London City Airport to Central London transfer options

Docklands Light Railway is cheapest and most popular, but there are alternatives

London City Airport DLR/Train Station

Boarding a DLR train at London City Airport train station

London City Airport is only around 6 miles (9.6km) from the centre of London, the closest airport to the city centre.


City Airport is a small one passenger terminal located to the east of London in what was the old London Docks that once covered a vast area of east London along the River Thames.


The London Dockland was redeveloped from the 1980s transforming the district, demolishing all the docks, factories and warehouses and building a major modern financial and commercial area of London with apartments and restaurants.

The runway of London City Airport is situated right next to one of the old docks which still accommodates sea going leisure ships.


Because of the relatively short length of the runway, City Airport can only support the smaller jets which in turn means nearly all air services from City Airport are to short haul destinations in the UK, Ireland and Western Europe.

Docklands Light Railway (DLR) - City Airport link to London

If you are travelling into Central London from City Airport then the only realistic public transport option (apart from a taxi) is the Docklands Light Railway. There are frequent London red bus services that visit City Airport but they are only for the immediate local area.


There are no direct public transport options to any of London's other airports from City Airport.


The Docklands Light Railway is an automated light railway system that covers all of the redeveloped London Docklands area. For the visitor to London you can think of it as part of the London Underground system. Ticketing and fares are integrated between the Underground and DLR and you can switch train between DLR and the Underground on a single journey/ticket. The London City Airport DLR station is connected to the airport Terminal.

DLR Frequencies & Operating Hours

The DLR trains departs London City Airport every 8 to 15 minutes. It's only 7 minutes to Canning Town where you can interchange onto the Jubilee Line of the London Underground or continue to Bank in the heart of London's main business/financial area.

Trains run broadly 5.30am to midnight, though on Sundays it's around 7am to 11.30pm.

Key points about London Underground/DLR are:

  • The authorities penalise you heavily for buying single journey tickets. In the centre you can pay more than double the price than if you used an Oyster Card for example.


  • A single journey on the London Underground can involve 1 or 2 changes of train. Your journey starts when you go through the ticket barrier of the station entrance you depart from and finishes when you pass through the ticket barrier at the exit of your destination. You cannot break a journey on a single fare, once you go though an exit barrier of a station that is journey completed.


  • The buses, Underground, DLR and London suburban trains are managed by a central government body called Transport for London chaired by the mayor of London. The transport passes that nearly everyone uses, Oyster and Travelcard, allow you to travel seamlessly across all modes of transport, bus, Underground, train and DLR using the same ticket/pass.


  • Children under 11 travel free on the London Underground and DLR (Docklands Light Railway) at all times. Child fares are available for those under 16 and it is possible to get discounted fares if you are under 18 or studying in London with an ID card.


  • There are no seniors fares for visitors. If you reside in London and are over 60 you can get a pass that makes free bus and Underground travel available. If you have an English National Concessionary bus pass you cannot use it on the London Underground (but you can use it on London's red buses).

London Public Transport Fare Zones & Fares

Travelcard or Oyster Cards In London Discussion

The London public transport system is divided up into zones that radiate from the centre. Nearly all the hotels and the main sights are in zone 1. City Airport is in zone 3 and the furthest zone out is zone 9. For the vast majority of visitors you will only travel in the two most central zones 1 and 2 if sightseeing in London.

For the visitor to London, buying individual fares is very expensive and time consuming. Nearly everyone uses a travel pass, either Oyster or Travelcard. The question of which travel pass to purchase can be very confusing. For those living and working in London they will almost always have an Oyster Card in their wallet and as a general rule of thumb the Oyster Card is the benchmark to be beaten.

However, for the tourist or those making short visits to London there are aspects of the Travelcard that make them very appealing and if understood can make Travelcards cheaper than Oyster Cards, especially if you are visiting the major sights on a first time visit.

Private car transfers at London City Airport

In some instances a private car transfer from London City AIrport into London and direct to your hotel can be an appealing choice. You can check prices and book your private transfers through our partners using the button below.


Taxi at City Airport

Licensed London Black taxis are available directly outside the terminal building at City Airport. As a broad indicative guide expect to pay in the region of £35-£45 for a journey into the centre of London, around Trafalgar Square/Oxford Street.


Travelodge City Airport

Travelodge City Airport

City Airport hotels

There is a good range of hotels, nearly all brand new chain hotels in the vicinity of City Airport. Most of the hotels are primarily there to service the Excel Exhibition and Conference Centre situated close by.

The only City Airport Hotel you can walk to easily with luggage is the Travelodge City Airport, a no frills budget chain hotel about 400 yards walk from the City Airport building.


Local red London buses will take you from City Airport to many of the other hotels with a mile or so of the airport terminal.

City Airport/ExCeL Conference Centre hotel details

If you are staying more than an overnight then the DLR will quickly take you to Canary Wharf hotels or the Tower Bridge/Tower of London hotel districts which can offer very good value at the weekend.

London City Airport & Excel Convention Centre Hotel Map
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