Everybody knows about the tourist attractions in central London – the world-famous landmarks which make the capital such an attractive destination to people from across the globe. But it isn’t just London’s epicentre that is full of fun things to do. There are plenty of superb attractions and places of interest on the outskirts of the city too, and they are ready to be explored.
In many cases, overseas visitors enter the UK through Heathrow Airport, which is situated in the far west of the capital. It isn’t uncommon for new arrivals to spend a night in the area around the airport at pay later hotels, before moving to accommodation in the centre of the London, or for people to stay in a Four-Star Hotel in Heathrow before taking their flight home. Visiting one of the many top attractions close to the airport can be a great way to begin a trip to London, or round it off in style.
Here’s our list of places to visit in western London, in the area close to Heathrow Airport. There are options for people travelling alone, as a couple, with friends or with their family:
One of the most famous royal residences of all, Windsor Castle is an iconic British landmark. It is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world, having been owned by the reigning monarch for over a millennium. Queen Elizabeth II can often be found at Windsor Castle – you’ll know that she is in residence if the Royal Standard is flying. With its own village and stunning array of cafes and restaurants to match the Park Grand Kensington Indian afternoon tea deals in central London, Windsor Castle is well worth a whole day out in and of itself.
Hounslow Urban Farm
Situated on Fagg’s Road in Feltham, Hounslow Urban Farm is a great place to take young children to introduce them to the animals. Cows, pigs, sheep, goats, ducks, poultry, rabbits and ponies are among the residents at the farm, which is open throughout the week. Given the relative shortage of farmland in Greater London, some of the farm animals on the show may be a novelty to visitors – particularly those who have only spent limited time in the countryside.
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
The beautiful Kew Gardens is home to the world’s largest collection of living plants. It came into existence in 1840 and over the last century and a half has become a haven for rare and exotic species. There are more than 30,000 different kinds of plants, while the library contains more than 750,000 different volumes. The gardens have been on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites since 2003.
For fans of rugby union, Twickenham Stadium is a place of pilgrimage. This is the home of the XV-man code, the ground at which the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final was played. Twickenham is where England play their home Test internationals and Six Nations encounters, and on a matchday, it becomes a cauldron of noise. On non-matchdays, many people visit Twickenham to explore the World Rugby Museum, which is full of memorabilia relating to this popular sport.
Built in 1996 as a family theme park, Legoland Windsor has been a hugely popular attraction for two decades. The park – which is themed around the popular Lego toy system – was built on the site of the now-defunct Windsor Safari Park. More than two million people pass through Legoland’s gates each year, making it Britain’s second-most-popular theme park after Alton Towers.
Legoland Windsor is also popularly known as the destination for daredevils.
A popular theme park situated between Staines and Chertsey, Thorpe Park is home to a number of rollercoasters and thrill rides. It was built on the site of the former Thorpe Park Estate, which was demolished in the 1930s. White knuckle fans may enjoy a day out at the park to ride the Tidal Wave, Colossus, Nemesis Inferno, Stealth, SAW – The Ride, and The Swarm.
Chessington World of Adventures
Another theme park situated close to Heathrow Airport, Chessington World of Adventures has a fully operational zoo and a host of rides and rollercoasters. Vampire, Bubbleworks, KOBRA, Zufari: Ride into Africa and Scorpion Express are among the key attractions. Chessington Zoo has over 1,000 animals, including western lowland gorillas, sea lions, and Sumatran tigers.
Ascot is the premier flat racecourse in the UK and the venue for a number of the leading meetings each year. Horses have raced at Ascot, just outside of Windsor, since 1711, with the reigning monarch and other members of the royal family often in attendance. The Ascot Gold Cup, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes draw in talented horses and jockeys from across the globe.
A truly remarkable historic building, Ham House is a Grade I-listed property which lies just to the south of Richmond beside the River Thames. Completed in 1610, it is surrounded by Grade II-listed parks and gardens, which can be explored by members of the public. The house contains plenty of period pieces, furniture and artwork.
Musical Museum, Brentford
Located just a few miles from Heathrow, the Musical Museum in Brentford contains one of the world’s foremost collections of self-playing musical instruments. It houses rare working examples of various player pianos, orchestrions, orchestrelles, residence organs and violin players. There is also a 230-capacity concert hall and cinema at the museum, which is used for performances throughout the year.
London Motor Museum
A must for transport fans, London Motor Museum in Hayes is home to more than 160 exhibits including classic cars from the 1960s, 70s and 80s. The museum also houses a number of famous vehicles, including Herbie the Volkswagen Beetle, an original Batmobile from 1989 film ‘Batman’ and a Ford Gran Torino from the TV series ‘Starsky and Hutch’.
