Advice: Seeing London in 6 hours

Alrighty, here is the situation. We have a lengthy stop-over at London’s Heathrow airport (wikipedia). We have never been there before and we are not sure what to expect (just expect busy and chaos).

The question is: do we have time to leave the airport, take the train (Heathrow Express) to Paddington Station and walk around (or jump on a tour bus), and make it back for our connecting flight?

Here are some parameters, facts, and unknowns:

  • We arrive at Heathrow Terminal 3 around noon. Our next flight is leaves from Terminal 3 and departs approximately 8 hours after we arrive (departs at 8pm). In reality we probably have about 6 hours of free time.
  • Unknowns: Is it even possible to leave the airport (we would be in a holding area)? Do we have to claim our bags and then transfer it to our next airline? Or is it checked through? We’ll need to research that.

So far, we have received advice ranging from: oh, it’s totally doable to HECK NO, not even worth it!

Your advice and feedback is greatly appreciated. For those who have already given us advice, feel free to reiterate and share your thoughts again.

Thanks!

8 Replies to “Advice: Seeing London in 6 hours”

  1. Ah, no.
    Plan a holiday in London, heck, Europe, after Nepal! 😉

  2. Well… as to whether you’d be in a holding area or not is… debatable. I’ve been in airports where you’re allowed to leave, and others where you’ve been released directly into the terminal, so you don’t have to redo security… but then again, it really depends. And are you doing one flight, or two separate? And it ALSO depends on what countries you’re going into/out of… I know that when I came back into the U.S., I had to reclaim my bag to take it through customs and then recheck it…

    And I’m sure you’ve already done this, but if you haven’t, when I looked up the Heathrow Express, it’s 15 minutes every 15 minutes, so that (I think) would be really do-able. And if you ask ME… it’s worth it to just see the city a bit, or even just grab a bite to eat in a pub. The tube in London is fabulous and can get you pretty much anywhere. And it really is an AMAZING city with so many things to do…

    But of course it’s totally up to you!

  3. Well… as to whether you’d be in a holding area or not is… debatable. I’ve been in airports where you’re allowed to leave, and others where you’ve been released directly into the terminal, so you don’t have to redo security… but then again, it really depends. And are you doing one flight, or two separate? And it ALSO depends on what countries you’re going into/out of… I know that when I came back into the U.S., I had to reclaim my bag to take it through customs and then recheck it…

    And I’m sure you’ve already done this, but if you haven’t, when I looked up the Heathrow Express, it’s 15 minutes every 15 minutes, so that (I think) would be really do-able. And if you ask ME… it’s worth it to just see the city a bit, or even just grab a bite to eat in a pub. The tube in London is fabulous and can get you pretty much anywhere. And it really is an AMAZING city with so many things to do…

    But of course it’s totally up to you!

  4. Yes,it’s doable. And you’d probably want some air after being inflight for 7+ hours.

    Things to find out before you make your decision:
    1) Bags checked straight through (same airline etc.)?
    2) If not, check Term.3 bag holdings (you can pay to have them hold your bags in most airports).

    Once you determine that, you can leave the airport (so long as you have all your documents and future boarding passes. You’ll just have to brave security all over again, so make sure you leave enough time when you return to the airport.

    Options to go around the city:
    1) Heathrow express is very frequent and fast. It takes you directly into the city where you can take the underground to all tourist sites. Just note that some underground lines can be “out of order” (which usually happens here. Unfortunately, you can’t plan for that, but there are always ways around it.
    2) If there is a tourist bus that takes you directly to the city and back, it might be worth it. This way, it will be “hassle free”. Remember that you will be jet-lagged and might appreciate a bus that takes you directly to all the major sites. It all depends on you.

    And most importantly, please let us know when you’re passing through. We’d love to see you before your next adventure!

    Good luck!

  5. Thanks for all the advice. We were really exhausted from the flight and decided to stay at the Yotel (post coming soon!).

  6. Thanks for all the advice. We were really exhausted from the flight and decided to stay at the Yotel (post coming soon!).

  7. Well… as to whether you'd be in a holding area or not is… debatable. I've been in airports where you're allowed to leave, and others where you've been released directly into the terminal, so you don't have to redo security… but then again, it really depends. And are you doing one flight, or two separate? And it ALSO depends on what countries you're going into/out of… I know that when I came back into the U.S., I had to reclaim my bag to take it through customs and then recheck it… And I'm sure you've already done this, but if you haven't, when I looked up the Heathrow Express, it's 15 minutes every 15 minutes, so that (I think) would be really do-able. And if you ask ME… it's worth it to just see the city a bit, or even just grab a bite to eat in a pub. The tube in London is fabulous and can get you pretty much anywhere. And it really is an AMAZING city with so many things to do… But of course it's totally up to you!

  8. Well… as to whether you'd be in a holding area or not is… debatable. I've been in airports where you're allowed to leave, and others where you've been released directly into the terminal, so you don't have to redo security… but then again, it really depends. And are you doing one flight, or two separate? And it ALSO depends on what countries you're going into/out of… I know that when I came back into the U.S., I had to reclaim my bag to take it through customs and then recheck it… And I'm sure you've already done this, but if you haven't, when I looked up the Heathrow Express, it's 15 minutes every 15 minutes, so that (I think) would be really do-able. And if you ask ME… it's worth it to just see the city a bit, or even just grab a bite to eat in a pub. The tube in London is fabulous and can get you pretty much anywhere. And it really is an AMAZING city with so many things to do… But of course it's totally up to you!

Thoughts?