national express london

Transport from Stansted Airport to Central London

Stansted Airport is an international airport located about 30 miles (48 km) northeast of Central London. London Stansted Airport is United Kingdom’s fourth largest airport and a good alternative to get cheap flights when flying to London. It is also RyanAir’s, a low-cost carrier, hub.

In this useful guide, we are going to look at options to get from Stansted Airport to Central London. It provides information on how to buy the cheapest tickets for transportation – either by bus or train.

The goal is to give you the smartest options for you to choose from.

No matter how you choose to get from Stansted Airport to Central London chances are that you will have to take some form of public transport from the bus stop or train station and to your hotel.

It’s quite expensive to use public transport in London, but you can save 50% on all trips by taking advantage of an Oyster Card.

VisitBritain has created a special card (Visitor Oyster Card) for tourists who are visiting London. The card can be ordered online and is then delivered to your address (worldwide).

It is ready for use when you arrive in London. I recommend everyone who travels to London to buy this card to save you money on your trip.

Read more and buy Visitor Oyster Card from VisitBritain here.

Stansted Airport to London – Transport Options

Here’s a quick rundown of your transport options from Stansted Airport to Central London. Be aware that there are many different routes into London, so your choice of transport should depend on where in the city you have booked you accommodation.

Bus to London

national express london
The bus is usually the cheapest way to get from Stansted to Central London. There are many different bus routes operated by various private companies. Buses run their routes that include the following stations:

  • Liverpool Street Station
  • Paddington Station
  • Marble Arch
  • Victoria Station
  • King’s Cross
  • Vauxhall Station
  • London Bridge.

So, no matter where in London you have booked accommodation, you should be able to find a bus that stops relatively close to your hotel.

The price for a ticket is typically around £10 and the trip takes from 60 to 105 minutes, depending on the route and traffic situation in London on your day of travel.

Jump to the comprehensive bus guide from Stansted to London.

Trains to London

Taking the train is an easy and quick way to get to Central London. Stansted Airport has a train station that is just a 2-minute walk from the arrivals hall.

The train service is called the Stansted Express. The trip from the airport to the last stop in Liverpool Street Station takes only 47 minutes. It is undoubtedly the fastest way to get from Stansted Airport to Central London.

The price of a train ticket starts as low as £8 if you buy tickets in advance (so-called advance offer). If you buy tickets close to or on the same day of travel, price is higher, typically at £19.

Return ticket is typically at £32 with VisitBritain (single ticket is £16.60) – a special offer for tourists.

Jump to the section on trains to London here.

Private taxi (Minicab) from Stansted to London

It is also possible to take a taxi from Stansted to London. However, be sure not to just hail an ordinary black taxi outside the airport as it will definitely be exorbitant. Instead, it is recommended to book a taxi (called a minicab in the United Kingdom) online.

Read about how to book & prices here.

Guide: Bus from Stansted Airport to London

stansted to london bus

Buses from Stansted Airport to London run round-the-clock. So, no matter what time you arrive at the airport, you are assured you can get into town any time of the day.

During the day, the buses leave every 15 minutes, so you are unlikely to experience any long wait when you land at Stansted Airport and continue to London.

Below you can see which bus companies goes to London and where they stop along the way.

National Express – 4 routes

national express bus stansted to london
Always reliable, National Express operates from Stansted to London. National Express has 4 different routes into Central London, so they are a good choice no matter where in the city you have booked your hotel.

National Express has an excellent card that provides a map of bus stops from their 4 different routes into London.

Read more on their page about Stansted-London bus travel here.

stansted to london bus routes

Taking this bus service is great especially if you have booked accommodation in popular areas such as Paddington and Bayswater (A6) or Victoria (A7).

Buying National Express Tickets with VisitBritain

I recommend that you buy your Stansted to London ticket at VisitBritain, who has teamed up with National Express to provide affordable and convenient way of purchasing bus tickets.

When you buy your ticket online at VisitBritain, you get an e-voucher to be exchanged for an actual ticket at the National Express counter located in the airport arrivals hall (impossible to miss their location).

The advantage of buying this e-voucher at VisitBritain is that you are not obliged to take a specific bus when arriving in Stansted.

With the special ticket from VisitBritain, you can proceed directly to the National Express counter and exchange your voucher that is then applicable to ‘the next bus’ schedule.

It is a good service that ensures you always have a valid ticket for the next bus to London even if your flight is delayed.

You can book tickets at VisitBritain by clicking here.

Please note that I do not recommend to buy a return or round-trip ticket from VisitBritain. The reason for this appears below. 

