London is a busy city and its fairly central location on the map of the world, makes its Heathrow airport a busy one too. For globe-trotters and frequent travellers, this airport can be a regular layover. Layovers, if short, can be easy to handle with a nice walk around the duty free shops or a meal at one of the restaurants and cafes and can get you ready for your next leg of travel. But if layovers are long like 10 to 12 hours, then being trapped inside an airport can get very challenging. You could sit in the corner of the airport or could choose to venture out for a couple of hours and explore the vibrant London city.
While planning a long haul trip, connecting flights can definitely come at a cheaper price, but can also bring long layovers with it. A long layover in a city like London can be used constructively to explore this city that offers something fun and exciting for anyone and everyone.
London as a city has been a favourite for travellers from all over the world. It boasts of its rich history, monuments, the buzzing city life, fashion, food, theatre, palaces, the royals and its massive parks. There is always so much to do in this city, that makes it a favourite one for many. To explore the city, during a long overlay flight you could book yourself an executive stay around Heathrow airport.
The Heathrow express takes you to one of the most central stations in London, that is the Paddington Station. You can book your stay at the Grand Paddington hotel too and explore the city from here. If your layover is only for a few hours you can choose to keep hand luggage in the ‘left luggage’ area that charges a nominal fee and go exploring straight from the airport. Once you have chosen a hotel for yourself and are in the city, let’s discuss the things you can see and do during a layover in London.
The most convenient thing about this city is its efficient and well connected tube and train networks that swiftly bring you from Heathrow airport to the heart of the city.
The London underground: As you reach the arrivals area you will see signs leading you to the London Underground trains. This tube will connect you to the heart of the city. Some tips that will come handy are that you can’t use cash to travel in an underground tube. So either you can use your direct debit card or you can purchase an Oyster card from the airport, top it up with some money enough for a day’s travel and you can hop on and off tubes, buses and most of the Overground trains in London.
Black Cab/ Uber/ Pre-booked taxi: If the London train and tube system is too overwhelming for you. You can book the iconic black cab of London and explore the royal city. Other options include uber and taxi booking services at the airport.
Heathrow Express: The most swift way to get into London is the Heathrow Express services. A little more expensive than the tube but a lot faster, which makes you save time and make the most of your time in London.
Layover tours: Since London is such a central city and long layovers are common here, there are special guided tours that take you on a customisable trip to the city. It is the most expensive way of exploring the city, but it is worth it, if you really want to do it.
Things to do and see
Depending on how you plan to travel out of Heathrow airport you can now start exploring the city. The underground tube will take you straight to the Green Park station. Let’s explore what all we can see and explore in this area. Firstly, you can see the royal Green park itself. A beautiful, lush-green park located in the heart of the city.
This self-guided tour and a lovely stroll in the park will give you a sneak-peak to Buckingham Palace, the palace where the queen lives. It is one of the most loved attractions of London, you can take several pictures here and also witness the change of guards ceremony. It takes place at 11am, make sure you find a good spot by the gates from where you can see the changing of guards clearly. From here you can see St. James Park which has a lovely pond. From here you can walk towards the legendary London eye, the Globe theatre, Tate Modern, the buzziest South Bank area or a great walk by the lake. If you have time and want to relax you can book a stay at one of the lovely Kensisgnton hotels of London.
If you are travelling into London via the Heathrow express, then you will alight at the grand Paddington station. Paddigton is another lovely borough in London, offering several things to see and do. This place is famous for the variety of food it offers, the famous Paddington bear statue, little venice and much more. If you have over 10 hours of layover, you can book your stay at one of the gorgeous hotels near Lancaster Gate Station.
When planning a layover excursion, be mindful about the time, calculate the expected and unexpected delays. Make sure you are not venturing out if the layover is only 6-7 years. Keep in mind the commute back to the airport, if travelling by road London’s traffic gets a bit tricky sometimes. Also, keep time to take back the luggage you had kept in the leftover baggage area and the long walks to the departure gates. Make sure you have a good time and don’t make it too stressful for yourself and definitely make sure in any case you don’t miss your flight.
Exploring London during a layover will make you want to come to this beautiful city again and explore the wide range of attractions, excursions, monuments, food, cultures and vibes it is so famous for. London is like a magic spell and a charm you can’t avoid.