Things to know about London
- London is the capital city of England, and an incredibly popular tourist destination. Full to the brim with activities and historic places to see, making it no surprise that over 20 million international visitors came to London in 2018, and similarly attracts millions of domestic tourists and day-trippers.
- Central London carries a congestion charge for driving, applicable from 7am to 6pm every weekday, and it can be paid online. Just like in the rest of the UK, you must drive on the left and use the outer lanes for overtaking, wear a seatbelt, and have a car seat for children.
- In addition to the congestion charge, the Low Emission Zone applies in both central and greater London.
- Due to how busy it is, most roads in central London are restricted to a speed limit of 20-30 miles per hour, but it is important to keep an eye on the appropriate signage. Round road signs with a red border will indicate any changes to the speed limit.
- London is served by multiple airports: Heathrow, London City, Gatwick, and Stansted. These airports serve hundreds of international destinations, and a number of domestic destinations.
Car Hire in London Airports
Car hire in London can start from as little as £8 a day, depending on the time of booking and your requirements.
- About 20 miles west of central London, Heathrow Airport is accessible by the Piccadilly line on the underground tube service, the overground TfL rail service, the speedy Heathrow Express train, coach or car. Heathrow is the largest London airport, with five terminals. It can be reached via the M4 and M25 motorways.
- The car hire agencies available at Heathrow are: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz, National, and Sixt.
Gatwick Airport (LGW)
- Gatwick is located 30 miles south of central London, and can be reached via Gatwick Express from London Victoria, Southern and Thameslink train services, coach or car. It is the UK’s second busiest airport, and offers the most destinations of any UK airport.
- The car hire agencies available at Gatwick are: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz, National, and Sixt.
London City Airport (LCY)
- This airport is accessible via the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) or car, and it is the closest to central London, most often used by business travellers.
- The car hire agencies available at City are: Avis, Budget, Europcar, and Hertz.
Stansted Airport (STN)
- Found 35 miles north east of central London, Stansted airport can be reached via train, car or coach.
- The car hire agencies available at Stansted are: Alamo, Avis, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz, Budget, National, and Sixt.
Guide to London
London is one of the best tourist locations for family holidays, with plenty on offer for all ages. The Discover Children’s Story Centre is a magical and immersive experience full of imaginative play areas and exhibits featuring some of the best children’s books. Visit the Natural History Museum in South Kensington for a great day out, with free entry to a brilliant collection of animal specimens that draws over 5 million visitors a year – everyone will be wowed by the impressive blue whale, Hope, where she sits in the sky. Similarly popular and exciting is the Science Museum, full of interactive exhibits and galleries that bring to life impressive scientific principles and debates. Why not enjoy the thrilling 3D simulation of an Apollo space mission, and see what it’s like to shoot off into space.
Madame Tussauds is one of London’s top tourist attractions, full of over 250 realistic wax figures of your favourite celebrities and royalty. Remember your visit by taking pictures with icons like Usain Bolt, Miley Cyrus, and the Queen herself, or perhaps head to the Marvel section to see all your favourite superheroes. For Harry Potter fans, there is loads to see. Head to King’s Cross station and get a photo re-creating the iconic scene at platform 9 ¾ before heading into the neighbouring gift shop to commemorate the occasion. For a day out, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour is an enchanting look behind the scenes at the costumes, props and sets for one of the most popular movie franchises ever.
Although London isn’t known for being a hotspot of cheap activities, there are loads of places to go that won’t cost you a penny. Visit the Tate Modern to see brilliant pieces of modern and contemporary art, or for something out of the ordinary pop to Wellcome Collection and experience the innovative and thought-provoking galleries of a museum looking to challenge how we all think about health. Located a short walk away from King’s Cross station, the British Library constantly offers new and exciting exhibitions featuring iconic authors and works of literature, allowing a unique insight into the bookish history of Britain.
Out and About
If you feel like a spot of fresh air, London is full of gorgeous walks and parks for all the nature-lovers. Strawberry Tours offers free walking tours of London, with unique routes that give a great insight to either the most popular places in London, some of the brilliant street art dotted around the city, with many other options to get exactly what you want out of your visit. Bushy Park is a historic parkland with a rich diversity of plants and animals, with over 300 free-roaming deer. With a children’s playground available, take a picnic and enjoy a relaxing meal, or head to the Pheastantry Café for a bite to eat. Alternatively, take a picturesque stroll along the South Bank to see what’s on offer on this exciting stretch along the River Thames.
For a lovely evening, London is never short on nightlife. Covent Garden and Soho are full of creative and popular cocktail bars, all you need to do is wander down the street to happen upon something brilliant. For example, Simmons Bar always has a great atmosphere and affordable drinks. The West End always has globally renowned shows on offer, but for something a bit cheaper, try the free comedy night at Angel Comedy or the Top Secret Comedy Club and laugh the evening away.
Eating out in London
Found in Soho, Kiln is a Thai restaurant dedicated to brilliance in simplicity. They serve meat and fish of the highest quality without asking for the highest price, and deliver food that will make you think you’re sat in Thailand enjoying it. Full of curries that are great for the spice lovers, but Kiln will also adjust the food to your taste if you want something a bit milder.
Another place that offers quality in a concentrated form, Padella can be found trading in Borough Market every day and serving a handful of seasonal pasta dishes that only use the freshest British produce. With everything made on-site, you can watch the talented chefs prepare your pasta on the spot. This pasta bar has a great take on traditional Italian pasta dishes, and it’s not one you’d want to miss, with very agreeable prices.
Bao in Soho is an affordable restaurant offering delicious Taiwanese bao buns and small plates. Their food has won awards in the past, is highly rated on TripAdvisor, and will satisfy all of your cravings. Why not try the classic Bao bun with sweet potato fries.
One of the few brilliant places that can be booked in advance, Counter Culture is in Clapham and will introduce you to a wonderful and exciting part of London that not all tourists immediately think of. Their menu shifts depending on the produce available, ensuring it is all fresh. Take a chance by not looking at the menu before you go, and just see what delights are available when you’re there.
For an indulgent and special meal, Hawksmoor is a steak and seafood restaurant located in Seven Dials, and is a few minutes from Covent Garden station. With an Express menu for you to have a brilliant meal either before or after a theatre show, this restaurant has a history of great food and lives up to it by cooking everything to perfection. It is more on the expensive side of things, but worth it for a treat – we’d recommend any of the steaks, or the refreshing royal sea bream.
Mildreds is a delicious vegetarian and vegan restaurant in Soho, but their food would appeal to anyone. Vibrant and internationally inspired, their diverse menu has traces of a number of different food cultures, offering a unique dining experience. This is a trendy place to eat, more on the cosy side, so you may have to wait for a table, but it’ll definitely be worth it. Their Soho location is better suited to smaller parties, but you can also reserve the private dining room for 10-14 people. Pop along for enchilada Thursdays or the amazing Teriyaki Chick’n burger.
FAQ’s about car hire in London
How much does it cost to hire a car in London?
The average price for car hire in London is £22 a day.
Which car hire agency in London is cheapest?
Some of the cheapest car hire agencies in London include Easirent and Hertz.
Which London car hire agency is the most popular?
Currently, the most popular agency is Alamo, which is available at each of the London airports.
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