If you’re planning to visit London as part of your European vacation, you’re no doubt looking into how you to get from the airport to Central London, especially if you’re hopping between cities on one of the budget airlines, like Ryan Air, which flies into Stansted airport to the north of London. We’ve taken this route dozens of times ourselves. The fastest way to get from Stansted airport to Central London and vice versa is on the Stansted Express.
If you’re wondering how to get from Stansted airport to London, or the other way around, we’re going to show you exactly how to book tickets for the Stansted Express and how to board the train so you get quickly and safely to/from Stansted Airport without complications.
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What is the Stansted Express?
This train service is the fastest mode of transportation from Stansted Airport to the center of London. As far as London airport transfers go, it is one of fastest and easiest there is. The train journey to the airport begins at London’s Liverpool Street Station and makes one stop at Tottenham Hale before arriving at Stansted Airport. The return journey is just the opposite. The entire journey takes only 45-50 minutes, which is quite a bit faster than other transport methods.
Once you’re on the train, you can sit back and relax for the journey, knowing that traffic and road work that seems to be a constant in and around London won’t make you late. I can’t tell you the number of times we took the bus to Stansted and ended up being more than 30 minutes late. Once it became the norm to have to leave considerably early just to get there on time via bus, we switched to the Stansted Express and have never worried about being late again.
What is the Stansted Express Timetable?
The Stansted Express train runs every 15 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes in the early morning and late evenings. The train begins service at Liverpool Street Station at 3:40am on Monday, Friday and Saturday. This is to accommodate the really early morning flights on those days, and there is not stop at Tottenham Hale. On Sunday, trains start at 4:10am and all other days the service starts at 4:40am.
The return journey — the Stansted to London train — leaves the airport at 5:30am on Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Service begins at 6am all other days.
There aren’t any peak and off-peak hours on this train, like other London trains, so it’s easy to figure out the Stansted express times. Click here to download a schedule of trains.
How to Purchase Stansted Express Tickets
Th easiest way to get Stansted Express tickets is online (go there now). You can purchase Stansted Express tickets up to 6 months in advance. I highly recommend getting tickets as early as possible because there can be really big discounts on tickets purchased in advance. Check current deals here.
Stansted Express Prices & Offers
The best deal you’ll find is £7 one way (£14 round trip), for advanced bookings. We’ve found that you have to book at least 3 months in advance to find these great deals, and it is difficult to find a £7 deal. The prices go up incrementally (often with a discount for round trip).
The typical lowest fare (advanced offer) is £14 one way and £25 round trip.
Another offer that is always available is the WebDuo ticket, which is typically £20 for two single direction tickets (when booked far in advance) or £32 without advanced purchase deals, and £40 for two round trip tickets (£52 with no advanced purchase deals). If you’re traveling with someone, this is an economical ticket that you can purchase at any time, even when other deals are gone.
Finally, 3 or 4 people can travel for the price of 2, when travelling together between London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport. There must be at least 2 paying adults, then children or adults can travel for free.
Booking Your Tickets
To book your tickets, click the image below and fill in your departure and arrival stations. These are most likely to be Liverpool Street Station and Stansted Express, or vice versa.
Once you click to search for tickets, you’ll be led to a page with all the ticket options. This is the only real way to see what advanced purchase offers you’ll receive.
As you can see from the screenshot below, there are 3 levels of service: Standard class, business plus and first class. I personally don’t think it’s necessary to book anything but standard. However, the other two allow you to sit in First Class seats, which are bigger and slight more comfortable, plus it includes a free newspaper. In First Class, you also get free fast-track check in at airport security.
One more thing to pay attention to when purchasing is that the return ticket must be used within 1 month. You don’t have to select a specific date or time. This is really convenient in case your flight gets delayed or changed. If you take the bus, you have to choose a specific bus to and from, and it cannot be changed.
Once you choose your preferred ticket, click continue and choose your method of payment (credit/debit card or Paypal).
Your tickets will be delivered to you via email. When you receive the email, be sure to flag it so you won’t forget where to find it. You’ll need it on your day of travel.Click to book your Stansted Express tickets
If you don’t want to buy tickets online, you’ll have to get them at the train station. There are kiosks in Liverpool Street Station (right in the center – big red boxes – you can’t miss them), where you can purchase tickets. Just be aware that you won’t be getting any discounts or deals. You’ll be paying full price. And if the train you want is full, you’ll have to select another.
How to Get to the Stansted Express Train
⇒ From Liverpool Street Station:
As previously mentioned, the Stansted Express leaves from Liverpool Street Station. This is a convenient train station because it is well connected to the rest of London. You can take the Underground to Liverpool Street Station on the Central, Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan lines. With this many choices, you can get from nearly any of the major tourist zones to Liverpool Street Station within 20-30 minutes. Click here to download a map of the London Underground to plan your travel.
If you’re catching the train from Liverpool Street Station, you’ll need to go into the train station and find your Stansted Express train on the overhead board.
If you need any help at all, there is a Stansted Express Information Point in front of Platform 4 and 5, and you’ll always find helpful people dressed in red milling around who you can ask for help. This is also where you can buy tickets for the train, if you haven’t already.
Typically, the Stansted express trains leave from platforms 1-5, but you must always check the board for your exact departure time in order to find your platform because it varies.
You must be on the train at least a few minutes before departure, so don’t cut it close. If you’re already bought your tickets in advance, you won’t have to print them out, just open your email and scan your passes, or show the agent. It’s super quick to buzz through the gates.
Once you arrive at the airport, it’s just a 2 minute walk to the airport terminal. You will need to present your tickets when you exit the train and go up the escalator.
⇒ From Victoria Station via Tottenham Hale to Stansted Airport
If you happen to be staying on the west side of London, it might be easier for you to catch the Victoria link to straight to the Tottenham Hale Underground stop. From there, you can follow the signs to the Stansted Express train platform, where you can connect to the Stansted Express. The journey from Victoria station to Tottenham Hall is 19 minutes. From there, it is 36 minutes to Stansted airport.
The reverse trip is just as easy. Take the Stansted Express to the Tottenham Hale stop, get off and transfer to the Victoria line, which will take you into the west side of the city.
⇒ From Stansted Airport Terminal
When you arrive at the airport and reach the baggage claim area, you will already start seeing signs for the Stansted Express. There is a ticket booth where you can purchase tickets if you haven’t already bought them. If you already have tickets, just exit to the main terminal and follow the signs to the Stansted Express train. You’ll go through the sliding doors outside and down an escalator to the train.
Remember that it leaves every 15-30 minutes. If a train is already sitting there, you can get on and wait for departure. If there’s no train in the station, it should be a short wait.
What to Expect On Board the Stansted Express
The trains are very modern and nice. The interior and seats are clean and comfortable. There is plenty of space for luggage either in the racks at the end of each carriage, or in the overhead rack (where you can put smaller items, or even carry on luggage sized items).
The Stansted Express has free wifi and power sockets next to each seat. The carriages are all fully air conditioned. There are two seats next to each other, facing both forward and backward, and there are sets of 4 seats with a table in between.
As you can see, it’s very easy to take the Stansted to London train. With there only being two Stansted Express stops, it’s nearly impossible to get lost or not know where you’re going.
No, it’s not the cheapest way to get to London from Stansted airport, but it is the fastest, most convenient, and – in my opinion – best way to get there, without question.
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Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited 70+ countries.