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Travel from Heathrow to Bath

We will be traveling from Heathrow to Bath on Saturday May 7, landing about 2pm. Rick Steves sent us a paper with 3 different ways to get there - the National Express Bus which would cost about 50 pounds and take 2 hours 10 minutes, take the Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station and then out to Bath (about 35 pounds), or take the train to Reading and a bus to Bath. We will be flying for 10+ hours before we land and just want to take the easiest way to Bath which sounds like the bus. Has anyone taken the bus lately? Buy tickets in advance or not? Takes 2 hours or a lot more? If we knew someone who was going that way that day we would be willing to share a taxi.

Posted by
4675 posts

You haven't said which terminal you are arriving at, which has a significance for getting the best advice for any journey from Heathrow especially out of London.

Posted by
533 posts

I've taken National Express buses frequently (though not "lately"), and in my experience, they're far more likely to arrive at their destination early than late. They do an excellent job of adjusting the schedule to account for any anticipated traffic. Of course it's always possible that something unusual will happen - once a bus I was on had to do the whole trip by back roads because the motorway was closed - but that's true no matter what mode of transportation you take.

I don't know where Rick got a price of 50 pounds for the bus (unless that's for two people?) - I'm seeing a price of 25 pounds for the direct bus from Heathrow to Bath. (The search does turn up some trips via Bristol that both cost more and take longer - don't do that.) They also have an excellent option (though it looks like you have to pay a bit more for it these days) where you can buy your ticket in advance, but if your flight is delayed so that you miss your bus, you can use your ticket on the next one.

Posted by
351 posts

Is the National Express Bus point-to-point?

After a 10 hour flight I'd probably fall asleep on a bus or train if I was on for any length of time, and might opt for whichever service will ensure I don't miss my stop. If the bus is point-to-point they'll wake you up when you get there!

Posted by
4675 posts

There are no direct coaches available to Bath from terminal 5. You have to either go to the Central Bus Station first or take a coach to Bristol and change there. The former work out quicker than the latter.

From a frequency point alone the Railair coach to Reading (3 per hour) and train from there (2 per hour) would probably win out.

You are too late for the cheapest Railair coach tickets though which need to be booked 2-3 months out. Similarly the coach fares are already quite high.

Posted by
533 posts

Airport coach fares are always that high. Regular city-to-city coaches have the impossibly cheap 5-pound fares if you book far enough in advance, but the ones to and from the airports never do, as far as I know. In any case, I'm seeing the same fares for May 7 as for a random date I just chose in September.

Posted by
977 posts

It has been quite a few years, but I took the RailAir to Reading and train to Bath. It worked well, though I was having déjà vu commuter moments on the train. In my experience, the central bus terminal at Heathrow is a toss-up as to whether a bus will arrive on time or not. It can be hectic and crowded there. Boarding the RailAir directly at Terminal 5 will cut down on the agita, IMO.

Posted by
4675 posts

Looking at it again the reason why the coach is expensive is because it is a one way fare. A return can be only a few pounds more.

Posted by
3681 posts

I arrive at Heathrow T5 at about 12:30 tomorrow. I see that with a Senior Coachcard (£10), and £15.40 for the one-way journey, I can leave from T5 at 15:00 and arrive in Bath at 18:00 using National Express.

The transfer from T5 to T2,3 takes 15 minutes and is by Woking Railair. The National Express coach leaves from T2,3 at 15:45. Interestingly, if I take the airport connection from T5 to T2,3 and go directly from there, the price for the same journey jumps a bit to £18.70. These prices are the same as what I found more than a month ago. What am I missing?

If the timing and logistics work out, I plan to start the journey from T5. It seems simpler to me. I prefer to arrive in Bath no later than 18:00, so I will choose other options if needed.

Posted by
588 posts

We took the bus; probably had a couple hours to hang out after arriving, but that was fine. The bus was a very convenient way to get to Bath. I believe we bought our tickets at Heathrow. We enjoyed seeing the countryside and maybe even talking a nap along the way, and we arrived in Bath in time to get to the hotel, rest a bit and eat dinner. Definitely take the bus!

Posted by
59 posts

The bus did not coincide with our arrival time in London. We are also going to Bath on May 20. I booked with celtic horizon as mentioned in the RS Great Britain guidebook. After a long flight from Vancouver, we didn't want to hassle with other travel arrangements. Check it out.