UK and Ireland: accommodation and transport

Flights to Britain and Ireland, airport guides, key destinations, transport, car hire, accommodation, tours and more.

Getting there and around

Which one of London's five airports should you fly into, which public transport planner to use, and the best sites for booking accommodation - download the UK and Ireland travel guide.


Flight time from Australia: 19.5+ hours

There are no direct flights between Australia and the UK; the distance is too great. Flights usually connect in Asia or the Middle East. The route is serviced by many airlines, including Qantas, British Airways, Virgin, Singapore Airlines, KLM, Garuda Indonesia, China Southern and Philippine Airlines.

Most international flights arrive at London Heathrow or London Gatwick, both these airports are quite a long way from central London. It's worth looking around for a flight that gets you closest to where you're staying, as the cost of a taxi could outweigh the money you save on a cheaper flight.

Warning: If you are flying via the UAE, Singapore, Brunei or any other country with strict drug laws, be sure to check that any medication you're carrying (such as strong painkillers, cold and flu tablets and ADHD medication) aren't illegal. In rare cases, airline passengers have been jailed when caught with medications that were classed as narcotics. If you're concerned, check with your airline or with the embassy of the country you'll be transiting through.

Air Passenger Duty is included in the cost of flights to and from the UK, and because the tax is calculated by flight distance, it can be as high as £194 (around $380) for Australian flights. There is no duty on flights in and out of Ireland.

At the airport

Most Australians won't need a visa to enter the UK or Ireland as a tourist, but depending on when you arrive you may experience long queues at immigration, especially at Heathrow. You may be quizzed about the purpose of your visit, or you may simply be waved through.

  • 32km west of CBD.
  • The Heathrow Express is the fastest way into central London. Departing from Terminals 1, 2, 3 and 5 (shuttle available from terminal 4), trains run every 15 minutes and take 15 minutes to reach Paddington station.
  • Heathrow Connect is a cheaper but slower train service departing from Terminals 1, 2 and 3 every 30 minutes and taking 25 minutes to reach Paddington.
  • The London Underground (or 'tube') is cheaper and slower still. Trains leave every ten minutes and take up to an hour to reach central London via the Piccadilly line. There are stations at Terminals 4 and 5, and a combined stations for Terminals 1, 2 and 3.
  • Buses and coaches run to central London, other airports, some hotels, and stations on the national rail network.
  • Taxis leave from outside every terminal. Minicabs or private drivers can be pre-booked via or
  • Car hire companies Hertz, Avis, Europcar, National, Alamo, Enterprise, Budget and Sixt all operate out of Heathrow.
  • Airport website:

  • 45km south of CBD.
  • Trains leave from the South Terminal and can be reached from the North Terminal by free shuttle.
  • The Gatwick Express is the fastest way into central London. It leaves every 15 minutes and takes 30 minutes to reach Victoria station.
  • Thameslink runs to London Bridge, St Pancras International and Luton Airport.
  • Southern runs to London Victoria via Clapham Junction and East Croydon.
  • Other train services can take you to destinations outside of London, including Brighton, Southampton and Reading.
  • Most buses leave from the South Terminal forecourt. Some also pick up passengers at the North Terminal.
  • Easybus runs to Earls Court/West Brompton, London Victoria coach station and Waterloo train station.
  • National Express runs to many locations including central London, Heathrow and Brighton.
  • Taxis are available from both terminals. Drivers can be booked in advance.
  • Car hire companies operating out of Gatwick include Hertz, Avis, Europcar, Sixt, National, Alamo, Enterprise and Budget.
  • Airport website:

Key destinations and their airports

Airport Distance from city
London Heathrow (LHR) 32km west of central London
London Gatwick (LGW) 45km south of central London
London Luton (LTN) 56km north-west of central London
London Stansted (STN) 64km north-east of central London
London City Airport (LCY) 9km east of central London
Manchester Airport (MAN) 15km south of CBD
Birmingham Airport (BHX) 15km south-east of CBD
Bristol Airport (BRS) 12km south-west of CBD
Newcastle Airport (NCL) 10km south-east of CBD
Airport Distance from city
Edinburgh Airport (EDI) 15km west of CBD
Glasgow Airport (GLA) 15km west of CBD
Aberdeen Airport (ABZ) 8km north-west of CBD
Airport Distance from city
Cardiff Airport (CWL) 20km west of CBD
Airport Distance from city
Belfast Airport (Northern Ireland) (BFS) 19km north-west of CBD
Dublin Airport (DUB) 9km north of CBD
Cork Airport (ORK) 6.5km south of CBD
Shannon Airport (SNN) 24km north of Ennis, 25km west of Limerick, 85km south of Galway

Getting around


Britain's train services are run by more than 20 different private companies. Check for all timetables and fares, or once you know which company operates your train, check their website for a better price (hint: they don't charge booking fees). You can also compare rates at

The National Rail website is integrated with Ireland's rail and ferry network, so you can book a full journey from London to Dublin, for example, on the one ticket. For train fares within Ireland, go to Trains and buses in Northern Ireland are operated by

Ireland's ticket types are fairly straightforward, but UK fares fluctuate greatly with different rates for fixed 'advance' tickets, semi-flexible 'off-peak' tickets, and fully flexible 'anytime' tickets, as well as first or second class seats. Generally, the earlier you book, the better price you'll get.

