Heathrow Airport is one of the busiest in the world, flying travelers to the most far-flung destinations on the planet.
It’s also situated in the English capital city of London, famed as much for its current cultural diversity as it is the history it is steeped in. Whether you’re confined to the city or can travel a little further on a longer layover, there’s plenty to do and see.
Our guide will help you decide where to visit should you find yourself on a layover in London. But first, here are a few introductions.
- Heathrow Airport Code: LHR
- The official currency is Pound Sterling (£, GBP) and the Euro is treated as a foreign currency. However, many establishments in London continue to accept the Euro for monetary transactions due to its position as the financial and tourism center in Europe.
- The UK has an opt-out from the Schengen border-free area travel agreement and has its own visa policy. Unless exempted, citizens of other European countries still need to obtain a proper visa before entering the country.
- Until there is a change in the Prime Minister’s decision, the United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union on 31 October 2019, Brexit Day!
How to get to London from Heathrow
The fastest link between Heathrow and central London is the Heathrow Express. Non-stop trains run to Paddington Station every 15 minutes with the journey time from Terminals 2 and 3 around 15 minutes or around 20 minutes from Terminals 4 or 5.
From Paddington, there is a tube network that can take you to anywhere in London.
What to do in London
Once you’ve found suitable accommodation from the thousands of hotels in the city, it’s time to get out and explore. We’ve picked four destinations you simply must make part of your brief stay in the English capital.
The Tower of London
If you’re in town on a short layover, then the Tower of London is the place to go for a true reflection of old Britain.
It’s a short walk from Tower tube station and the Tower of London official website confirms it will cost £24.70 for adult entry. That includes access to the famous White Tower, which contains a huge exhibition of armor and traditional weapons.
You can also see the Crown Jewels; a collection of ceremonial treasures which have been acquired by English monarchs. With the Beefeaters and ravens there all year round, few destinations are as quintessentially English as the famous castle.
If the traditional, well-trodden tourist route is not for you, then take a glimpse into the lives of hard-working British people with a trip to Dabbers bingo.
Time Out explains how the venue often features comedians instead of bingo callers, which is another popular part of British culture.
Bingo is moving forward in terms of technology and developing for the modern era. Foxy Bingo explain how chat rooms have become popular in the community, which shows how more players are wanting to combine digital elements with the traditional game.
With espresso available on tap too, a visit to Dabbers will bring the old and new together for a fascinating glimpse into real life in Britain.
If you’re on a longer layover, why not visit the seaside town of Brighton for a taste of British culture? The scene of classic 1979 film Quadrophenia, Brighton boasts more than enough to keep you occupied for the day.
Trains run from Victoria station and take around an hour, departing every twenty minutes or so. An article by Visit Brighton suggests getting some coffee at the Royal Pavilion, but as a traditional British seaside resort, there’s much to do along the promenade as well.
Britain is famed for its countryside, its green rolling hills and open fields. Within a short distance of London, you can visit the Chilterns, which is a designated Area of Outstanding National Beauty.
It’s perfect for a longer layover, jumping on the train at Paddington, you’ll find yourself in the Chiltern Hills in an hour.
The Chilterns Conservation Board recommend a walk along Grand Union Canal and Tring Reservoirs to truly take in the exquisite beauty of this peaceful area, seemingly a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital.
If your travels also take you to Perth in Australia, we’ve got a layover guide that you’ll find incredibly useful for your stay there too.