Returns from London to Stansted by Bus

When you need to return from London to the airport, I recommend you buy the ticket directly from National Express online. When you buy the ticket directly on their website, you choose for a specific schedule of departure, thus assuring you of a seat in the bus.

Buses from London to the airport are often completely filled. If you buy a return ticket from VisitBritain, you may experience a frustrating situation where the bus is already full as you wait for your turn to board.

When tickets are purchased directly from National Express, you are assured you are on schedule going to Stansted Airport and not miss your flight.

  • So I recommend that you buy a single ticket from Stansted to London via VisitBritain and that you buy your ticket from London to Stansted directly through National Express.

You can either choose to keep your ticket on your smartphone or print it out.

Search for and buy bus tickets online at National Express here.

Stansted City Link – 1 route

stansted city link
Stansted City Link is another company that runs buses from Stansted Airport to London. They run a route that may be sensible for those who booked their hotel close to King’s Cross.

In fact, King’s Cross is the terminal station and the only stop at City Links bus route.

City Links buses run every half hour during the day. The entire trip from Stansted Airport to King’s Cross takes 1 hour and 15 minutes.

You can buy tickets online for £9. However, tickets cost £10 if you buy them at City Links sale points in either Stansted Airport or King’s Cross.

If you would like to run with City Link from Stansted to King’s Cross I recommend you only buy tickets when you arrive at Stansted Airport.

However, I will recommend, similarly with National Express, that you buy a ticket that complements your flight schedule. This way you are assured a seat in the bus and reach the airport with enough time for your flight.

You can buy tickets online at the City Links website.

Airport Bus Express – 1 route

airport bus express stansted london
For good measure, I am including Airport Bus Express in this guide, as they also have a route from Stansted Airport to London.

Their route is identical with National Express. However, I always recommend National Express instead of other companies when it comes to bus travel in the United Kingdom.

Airport Bus Express has a route that runs through Stratford, Liverpool Street Station, Baker Street Station, and then ends at Victoria Station. The price for the trip is £10 and the entire trip duration is two (2) hours.

See more about this feature on their company website.

Guide: Trains from Stansted Airport to London

stansted express
It’s a little easier to plan your trip by train from Stansted Airport to London as there is only one choice. The train is operated by Stansted Express. The train runs from Stansted Airport Station to Liverpool Street Station which is the end station.

The image below illustrates how the trip from Stansted Airport to Liverpool Street looks.

  • There is only one stop on the route, Tottenham Hale, where you can disembark and take the London Underground or take another train to Stratford if that’s where you’re heading.

stansted to london train

Trains run every 15 minutes during the day.

If you prefer a quick and timely transport from Stansted Airport to Central London, then you should take the Stansted Express train. The buses are usually good and reliable but they can be caught in traffic, which is often bad in London.

The train usually runs on time and there are rarely delays to and from Liverpool Street Station.

The train station is located at the lower level of the airport. There are both elevators and escalators going up and down. Just follow the signs showing the direction towards the train – you can’t miss it.

Prices and online booking of tickets

If you are lucky (and book well in advance) you can get tickets with Stansted Express for only £8. This is the so-called advance offer. There are varieties of good deals from Stansted Express that include special web promotions and group discounts.

  • In the screenshot below, I searched for tickets in 3 weeks. It will cost me £12.49, if I buy the ticket online, as opposed to buying them at the station which will cost me £16.60.
    stansted express ticket price

It is therefore recommended to buy tickets online. The ticket is valid for all departures on the selected day of travel, so you are not obliged to take a specific departure.

Find Stansted Express tickets on their website here.

See timetables here.

Guide: Private Taxi from Stansted Airport to Central London

As I mentioned in the introduction, you may just go outside Stansted Airport and hail a regular taxi, which can indeed be very expensive. There is an option to book a chauffeur online at a better rate.

Booking a private taxi (minicab) online is cheaper and convenient. During booking, you will indicate your flight number, which will then be monitored. This way you are assured that there is a driver waiting when you arrive at Stansted Airport arrival hall.

Rates for a private taxi from Stansted to London

I recommend Minicabit (I use this service myself) where you can compare prices from a number of private taxi companies.

Here is a list of several prices in various popular routes:

  • Stansted Airport to King’s Cross St Pancras – £54.50
  • Stansted Airport to Paddington Station – £60
  • Stansted Airport to Marble Arch – £60
  • Stansted Airport to Victoria Station – £61
  • Stansted Airport to Shoreditch High Street – £50
  • Stansted Airport to London Bridge – £55

Search and book your minicab online at Minicabit here

Any questions about your trip from Stansted Airport to Central London?

