Are you wondering how to get from Stansted to London Central or other outlying areas of the city? This blog highlights the different road and rail options available, so you can continue your onward journey from Stansted to London as quickly and smoothly as possible.
London Stansted Airport is located at Stansted Mountfitchet, close to the village of Bishop’s Stortford in Essex, and just over 40 miles northeast of Central London.
As a part of the MAG Property group, it is London’s third-largest airport and handles over 28 million passengers a year.
Stansted Airport is a central hub for many of the UK’s leading low-cost airlines, including Ryanair, Jet2, TUI, EasyJet, British Airways, Eurowings and Emirates; and covers 200 destinations in 45 countries using its single terminal and one runway.
If you’re flying from Europe to the UK with a low-cost carrier, there’s a good chance you’ll be touching down at Stansted Airport.
How to get from Stansted to London
1. Train, the Stansted Express is the fastest way to get from Stansted to London
Although not a London Underground station, Stansted’s station is below the arrival/departure terminal, and lifts and escalators within the terminal will carry you down to the station.
If you haven’t pre-booked your fares, ticket machines are available on the station concourse.
One of the fastest and most hassle-free ways to get from Stansted to London Liverpool Street is the Stansted Express.
The first train of the day pulls out of Stansted at 05.30am and calls at Tottenham Hale, Stratford and London Liverpool Street, covering the journey in around 47 minutes. The last one departures from Stansted at 00:30am
From London Liverpool Street the first train departures at 04.40am.
The Express operates every 15 minutes throughout the day and evening until just before midnight.
Depending on your final destination in London, you can change to the London Underground Victoria Line at Tottenham Hale and other underground lines at Liverpool Street.
While this is fine if just travelling with hand baggage or backpacking, it is not to be recommended if travelling with small children or large cases. In that situation, it’s better to transfer to road transport.
The Stansted Express is a dedicated airport service, and all carriages have plenty of space for passengers and heaps of luggage storage to allow for those big cases. However, there is one caveat, London Liverpool Street is in the heart of the city’s business district.
In addition, hotel prices are geared towards affluent business people on company expenses rather than tourist accommodation, so getting to your hotel from London Liverpool Street will likely be more expensive and time-consuming.
Single fares costs £19.90 per adult and £9.95 per child to Liverpool Street, with return fares attracting a discount, as does booking online. Book online in advance single fares starts from just £9.70.
One word of caution, you cannot use TfL Oyster cards on the Stansted Express, although it would be valid when or if you transfer to the underground.
More info: https://www.stanstedexpress.com/
2. Airport Coach services, an excellent option to get from Stansted to London for families
Stansted Airport offers the choice of two luxury coach companies to get you from Stansted to London Central as smoothly and trouble-free as possible.
The main coach park is just a two-minute walk from the arrivals gate at Stansted and includes a coffee shop, toilets, newsagents and payphones.
Between them, they cover many underground stations and main train stations, including London Liverpool Street, Paddington, Waterloo, Victoria, Kings Cross, and St Pancras.
The baggage allowance with both operators is two suitcases and one piece of hand luggage per person.
You also have the option of public transport. First Essex, part of the First Bus franchise, also operates two routes with pick-ups from Stansted coach station, and stopping at various points throughout Greater London.
2.1 Stansted Airport Bus Express
A modern fleet of luxury coaches, with a toilet, Wi-Fi, charging sockets, air-con, and plush seating, allows you to start unwinding from your flight while you continue on your journey.
Stansted Bus Express runs two routes from Stansted to London (and back) and starts operating every 30 minutes from 07.00am until 01.30am the following morning.
- Route A21: covers Stansted to Liverpool Street via Stratford.
- Route A20: covers Stansted to Victoria Coach Station via Baker Street (Gloucester Place).
From Stansted to Liverpool Street, fares start around £6 for a single adult if you book online in advance (standard fare is £14) and journey time is approximately 75 minutes depending on time and traffic conditions.
More information and an online booking portal can be found here: https://www.airportbusexpress.co.uk
2.2 National Express
The UK’s premier long-distance coach company, National Express covers routes from major cities, stations and airports up and down the country.
Using modern, high-quality de-luxe coaches with all the extras, they have over 200 daily services (this service operates 24 hours a day) covering four routes running from the airport, to get you from Stansted to London and as close to your final destination as possible.
- Route A6: Stansted to Portman Square, stopping at Golders Green, Finchley Road, St John’s Wood, Baker Street, Paddington, Marble Arch and Portman Square.
- Route A7: Stansted to Victoria Coach Station, stopping at Bow, Mile End, Whitechapel, Southwark, Waterloo, Victoria Train Station and Victoria Coach Station.
- Route A8: Stansted to Kings Cross, stopping at South Hackney, Bethnal Green, Shoreditch, Liverpool Street, Farringdon and Kings Cross (opposite St Pancras International Train Station).
- Route A9: Stansted direct service to London Stratford.
Please be aware that National Express is not affiliated with Stansted Airport, so their departure times are not tied to airport arrival times. Consequently, there may be some time to be filled between your flight landing and the coach’s departure.
Fares start from around £6 (standard fare is £14).
Full details can be found at: https://book.nationalexpress.com
2.3 Essex First, stops at various points throughout Greater London
First Essex operates two routes with pick-ups from Stansted coach station, and stopping at various points throughout Greater London.
