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Layovers and stopovers at Heathrow

What are layovers and stopovers and how can you make the most of them at the airport and in the surrounding Heathrow area? We have a few suggestions…

Stuart Messham
Okay, so first of all you might be wondering what the difference is between a layover and a stopover. The distinction between the two lies in the length of time between connecting flights.
A layover is a connection between flights that is less than 4 hours on a domestic flight or less than 24 hours on an international flight. Layovers typically involve changing gates and planes, but some journeys do include layovers with no plane change at all.
A stopover is a connection between international flights that is at least 24 hours in length and sometimes longer.

Making the most of a short layover at Heathrow (0-6 hours)

For passengers with up to 6 hours to spare before your connecting flight, we recommend staying in and around the airport. Don’t worry though, there’s plenty on offer to keep you entertained, relaxed and refreshed before your connecting flight departs.
Enjoy a meal in our huge range of restaurants
Whether you’re after a 15-minute turnaround, a firm family favourite or something completely different, our range of restaurants – from Big Smoke and Caffe Nero to Shan Shui and Wondertree – will cater for your every culinary need.
Discover Heathrow restaurants
Indulge at some of Heathrow’s exclusive shops
Want to get buying in between flying? Then Heathrow has everything you need, from books and magazines and travel essentials to high fashion and trending tech. Browse world-renowned brands such as Burberry, Bulgari, BOSS, Harrods, Hamleys, Sunglass Hut and many more.
Discover Heathrow shops
Relax in one of our premium lounges
Located in every terminal, Heathrow’s lounges offer friendly service and a peaceful atmosphere so you can relax and refresh in style before boarding your connecting flight.
In our lounges you can expect spacious booths and tables, freshly prepared and seasonal cuisine, a good range of soft and alcoholic beverages and free WiFi and charging points. Some even have private resting suites and shower facilities.
Discover Heathrow lounges
Refresh with a relaxing spa treatment
Our Be Relax spa in Terminal 5 is a haven of wellbeing and tranquillity. Situated at Terminal 5B Gate 35 and Terminal 5A Gate 8, Be Relax offers a full range of treatments to help you unwind and revitalise before boarding your connecting flight.
Discover Terminal 5’s Be Relax spa

Making the most of a long layover (6-24 hours) or stopover (24hours+) at Heathrow 

Passengers with a layover or stopover longer than six hours may want to get some meaningful rest or take the opportunity to leave the airport and explore some of the attractions in London and the surrounding area.
Book a stay at one of our on-site hotels
There are a number of popular hotels on the Heathrow site, all of which offer space, comfort, great service and the convenience of a short walk to and from your terminal of choice.
Discover Heathrow hotels
Take a trip to London
Before we get into this, we can’t stress enough that you need to make sure you have enough time to go sightseeing in London between your flights. Yes, it does only take 15 minutes into Paddington on the Heathrow Express, but getting out of the airport, getting to different sights, queueing and then getting back all takes time, so just be careful when making any plans to leave the airport.
London is the capital and largest city in England with a population of over 9 million and a total area of 607sq miles. It’s far too big to cover in a day, so it’s important that you do your research early, decide exactly what you want to do and book in advance.
There really is an incredible amount of stuff on offer in a city that speaks over 300 languages, including world-class theatre, historical landmarks, incredible museums, guided walks, zoos, parks and some of the best restaurants and shopping in the world.
Approximate travel times from Heathrow to Paddington:
Heathrow Express / Elizabeth line from 15 minutes
Car / Taxi from 45 minutes
Take a trip to Windsor
Nestled on the banks of the River Thames, Windsor is a charming small town that’s most famous for Windsor Castle, the home of the British monarch. Tourists flock to see the changing of the guard with other popular landmarks being the Chapel of St George and the Crooked House of Windsor. There’s also boat tours along the picturesque riverside, some charming pubs and restaurants, theatres, the fantastic Windsor Great Park and the brilliant Legoland
Approximate travel times from Heathrow to Windsor:
Car / Taxi from 20 mins
Public transport from 40mins
Take a trip to Richmond and Kew
Stunning river views and lovely independent shops make a visit to Richmond-upon-Thames a real treat. Richmond Park is rather wonderful, too. It’s three times the size of New York’s Central Park, home to more than 600 red and fallow deer and has some great views with lovely pubs and eateries nearby.
Kew is famous for its sumptuous Royal Botanic Gardens where the living plant collections are amongst the largest and most diverse in the world.
Approximate travel times from Heathrow to Richmond:
Car / Taxi from 30mins
Public transport from 45mins