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Transportation by National Express from Heathrow

Hello Everyone,
We will be arriving at Heathrow Airport (Terminal 5) at 10:40 a.m. on November 29th. How long does it take to go thru immigration? We plan to take National Express departing at 13:25 p.m. from Terminal 3 to Victoria Coach Station. I understand it's free to take the Healthrow Express between terminals. Do you think we have enough time from 10:40 a.m. to go thru immigration, pick up the luggages, and take Heathrow Express from Terminal 5 to Terminal 3 to take the bus at 13:25 p.m.? Or will we be wise to take the next one departing at 14:30 p.m.? I appreciate any advice you give us. Thanks! Kim

Posted by
1986 posts

My excperience- if you arrive on time, 13.25 should be comfortably OK, the slow part is Immigration and that all depends on how many other planes arrive when you do- but you have almost 3 hours, and Olympics apart, I have never taken close to that. However, why take a bus which is subject to road traffic delays, when you can take the Underground or Heathrow connect or express and require no advance reservations. Do you need to end up at Victoria (you can get there easily by Tube with one shange at Hammersmith to district Line) Heathrow takes much longer leaving- security lines are long and a pain- allow the full 3 hours when leaving

Posted by
26398 posts

It looks to me like you may have about 90 minutes spare. I usually count on 90-120 minutes to collect people from Heathrow. In that amount of time waiting for the coach you could take the tube and still have half an hour for a cup of coffee. All before getting on the coach and waiting while it makes its way through the traffic.

Posted by
18 posts

You are correct. The bus leaves from Heathrow Central Bus Station. I am aware of the Underground from T5 or Heathrow Express or Connect. My dilema is: a) Both Heathrow Express and Connect end at Paddington. I have to either take a cab or the underground, which could be very crowded. I am not sure if there is room for our suitcases on the Tube from Paddington to Victoria or not. b) I am thinking about taking the bus because it ends at Victoria Coach Station, which is a few blocks from our hotel (Park Plaza - Victoria).
Does anyone know how much it costs for a taxi from Paddington to Victoria Station?

Posted by
4538 posts

The Park Plaza is also a little closer to the Victoria Underground station than it is to the Coach Station. However, you will need to negotiate coming up a set of stairs to ground level. There are also 2 bus routes from Paddington that pass right by the Park Plaza Hotel, the 36 and the 436, but that might depend on how much luggage you have - at least you are out of peak time. Buses leave from Praed St, the front of the station. Better than the Underground route from here IMO, although not necessarily easy.

Posted by
3901 posts

A few trips ago we must have arrived when some other planes did at Heathrow and we were maybe 30-45min to get thru immigration...the trip we just did in Sept - we were thru in like 5 min flat, I think we had maybe a dozen people ahead inline...we thought something was wrong...lol...so you never can tell, but you should have plenty of time barring flight delays...

Posted by
26398 posts

I appreciate that you will have luggages, but the change on the Underground at Hammersmith is very easy, you will be on the Piccadilly Line from Heathrow and most of the Heathrow Piccadilly trains have large areas near the doors where luggages can be put, when you get on at Heathrow it is at the end of the line so it will just be you and other tourists. Yes there are steps at Victoria, but I have not seen what improvements have been made this summer with all the construction there. Mebbe its a little easier. Anybody walked up from the Circle and District at Victoria recently? And it is cheaper and faster.

Posted by
4538 posts

Yes I walked up the steps at Victoria to the street level last Sunday. There is no alternative. There is supposed to be one once the major works at the station are complete, but that is some years away.

Posted by
1014 posts

I took the National Express from Heathrow to Victoria this last summer. With traffic and road repairs, it took almost 4 hours to get into London and Victoria Station. I had booked a bus from Victoria to Edinburgh and had I not caught a earlier bus, I would not have made it in time.

Posted by
623 posts

The recommendation to change at Hammersmith notes that at that station you won't have to lug your bags up/down stairs in order to change from one line to another. It would be all on one level.

Posted by
18 posts

Thank you all for your advice. Based on your advice, I will take the tube from Heathrow to Victoria. My friend loans me 2 oyster cards, and I want to put enough monies to get around for 2 days to go to see these places: St Paul, London Bridge, Harods, Oxford/Regent Street, Piccadilly, Covent Garden besides transportation from Healthrow (one way only). How much do I need to load cash in the card? Also, why changing the tube at Hammersmith? Is South Kensington closer? Please advise. Thanks! Kim

Posted by
26398 posts

Oyster journey prices can all be found at http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tickets/14416.aspx It defaults to the prices for the Underground. Note that you can click on the tab for bus fares. Almost everything you listed except the airport is in zone 1 or 2. Heathrow is in zone 6. Read about the daily cap. The cap depends on the time you started in the morning and the highest zone you have been in during the day. If you don't reach the cap one day all buses can be cheaper than Underground. Buses are slower but give an unmatched day on a dry day. If it is raining the visibility from the top of the bus is very low.

