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Travel from LHR to Canterbury

We're taking the Villages of South England tour next May and will be landing at LHR at 8:30 AM on a Monday. Which is easier to take directly to Canterbury, rail or bus? It appears both options require a trip into London with a change. The train option also requires a tube ride from Paddington to Victoria. The train gets to Canterbury a little faster but not so quick as to be a factor. We've been to London before and know the tube is usually crowded on weekday mornings making hauling luggage more of a hassle. The bus station in Canterbury appears to be several blocks closer to our starting hotel.

Posted by
10009 posts

Your two "easiest" choices outside of a private car are either:

1) Tube to Kings Cross/St. Pancras. Catch train from St. Pancras to Canterbury.

2)Coach from Heathrow to Victoria Coach Station then switch to coach to Canterbury.

The trains from St.. Pancras to Canterbury are faster than the the ones from Victoria or Charing Cross. I took the one from St. Pancras.

Once in Canterbury, I just took a cab to the hotel. I think it was 8 or 9 GBP. Some on my tour walked.

Yes, for minimal changes don’t even consider taking the train (Heathrow Express) from Heathrow as you’ll then have to change on to a tube at a busy station.

Take the Piccadilly tube line all the way to London St Pancras then change to a train to Canterbury. If you get on to the tube at Heathrow, the carriages will be almost empty. Put your cases in the space near the doors, take the neighbouring seats and sit tight for an hour. The tube will get busy as it goes into London but you’ll already have your seat. You won’t need to change tubes or deal with hassle. When you get to Kings Cross/St Pancras, get off the tube. There’s a lift to St Pancras station where you catch a train to Canterbury.

Posted by
192 posts

Having made this trip, just take the tube from LHR to Kings Cross/St Pancras station and walk over to St Pancras for the high speed train to Canterbury.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks everyone for the input. The common thread seems to be taking the train from St. Pancras over using the coach. We've used the Piccadilly tube several times just not from Heathrow. I hadn't thought about it being the 1st stop on the line.
A couple more questions. What is the average travel time in the tube and how much time would you recommend allowing between the tube ride and the train trip just in case? We would like to purchase the train tickets early.

Posted by
8889 posts

What is the average travel time in the tube and how much time would you recommend allowing between the tube ride and the train trip just in case? We would like to purchase the train tickets early.

About 60 minutes
You can look this up here: https://tfl.gov.uk/ You need to de-select "National Rail" in the preferences section to stop it routing you via the Heathrow Express.

But, that is not your biggest variable. Bigger causes of delay are immigration (could be 10 minutes, could be 60) and the possibility your flight lands late. The usual recommendation is NOT to buy rail tickets in advance after a long flight, too much risk. Just accept you will pay the higher "buy on the day" price.

Posted by
192 posts

The anytime day single fare for St Pancras to CBW is currently £37.40. Reasonable for peace of mind not having to worry about catching a specific train.

Personally I'm a bit thrifty, and £13.60 for an advance fare is to good to pass up. I just make sure I pad my time allowance (this year I landed at 10:30am and arrived at St Pancras by 12:30pm), a spot to have lunch, and a smartphone, WiFi ear buds and Netflix makes that time fly by.

Posted by
3492 posts

Acchessie, We made the same trip last year. Unless you get tickets well in advance (and there can be problems with that) you may find it almost as cost effective to use a private car service. After a long flight, little sleep, and some jet lag, there is nothing better than having your own driver waiting for you upon arrival. If you are interested in checking out that possibility, let me know and I'll post the info about the service we used.

Posted by
1352 posts

TC - I'd be interested to know which car service you used and what the cost was... Thanks!

Posted by
3492 posts

The service we used was Canterbury Airport Transfers. Just google it and you can get to their web site. The email address is firstclasstravel@live.co.uk

We emailed them for a quote and got a reply within 24 hours. We also made all the reservation arrangements via email. The fare for two people, two suitcases, and two personal bags was 90 pounds. We did not have to pay in advance -- simply paid the driver at the end of the trip. If memory serves correctly (and it may not) we didn't even have to secure the reservation with a credit card.

While the train may be cheaper with advanced fares, you may or may not be locked in to a specific train, your plane may or may not be on time, and it may take longer to clear immigration than planned. If you wait until you are there to get train tickets the pricing may be be close to the private car service. If you do take the train, however, the East and West Stations are about the same distance from the hotel at the cathedral.

We opted for the car service because we knew we would be tired and sleepy and just did not want to mess with hauling the luggage into London and then back out to Canterbury. The driver met us inside the terminal and escorted us to a very nice roomy sedan. He was very professional, drove safely, and volunteered some interesting information as we drove along. We would not hesitate to use them again.

Posted by
1352 posts

Thanks TC! I've actually done the trip from Heathrow to Canterbury by public transportation by myself several years ago. One big factor for me is that taking the train would probably take 2 1/2 to 3 hours total so the private car wins big time in that respect. I did some googling last night and found prices between 99 pounds and 199 pounds. For two of us it' really not that much more if you consider the price of getting from Heathrow into London then on to Canterbury. I really appreciate you posting your details!