The best ways to get to Gatwick Airport

Nov 25, 2019

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London’s second-biggest airport, Gatwick (LGW), is located 28 miles south of the capital and there are several different means of transportation to get you there. Whether it’s by road or rail, there are various options to consider: from cheap to relatively expensive and slow to express, we’ve broken down each option to help you decide what’s best for you.

By road

While 28 miles not seem like that far, the route from central London to Gatwick takes you on some of the busiest roads around London, including the M25. If you do plan on driving, make sure you leave some extra time before your flight to allow for traffic.

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(Image courtesy of Google Maps)

The cost: If you’re driving your own car, then you’ll have to consider on-site airport parking, which can be expensive, especially if you’re going away for an extended period of time. There is, of course, the option of taking one of the many ride-hailing services at our disposal, not forgetting the original London black cab. While you’ll save on parking, on a busy day when there is extra traffic and possible surcharges to think about, you could be looking at as much as £100 for a one-way journey. Not so bad if you’re travelling in a group, but it might be a bit of a sting if you’re travelling alone.

By rail

Gatwick proudly boasts having the best rail connections of any airport in Britain. The airport sits on the mainline between London and Brighton and much of the south coast. There are four railway operators that serve the airport directly from 120 towns and cities across the U.K. — Gatwick Express, Great Western Railway, Thameslink and Southern. From London, the station with the most direct services to Gatwick is Victoria. From there, you can catch the Gatwick Express, which operates up to every 15 minutes at peak times or Southern services to various destinations south of London. Thameslink operates several routes from north to south and vice versa across the city connecting Luton Airport north of London and Gatwick to the south.

Gatwick Express: A one-way ticket on the Gatwick Express costs £19.90 on the day either by buying at the station or tapping in with your contactless payment devices or Oyster. There is a small 10% saving when booking online, but there is no saving for booking far in advance, unlike the Heathrow Express. Journey times take either 27 or 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the Gatwick Express does not operate around the clock with the earliest departure from Victoria at 4:30 a.m. and from Gatwick at 5:41 a.m. depending on the day. Services in both directions finish before midnight every night of the week.

Read more: Faster than the Tube: A new train line will eventually connect Heathrow to central London

Gatwick Express Class 460 Junipers stand at the platform at Gatwick Airport station. 2003, United Kingdom. (Photo by Rail Photo/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rail Photo/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images)

Southern Rail: Buying a ticket online on the day for a one-way trip from Victoria to Gatwick costs slightly less than the Gatwick Express at £16.70. Cheaper still, you can use your contactless payment device to be charged as little as £8 (off-peak) or £14 (peak). Just like the Gatwick Express, booking weeks or even months in advance doesn’t cost any less than buying on the day. What’s more, the quickest of Southern’s journey times is only two minutes longer than the Gatwick Express’ slowest. Services do not run throughout the night.

Thameslink: Generally, Thameslink is the marginally cheaper, slightly slower way to get to Gatwick. But, if you’re coming from The City this will save you time overall by not having to travel to Victoria station. You can hop on board a Thameslink service direct to Gatwick from stations all across the capital including: St. Pancras, Farringdon, City Thameslink, Blackfriars and London Bridge.

(Image courtesy of Thameslink)

From London Bridge, however, journey times can be as quick as 28 minutes and cost as little as £11 for a one-way on the day ticket purchased online. Prices and journey times from all other stations vary. Similar to Southern, using contactless will cost £8 (off-peak) or £14 (peak). Thameslink is the only rail operator that runs services from central London to Gatwick throughout the night. Journey times are slightly longer at 46 minutes for the quickest.

Read more: 5 reasons Citymapper is the best transport app I’ve ever used

By coach

National Express offers the lowest one-way fares to Gatwick at £6 when booked in advance. The route is between both the North and South terminals and Victoria Coach station. The journey time is substantially longer than taking the train, with the website advertising its fastest time at 1 hour 35 minutes. There are departures in both directions around the clock.

National Express Group Plc coaches are seen parked at Victoria coach station in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012. The Confederation of British Industry urged Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to make life easier for companies so that they can generate growth and employment. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
(Photo by Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Bottom line

No matter your budget, what time of day your flight is or who you’re travelling with, taking the train to Gatwick is probably the best bet for you. You can get there direct from stations all over central London in many cases in around 30 minutes, and there are services run by Thameslink around the clock. Contactless payments from as low as £8 (off-peak) means it has never been easier or cheaper to get to the airport on the day.

Featured image by Phoenix0013/Getty Images

 

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