Posted by
18 posts

Suz/Nigel,
Thank you for additional tips. I feel more confident now to make my trip. Wish me luck. Thanks again. Kim

Posted by
1986 posts

Kimberly- to belabor a pont. At Hammersmith the Piccadilly trains and District line trains come in on either side of a common platform- so you just carry (or wheel) you and your luggage a few steps and you are ready to board your next train. At any other station (where you can interchange) the lines are on very different levels (Piccadilly is a deep line, while District is just under the surface) and you will need to go up and down steps (or escalators)to get from one line to the other.

Posted by
4538 posts

Step free transfer is also available between Piccadilly & District lines at Barons Court, although Hammersmith is usually suggested as the first station in from the west with this facility.

Posted by
18 posts

Brian/Marco, Thank you for additional information. I need an advice on how to get around Harrods, St Paul's Catheral and London Bridge and other places below. We will be in London for 2 days. The 1st day, we arrive in the afternoon so we only have time to visit Harrods and may be Oxford/Regent street. On the 2nd day, we plan to do the rest all day, which includes: London Bridge, St Paul, London Eye, British Museum/National Gallery, China Town, Picadilly Circus, Covent Garden, Oxford/Regent street. I tried to use the journey plan from the "Transport for London" website but it combines bus/tube so I am confused. Can anyone please help us map out the route so we don't go around the circle?
This is the first time in London on our own for both of us. We'd appreciate any help. Kim

Posted by
26398 posts

Kimberley, more questions for you, I'm afraid. Using the Underground (Tube) can be quite a different experience for running around London. You go down into most stations several levels of stairs and escalators and stairs, usually with quite a lot of walking under ground and then back up the stairs and escalators and pop out into a different part of London. Even though the Underground is much faster than a bus, and goes in a relatively straight line all that walking around and stairs under ground mean that for many places close to each other the all-on-the-surface yet much slower and slightly less frequent buses can actually be quicker. So, are you intending to use buses or the Tube? Harrods - on the Piccadilly Line at Knightsbridge station, with its own exit from the station (sometimes closed) with the 14, 414, and 74 buses outside. Just a short distance away are the 19, 22, 137, 452, 9, 10, 52, 452 and C1 buses. St Paul's Cathedral - At St Pauls station on the Central Line, with the following buses stopping out front or one street away - 4, 11, 15, 17, 23, 26, 76, 100, 172; 8, 25, 56, 242, 521, 100. London Bridge - why would you want to go to London Bridge, one of the ugliest bridges in London. Surely you mean Tower Bridge, the one with the two tall gothic towers next to the Tower of London. If you mean Tower Bridge, it has its own stops (Tower Hill) on the District Line, Circle Line and DLR (Dockland Light Railway). There is a mainline rail station, Fenchurch Street. Buses are 15, 25, RV1, and nearby 42, 78 and 100. Oxford Street (I'd do Regent Street, Carnaby Street instead) has 4 Tube stops for the main part - Marble Arch, Bond Street, Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road. Continuous buses, hundreds and hundreds all day, including 6, 7, 10, 13, 23, 73, 94, 98, 137, 139, 159, 189 and 390. cont...

Posted by
26398 posts

... con't ... Regent Street - Oxford Street stop on the Central Line to Piccadilly on the Piccadilly Line with 3, 6, 12, 13, 23, 88, 94, 139, 159, 453 and the eternal 15. Don't forget Carnaby Street just behind, and Liberty at the top. London Eye - that will eat up a bunch of time - Nearest Tube Waterloo, but not very near. Buses 77 and RV1, but not too near. British Museum - nearest Tube Tottenham Court Road on the Central Line and Northern Line Charing Cross Branch and walk or Holborn on the Central Line and Piccadilly Line and walk or Russell Square and walk. It is a walk from any of them. The number 7 bus goes to the door, National Gallery is in Trafalgar Square, a long way from the British Museum. The nearest Tube is Charing Cross on the Bakerloo Line and the Northern Line Charing Cross Branch. Trafalgar Square is pedestrianized. Buses nearby are 29, 24, 176, 91, 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 23, 87, 91, 139, 176. Chinatown - do you want to eat or just walk around? Walking distance from Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square, not too far from Oxford Street. Leicester Square tube on the Northern Line Charing Cross Branch and Piccadilly Line, buses 14, 19, 38, 24 and 29, 176. Piccadilly Circus - Piccadilly Circus on the Bakerloo and Piccadilly Line, 14, 19, 38; 15, 22, 94, 3, 6, 12, 13, 23, 88, 139, 159, 453 buses. ... more to follow ...