If you have any questions regarding your trip from Stansted Airport to London, feel free to post a comment below. I’m an experienced traveller and I’ve flown into Stansted several times so I’m sure I can help.

Stansted Airport general information

The guide to airport transport from Stansted to London ends here, but I would like to go a little further in depth with Stansted Airport itself. I’m always looking into the airport I will fly to and from when it’s the first time I use it and I know other travellers have the same urge to get to know everything about their future trip. Therefore, I would like to provide some information and advice to Stansted Airport here.

stansted airport departure

When you arrive at Stansted Airport from London, you can quickly check in your luggage. It’s not hard to find your way around the airport, which is actually not that big compared to Heathrow or Gatwick Airport.

Whether you have chosen to take the Stansted Express train, a bus or taxi to the airport, you will arrive right at the departure hall.

Stansted is generally a very good airport to fly from, it was recently renovated (in 2005) and there are many shops and restaurants to pass the time while waiting for your flight.

As mentioned in the introduction, Stansted Airport is the UK’s 4th busiest airport when considering the number of flights. It’s an airport from which you can fly to the USA, North Africa and incredibly many different European airports.

  • From Stansted you can fly to over 140 destinations in 30 countries worldwide.

RyanAir is the airline that has the most flights to and from Stansted, so you can often find flights from Stansted to European cities at very cheap prices.

stansted airport to europe

Remember this when you sit and enjoy an ice-cold pint in one of the restaurants – it’s a good idea to make your way to the departure gate just 5-10 minutes, so when the screens say “go to gate”, it really is time to go to your gate.

  • A tip for those who want to sit and enjoy a beer or coffee in peace: there is free wi-fi available for everyone in Stansted Airport. Log on to the web and go to this page: Stansted Airport Flight Departures. Then you can sit and keep track of when to go to your gate – without having to find a screen of information.

Restaurants & shops in Stansted Airport

stansted airport food

You can get both burgers and salads in Stansted Airport.

Both before and after going through security at Stansted Airport there is a wide range of food and drinks. For example there is Burger King, Starbucks, Wetherspoon Pubs, Costa and Pret a Manger. 

See the full overview of restaurants in Stansted Airport here.

However, let me give you a tip if you’re traveling with checked in luggage and therefore are arriving at Stansted Airport well before your flight departs:

There is a quite an excellent airport Lounge in Stansted which everyone can buy access to.

The entrance to the lounge costs £22.50 when booking online (link to booking and more information here) and £27.50 if you buy access on the day. Once this amount is paid you will have free access to a very nice lounge where all food and drinks are included.

In the lounge there is a buffet of food that suits the time of day to travel and there is a wide range of both alcoholic beverages (wine, beer and spirits) as well as coffee, tea, juice and the likes.

The price of £22.50 may seem quite high, but when you think about what it costs for a meal at a restaurant at the airport, it’s actually not too bad.

In the lounge there is also wi-fi, good sitting spaces (better than in the airport itself) and generally it’s just a little more nice to stay there when you wait for your plane.

One would think I was paid to mention the lounge – unfortunately I was not 😀

Take a look at the lounge at Stansted Airport below – and remember to book in advance if you know that you need it. That will save you £5.

The shops in Stansted Airport are another matter. I’ve got to admit that I rarely spend much time in the shops when I fly from Stansted Airport. There are so many cool stores inside London itself, where I would rather spend my money.

Read more: How to Save Money in London

The range of shops in Stansted Airport is nothing special compared to other airports.

The is a wider range than in Luton Airport, but it’s also hard to find a worse airport than Luton in England 😀

stansted airport shops

Shopping in Stansted Airport.

Shops in Stansted Airport include Lacoste, Boots, WHSmith, Hugo Boss, JD Sport and The Body Shop. If you want to prepare for shopping in Stansted, see the full list of shops at the airport here.

All in all, Stansted is an excellent airport from which you can quickly get to Central London. The transport from Stansted Airport to London can be both cheap and quick, and you can choose to take the bus to several destinations in London if you want to travel to your hotel without having to change, for example from the Express train to the London Underground.

stansted airport planes

Stansted Airport as seen from the air.

I fly to Stansted Airport a few times a year and typically choose Stansted Express for transportation to London. When you buy your ticket online in advance, there are the good deals, that I mention in the guide here, which means that you’ll have very cheap access to Central London in just 45 minutes.

Again, if you have questions about your transport from Stansted Airport to Central London or questions about London in general, please write a comment below.

