Why rent a car when visiting London?
Car Hire in London
If you’re visiting London, having a car will no doubt make your stay more comfortable. You can hire a car at any of the major airports, including the ever-popular Heathrow Airport, and at big train stations, such as St. Pancras.
London is a very large city, so walking around town is not feasible. While there is public transport available, it’s often overcrowded and rarely on time. What’s more, carrying large amounts of luggage on public transport is not easy. Therefore, renting a car in London is a great option.
Travelling for business and need to travel fast? Try to land at London City Airport, as it only takes a mere twenty minutes by car to central London from there. From Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted it takes 45 mins or more, Luton 60 minutes or more, and Southend Airport 90 minutes or more.
Driving a rental car in London— don’t fear the traffic or the parking!
The first thing you need to know about driving a rental car in London is that it is likely to be nowhere near as hectic as you might have imagined. Londoners might take to the road in great numbers but this usually means that the traffic is slow enough to respond to changing road conditions with ease. All of the city's major routes, including its motorways and A-roads, are well signed so you should find it simple enough to get from A to B without going wrong.
Central London is covered by a congestion zone. You will see this signposted ahead if you want to avoid the area. Once you drive over a red C on the road, you have entered the zone and must pay a fee for so doing. This is not expensive and you have until the following day to pay online at Transport for London's website. You just enter the car registration number and your payment details.
It is possible to find street parking in parts of London, but that will take some patience. Instead, it is better to park in a secure car park. Yes, it costs, but your car will be safe and you won’t waste any time looking for parking. There are plenty of car parks in London. If you have an iPhone, Siri can usually direct you to the nearest one, but it may pay off to look one up on Google maps in advance.
Of course, you will want car insurance for your car hire in London. You can benefit from the partnership between Allianz and Getaround. So there you go—get a car hire! London isn’t half as scary as it seems to drive in. (And if you’re still scared to drive on the left-hand side of the road, you can always take a one-hour driving lesson, though chances are you’ll realise you don’t need it!)
Visiting London by car
Once you’ve rented a car in London, you’re ready to explore the city. Why not start with the famous West End? This is where you find theatrical productions that rival those on Broadway. If you’re a Shakespeare fan, be sure to visit a reproduction of Shakespeare’s famous Globe Theatre on the South Bank.
The London Eye can also be found on the South Bank, as can the National Theatre, the British Film Institute and a plethora of coffee shops and restaurants. The London Aquarium isn’t far away either. And if you walk across the bridge from South Bank to Charing Cross, you will find London’s oldest wine bar—Gordon’s.
In Kensington, you find the Royal Albert Hall—London’s most prestigious music venue which stages a series of summer concerts every year, known as the Proms. If you are driving in this part of London, then don't miss out on the exclusive department stores Harrods and Harvey Nichols. Almost next door, you will find the famous Hyde Park where you can enjoy a stroll on a sunny day. Other department stores can be found close to Piccadilly and Oxford Street—another part of town about 20 minutes by car from Harrods—include Fortnum and Masons, Liberty’s and Selfridges.
For something a bit edgier, try Brick Lane and the massive Brick Lane Market. Another eclectic area is Camden Town. Here you will find the Camden Lock Market, as well as various music venues where the likes of Amy Winehouse have played. For bigger and more mainstream musical events, look up the O2 Arena. You can explore all this and more if you get a car hire—London will be right at your fingertips (or wheels, should we say).
Day trips by car near London
Rent a car in London and explore nearby cities bursting with charm. If you arrange car hire in London, you have plenty of places to explore less than two hours away. This includes the famous university towns of Cambridge and Oxford, as well as the more artistic Brighton (also known as London-by-the-sea). For a quaint stop on the way to Stansted, try Bishop’s Stortford—an old market town.
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