I’ve written before on the several options you have to choose from to get you from London Heathrow Airport to central “downtown” London. I’ve actually never taken the Underground (the subway, for all you non-London folk) from the airport to the center of the city, so on my most recent trip, I decided to try it out.
You essentially have three main options for travel:
The London Underground runs the Picadilly Line from Heathrow to Cockfosters. The train actually originates at Terminal 5, then continues to Terminals 1, 2 and 3, and then back-tracks to Terminal 4 via a change at Hatton Cross.
The train journey costs anywhere between $5-7 USD, and will run you upwards of an hour. To Green Park, just before Picaddily, will run you around 45 minutes or so. Between station delays, and other factors, you should expect the journey to take an hour.
Be warned that the Underground is NOT the Heathrow Express. On my trip, the train was packed like sardines due to some track work they were conducting, so passengers had to wait around longer. It was standing room only for the hour ride, with only a very small portion being cell-phone signal accessible, so don’t plan on getting anything useful done on your phone or computer via hotspot.
Pros of the Journey
- It’s cheap. With Heathrow Express fares exceeding $20 USD, the London Underground is definitely the cheaper option.
- The Underground drops off at convenient locations, such as Green Park and Picadilly Circus.
Cons of the Journey
- It’s painfully slow. Hope you’re not in a hurry. Track maintenance and other routine work can slow the trip down more.
- It may be standing room only for the more than hour ride.
- There’s little cellular service, so if you need to stay connected, you’re better luck with the Heathrow Express.
Would I take the Underground again?
Honestly, no. While cheap, having to be smashed in like a can of tuna, and standing for an hour was just too frustrating for me. The lack of cell signal, while annoying, was certainly a respite from the connected world above, but having just come off of a transatlantic flight, it would have been nice to catch up on some emails and messages.
I’d much prefer the Heathrow Express next time, even with the higher price tag and the need to connect to a local underground train once at Paddington.
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