London Luton Airport (LTN) is located approximately 48 kilometers (30 miles) north of the city center. It's one of the UK's fastest growing airports and is its fifth-largest in terms of annual passengers. It can be a good alternative to flying into Heathrow or Gatwick airports, especially for more budget-minded travelers. The Luton Airport primarily serves other European destinations and is home mostly to budget airlines.
Even though Luton is about the same distance from central London as Gatwick (about 10 miles further than Heathrow, which is the closest major airport to the city), it can be the quickest of the three to reach by train, depending on the route you take. Stansted, London's third-busiest airport, is slightly further out and takes 45 minutes—compared to Luton's 25 minutes—to connect.
Budget travelers might want to save a buck by taking the bus while others will prefer the comfort of a taxi, the most expensive option. The train, however, is the perfect middle ground: quicker than the bus, but cheaper than a taxi.
How to Get from Luton Airport to London
- Train: 25 to 45 minutes, starting at $13 (quickest)
- Bus: 70 to 80 minutes, starting at $2.50 (cheapest)
- Taxi: 1 hour, 48 kilometers (30 miles)
Luton Airport Parkway station is separated from the airport itself, but connected via a shuttle bus that runs every 15 minutes. The price of an East Midlands rail ticket includes the shuttle bus service, which takes around 10 minutes.
East Midlands trains depart from Luton Airport Parkway station every hour and take about 25 minutes to travel between LTN and St Pancras International (across from King's Cross) in Camden. From there, you can transfer trains to travel to another part of the city.
Another option is to take the Thameslink, which departs every 15 minutes but takes about 45 minutes to get from Luton Airport Parkway to St Pancras. It stops at Blackfriars, City Thameslink, and Farringdon. Trains operate every 10 minutes at peak times, and the service runs 24 hours.
Despite which train you take, the ticket fare will set you back between $13 and $21, depending on your destination and whether you book in advance, which you can do online to save money.
Several buses connect Luton Airport to central London, including National Express, easyBus, and Green Line (which also operates under the name Terravision). The benefit to taking the bus instead of a train is that it can be cheaper (not always). On the downside, though, buses do take longer to make stops and navigate traffic.
The National Express bus departs from Luton Airport every 15 to 30 minutes, 24 hours a day. It makes stops at 30 different stations around the city, including London Victoria and Paddington Station. Getting to the center takes about 75 minutes. Single-trip tickets cost between $6 and $10 depending on how far in advance you book.
Green Line's route 757 operates a 24-hour service with up to four buses per hour to and from London Victoria, Marble Arch, Baker Street, Finchley Road, and Brent Cross. Getting into the city center takes about 70 minutes and costs about $13 for a one-way ticket or $20 for a return.
The easyBus service to and from London Victoria operates every 20 to 30 minutes, 24 hours a day and takes 80 minutes. Tickets can cost as low as $2.50 for a one-way ticket when booked in advance.
Before you consider taking a taxi, know that London traffic can get hectic during morning and evening rush hour and Luton Airport is right next to the M1, one of the busiest motorways in the city. Driving the 48 kilometers (30 miles) takes about an hour to 90 minutes and can cost between $85 and $115. The fares are metered, but watch out for extra charges such as late night or weekend journey fees. Tipping is not compulsory but is generally expected.
There's usually a line of black cabs outside the terminal, but you can arrange a ride with an employee at one of the approved taxi desks. Pre-booking a taxi is also an option.
What to See in London
London is England's crown jewel destination and the gateway to broader UK travels. Located on the River Thames, the capital city has been a bustling hub for civilization since the Romans reigned. Now, it's home to a new kind of royalty: The British monarchy. England's royals split their time between Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, and Windsor Castle (which is just outside of London). Tourists queue up to watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham, which happens daily through the summer and several times a week throughout the rest of the year.
London is full of world-famous landmarks like Big Ben, the clocktower; the Tower Bridge, a turreted, Victorian bridge; the Tower of London, a medieval castle; the Palace of Westminster, home to UK's parliament; and St. Paul's Cathedral, where Princess Diana married Prince Charles.
You can take it all in from great heights from the London Eye, the colossal Ferris wheel that occupies the South Bank of the River Thames. On summer days, Hyde Park (London's version of New York City's Central Park) offers acres of greenery for picnicking, concerts, and going for walks.
Once you've worked up an appetite, it'll be time to sample the city's acclaimed culinary scene. Between boozy brunches and afternoon teas, tourists should never go hungry in London (be warned, though, that dining out can be expensive). Fish and chips, pies, and sticky toffee pudding are must-eats. And if you're vegan, London is one of the most veg-friendly cities in the world, boasting 150-some fully vegan restaurants.
Lastly, London is a great starting point for trips out to the remote villages of the Cotswolds, to Bath, Oxford, Brighton Beach, or Stonehenge, one of the seven wonders of the world.