Transport from Gatwick Airport to Central London
London Gatwick Airport is located about 47 kilometers (29 miles) southwest of central London. Despite the fact that the airport is not located in London itself, it’s a simple enough matter reaching the city center and you can do it in just 30 minutes.
Gatwick Airport is a good place to fly into when you’re travelling to London and in the following guide you will find out what the options are — as well as a number of money saving tips — for travel from Gatwick Airport to central London.
Gatwick Airport to London – Transport options
First of all, let’s take a look at the available options for getting from the airport to London:
Trains to London in 30 minutes
It is possible to hop on a dedicated service whose only purpose is to transport its passengers from Gatwick Airport to Victoria Station in London as quickly as possible. The Gatwick Express takes only 30 minutes to complete the journey and it is the fastest way to get into London.
Alternatively, take one of the slower trains departing Gatwick for London. They are cheaper and run to numerous stations in the city.
Bus to London
Yes, of course, it is also possible to catch a bus from Gatwick to Central London. But compared to Stansted or Luton, for example, where it may make sense to take the bus, it is just not something I would recommend you do on the route from Gatwick.
Traffic can be bad, and the multiple rail connections together with cheap ticket prices make the train that much more attractive. Naturally, that doesn’t mean I haven’t written a detailed guide on taking the bus from Gatwick Airport to London.
Minicab (private taxi) to London
As always when it comes to airport transfers in London I recommend that you do not hail a plain black taxi outside the airport. Instead, if you prefer to forgo public transport, I recommend you book a private driver before leaving home – it is cheaper and earns you peace of mind.
I recommend using Minicabit.com.
Guide: Trains from Gatwick Airport to Central London
When deciding which train to take from Gatwick Airport to London, your primary consideration should be where you have booked accommodation in the city.
If you have accommodation in West London (areas such as Earl’s Court, Victoria, Westminster, Pimlico, Chelsea & Kensington), you may want to consider taking the express airport train: The Gatwick Express, which only takes 30 minutes.
If instead, you’ve booked your hotel in the East End or around London Bridge, Blackfriars or the King’s Cross area, then you may opt for a slightly slower, but cheaper, train from the airport to your destination.
In fact, the so-called ‘slow train’ only takes 32 minutes to complete the journey to London Bridge station. So where you have accommodation booked should be, in fact, your sole consideration
Tickets for the train from Gatwick – buy Visitor Oyster Card from home
Since 2016 it has been possible to use Visitor Oyster Cards on the journey from Gatwick to London. This is absolutely fantastic news for anyone travelling to and from London and Gatwick Airport.
It means that you do not have to buy your ticket at home and are no longer chained to the specific departure or train company through which you have purchased said ticket.
For you, this simply means you can purchase a Visitor Oyster Card before you leave home and then you have a ticket for the train journey from Gatwick to London.
- So, what is this Visitor Oyster card, you ask?
The Oyster card is a travel card issued by Transport for London. All Londoners maintain a close relationship with their Oyster; it gives them a 50% discount on all travel on the Underground and can also be used on city buses, the Overground, Trams and a variety of local train routes — such as Gatwick to London. The card can even be used to pay for boat trips on the Thames!
The Visitor Oyster card is a special card which was created as a service for tourists. The card is £2 cheaper than the ‘regular’ Oyster and it can only be purchased online. Whether travelling to Gatwick Airport or not, I recommend you buy a Visitor Oyster card at home before you go to London.
There is simply so much money to be saved with this card that you can’t afford not to buy it.
Visitor Oyster cards cost £3, and you then top them up with the amount you expect to need on your trip to London.
- My recommendation: If you need your Visitor Oyster card on the trip to and from Gatwick Airport, buy the card with £50 on it.
Alternatively, you can choose a lesser amount and load more money on the card in the machines at any Underground station in London.
The card must be purchased online at VisitBritain and is delivered worldwide.
With your Visitor Oyster card in your pocket you can board any train heading to London. All you have to do is ‘Beep’ yourself through the barriers at the Gatwick Airport railway station and make your pick between Gatwick Express, Southern and Thameslink.
The prices for a Visitor Oyster Card holder are as follows:
- Gatwick Express (to Victoria Station) – £19.80
- Southern (to Victoria Station or London Bridge) – £8.10 (off-peak) / £14.20 (peak)
- Thameslink (to London Bridge, London Blackfriars and City Thameslink) – £8.10 (off-peak) / £14.20 (peak)
- Thameslink to King’s Cross – £10.30 (off-peak) / £16.50 (peak)
Below I review the different train companies and their routes into London. During daytime, trains from Gatwick to London run practically every 5 minutes, so you can be sure you won’t have to wait long on the platform.
If you’re only going to be in London for a day or you simply don’t want to buy a Visitor Oyster Card you can also buy normal tickets for the trains.
- This ticket (link) is for the Thameslink service to either London Bridge or the route to King’s Cross.
- This ticket (link) is for the Gatwick Express.
If you want to plan your trip from home, I recommend the website Train Genius where you can get an overview of the train schedules.
