Leaving Heathrow between flights.


Important: You have to answer some questions before leaving the airport terminal...

  1. Do you have time?.. Odds are you don't--unless you have AT LEAST 6 hours between flights. 
    Immigration for non EU passengers can take over an hour at Heathrow, and travelling between terminals can take a while too.
    You may need to take time to store your luggage, if you dont want to be pulling that around everywhere, which can be pricey, at £8.50 a bag.  If you are traveling into London, add an hour to get there.
  2. Add another hour to return to Heathrow.  You should plan on arriving at Heathrow for your next flight a MINIMUM  of two hours ahead of your departure to reclaim stored bags if needed, go through security, and get to your gate.  A passenger wishing to go into London from Heathrow would have to deduct about 5 hours from your between-flights time. So even with 6 hours between flights for example, you'd only have around 1 hour for sightseeing, 2 at most for somewhere very close.
  3. Do you have a visa that allows you to leave the airport terminal?
  4. Isn't there enough within Heathrow to do? Check Heathrow facilities page CLICK HERE
  5. Have you checked Heathrow's Travel between the Terminals page? CLICK HERE
  6. Have you checked Heathrow's Flight Connections page? CLICK HERE
  7. Just watch the aeroplanes on the runway? (Without leaving the Airport)
    In the aiport itself you could watch the aeroplanes on the run way - terminal five is perfect for this... check the heathrow website page for details... CLICK HERE
  8. Lastly... think again... is there time to leave the airport AND SEE SOMETHING outside? Do you have 6 hours or more? 

If you have answered all the above questions, and you still want to leave the airport, here are some suggestions to alleviate the boredom of remaining inside Heathrow Airport...

You actually do have some options here... but not many and all presume this outing is during the day!

Have Lunch in an English Pub

There are a number of pubs located around Heathrow that you can visit for lunch or a quick drink.

  • The Pheasant Inn (suitable for Terminals 1, 2 and 3)
    The Pheasant Inn is located in West End Lane, a few minutes’ walk from the Bath Road.

    From T123 – From Heathrow Central Bus Station take the 105, 111, 140 or 285 bus (all free to/from the airport) to the New Road/Bath Road stop. Walk back about 60m, turn right into New Road and walk about 5 minutes to West End Lane. Turn right and the pub is ahead of you. The overall journey should take about 14 minutes (8 minutes bus, 6 minutes walking).

    Address: 98 West End Lane, Harlington, Middlesex, UB3 5LX.
    Tel: +44 (0) 208 759 9685 / +44 (0) 208 759 7031
    Reviews on TripAdvisor

  • The Three Magpies (suitable for Terminals 1, 2 and 3)
    Located on the Bath Road right before the entrance to Heathrow.

    From T123 – From Heathrow Central Bus Station take the 105, 111, 140 or 285 bus (all free to/from the airport) to the Boltons Lane stop. Walk back about 100m, and cross the Bath Road at the traffic lights. Continue west for about 200m to the pub. The overall journey should take about 9 minutes (7 minutes bus, 2 minutes walking).

    Address: Bath Road, Heathrow, Middlesex, TW6 2AU
    Tel: +44 (0) 208 759 1071
    Reviews on TripAdvisor

  • The White Horse (suitable for Terminals 5 and 4)

    Located in Longford, a short bus ride from Terminal 5.

    From T5:  From Bus stop 7, take the (free) 423 bus to “The Square” stop, which is the first stop, and just one minute’s walk from the pub. The bus journey will take 4 minutes, and buses run every 20 minutes.

    From T4: From bus stop 7, take the (free) 482 or 490 bus to Terminal 5. Then proceed to stop 7 at T5 and take the 423 bus to “The Square” which is the first stop, and just one minute’s walk to the pub. You need to allow up to 45 minutes to travel to and from the pub.  The 482/490 bus takes about 15 minutes to T5 (with buses every 5-6 mins), and the 423 takes about 4 minutes to the pub (bus every 20 mins).

    Address: The White Horse, 530 Bath Road, West Drayton, UB7 0EE.
    Tel: +44 (0)1753 682520
    Reviews on TripAdvisor

Go Ten Pin Bowling (Bath Road)

From T1 or T3: From Heathrow Central Bus Station take the 105, 111 or 140  bus (all free to/from the airport) to the Harlington Corner stop. Walk east along Bath Road and the Bowl is immediately to your left. The overall journey should take about 11 minutes (10 minutes bus, 1 minute walking)

From T4: Take the Heathrow Express shuttle train to Heathrow Central (free between terminals), proceed to Heathrow Central Bus Station, and take the buses as mentioned above. You need to allow up to 35 minutes from T4 to the bowling alley (train ride 5 minutes, trains every 15 minutes, 5 minutes transfer to Bus Station and 10 minutes from there to the pub).

From T5: Take the 423 bus from stop 7 at T5 to the New Road/Bath Road stop. Walk east along Bath Road for 5 minutes and the Bowl is on your left. You need to allow up to 40 minutes to make the journey (15 minutes for bus, bus every 20 mins, 5 minute walk).

