London Gatwick tends to be overshadowed by the larger and flashier Heathrow Airport. But this major transport hub is convenient if you find yourself travelling to and from south London.
As far as layovers go, facilities and things to do are standard fare for the most part. There is enough to keep you busy, but probably nothing truly unique to make your experience particularly memorable. Whether you want to stay in the terminal or venture out for sightseeing trip, here are 7 things to do on a layover at London Gatwick Airport.
You’ve got a decent selection of cafes and restaurants here, so why not start your layover with a good meal? Leisurely sit-down spots include Wagamama, Nicholas Culpeper Pub & Dining, two Weatherspoon pubs, and several spots by celeb chef Jamie Oliver. Well-known chains include Costa, Nando’s, Caffe Nero, Yo! Sushi, and Starbucks. Some options stay open 24-hours, mostly cafes and to-go kiosks. An M&S Simply Foods is located pre-Security if you want to browse a grocery store for snacks.
Seeking a quieter environment during your layover? An airport lounge might be just what you need. A few lounges here provide access to all travellers, no matter the airline or class flown. For a single fee, you’ll get food, drinks, WiFi, and a quiet ambiance. (One lounge even has shower facilities for freshening up!) Pre-book a lounge pass online or use your lounge membership program to gain entry. See our London Gatwick Airport Guide for locations and details.
Take some time to browse the 2 dozen or so shops, including a range of airport staples and international boutiques. Well-known London brands like Harrods and Hamleys have outposts here. We also like Superdry, Fatface, and Snow + Rock for UK brands. Pick up a book to read on the plane, browse for souvenirs, or try out makeup, candy, and whiskeys in the Duty Free. A few shops stay open 24-hours, including most Duty Free areas, of course.
4. Stroll the trails
A national bike path follows around the airport, leading towards a wooded suburban area – perfect for getting some fresh air without getting too far.
Gatwick Airport is located about a one-hour’s drive directly south of London. If you’re itching for some fresh air and you’ve got at least eight hours till your next flight, go explore this world-class city!
Check anything you don’t want to carry along at luggage storage, available at both terminals. The most convenient and affordable way to reach London is via the London Gatwick express train, which departs from the South Terminal’s railway station. Trains leave every 15 minutes and you’ll reach London’s Victoria Station in about 35 minutes. Buses and taxis are also available, though you’ll spend significantly more time or money using these options.
Once downtown, go exploring! London has endless sites, so pick just one or two to hone in on for your short visit. Go shopping along Oxford Street, stroll through Covent Garden, or browse world-class museums. Ride the London Eye for 360-degree views of town, then walk across Millennium Bridge towards St. Paul’s Cathedral. Stop by Westminster Abbey for a brief peek into England’s long history.
If you want to exit the airport but don’t want to venture into London, visit the nearby Gatwick Aviation Museum, tour the Leith Hill Tower in Surrey, or take the family to the British Wildlife Centre to get up close to local wildlife.
However you spend your time away from the airport, you don’t want to miss that next flight! Leave plenty of time to get back to Gatwick Airport, grab your bags, and process through Security.
Stay connected to friends and family, update your social media accounts or surf the internet courtesy of the airport’s free WiFi. The free WiFi is available at speeds of up to 50mbps. If faster service is required, download the airport app and enjoy speeds (free) of 100mbps. See our London Gatwick Airport Guide for more details.
If you’re in need of sleep, feel free to catch up here – you likely won’t have any problems from the staff. In terms of the best sleep spots? Pre-Security, try your luck at the armchairs and soft benches (no armrests!) located in the South Terminal. In the North Terminal, look for comfortable seats near the coffee shop, on the lower level. If you’re camping out inside Security, look for the rare benches that have no armrests. Wherever you land, plan for bright lights, noise, and chilly temps – plan accordingly. If your sleep is priceless, then you’re spoiled for hotel options here. Two hotels are located inside the airport: Bloc Gatwick is a budget hotel located in the South Terminal and YOTELair rents budget rooms on a room/day rate – minimum 4-hour blocks. Several other hotels are located directly on premises. See our London Gatwick Airport Guide for locations and details.
These are just a few things to do on a layover at London Gatwick Airport. Visit our London Gatwick Airport Guide for more information about more services and facilities available, such as food, WiFi, mobile charging, luggage storage, nearby airport hotels, and much more.