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3 Hour layover in London- enough time to leave the airport and explore?

I have a three hour layover at Heathrow Airport, flying in from NYC and out to Amsterdam. Is that enough time to step out of the airport and do anything? I've never been to England and would like to at least say I've stepped foot into the country.

12 Answers

answered by
Hannah from Portland

Hi Jami,

Let me preface this with the fact that I am quite risk adverse so to me 3 hours isn't enough time. If you really wanted to risk it you could take a an overground train to Southall Ln which is known as "Little India" and try the different Indian and Pakistani treats the neighborhood has to offer. If you've ever seen Bend it Like Beckman this is the area that the main character lives. 

Sorry to be a downer, hopefully another community member has some better ideas to prove me wrong!



Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Southall Ln (attraction)
1 thanks

answered first by
Regan from Brooklyn

No. Takes 45-90 minutes to get to/from the airport with traffic.

1 thanks

answered by
Steve from London

Sorry Jamie but the short answer to your question is no.  

It can take the best part of an hour to get thru immigration alone 

answered by
darcy from Aldershot

In a word, no.

The express train I believe takes around 40 minutes to get to the centre of London, so not much point in going. Once you do get there it's busy to get around so you aren't going to see anything in that amount of time. Come back some other time when you have more time and enjoy it!

answered by
Jan from Tokyo

To get into the real centre of town will take about one hour on the tube, or you can get on a c. 30 min train to Paddington. Perhaps you could go to Piccadilly Circus, walk around for 20 min and then get back on the train. Or you could go to Paddington and go to a pub there, or maybe walk around the park if the weather is good.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Paddington (attraction)
  2. Piccadilly Circus (attraction)

answered by
Marc from London

You might be cutting it close, but here are some thoughts for a quick stop in London.  From the airport take the Paddington Express - that gets you to Paddington Station in ~20 minutes.  Step out at paddington and find the nearest pub.  Have a pint.  If you can get hustle down to Hyde Park you can see some greenery and then run back to Paddington for the train ride back to Heathrow.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Paddington Station (attraction)
  2. Hyde Park (attraction)

answered by
Don from Austin (Texas)

I'm not risk averse at all but, not a chance. At most, you'd have an hour to do anything. Explore the airport instead.

answered by
James from London

As a risk averse person I would advise against it. You could get into London in that time but the quality of the experience would be seriously hampered by the stress of getting back in time. You might have 20 mins enjoyment time in total. 

Better off getting a couple of drinks and putting your feet up at the airport. :)

answered by
Scott from San Francisco

Not a chance.    

answered by
Mike from Phoenix

I agree with all the other NO answers - just not enough time. The good news is that depending on what terminal you are flying in and out of, there can be quite a lot to do in the terminals. The food options can be quite good as well, so my recommendation is to find a nice place to eat and do some shopping to pass the time. A number of airlines have lounges as well that you can look at day passes for if you want somewhere a little quieter to pass the time.

answered by
Dabs from Chicago

British airways says that you should have a 6 hour layover before thinking about leaving the airport and I have to say I agree, don't underestimate the time it will take to get through immigration and the time to get back through security . For me stepping on English soil would not be worth missing a flight

answered by
Tamara from Split

Sorry, but 3 hours is not enough time to do any sightseeing. 

  • To leave Heathrow upon landing: cca 30 min.
  • Heathrow Express (the fastest and most expensive way to central London): 15min.
  • Getting out of Paddington: 10-15min. 
  • Taking tube to see Big Ben (for example!): 15 min (minimum, if there's no crowd)

Now, make the same trip back to Heathrow Airport, plus security...It's highly probable you'll miss your flight!

However, if you just want to step out onto the UK soil, sure, you can :D

You can even take a short ride on Piccadilly line, get off at Hounslow, Boston Manor or Northfields (those are tube stations), have quick drink at a nearby pub (Northfields seems to have a nice pub called The Plough Inn, but Boston Manor has National Trust - Osterley Park & House )!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Big Ben (attraction)
  2. Heathrow Airport (attraction)
  3. The Plough Inn (restaurant)
  4. National Trust - Osterley Park & House (attraction)

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