- 1st Game £5.50/£4.50 per person/child

Address: Airport Bowl, Bath Road, Harlington, Middlesex , UB3 5AL.
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8759 7246
Web: http://www.airport-bowl.com/



  • With a MINIMUM of seven hours' layover, you could get to Windsor and back and visit the world-famous castle, or just stroll the streets and riverside in this historic town. Don't forget to factor in immigration on arrival (1 hour) and check-in/security on departure (2 hours). Visiting the Castle means that your luggage must be checked through, or stored at Heathrow.  There is no luggage allowed on Castle grounds (except for hand carry bags that can fit through an airport style security screener.)  And there is no place to store luggage in or around Windsor.
  • A taxi from the rank will cost around £50 each way. A pre-booked prebooked minicab can cost as little as £20 each way if you have the opportunity to shop round - at least one firm does a "Airport to Windsor Tour Special". 
  • The local bus alternative: First Berkshire route 8 operates from Terminal 5 to Windsor Castle every 30 minutes (hourly evenings) and takes about an hour for the journey. A Day Ticket costs £6.50 adult, £4.50 child age 5-15. 

  • Two useful Traveller Articles have been compiled, one with detailed information about how to get to Windsor and back from Heathrow Airport; the other with detailed information about visiting Windsor Castle.

    TA Article - travelling between Heathrow and Windsor 

    TA Article - visiting Windsor Castle

  • Information about Windsor Castle:
    Address: Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 1NJ
    Web: http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/def...

(Other suggestions will be added by TA advisers over time, and hopefully a longer article will be built?)



This walk is designed to take you past some of London's most famous sights, such as Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. Major sights are underlined.

AFTER you have allowed sufficient time for immigration on arrival, and check-in/security on departure, you can do this walk if you have a MINIMUM of four hours to play with.


Getting into Central London  

Go to the Underground Station. There are stations within Terminal 4 and Terminal 5, also a station linked to Terminals 1, 2 and 3. All stations are served by the Piccadilly Line (dark blue on the tube map), this is the only Underground Line which serves Heathrow. Buy a one-day travelcard for each passenger over 5 years old (£12.00 adult, £6.00 child 5-15 years old, children under 5 travel free - January 2015 prices), this will cover all your travel for the day.   

To operate the ticket barrier, each passenger inserts their ticket into the slot on the right and then retrieves it; the barrier should open. If travlling with younger children, or if the barrier does not open for you, ask station staff to open the wider manual gate for you.   

Get on the first departing train. Travel to Hammersmith; get off there and cross to the adjacent platform for a District Line train (green line on the map). Alight at Westminster. The total journey should take about an hour.


The Tour Described  

Allow TWO hours for the walk, from Westminster Underground Station to Green Park Underground Station. This assumes only the briefest of stops en-route for photos etc.. If you have more than two hours you can allow time for longer stops, or add-on a side trip to Piccadilly Circus if you find you have spare time at the end. 

You MUST start your journey back to Heathrow AT LEAST 90 minutes before you need to be at Heathrow for check-in and security. See below for information on getting back to Heathrow. 

If you find you are running out of time, you can leave the walk at Trafalgar Square and head back to Heathrow from there by Underground (change at Piccadilly Circus).  


Use the Bridge Street exit. This will bring you out bang opposite Big Ben and give you a real 'Wow, it's London!' moment.

Turn left, and cross the main road onto Westminster Bridge for views along the river, and of the London Eye.

Retrace your steps back, past the station to Parliament Square where you will see the Houses of Parliament and, in the far corner, Westminster Abbey.

Now, head up Parliament Street, which runs into Whitehall; this is the powerhouse of the United Kingdom's Government and lined with imposing buildings.

The now-gated street on the left is Downing Street; the Prime Minister resides at no. 10 during a term of Office.

In the middle of the road you have the Cenotaph, which is the Nation's War Memorial to the dead of the Great War (the First World War) and all subsequent conflicts. Further up on the right you have The Banqueting House, which was built in 1609 on the site of an earlier building and is the only surviving part of the former Palace of Whitehall.

Then on the left you will come across Horseguards, with two mounted sentries, troops of the Household Cavalry; one of the iconic sights of London. The horses and troopers are trained to stand motionless, despite all the activity going on around them and the curiosity of all the tourists! 

At the end of Whitehall you will come to Trafalgar Square, supposedly the fourth most visted place in the world, and the unmistakeable Nelson's Column. N.B you can cut the walk short here if you are running out of time.

Trafalgar Square was laid out in 1845, and was named after the naval battle of 1805 which finally saw the French and Spanish navies defeated, giving Britian supremacy upon the world's seas for nearly a century. The Napoleonic French were defeated in 1815 at Waterloo, which is in today's Belgium. 

The building in the background is the National Portrait Gallery together with the National Gallery, opened in 1896 and much expanded since. If you have time, it is free to enter.

