If you’re one of the millions of people who will be passing through Heathrow Airport this year, you’ll want to know about all the great things there are to do there. This guide will give you a rundown on 18 different activities, from shopping to sightseeing. So whether you have a few hours or a few days, read on for some ideas on how to make your time at Heathrow more enjoyable.
If you’re just starting out, I recommend checking out the full Heathrow Airport guide
What is an airport layover?
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An airport layover is when you have a break between flights at an airport. This can be anything from a few hours to a few days. It can be an opportunity to explore a new city or simply to relax before your next flight.
If you’re stuck at Heathrow, there’s no need to worry. There are plenty of things to do to keep you occupied. Here are 18 different ideas.
Can you leave Heathrow airport during a layover?
If you have a UK Visa, a UK citizen, or are American or from select countries, you may leave the airport during your layover. However, if you are from a non-visa national country, you will need to apply for a transit visa in order to be allowed to leave the airport when you have a layover at Heathrow.
If you decide to leave the airport, you will need to re-enter security and immigration when you return. This can add a significant amount of time to your journey, so only do it if you have plenty of time before your next flight.
18 Things to do at London’s Heathrow Airport During Layover:
Swim at Radisson:
The Park Inn by Radisson is around 5 minutes from London Heathrow Airport. Take a dip in the pool and relax in the sauna at this lovely hotel. This is an excellent alternative for anybody who wants to recharge and rejuvenate before catching a flight or going into town for a meeting.
Go get some exercise at Hilton:
With the Hilton Garden Inn near Heathrow, make the most of your airport wait with a workout. After a workout, refuel with a meal at The Garden Grille in the hotel or take a short walk to Hatton Cross Underground station and explore London. Hoppa Bus services from Heathrow Airport require no points.
Relax a comfy lounge:
Imagine a place where you can take a break from the airport chaos, grab a bite to eat or get some work done before your flight. A place where you can visit the Travel Spa for a massage, refresh with a shower or even book a bedroom for an extended layover. Heathrow has several lounges including Priority Pass lounges, Centurion lounge, and airline-sponsored lounges such as the British Airways Terraces Lounge and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.
Do some shopping:
If you’re looking for a bit of retail therapy, Heathrow has plenty to offer. With over 100 shops across all 5 terminals, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for. From designer brands to duty-free shopping, there’s something for everyone.
Explore the Galleries:
Heathrow is home to 5 world-class art galleries, all of which are free to enter. With works by some of the world’s most famous artists on display, these galleries are a great way to while away a few hours.
Watch a movie:
If you’re looking for something to do during a long layover, why not catch a movie? All of Heathrow’s terminals have cinemas showing the latest blockbusters. Head to Vue Cinema in Terminal 5 or Odeon Cinema in Terminal 2 to see what’s on.
Head into London:
If you have a few hours to spare and want to explore beyond Heathrow, why not head into London? With excellent transport links, it’s easy to get into the city. Once there, you can visit world-famous attractions such as Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and the London Eye.
Visit Windsor Castle:
Windsor Castle is just a short train ride from Heathrow Airport. This historic castle has been the home of the British royal family for over 900 years and is well worth a visit. With plenty of things to see and do, you could easily spend a day here.
If you’re traveling with kids, Legoland Windsor is a great option. Just a short journey from Heathrow, this theme park is packed with rides, shows, and attractions. Plus, there’s a handy shuttle bus that runs from the airport.
Visit Hampton Court Palace:
Hampton Court Palace is another great option if you’re looking to get out of Heathrow for the day. With a fascinating history and beautiful gardens, this palace is well worth a visit. You can reach Hampton Court Palace by train from Terminal 5 in just over half an hour.
Have afternoon tea:
Afternoon tea is a quintessentially British experience and there are plenty of places to enjoy it near Heathrow. The Tea House at Waterstones in Terminal 5 is a great option, or you could head to the Palm Court at the Langham London hotel.
Visit the Thames Valley:
The Thames Valley is a great option if you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Heathrow. With plenty of green spaces and pretty towns and villages, this area is perfect for a relaxing day out. You can reach the Thames Valley by train from Terminal 5 in under an hour.
Take a boat trip:
A boat trip is a great way to see London from a different perspective. There are plenty of options to choose from, whether you want to cruise down the Thames or take a leisurely trip along the canals. Boat trips depart from both Terminal 2 and Terminal 5.
See a play:
If you’re looking for something cultural to do, why not see a play? The West End of London is home to some of the world’s most famous theatres, and there are plenty of shows to choose from. You can reach the West End by train from Heathrow in just over half an hour.
