Heathrow Airport is renowned as the main entrance into London, one of the most bustling, cosmopolitan and historic cities on the planet. But if you’re staying in a hotel near this transport hub, you don’t have to go all the way into town to have a good time. It’s well worth noting that the airport has excellent access to a number of other attractions that you won’t want to neglect during your time in the country.
So instead of jumping straight onto the Park Grand London Heathrow hotel Express and heading to the Strand, why not check out some of these attractions first? All transport information included below is accurate at the time of writing.
Of all the theme parks in England, Thorpe Park is among the most legendary. Boasting rides such as Stealth (0-80mph in just 1.8 seconds), Collossus (the UK’s first ten-loop roller coaster) and Nemesis Inferno (g-force of up to 4.5 times the norm), it has a reputation that would put off the faint-hearted. There are opportunities to get wet on Tidal Wave and Logger’s Leap, while thrill seekers will love plunging 115 feet on Detonator: Bombs Away. Other popular rides include Vortex, Samurai, Zodiac and the newly-opened Swarm.
While Thorpe Park is a fantastically fun attraction to visit at any time of year, the park is no doubt at its best during Halloween, when the famous Fright Nights take up residency. Ghosts and ghouls can be seen wandering the paths between rides, there are fiendish menu choices in all of the restaurants and soundtracks are added to all of the rides to make them more scary. A number of bone-chilling attractions also rock up, including a number of live mazes that ensure an atmospheric and thoroughly Halloween-esque experience.
Thorpe Park is just a 15-minute car journey from Heathrow Airport. Taxi is most likely your best option for reaching the attraction – the quarter of an hour trip magically wharps into an hour and a quarter by London’s legendary public transportation network.
Chessington World of Adventures
Young ones who might not be able to deal with the majority of the rides at Thorpe Park are instead advised to visit Chessington World of Adventures. The theme park not only has a more balanced family experience for those wishing to get an adrenaline rush but it’s also home to a number of separate attractions that will delight the children all the more. For example, who could possibly deny them a trip to Chessington Zoo, supposedly the wildest attraction in the UK? Failing that, why not experience weird and wonderful marine life with a visit to the Chessington Sea Life Centre?
It’s the rides that most people come for, though. Chessington is home to a number of crackers, including suspension ride Vampire that takes you over the trees as if you were actually a vampire bat. Rameses’ Revenge is also worth trying although those who don’t want to get wet should sit on the far right or the far left of the ride if at all possible. Finally, for the competitive among you, Tomb Blaster allows you to enter the burial site of a Mummy and rid it of man eating demonic spiders. Every member of the party is given a laser gun that records how many they manage to slay – be sure to compare scores at the end. Once again, the attraction boasts many special calendar events throughout the year, so try and time your visit with something special.
Like Thorpe Park, Chessington is best reached via a hire car or taxi. The journey should take no more than half an hour from Heathrow Airport.
Hampton Court Palace
Visitors to London might boast of Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace, but as both of these are central city dwellings of the Royal Family, you’ll have to go a little further out to experience the extraordinary majesty attached to a full country retreat belonging to Her Maj and the rest of the folks. Hampton Court Palace is a uniquely stunning destination – more castle than palace in truth with its gorgeous crenellations and exquisite drawbridge. Because the Royal Family have not actually resided here for some time, much more of the house and gardens are open than you might expect. Particularly famous is the winding maze, although the huge grape vine and the historic tennis court are also well worth checking out.
Hampton Court Palace is once again best reached from Heathrow Airport via a taxi or a hire car, being a mere 26 minute journey. Public transport takes around twice as long and will likely involve getting a bus to Twickenham and then a second one to the actual palace itself.
We might have just compared Hampton Court Palace favourably to a castle, but the building pales into comparison next to the awe-inspiring Windsor Castle. Its long association with the British monarchy, coupled with incredible architecture that will leave you picking your jaw off the floor, has made it a popular tourist attraction. To view the castle properly, you need to start from the Long Walk, where you’ll get the best views of this incredible fortification. From the base of its metre-thick stone walls to the tips of its turrets, it is an absolute masterpiece – like something from a fairytale. Venture inside and it’s a similar story, with rooms decorated with such elegance and intricacy that you’ll almost wonder if they’re real. Be sure to take a guided tour around the State Apartments.
Windsor Castle is just over 20 minutes by car or taxi from Heathrow Airport.
There’s a lot to love about Lego, which should quite frankly be on the NHS for the role it plays in teaching children not to put things up their noses simply because they fit there. Legoland itself takes the nose-shoving experience one step further – by reimagining literally everything as if it was made of the colourful bricks. Adults will be amazed at what can be done – from recreating entire cities to building incredibly detailed famous landmarks to perfect scale. And before you look at the promotional photos and think ‘oh it has a zoo’, think again – the animals are also crafted out of plastic. Kids, meanwhile will absolutely adore the rides, especially the opportunity to get their very first drivers license – an integral part of any childhood.
Legoland is best accessed from Heathrow Airport via a hire car or taxi as the journey is just 20 minutes, compared to an hour and a half on public transport.
The Ascot Racecourse is renowned worldwide for its June event that sees the Royals come along in their most impressive – and often most bizarre – outfits. Anyone not in formal dress is ejected by means of a cannon but, this being one of the most upper-class events it is possible to go to, the doorman are at least polite about it.
Joking aside, Ascot holds 26 days of racing across the year, and although the Royal Meeting in June remains popular, it is the Gold Cup in July that many people turn out to watch. Whether you want to witness the horses being put through their paces or just want to experience some of rural Britain, this is an excellent place to do it.
Ascot is less than half an hour by car from Heathrow Airport.