Posted by
26398 posts

con't pt 3 Covent Garden - has its own Tube Station, Covent Garden on the Piccadilly Line, just 150 metres from Leicester Square Tube. It is faster to walk on the surface. The nearest buses are in Charing Cross Road and the Strand and walk. 6. 9, 11, 15, 23, 87, 91, 139, 176. ... Phew, my fingers are about typed out. They feel how you will feel after trying to fit about half of this in one one day. The days will be short and dark, probably cold, except for the Underground stations and tube trains which will be sweltering. I'm in London nearly every day and know the place like the back of my hand, and it would be too much for me. I know you want to see everything and do everything but maybe if you would be happy just going by places and not going in a HoHo bus would do the job. If so, wrap up really well. You can't imagine how cold, windy and wet the open top bus upper deck can get in winter. happy planning. Which transport map are you using for planning. I hope it is the one provided by TfL which shows all the buses and tubes on one page, http://www.tfl.gov.uk/gettingaround/maps/buses/pdf/central-london-bus-map.pdf

Posted by
18 posts

Ed/Nigel, I meant Tower Bridge, the one with the two gothic towers next to the Tower of London. I just want to take a picture of it. I mistakenly think they (Tower Bridge & London Bridge) are the same one. I am glad you tell me now. Otherwise, I would go to London Bridge and try to figure out why it does not look like the picture, lol. Nigel - THANK YOU so much for the info you provided. It would probably take me a few days to digest. My friend said that the bus in London is very slow with at least a 15-20' waiting time to catch one. That's why I didn't think about the bus. It seems that you said the bus works just fine (minus the exercise up and down the stairs at the tube station) :-) Do you mind if I ask you more questions after I prepare an itinerary using your info?
Thank you again.

Posted by
14 posts

We took the National Express bus from the Heathrow Central bus station to Victoria coach station and found it to be a quick and easy way to the city. We enjoyed being able to see where we were going on the bus, rather than shooting through a tube on the Underground. We didn't experience any traffic delays on the way. Victoria Coach Station was a good landing point for us as we were staying at a hotel on Belgrave Road, just down the street from Victoria Rail station. I think the National Coach is a good alternative to the tube if you are toting luggage and cheaper than the Heathrow Express, which still leaves you with connections to make to most areas of the city. Tim

Posted by
18 posts

Hi Tim,
We will be staying at Park Plaza Victoria on Vauxhall Bridge Road so it's not as close to Victoria Coach Station as Belgrave Road. If I take National Express, I think we need to catch a taxi to our hotel. I know it's only around 1 kilometer but it may be too much trouble for us to walk with our luggage. I've heard that the cab driver can be nasty if you only go to a short distance. Kim

Posted by
1986 posts

A suggestion. If you are walking on your first day- Oxford Street, Regent street, you can easily continue to Piccadilly circus, Leicester Square, down to Trafalgar Square, National gallery and St Martins Church. They all folow one into the other (use Nigels suggestions for getting to from your first and last stops, but its easier just to walk from one to the other than to take transportation in between. in my opinion, Oxford street is getting less and less appealing every year- really wll to wall people. I would skip it, start at Oxford Circus and then continue down Regent street to Piccadilly. Also Leicester Square tube station is a convenient start for most of these places. Get a big colored tourist map of Central London and trace this route- you will see how easy it is. (I love and beieve in maps)

Posted by
26398 posts

Most central London buses on most routes at most times of the day are 7-8 minutes apart, more frequent for obvious reasons at rush hours, and less frequent into the night. Buses and tubes stop between midnight and one AM to be replaced by night buses. In daylight hours they are sufficiently frequent that you can usually just about step onto one. If it is raining or cold you will feel that every other bus in London has come by before the one you want. Then 3 come at once. Its just psychology (and the b*******s at the bus company). Its like trying to get a cab in the rain, or one to go south of the river. Walking is the thing for nearby places. Get the map I indicated before or another and print it out - big if you can. Then stick tacks into it and see the relationships between different places. You can check on line for the scheduled openings of Tower Bridge. A photo with the bascules open is wonderful.... watching them open and close from the footpath in front of the Tower of London is pretty cool too.

Posted by
30 posts

We'll be arriving at LHR on Saturday, September 21 at 11am. We'll be taking the National Express bus to Victoria Coach Station. I want to make reservations on line, but what happens if we're delayed and can't get to bus at the reserved time. I understand there's a 5# extra fee but what of the lines to board? What if there are more passengers than seats? Do they put on extra buses? We're doing all carry-on so we won't have to wait for baggage. Would one say 60 or 90 minutes is enough time btx 11am arrival and departing on the bus? Thanks in advance!

Posted by
4538 posts

If you are late you have to pay the amendment fee and will be accommodated on a later service only if there is space. They don't put on extra services because you have made a mistake. National Express doesn't run a shuttle service to the centre; these are stops on long-distance services from all over the country. Why are you using a coach to go into central London anyway? Are you connecting to another coach?

Posted by
30 posts

It's just a few blocks from our hotel and there's not transfering as on the train or tube.

Posted by
4538 posts

There is a discussion above about the pros and cons of using the coach as transport to Victoria.

Posted by
26398 posts

Tom has woken up a sleeping thread from October last year. By now, Kimberley has been gone and back the best part of a year. In the meantime, in the time that you are waiting for the bus, and being sure you aren't ambitious, you could have arrived at Victoria by Tube. A simple cross platform change at Hammersmith from the Piccadilly Line to the District Line along the way. Less than 50 minutes end to end and you just pop on the next one. They go every few minutes.