I will do my best to help you get a good start on your trip and easily find your way from Stansted Airport to your hotel in London.

Kristoffer

Kristoffer

I may not be a born and bred londoner, but I've had my fair share of trips to the English capital. Since 2013 I've been writing travel guides to London and I visit the city regularly so I can provide the best London Travel Hacks for you to read.

6 Comments

  • Manuel

    Hello Kristoffer. I found your website on Instagram and I really like it, very good guides to London!!

    I have one question though. We are a family of 4 who are flying from Barcelona to Stansted Airport in may. We have already booked a hotel in the Paddington area (“the Shakespeare Hotel”) and now I can read that there are many ways to go frem Stansted Airport to London and I am a little bit confused…

    What do you think is the smartest for us – we want to go really quickly from Stansted Airport to our hotel in London, should we take the train and then the underground?

    Hope you have time for this, many thanks!!

    March 23, 2017 at 10:29 am
    • Kristoffer
      Kristoffer

      Hi there Manuel

      Thanks a lot for your kind words! 😀

      I can see that it might be a bit hard to figure out the easiest way to get from Stansted Airport to your hotel in London. The first thing I thought about when I read your comment was that when you’re a family traveling with children I would suggest you take the route straight down to London.

      Now that you have booked a hotel so close to Paddington Station – where the National Express bus A6 stops – then I would suggest that you took that one. Now I know it may seem like a longer journey time compared to the train to Liverpool Street, but then you have to change to the underground at Liverpool Street and it’s way more expensive.

      I would recommend taking the bus as it’s the easiest way for you and you can just sit back and relax knowing you only have a few minutes walk from the bus stop at Paddington Station to your hotel.

      If you have any other questions about the airport transport or London in general then please just ask 🙂

      March 23, 2017 at 10:48 am
  • Lucas

    We have a hotel booked very close to Liverpool Street Station and are going to take the Stansted Express train from Stansted to Liverpool Street when we arrive to London… BUT! Our flight home to Amsterdam (again from Stansted) is very early in the morning – we want to be in the airport at around 04 o’clock.

    Are the trains running during the night or do we have to take the bus?

    April 28, 2017 at 8:24 am
    • Kristoffer
      Kristoffer

      Hi Lucas

      Yes I’d suggest that you took the National Express bus as it runs from Liverpool Street Station. For example there is a bus from Liverpool Street St at 02:45 that arrives in Stansted Airport at 03:45. Or the bus at 03:05 that arrives in Stansted at 04:05. So plenty of options for you to get to Stansted in time for your flight – and it only takes an hour on the bus so it’s not too bad 🙂

      I’d suggest buying tickets for the bus online in advance so that you have a secured seat on the bus – these late night buses tend to sell out.

      You can buy your bus tickets online – click this link

      April 28, 2017 at 8:54 am
  • Piotr

    Hey!

    I have booked the hotel “Grange Wellington Hotel” that should be close to Victoria Station in London. But when I am looking on the map I can not really figure out how close it actually is to the station… I am stressing a lot about this because I am traveling with my 2 children (3 and 6 years old) and we are landing in Stansted Airport late (around 22 o’clock). So I really NEED to find the best form of transport from Stansted Airport to my hotel in London – this is where I hope you can help…

    What should I do regarding the transport? Can I take the bus from Stansted Airport to Victoria Station and shall I just take a taxi from there to my hotel?

    Hope you will help

    May 11, 2017 at 8:39 am
    • Kristoffer
      Kristoffer

      Hi Piotr

      I understand that you’re feeling a bit stressed when traveling with your young children. I can calm you down a bit though – you have chosen an excellent hotel in a nice part of London. I have actually stayed in the Grange Wellington Hotel myself a couple of years ago and it’s a very nice hotel. Here’s a link if other people are reading this and want to check it out: http://londontravelhacks.com/link/grange-wellington-victoria

      For your airport transport from Stansted to the hotel:
      I would recommend that you take the National Express bus A7 from Stansted Airport to Victoria Station. From Victoria Station you can actually walk to the hotel in about 10 minutes. Do you use Google Maps? They have a great route planner where you can see the route and how long it will take to walk. I’ve made this link especially for you: https://goo.gl/maps/ekpv56yUkfm

      Buy your tickets for the bus here: http://londontravelhacks.com/link/visitbritain-stansted-bus

      A taxi from Victoria Station to your hotel will take under 5 minutes and will probably cost around 5 pounds 🙂

      If you have anymore questions about transport from Stansted Airport to London or London in general, feel free to ask.

      May 11, 2017 at 9:03 am

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