Gatwick Express – quickly to Victoria Station
The Gatwick Express is, as previously mentioned, the fastest way to get from Gatwick to Central London.
Express trains run non-stop to Victoria Station in London and there’s one leaving every 30 minutes. The Gatwick Express is fast and reliable, but if you have 3 minutes to spare, I recommend going with the Southern train service running on the same route.
It only makes two additional stops along the way – and you can save up to £11.70.
The price for a ride on the Gatwick Express is fixed at £19.80 using the Visitor Oyster card.
See the journey on the map:
Southern – cheaply to Victoria
The Southern train is cheaper than the Gatwick Express and there are only a few extra stops along the way (at East Croydon and Clapham Junction), which means that the trip from Gatwick Airport to Victoria Station only takes 33 minutes.
The price for the trip is £8.10 (off-peak) and £14.20 (peak), so it is a significantly cheaper alternative to the Gatwick Express – and it only takes 3 extra minutes.
The journey is the same – (nearly) direct from Gatwick Airport to Victoria Station.
It is also possible to take the Southern service to London Bridge, but it often requires you switch trains at East Croydon station.
Check the overhead screens at the station to see the next departure or plan your trip with Train Genius.
This is an excellent option for getting to central London by train quickly and cheaply. Thameslink, who also operate a service from Luton Airport to London, runs many departures daily from Gatwick Airport to London Bridge station or on a different route with stops at London Blackfriars, City Thameslink and King’s Cross.
- The journey from Gatwick Airport to London Bridge can take as little as 32 minutes.
- The journey from Gatwick Airport to London Blackfriars can take as little as 42 minutes (this train continues towards Bedford and stops at City Thameslink, Farringdon & King’s Cross in London).
There are many trains per hour on both routes, so you can either simply arrive at the airport and check the displays or plan your trip ahead of time using Train Genius.
Gatwick to London Bridge:
As mentioned earlier, I recommend buying a Visitor Oyster card from home when you’re travelling to London — and especially when flying to Gatwick Airport.
That way you have the card ready when you land and can effortlessly head to your train of choice.
Bus from Gatwick Airport to Central London
With the many different routes that exist on the train, it rarely pays off to go by bus from Gatwick Airport to London – unless you are really looking to save money on the trip.
The bus may be preferable if you arrive at night when there are limited trains.
From Gatwick Airport with National Express and EasyBus
National Express to Vauxhall and Victoria
National Express run on a route that stops at Vauxhall Station and runs to the final station at Victoria Coach Station. The trip takes 90 minutes on average. At night and at times with little traffic the trip can be done in just over an hour.
It is a good alternative to the train if you land in Gatwick at night — or must catch a plane at night.
Tickets for the bus can be purchased for as little as £5 if you buy them online ahead of time, but the standard price is £10.
- My recommendation: buy a special e-voucher for the bus online at VisitBritain – direct link here.
This way you are guaranteed a place in ‘the next bus’ that departs from Gatwick Airport once you have landed.
If you buy a ticket directly from National Express, you may encounter the vexing situation where your flight is delayed and your ticket thus becomes invalid, since it only applies to the specific departure time you purchased.
When you need to return to Gatwick Airport (and if you choose to do so by bus), I recommend you buy the ticket directly from National Express, as you are then guaranteed a seat on the bus at the departure time of choice.
It is worth noting that the buses at night are often sold out, so it is important that you buy your bus ticket in advance.
EasyBus to West Brompton at Earl’s Court
Low cost bus company EasyBus also departs from Gatwick Airport to a stop near West Brompton station and Earl’s Court tube station in west London.
See the stop location here:
EasyBus has departures around the clock and the tickets typically cost £7.95 if you don’t buy in advance — if you do, it is possible to buy tickets for as low as £2.
Minicab from Gatwick to Central London
If you want the easiest solution to getting from Gatwick Airport to London and you want to arrive directly at your destination in the city, you may want to take a taxi. However, I would recommend you book your taxi from home.
You can often save up to 50% on your trip from Gatwick Airport to London in a minicab compared to a ride in a classic black cab.
When you book your minicab online, you write down your flight number. That way the driver can check and see if your flight is delayed.
The driver will meet you in the arrivals hall and escort you to the car. This simply is the easiest way to go directly from plane to your hotel in Central London.
Prices on routes into Central London
Below I have collected a few typical prices from Minicabit.com, a website I recommend you use when you need to book your minicab from Gatwick to London.
It provides a good overview of prices for the trip from a variety of minicab companies.
Price examples of the trip from Gatwick Airport to London in a minicab
- Gatwick Airport to King’s Cross St Pancras – £56.50
- Gatwick Airport to Paddington Station – £56.00
- Gatwick Airport to Marble Arch – £55
- Gatwick Airport to Victoria Station – £42
- Gatwick Airport to Shoreditch High Street – £51.50
- Gatwick Airport to London Bridge – £55
If you have any questions regarding transportation from Gatwick Airport to Central London, please write a comment below and I’ll try to help you.