Visit Kew Gardens:
Kew Gardens is a great option if you’re looking for some peace and quiet. With over 300 acres of gardens to explore, this is the perfect place to escape the busy airport. You can reach Kew Gardens by train from Heathrow in under an hour.
Explore Farnborough Airshow:
If you’re visiting Heathrow in July, you can explore the Farnborough Airshow. This world-famous event is a great opportunity to see some of the latest planes and technology. You can reach Farnborough by train from Heathrow Airport in just over half an hour.
What to do at Heathrow during short layover – fewer than 3 hours:
If you have a short layover at Heathrow, there are still plenty of things you can do to make the most of your time.
Shop ’til you drop:
With over 100 shops to choose from, Heathrow is a great place to do some shopping. Whether you’re looking for designer labels or duty-free bargains, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.
Grab a bite to eat:
There are plenty of places to eat at Heathrow, so you won’t go hungry during your layover. Whether you’re looking for a quick snack or a sit-down meal, there’s something to suit everyone.
Catch up on some sleep:
If you’re feeling jet-lagged, there are plenty of places to catch up on some sleep at Heathrow. There are plenty of comfortable seats and quiet areas where you can relax and recharge. Heathrow is one of the few select airports with sleeping facilities including sleeping pods. You can also book a hotel with free shuttles from and to Heathrow Airport.
Enjoy the views:
Heathrow is situated in a beautiful area of London, so make sure you take some time to enjoy the views. Head to one of the observation decks in Terminal 5 or 2 for some stunning views of the airport.
What to do at Heathrow if you have a longer layover – more than 3 hours:
If you have a longer layover at Heathrow, there are plenty of things you can do to make the most of your time.
Visit a museum:
There are plenty of museums to choose from if you’re looking to kill some time at Heathrow. The Science Museum and the Natural History Museum are both located near the airport, and are well worth a visit.
Go for a walk:
If you want to stretch your legs, there are plenty of walking routes to choose from near Heathrow. With over 5,000 acres of green space, you’re sure to find somewhere to take a leisurely stroll.
Explore the local area:
There’s plenty to see and do in the local area around Heathrow. With so much to explore, you’re sure to find something to keep you entertained.
Visit a theme park:
If you’re looking for some fun for the whole family, why not visit a nearby theme park? Legoland Windsor and Thorpe Park are both located within easy reach of Heathrow.
What to do in London during a layover:
If you plan on leaving the airport during your layover and going downtown London, there are plenty of things to keep you entertained.
See the sights:
London is home to some of the world’s most famous landmarks, so make sure you take some time to see them. From Big Ben to Buckingham Palace, there’s plenty to keep you busy.
Do some shopping:
Whether you’re looking for designer labels or high-street bargains, London is a great place to do some shopping. With so many shops to choose from, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.
Catch a show:
The West End of London is home to some of the world’s most famous theatres, and there are plenty of shows to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a musical or a play, you’re sure to find something to suit your taste.
There you have it – our guide to 18 things to do at Heathrow Airport, whether you have a short layover or a longer one. We hope you have a great time exploring everything the airport has to offer.
My name is Alex Mutuma and I founded this blog, Airport LLC as a way to document and engage with clients in my travel consulting business. Airportllc.com is the only source of over 2,000 fun things flyers could do during layovers.
Over the past 7 years, I have designed and planned tour packages for hundreds of clients and have recently focussed on the mission of changing boring layovers to excellent mini-vacations by giving you the best suggestions on must-do activities when flying over different airports.
Next time you or your friend are looking for suggestions on what to do in some airport, remember Airport LLC or Airportllc.com. On this site, you’ll get the best suggestions available on the internet regarding hand-picked activities that will fulfill your airport experience.
I currently reside in New York City and have obtained a license to provide professional tour guidance at Airports in the US and across the world. Why should you listen to my suggestions? I have flown through more than 100 airports in the world and fortunately, I have pictures, stories, and tips to share with you regarding all the fun stuff you can do as you wait for your next flight.
Aside from gaining thousands of flying miles, I am also a travel consultant assisting clients with bookings and specifically advance tour bookings of things to do at airports when the layover is longer than 5 hours.
To make a 15-minute free things-to-do consultation with Alex, use my email, email@example.com.
This is only recommended for flyers with long layovers of over 5 hours. If your layover is 3+ hours, you can still reach out but we cannot guarantee the ideal package that will change your layovers to mini-vacations. I only support clients flying through US airports and a select number of cities across the world.
Name: Alex Mutuma
Profession: A professional travel consultant with a focus on airport activities to do during layovers
Phone: +1 945 348 889
Location: 322 Main Packway Street, Boston, US