If you are booking airfare on a budget you may not find a direct flight. But layovers don’t have to be an inconvenience. With the right itinerary, you can add a new adventure to your trip.
There are a few things to consider if you plan to leave the airport before your next flight. Along with factoring in security wait times, you will need to consider transportation. Most major airports are located away from the city center but offer a train line into the downtown area. If express transportation is available and you have 5+ hours, you have plenty of time to make some new memories!
Getting to Victoria
On our way to Barcelona, we were scheduled for a 7-hour layover at Gatwick Airport. Luckily the airport is home to the Gatwick Express train line which offers transportation to the city in under 30 minutes. Tickets for the Gatwick Express are not cheap, running at around 35 GBP per person, but it was a price we were willing to pay in order to explore a new city.
After purchasing our tickets we went straight to the platform to catch the express train which took us to the Victoria underground station. Victoria is home to two performing arts theaters as well as a shopping mall and restaurants.
Buckingham Palace and St. James Park
In addition to its own attractions, the Victoria Station is just a 10-minute walk from Buckingham Palace. Having just traveled for multiple hours, the iconic sight of royal residences felt unreal. We enjoyed wandering around the palace gates and Victoria Memorial which led us to the oldest Royal Park in London: Saint James Park. We couldn’t think of a better place to stretch our legs after our flight. Unlike the selfie-taking crowd in front of Buckingham Palace, Saint James was quietly serene. You could easily spend a few hours picnicking in the green gardens but we continued on.
Our stroll led us straight to Westminster Abbey where we took in views of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. The streets were filled with double-decker buses and lined with picturesque phone booths. Continuing toward the Westminster Bridge we could even see the London Eye. With just a few hours to enjoy the sights of London, Westminster was an ideal highlight reel.
Perfect Pub Lunch
Of course, we couldn’t leave the city without a bite to eat. The Albert Pub caught our eye and we stopped in for some lunch. The restaurant’s Victorian-style exterior and casual pub interior felt like quintessential London. We enjoyed meat pie and fish & chips while watching cricket on the bar TV. Of course, it was all washed down with a cold pint to complete the visit.
No matter how short your layover, we recommend making time for a warm meal or a cold drink. Even if it feels cliche, the best way to take in a new place is with all your senses!