If you're planning on doing a lot of rail travel, consider a BritRail pass. It's only available to tourists, so must be purchased before you arrive in the UK.

Tips: If you're in the UK for a while, a Railcard can save you 34% on most train tickets. The cards are available for over-60s, under-25s, families with children, people travelling in pairs and people with disabilities. They can be bought online at, but you must have a UK address for the card to be mailed to. Alternatively, they're available at stations, some UK travel agents, and Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and Manchester Airports.

For trains from London to Paris and mainland Europe, book at

Check for more tips on finding cheap fares, as well as other rail and ferry travel advice.


Buses and coaches are generally cheaper than trains, but they're also slower. National Express ( is the main UK operator, offering Brit Xplorer passes for travellers as well as discount Coachcards for under-26s, over-60s, families and people with disabilities. Megabus ( is another major operator with budget fares, and there are plenty of smaller local companies.

Bus Éireann ( is Ireland's main operator. It has a range of passes available for travellers, including rail-bus combos.

Tip: During busy periods a bus may be a better option than a train. Buses can't oversell tickets, so you'll always be guaranteed a seat.

Domestic flights

Flying is an option if you have limited time for longer trips like London to Edinburgh or Dublin. Carriers include British Airways, Virgin, EasyJet, RyanAir and more. You can book via their websites, or compare fares and book using sites like and See our tips on using airline booking websites.


Ferries connect the UK with Ireland and continental Europe (including France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Norway and Sweden). Ticket prices can often be drastically cheaper than flying. is the best place to search.

Transport tip: is a great resource for working out how to get from A to B by any means of transport, anywhere in the world.

Getting around towns and cities is easily done on public transport or on foot. Congestion and limited parking can make driving unappealing in major cities, particularly London. Metered taxis are common in all towns and cities. Go to to find the number in your area.

Card payments are not as widely accepted in British or Irish taxis as they are in Australia. Ask your driver first, or use an app such as Uber or Hailo to book and pay for your cab.

Public transport trip-planners by city

Car hire

Hiring a car is a great way to see the region, particularly if you're planning to visit rural areas where public transport may not be convenient. Driving in London is not recommended as parking is scarce and traffic moves at a snail's pace, plus you'll be charged a congestion toll for entering the city.

There's no need to get an international driving permit, you can drive on your Australian licence.

Many well-known companies operate in the UK and Ireland, including Avis, Thrifty, Hertz and Europcar. A consumer survey by CHOICE's UK sister organisation Which? rates Enterprise and Alamo as two of the best. To get the best rate and avoid unnecessary charges, check these car hire tips from Which?

Tip: It is possible to take a hire car by ferry between the UK and Ireland, but most companies will charge a substantial premium. It's usually cheaper to hire two separate cars.

Driving in the UK and Ireland

  • Vehicles drive on the left-hand side of the road.
  • Mobile phones can only be used hands-free.
  • Where seat belts are fitted, they must be worn.
  • Car horns are banned in residential areas between 11:30pm and 7:00am.
  • Priority is marked at most junctions - there is no general rule as to who should give way.
  • In the UK, children under 12 years' old, or under 135cm, must use an appropriate child seat.
  • Ireland has different rules regarding child seats, in accordance with the EU's child safety protection laws.
  • The blood alcohol limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is .08%.
  • The blood alcohol limit in Scotland and Ireland is .05%.

Tip: Country roads can be very narrow in places. Drive slowly and be prepared to compromise with other drivers and back up if necessary.

Accommodation and tours

The UK is the land of bed and breakfasts (try for bookings or for reviews), but if B&Bs aren't your thing, other options range from ordinary hotel rooms to renting your own castle, canal boat or holiday home. The rates are similar to here in Australia, if not a little cheaper, depending on the location and the exchange rate.

Bookings can be made through international sites such as expedia and lastminute, or local sites such as or Check tripadvisor for customer reviews before booking. If you're looking for a homestay or apartment rental, airbnb is widely used in the UK and Ireland.

Tours and self-drive holidays can be booked through a travel agent or online (try or or look for recommended tours on tripadvisor). For the easiest option of all, consider a package deal from a travel agent such as Flight Centre, which includes flights, transport, accommodation and sometimes even meals.

Got a travel tip about the UK or Ireland? Or spotted something in our guide that needs updating? Add a comment below.

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