Flying into London: Stansted vs Luton
Updated: May 2, 2022
As part of our London blog series, we wanted to share with you guides on travelling into Central London from all six of London’s airports to help your journey and take away as much stress as possible.
Unlike other major cities, London is complicated with six airports. We understand you might be thinking “well, London is a major tourist and business destination, so surely it needs six airports, right?”. Well, Paris and New York both have three each…
This blog is specifically about Stansted and Luton – the budget airline hubs for European destinations. If you’d like a quick overview of all six airports, read Our Guide to London's Six Airports.
If you’re flying from outside of Europe or on a non-budget airline, read here for Heathrow and Gatwick.
If you’re flying for business or another alternative from mainland Europe, read here for London City and Southend.
By the way – I’m not adding rental cars into these travel possibilities. I can’t say this
enough – London, much like New York or other major international cities, is not a city for driving. But I will get into the taxi/rideshare options.
And also – it really, really best to avoid travel into Central London between 7:30-9am during prime rush hour and you’ll be at the mercy of Londoners who will be in more of a hurry than you. Just remember, London is a working city after all.
Now, let’s get to it: Stansted and Luton!
Located 42 miles/67km north of London, Stansted is a budget airline hub in England, for predominantly European-only destinations. Typically, Stansted is the best budget airport to fly into for London and offers more destinations than Luton.
The National Express (A9) takes you to Billingsgate in the heart of the City, just east of Liverpool Street Station. It’s only 1h 10 minutes and, if bought in advance, can be as low as £3 one-way. This also stops at Shoreditch High Street, if you happen to be staying in that area. There are some journeys to Victoria Station too – these take 2h, from £7 one-way.
The coaches are comfortable, less people and you’ll see more of East London. Plenty of room for luggage too.
Regular trains run to Tottenham Hale and London Liverpool Street from £19 on-way. If your hotel is on or near a stop on the Victoria Line, get out at Tottenham Hale – if you’re staying along the Central Line or in East London, wait for Liverpool Street. Not much else to say – I’d save money and get the coach, but if you prefer trains, then by all means…
Metred black taxis can easily cost upwards of £130. I mean, if you want to get this then fair enough…
Located 28 miles/45km northwest of London. It’s similar to Stansted – a European-focused budget airline hub.
The National Express (A1) transports you to London Victoria Coach Station in 1h 45m from £7 on-way.
Trains run across multiple stations within London, such as Kentish Town, Farringdon, London St Pancras. Pick your station so it’s an easier route for your hotel.
Important: The train station is at Luton Airport Parkway, which is a bus ride away from Luton Airport. If you’re landing at Luton Airport, you can easily buy a bus ticket and then a train ticket at the station. If you’re travelling TO Luton Airport, make sure your ticket says Luton Airport NOT Luton Airport. Parkway – a ticket to Luton Airport includes the train and separate bus trip.
Metred black taxis can easily cost upwards of £110.