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When arriving to London Gatwick Airport, it can be unclear how to reach your final destination, or more generally, to the city centre. We, at Omio, have mapped out good things to know, facilities available when flying to London Gatwick Airport and what to do when you get to the city.
London, home of the British monarchy, Sherlock Holmes, and the oldest parliament in the modern world, is a truly global city. And, it has a transport system to match. With construction having started way back in 1860, the London Underground is the world’s oldest underground train network, with 11 lines and 270 stations. The city also has a great coach service, with 673 different lines, around 19,000 coach stops across the city and six million passengers a day. And, of course, London has its famous black cabs, which can be hailed anywhere in the center of the city at any time. Passengers taking longer journeys should, however, be aware that cabs in London are notoriously expensive. Most of London’s airports, including London Gatwick Airport, are outside the city itself and are connected to the city by suburban railway services run by a number of different franchises, so fast and convenient transport is always available, and tickets can be reasonable when booked in advance.
The quickest way to get to London Gatwick Airport from London city centre is by train from one of London’s major railway stations. The fastest of the railway routes is with the Gatwick Express or Southern Rail trains from London Victoria, a station in the southwest of the capital near Westminster. If a train from the north of the city is more convenient, there are also services running from London St Pancras International to Gatwick Airport. If the train is not appealing, then there is a coach service to London Gatwick from London Victoria Coach Station. Both Infocoach and National Express coach companies operate this service.
The distance between London city centre and Gatwick Airport is about 48-kilometers. Depending on which station passengers are travelling from, the train journey from London city centre to London Gatwick Airport will take between half an hour and an hour. From London Victoria, with either the Gatwick Express or Southern Rail services, the journey takes a clean half an hour, and is sometimes a direct train. From London St Pancras the journey time varies from 45 minutes to an hour, with the service run by Thameslink. The coach from Victoria Coach Station takes between one hour and 25 minutes and one hour and 40 minutes. This is longer, but the coach is a little cheaper than the train.
London Gatwick Airport is well served for shops, restaurants and cafés. It has outlets from a selection of popular British brands including Cath Kidston, Dune, Fatface, Harrods and Hamley’s. It’s possible to pick up food for the plane at WHSmith, which has a good selection of sandwiches, or M&S Simply Food, which sells high-quality cold food. In terms of hot food, there is an excellent selection, ranging from Comptoir Libanais, Giraffe World Kitchen, Itsu or, a modern British institution, Nando’s. For one more pint of British ale before leaving the country, there is also a Wethersoon’s pub. London Gatwick Airport has special routes and a dedicated lounge for those with limited mobility, and, if passengers have particular mobility requirements, they can pre-book a free assistance service that is available throughout the airport.
The concourse at London Victoria station is entirely flat and is therefore fully accessible for both wheelchair and scooter users, and helpful for those with large amounts of luggage. London St Pancras International Station is also fully accessible. All entrances are step-free and platforms on different levels are connected by an elevator. London Kings Cross St Pancras underground station is also step-free. National Express coach services are not fully accessible, and cannot hold scooters, but do have wheelchair lifts for smaller wheelchairs.
Londoners would usually take the train out to London Gatwick Airport, either from St Pancras or Victoria, depending on where they live in the city. Both stations are readily accessible via London Underground or by coach, and the connection, particularly from St Pancras, is very affordable. It is now possible to use an Oyster Card – a form of contactless payment that can be used to pay for all London transport – to get to London Gatwick by train, which makes the whole journey easier. Children under 16 are eligible for a discounted fair, which is good to consider for families travelling with children.