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7 hour layover between heathrow and gatwick-enough time to explore?

I fly into Heathrow with my family at 6:15am on a Wednesday from the US and then depart 7hr 45min later from Gatwick. I'm wondering in that time if our family of 4 can clear customs and go into London for a bite to eat before departing Gatwick at 2pm for Italy? I got a great deal on these tickets with the long layover and I'd like to make the most of the time by getting a sneak peak of London. Also would love to know about how long in might take to go through customs and the quickest way to get into London from Heathrow and from London to Gatwick. And, how early to be at Gatwick before our departure to Venice? Thank you.

Posted by
7977 posts

I hope you are traveling light. Count an hour more or less to clear passport control and baggage reclaim.

There are a lot of different ways into London here is the cheapest and fastest for what you want to do :

After baggage reclaim take the Tube Piccadilly line to Green Line Station get off and transfer to the Jubilee line.
At the Green Line Station (Jubilee line) take the train to Westminister Station and get off.
Here you can see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and find somewhere to eat.

To go to Gatwick from London it is complicated I would recommend you take a taxi from London.

Posted by
15539 posts

I'm going to disagree with Jazz & Travels suggestion of going to "Green Line" station and change trains.

If you want to see Big Ben and Parliament, try to stay away from Green Park (there is no Green Line station) as it is a zoo. You will also have to either drag your luggage up and down stairs or look for the well hidden elevator (lift).

Instead, take the Piccadilly Line to Hammersmith or Barons Court. Walk across the platform, about 20 feet, where you will get the District Line. Take it to Westminster.

When you are done, go back to the Westminster station but take it the other way for two stops to Victoria Station. That is where is you get the Gatwick Express. (Not the cheapest but the fastest.) The train takes about 30 minutes. A suggestions of taking a taxi by the same previous poster is a bad idea. It will run between $130 and $140 at least and take well over an hour.

However, there might be something else you want to see so let us know.

Time wise..1 hour for immigration and customs, 1 hour into London, 45 minutes to walk through Victoria Station from tube to train and the ride to Gatwick, arrive at least two hours ahead of time especially if you have to go to the North Terminal. (The train is in the south.)

If everything goes as planned, you could probably get about 2 hours in London. Enough time for a quick bite in a pub and a quick look at the city. But if it was me, I'd give myself more leeway with transportation times as nothing ever goes 100% to plan.

Posted by
15539 posts

Alternatively, there is another option but it will be costly.

From Heathrow, instead of the tube, take the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station (15 minutes). Then get a taxi, ask him to drive past a few well known sites, you tell him which, and then drop you at a pub near Victoria Station for a quick bite to eat. From there get the Gatwick Express.

Be forewarned, there is tons of road construction outside Victoria Station.

The idea will, for a family of four, cost between $100 and $150 depending on where you go. That does not include lunch or the Gatwick Express.

Posted by
16688 posts

I would absolutely avoid transferring on the tube from the Piccadilly line to any other during morning rush hour. It can be impossible to get on a train, especially with luggage.

I like Frank II's second idea. The Heathrow Express is much faster than the tube, Nd not necessarily all that expensive. Kids 15 and under are free, and adult single ride tickets are as low as £5.50 (on weekends and bank holidays) if bought 90+ days in advance.

Black cabs wait just outside Piccadilly station. This will give you an above-ground ride through the streets of London. The question is where to go. If Victoria Station has a left-luggage office (I did not check), consider heading there to drop off the larger bags. Then explore on foot from there, leaving time to return to the station, retrieve bags, and take the Gatwick Express to the airport---allowing two hours before your flight there.

Generally the recommendation for layovers at Heathrow is that 7 hours is not enough. But since you have to transfer airports anyway, it is not a bad idea to go into London for a quick look. The direct bus transfer between airports is faster, but you see nothing but the motorway.

Posted by
11294 posts

Just a technical note. Customs at Heathrow is just a matter of walking through the Green Channel - Nothing To Declare line. Unless you are "randomly selected for additional screening" (possible but rare), you're done. It's immigration (passport control) and baggage claim that can take time. Immigration lines at Heathrow can be an hour or more at any time, and you're arriving with lots of other flights from North America (not to mention other parts of the world).

Posted by
15539 posts

One last thing....I hope your plans work out and you get to see some of London.

But if your plane is late, and it looks like going into London is just going to be impossible, there is a direct bus service between Heathrow and Gatwick. It is run by National Express

I'm the type of person that likes to have backup plans so I thought you might want to know this.