50,000 living plants at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, which supports science and conservation work around the world. As well as enjoying expert guided tours and exhibitions, you can wander the Arboretum that is home to 14,000 trees, climb the giant Pagoda for spectacular views of London and explore the rustic charm of the 17th century Kew Palace.
10. Tate Modern and Tate Britain
The home of modern and contemporary art, the Tate Modern is crammed full of masterpieces from some of the world’s best known artists, as well as permanent and temporary exhibitions. Meanwhile, Tate Britain tells the story of British art from 1500 to the present day, and includes the Turner Collection and a specialist exhibition on Van Gogh and Britain which runs until mid-August 2019. Combined, the collection features more than 78,000 artworks by 4,000 artists from different artistic movements, styles and techniques.
11. Covent Garden and the London Transport Museum
Renowned for its beauty shops and high-end fashion, Covent Garden is also home to an abundance of award-winning restaurants and theatres. You’ll also find the London Transport Museum among the cobbled streets, which explores the key role that transport has played in shaping the London that we know today.
12. HMS Belfast
Moored on the River Thames, all 9 decks of HMS Belfast provide a unique insight into what life was like on board for the crew when at war and at sea. Having seen service in the Second World War and in later years, the Royal Navy warship features hundreds of powerful stories from those who lived and worked on board.
13. Nearer to the airport
Around 30 minutes by train to the south of Gatwick Airport is the delightful city of Brighton and Hove, a seaside resort that packs a punch. You’ll find an abundance of boutique stores to explore or pull up a deck chair and relax on the vast expanse of beach. Discover fun for all the family at the Brighton Palace Pier or glide up 450 feet on the Brighton i360, a giant glass viewing pod that offers stunning 360 degree views of the surrounding landscape. If you intend to hire a car at Gatwick, stop in at Hever Castle on your travels, the childhood home of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn.