Whether you are staying in the general Heathrow area or are looking for entertainment during a very long layover, here are 10 suggestions for a fun-filled day. If your layover is long enough to warrant leaving the airport building, then you must have a pretty extensive wait ahead of you.
There are three things that you must consider beforehand to avoid catastrophe-level hiccups in your travel plans:
- Visa Requirements: Does your passport or visa allow you to enter and exit the United Kingdom? If you had no plans to stay in London (other than briefly touching down for your connecting flight), then there is a chance that your visa does not permit you to leave the airport.
- Time Before Your Next Flight: Varying travel sites advise not leaving the airport unless your layover is 5 hours or longer to safely ensure that you do not miss your next flight. You also need to check the time that you are required to be back at the airport as you will have to go through all security and emigration checks again.
- Checking your Baggage: Even if you are traveling with hand luggage, you may still want to safely stow everything other than a handbag or a backpack for some of the trips on this list.
These suggestions range according to estimated travel time from Heathrow, with the idea that you have to really want to venture out to the furthest ones to include them in your day and therefore should go to them first. Also keep in mind how much time you would want to spend at these places in order for the journey to be worth your while.
You’ll notice that many of these suggestions involve some adrenaline or physical activity, because you’ll have likely been sitting still in a plane for a long time and are about to do so again. And also, because these will tire out everyone involved in preparation for a nice sleep on your next flight.
Trip to Denham (11.1 miles = ± 26-minute drive one way, but reportedly ±15 minutes on the M25)
If your idea of a trip to England involves wandering through the British countryside into a picturesque village lined with old traditional pubs and houses made with timber or Georgian brick then this is the charming destination for you.
Windsor Castle (7.8 miles = ± 25-minute drive one way)
Seeing the castle itself and its gardens are worth the trip alone, but there is much culture and history to observe at one of the most famous (and still operational) Royal Castles in Britain. St George’s Chapel has hosted many Royal events (including the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle) and Queen Mary’s ginormous Doll House is more than any little girl could dream of playing with.
Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew (7.2 miles = ± 25-minute drive one way)
Kew Gardens is one of England’s greatest treasures. Filled with plants, flowers, trees and fungi from all over the world: every visit will have you walking through the most breath-taking scenery – whatever the season. Have a look at the website to see what is in bloom and where to go when you visit.
Thorpe Park (7.2 miles = ± 24-minute drive one way)
The number one destination for thrill-seekers and adrenaline-junkies of all ages, but there are plenty of rides and activities for those who prefer calmer rides and lots to do with little kids. In the warmer months there is a water park, so make sure to bring your swimming costume.
Legoland (11.8 miles = ± 23-minute drive one way)
A great day of family fun appropriate for both the little ones and the preteens. But if we’re honest, even older Lego-lovers will enjoy this amusement park with loads of rides and even more Lego. You might get wet on some rides and activities (especially if the weather is good) – so pack accordingly!
Twickenham Stadium (4.9 miles = ± 20-minute drive one way)
This is a proudly British sporting monument that all rugby fans will enjoy visiting even if there aren’t any matches on at the moment. It is a bucket list trip for all sports fans.
Vue Cinema, Staines (5 miles = ± 16-minute drive one way)
See which latest films are available at Vue Cinema in Staines. Vue Cinema also shows professionally filmed versions of some of the shows currently being performed on the West End: an amazing deal for anyone who cannot get to Theatreland, missed out on tickets or found the theatre tickets far too expensive. It is also worth noting that this cinema has an Autism Friendly facility – but it is currently out of order: so, keep checking the website to see when it is up and running again.
Park Grand London Heathrow Afternoon Tea (3 miles = ± 12-minute drive one way)
There is nothing more quintessentially British than tea and scones and there is a fabulous spot for Afternoon Tea in London right on Heathrow’s doorstep. If you wanted to book a room so that you can rest your head during your layover, then you’ll be pleased to know that this Park Grand London is a Book Now Pay Later hotel to ensure that you can plan the cost of your stay into your budget.
Jump Giants West London Trampoline Park (3.3 = ± 9-minute drive one way).
This one is sure to tire out even the most hyper of toddlers and most jetlagged of adults before your flight. Jump Giants have the biggest trampoline, adventure and air parks in the country and their West London branch offers a Foam Zone, Open Jump, Junior Zone (so your little ones don’t have to worry about getting double-bounced by the big kids), Dodgeball, Basketball, Battle Beams, an arcade as well as a café to catch your breath!
Airport Bowl Heathrow (1.2 miles = ± 4-minute drive one way)
This is a great place to keep just about anyone entertained even if they don’t enjoy tin-pin bowling. Whether they are fans of playing at the arcade, fancy themselves skilled at playing pool, love a bit of gambling or simply want to sit back at the bar and restaurant – Airport Bowl Heathrow definitely beats sitting in the departure hall by all accounts!