Windsor Great Park
Windsor Great Park was first enclosed in the 13th century, having previously been part of a large Norman hunting forest. The 2,020-hectare site includes a Deer Park, woods, formal avenues, gardens and wild grasslands. It is open to the public on most days of the year and hosts special events including fairs, shows and performances.
So now you’ve started ticking off your outer Northwest London list of attractions, you’ll want to know what awaits you a little closer to the airport. Heathrow Airport is one of the largest in the world and holds five different terminals, full to the brim with shopping destinations and their own unique rules and travel routes. Below are just some of the frequently asked questions concerning travel and Heathrow airport.
Can I leave Heathrow airport between connecting flights?
You can leave the airport if you have enough transfer time between flights (more than 6 hours for Heathrow and Gatwick) and the necessary documentation to enter the UK.
Can you stay in Heathrow airport overnight?
It’s up to you, you can either sleep at the airport itself or can rent a lounge to have a relaxing sleep. There is a number of options available, to book a lounge, at the airport.
How far is Heathrow Airport from Buckingham Palace?
The distance between London Heathrow Airport & Buckingham Palace is 14 miles.
How Long do customs take at Heathrow?
There are upsides and downsides to Heathrow’s customs checks. With five terminals, you can be sure to find many different queues, therefore lessening the time it takes to get through and into baggage claims. Nevertheless, Heathrow brought in more than 80.8 million passengers and will only rise from there, meaning that at peak travelling times of the year you could be looking at up to a 2-hour wait during your arrival. Luckily at its fastest, Heathrow’s customs may only be half an hour, and sometimes less.
What are the Terminals in Heathrow Airport?
Heathrow Airport spans just under 5 square miles and only has two runways as it stands. With a third runway currently being built, guests at the Park Grand Heathrow can expect even quicker arrivals and departures after or before their stay and will have four different terminals in which they could find themselves embarking or arriving from.
Terminal, one has been closed since 2015, but was part of the airport since the 1960s’. Whilst it is being renovated and extended to become part of terminal 2, it was originally used by British Airways, Icelandair and El Al airways. Whilst it may now be closed, it’s originally inauguration in 1969 was overseen by Queen Elizabeth II.
Though known as Terminal 2, this terminal was actually the most recent to be opened but has its roots in a previous terminal 2 opened in 1955. Also known as the Queen’s Terminal, it’s opening in 2014 also included a satellite pier and a car park that houses 1340 parking spaces. The terminal is known for the airlines Aer Lingus, Eurowings, Flybe and Icelandair, making it another budget air travel and European focused terminal.
Focused on long haul flights, Terminal 3 was opened in 1961 and predominately serves US, Asia and Far Eastern flights. Terminal 3 was also the home of the first moving walkways for British passengers and is the UK home of Pacific-based Qantas and Middle Eastern Emirates Airlines.
Terminal 4 was opened in 1986 and is one of the largest terminals in Heathrow. Serving 45 airlines including Qatar and Delta Air Lines, Terminal 4 also serves the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. With just under 105.5 square metres of space, this expansive terminal is a thriving hub of different cultures.
Terminal 5 is one of the most expensive terminals to be built in Heathrow. Costing 4.3 billion, Terminal 5 was originally intended for sole use by British Airways but has since been used for airlines on Iberia. Mainly focussing on short flights in Europe, Terminal 5 is a global hub for both British Airways and the International Airlines Group.
What can I do at Heathrow Airport?
There are a number of things you can do at Heathrow airport. Below are just a few of them.
Whilst Park Grand Heathrow guests might prefer to spend a little more time in their hotel room, they can still wait for their flight in luxury by paying for access to the airport lounges. With food and drink included, guests can either enjoy lounge access to bars, food and relaxation areas with a lounge pass or by joining one of the many airline membership programmes.
It would be inhumane for airports, what with all of their long queues and sweaty crowds, to be devoid of toilets, but showers are another matter entirely. With several airport lounges providing showering facilities and the inclusion of a spa in terminal 3, it’s now easier than ever to keep refreshed between flights.
Dining in Heathrow
From European cafes to get in you in the mood for your holiday to a slice of comfort in the British pubs scattered throughout the airport, dining in Heathrow airport might have a little more to it than meets the eye. You can find chain restaurants such as Wagamama’s and Carluccio’s as well as more upmarket eateries such as that of Fortnum & Mason, making for a varied dining experience before the horrors of airline food set in!
Shopping in Heathrow
With duty-free shopping throughout Heathrow, you’ll be able to find everything from perfume and accessories to clothes, homeware and souvenirs. With 5 working terminals and so much space, you’ll be inundated with choice when it comes to shopping, but for the most boutique options, terminal 5 is where you’ll find the high-end shopping options and more boutique options. It’s in terminal 5 that you’ll even find the Heathrow branch of the Harry