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Key facts for hiring a car in London
Best time to visit
Late spring and early summer generally provides nice temperatures and sunny weather.
Minimum driving age
Small, easy to park cars are great for driving in a busy city.
Pound Sterling (GBP, £)
Hire a car in London
If there’s one city that’s a must-see in England, it’s got to be London.
Abuzz with fascinating historical sites and contemporary culture, you’re never short of things to do or picturesque places to see in London.
Because there’s so much to do, including museums, galleries, national parks, shopping centres and landmarks, car hire in London is a popular way to get around all the sights.
Top rated suppliers for London
Average Rating 8.6 – “Pleasant and well informed staff. New cars, well maintained, clean.”
Average Rating 8.5 – “Extremely helpful and courteous staff genuinely wanted our car hire experience to be easy and enjoyable! Would use and recommend without question.”
Average Rating 8.5 – “Comfortable vehicle. Professional and friendly check in and return. All very smooth and satisfactory. Always happy with Budget.”
Average Rating 8.4 – “The staff at Hertz are consistently high quality. Personable, professional & efficient – this is both at the desk but also when dropping off. I appreciated the upgrade.”
London cheap eats
As a hive of culture, you can find any cuisine in London. From traditional pubs to trendy cafés and Michelin-starred restaurants, there’s always somewhere new to try. Here are some places to head to if you want a great dining experience on a budget.
China Town – in the heart of London you’ll find tasty and great-value Asian food (from Cantonese to Japanese) that won’t break the bank. Look for all-you-can-eats if you want to fill up, and try out Bubblewrap if you fancy sampling Hong-Kong’s egg-waffles.
Bonnington Café – this delightful little find in Vauxhall is a great vegan restaurant if you’re looking to try something a bit different. With rotating chefs and a menu which you find out about on the day, a main costs just £8 and it’s £3 per starter and dessert. Plus, it’s BYOB which can save you a load of money.
Fish in a Tie – head to Clapham for home-cooked heaven. it’s décor may not be fancy, but two courses of beautiful Mediterranean food for £13. Beat that in London!
Driving in London
If you hire a car in London, it’s important to know about the congestion charge. This applies to most vehicles in certain parts of central London.
- The congestion charge occurs between 7am to 6pm Monday to Friday.
- Charges do not apply on weekends and bank holidays.
- It costs between £10.50 and £14 depending on whether you pay in advance or by midnight the following day.
- You can avoid congestion charges simply by not driving in this part of London. It’s easy to stay out of the central zone, and as the traffic is always hectic within this area, you’ll be avoiding the worst of it.
Things to do
Bedford Lakes Country Park - 1 hour drive
There’s always something new to discover around London. If you rent a car, why not head out a little further and get away from the hustle and bustle of city life? Bedford Lakes Country Park is just over an hour away from London city centre.
This local nature reserve offers 180 acres of hills, wild meadows and lakes to give you some peace and quiet. There are also 390 species of plants, perfect for a photo opportunity.
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Where to road trip
Known for its prestigious university and punting on the River Thames.
2hrs 10mins southeast
A renowned cathedral city filled with medieval architecture and historic sites.
1hr 15mins west
Home to Windsor Castle, which is owned the British Royal Family.
2hrs 20mins south
A seaside town if you need a beach break. Also known for its nightlife and art scene.
Not to be missed
Make the most of London
London has six international airports spread out across the city, so you have a choice of landing spots if you are arriving by plane.
The Tube is also a common mode of transport. This might be helpful when traffic is at its heaviest, which is 7:30-9:30am and 5:00-6:30pm.
London is one of the main cities for using Red Route clearways, meaning you cannot stop or park on a road with red lines. This results in a heavy fine, so be careful if you opt for car rental.
When to visit
In spring, London’s many parks are in bloom, offering opportunities for beautiful walks. However, summer offers the nicest temperature. Whenever you choose to visit, ensure you pack an umbrella, as the British weather is known for being unreliable.
In summer, there are renowned music festivals and colourful carnivals in London, such as the Notting Hill Carnival. If you visit in winter, however, you get to witness the many Christmas markets such as Winter Wonderland, featuring fairground rides, food stalls and bars for mulled wine.
Best places for shopping
London is the shopping capital of the UK, with every high street shop and designer store imaginable.
Oxford Street –best for high street stores, offering everything from Primark to Topshop. It is also home to the world-famous Selfridges.
Bond Street – if you want to splash out a little, Bond Street is best for designer clothes and life’s luxuries.
Knightsbridge – featuring both high street and designer names. Knightsbridge is also home to luxury department store Harrods.
Camden Lock Market – after something a bit quirkier? Camden Lock Market is crammed full of souvenirs, vintage clothing, art prints and handmade jewellery.
The ultimate London road trip
London Heathrow Airport LHR
London’s most popular airport.
Car hire pick up point
After baggage collection, follow the signs to direct you to the car hire desks.
St Albans – 45 minutes
City filled with history, including Roman remains and a Norman cathedral.
Oxford – 1hr 30mins
Historic university city with a skyline of spires – a popular filming location.
Leamington Spa – 1hr 10mins
Pretty Warwickshire town which was recently ranked the happiest place in Britain.
Cambridge – 2 hours
Centred around the River Cam, rowing and punting dominate in Oxford’s rival city.