The lions around the base of Nelson's column were added in the 1860s and sculpted by Edwin Landseer, better known as a painter.

The fountains were designed by Edwin Lutyens and replaced earlier fountains, allegedly reducing the space available for public gatherings and demonstrations! 

Now look on the left for The Mall, via Admiralty Arch which is over the road.

Admiralty Arch was built by King Edward VII as a tribute to his mother - Queen Victoria - and opened in 1912. It is attached to the old Admiralty Offices, hence its name; and is being sold into private ownership after having served as free accommodation for former waiting staff on sea ferries!

Proceed down the Mall; depending on time you have the option of walking straight down the Mall to Buckingham Palace, or you can deviate via St James's Park to the left and walk alongside the lake to the Palace.

Buckingham Palace is the London residence after Windsor Castle, the actual home residence, of the reigning British Monarch since Queen Victoria moved in at the start of her reign in 1837.

The history of Buckingham House goes back to 1703 when it was the London home of the Duke of Buckingham. It was acquired by King George III in 1761 - supposedly in settlement of a gambling debt. Queen Victoria moved into the Plalace in 1837 and during her reign reign it was much expanded as an office of state; the part which you see from The Mall dates from this period. The added balcony is the most famous photo stage and overlooks the parade ground for the Changing of the Guard, which takes place every morning in summer and every other morning in winter. 

What most people don't realise is - that this world-famous view is actually the BACK of the palace! The actutal front facade faces onto extensive private gardens, hidden from the public gaze. 

The Palace now has over 1,000 rooms, including 78 bathrooms for visitors, private apartments, hospitality rooms, business rooms and is a magnificent example of corporate entertaining for functions.

You will see a park on your right; that is Green Park, so named because it does not have any flower beds. A leisurely ten-minute stroll across the Park will bring you back to Green Park Underground Station, perfect for your trip back to the Airport. Alternatively, if you have time to spare you could walk for a further ten minutes along Piccadilly and see Piccadilly Circus, with its famous statue of Eros. You can also get the Underground from here. 

There are plenty of shops and places locally and here in Soho to grab a coffee or a bite to eat nearby. You are in London's Theatreland and the "West End".


Getting back to Heathrow Airport

Important - you should start your journey back to the Airport NO LESS THAN 90 MINUTES BEFORE the time you need to be there for check-in/security formalities.   

Green Park and Piccadilly Circus Underground Stations are both on the Piccadilly Line, which means you can get a direct train to Heathrow Airport.

First, locate the Westbound platform, which is the direction for Heathrow Airport.

Next, check the destination display for the next trains. Be aware that not all Westbound trains go to Heathrow Airport - if the destination on the front of the train does not say Heathrow, it isn't going there!  

Trains going to Heathrow will either display 'Heathrow T4 / T123' or 'Heathrow T123 / T5'. If you are going to Terminal 4, catch a train displaying 'Heathrow T4 / T123'. If you are going to any other Terminal, catch a train displaying 'Heathrow T123 / T5'. There are also destination displays within the carriages, so if you realise you have got on the wrong train, just get off at the next station and wait on the same platform for the right one. 

Help! The Piccadilly Line has gone belly-up - what to do now?

If by any chance you go to get the Piccadilly Line and you find out it isn't running back to the Airport - don't panic! There is another option.

Simply head to Paddington Station instead - from Green Park get the northbound Jubilee Line to Baker Steet and change to the northbound  Bakerloo Line. From Piccadilly Circus take the northbound Bakerloo Line direct. 

At Paddington, take the Heathrow Express. This runs every 15 minutes, and takes 15-20 minutes to reach the Airport. However your travelcards are not vaild on this and you will need to pay the single fare of £20.00 adult, £10.00 child - buy tickets before boarding the train as buying on the train costs £5.00 extra per ticket (Jan 2013 prices). 

In normal situations it is not advisable to take the Heathrow Express into Central London, because of the high fares, and because the London Terminus at Paddington is not convenient for sightseeing so you will need to change onto the Underground anyway. However if you find yourself stuck because the Piccadilly Line isn't running, it is a useful last resort and more reliable than a taxi.  

Other travel tips:

- Underground trains do not hang about in stations, so be ready to get on and off quickly.

- Make a plan for if one or more members of your party get separated, especially children - and make sure everyone knows what they are supposed to do. If a child gets on the train and is separated, advise them to get off at the next station. The rest of the party gets on the next train and everyone meets up there. If a child gets left behind on the platform, they stay put; the rest of the party gets off at the next station  and travels back to them.  

- Crime: thankfully, violent crimes against the person are rare on the Underground and in Central London. However pick-pocketing is not unknown. Simply use the same street-smarts that you would use in any other town or city in the world, and guard your valuables carefully. There are left luggage offices at Heathrow Airport if you want to deposit valuables and luggage for safe-keeping rather than carrying them around Central London.


Travel safe. Enjoy.