Please be aware. These are buses used by the general population to get back and forth to work and go about their daily activities. Consequently, with no designated baggage areas, large volumes of luggage could prove problematic.
- Route X10: Stansted to Basildon, stopping at Barnston, Chelmsford, Runwell, Wickford Broadway, Eastmayne and Basildon.
- Route X30: Stansted to Southend, stopping at Barnston Church School, Chelmsford, Rayleigh Railway Station, Eastwood Rise, Eastwood Kent Elms Corner, Prittlewell Bell, Southend Airport, Southend Victoria Centre and Southend Travel Centre.
Other routes and online booking can be found at: https://www.firstbus.co.uk/essex
3. Taxi, a straightforward but costly option
Stansted airport approved taxis can be hired from the 24×7 Taxis reception desk on the international arrivals concourse. They can also be booked in advance by phone on 01279 661 111.
An average journey from Stansted to London Bridge starts at around £85 and takes approximately one hour, although that can fluctuate depending on the time of day and traffic hold-ups.
The driver should know the quickest route to your destination and drop you at your hotel.
Stansted Airport also offers a minicab option which is booked online. Once all your details are logged, including the amount of luggage and vehicle type, you will receive a fixed quote that won’t fluctuate. Payments can be made by debit or credit card, PayPal or cash to the driver.
For full details and online booking form: https://www.stanstedairport.com/getting-to-and-from/by-taxi/
4. Private transfer, the most confortable way to get to London from Stansted
The cost of a pre-booked private hire transfer from Stansted to London will generally work out considerably cheaper than using a taxi.
Your personal driver will meet you in the arrivals hall, escort you to the vehicle and chauffeur you to your destination quickly and smoothly.
Please note. Allowed baggage is the same as that permitted by the airline, with any extras having to be declared when booking. Under no circumstances will surfboards, skis, non-foldable wheelchairs, or golf bags be accepted.
Full details and booking form can be found here: Private transfer from Stansted
5. Shared Transfer, cheaper than taxi or private transfer
Operating 24 hours a day, booking a Shared Shuttle is an increasingly popular way to get from Stansted to London, especially if your flight arrives late evening or in the early hours of the morning when other options are shut down.
Booked online, you and others using the service will be greeted in the arrivals hall by the driver and led to your transport. Your vehicle could be a modern six to eight-seater mini-coach, up to a 12/15 seater, depending on the number of passengers.
Normal airline baggage allowances apply, so if you have extra this needs to be mentioned when booking. Costs typically start around £30/person, and journey times average 60 to 90 minutes, depending on destinations and number of drop-offs.
For more information and booking portal: Shared Transfer from Stansted
6. Hiring a car, an option that requires careful consideration
At first glance, car hire appears an excellent choice to get you and the family from Stansted to London. Walk to your pre-booked car. Pile the luggage in the boot and the kids in the back. Set the sat-nav, and you’re good to go.
The first part of the journey from Stansted to London is reasonably straightforward. On leaving the airport, head towards the roundabout and take the 4th exit onto the A120 and signed for the M11.
- Pick up the M11 and stay on the motorway
- Follow the M11 towards Woodford, then take Exit 4 for the North Circular
- Follow the North Circular and take Exit A13, (A1261, A1203 and A3211) to Northumberland Ave
- You’re now heading into Central London, and your route will depend on your final destination.
However, consider what your intentions are during your visit. Will you be staying in Central London, intending to spend your time visiting the sights and monuments around the city?
In this situation, with London being one of the most congested cities in the world, a hire car is not a good proposition.
On top of your costs will go the £15/day London congestion charge when you inadvertently drive into the congestion zone, which is pretty much most of Central London.
Finding somewhere to park can take hours, and car park charges are high. Overrun your meter time, and you will likely be clamped or towed, with even higher costs to get the vehicle back. So no, if you are staying and exploring around Central London, forget the hire car.
If however, you are staying on the city’s outskirts and intend to spend your time visiting the surrounding counties, a hire car allows you to come and go at your own pace.
Stansted Airport has ten international Car Hire Companies on the concourse as you head towards the arrivals exit. Pre-booking your hire car is the best option, and details can be found here: Car Hire Stansted Airport
There is no best or worst way to get from Stansted to London. If time is of the essence, consider one of the rail options. If you’re happy spending an hour or more watching the world go by before getting dropped at your hotel, consider one of the road options.
Whatever your choice, pre-booking online will provide peace of mind and often lower costs.
We’ve already briefly mentioned London’s Underground, but for those seriously considering this option to get to their hotel, let’s put some meat on the bones.
he TfL Tube boasts 11 different lines, 272 stations dotted throughout London, and carries nearly two million passengers every single day – and therein lies the problem.
Like metro systems the world over, London’s tube system is heavily over-subscribed, especially during peak hours, when commuters are travelling into or home from work.
London’s tube is the cheapest and quickest way to get around the city when travelling light. But it will massively increase stress levels if trying to shepherd young children and drag large suitcases through the many turnstiles and across platforms.
For backpackers, singles and couples travelling light with just a carry-on bag, it is an excellent option. For those with a lot of baggage or young children – not so.
For those choosing to use the tube to continue their onward journey, if you need the Victoria Line, change at Tottenham Hale.
For the Central, Circle, Metropolitan, Hammersmith and City lines, board your tube at Liverpool Street Station. Full details and route planners can be found here. https://tfl.gov.uk/plan-a-journey/