Getting to Britain

Arriving by air

The largest airport in Great Britain is London’s Heathrow - actually, it's the world’s busiest international airport and one of Europe’s main routing points for air travel. 

Heathrow is served by most of the world’s leading airlines, with direct flights from nearly all major cities. Other international airports include Gatwick and Stansted in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle, Birmingham and Edinburgh. Smaller airports, such as London City, Bristol, Norwich and Cardiff, have daily flights to and from Europe.

 

British airports

Heathrow has five terminals and other airports often have more than one. Before you fly, check which terminal your flight arrives at or leaves from. The five Heathrow terminals and two at Gatwick are connected by free shuttles or trains. To change between Heathrow and Gatwick, frequent buses take about 75 minutes.

Buses to Stansted or Luton airports take 1 hour–90 minutes from Heathrow and 2–3 hours from Gatwick, so remember this when planning flight connections.

 

Transport from the airport

Heathrow and Newcastle airports are linked to the city centres by the Underground, which is efficient, quick and cheap! Visitors to London arriving at Heathrow can also take the Heathrow Express, the fast train to Paddington Station (www.heathrowexpress.com or 0845 600 1515). Trains run every 15 minutes from 05.00 until around midnight - the journey takes approximately15 minutes from Terminals 1, 2 and 3, and 21 minutes from Terminal 5. Terminal 4 requires a change of train and takes a total of 23 minutes. Those arriving at Gatwick can take the Gatwick Express to London Victoria (www.gatwickexpress.com or 0845 850 15 30). Trains run every 15 minutes and take 30 minutes. Stansted and Manchester also have regular express trains that are reliable. 

National Express coaches provide direct connections from major airports (London’s Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, Luton, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Coventry, East Midlands and Bristol) to many British destinations. They also have a regular service between Gatwick and Heathrow and are usually a cheaper option. 

Travelling within Britain by air

Internal air travel in Britain only makes sense over long distances, where it can save a great deal of time – for example, London to Scotland, or to one of the many fantastic offshore islands. Fares can be expensive, but if you book well ahead, they can be up to three times cheaper than if you just turn up at the airport.