London Stansted Airport (STN) is located in Uttlesford in Essex and it’s the third-busiest airport in London and fourth-busiest in the UK, serving a significant 27 million passengers each year.
STN partners with over 20 tour operators and air carriers and connects with over 200 destinations in more than 40 countries worldwide – with the most European destinations of any UK airport and second only to Munich for this metric amongst continental competitors.
Stansted is conveniently placed close to the M11 motorway, so London is a stone’s throw away to the south west by car and Essex and the rest of the UK are also easy to explore.
Hiring a car at Stansted is simple with Enjoy Car Hire – just enter your details in the search box and you’ll be offered brilliant deals in the blink of an eye from long-established and trusted providers like Europcar, Keddy, Green Motion and Easirent.
There’s an excellent choice of makes and models available for every type of customer too. For instance, if you’re driving solo you can hop into a compact Toyota Aygo which is ideal for nipping around city streets and no-hassle parking, but if you need something roomier for a larger travel group, a Seat Alhambra seats seven in comfort and automatic gears make it easy to handle.
Eager to learn more about driving around STN, dipping into the delights of London and making the most of the eclectic county of Essex? Let’s dive in!
Driving in and around London Stansted Airport
Getting to central London from Stansted is smooth and hassle free. Simply head onto the M11, follow the signs as you head southward and you’ll be in the middle of the big smoke in less than an hour – it’s just under 40 miles away but you’ll have to take traffic into consideration.
If your Stansted car hire vehicle of choice has Satnav fitted, it’s wise to use it, but for peace of mind (in case it’s not properly updated) downloading and using a GPS traffic app like Waze will alert you to the latest traffic updates in case you have to reroute to reach your hotel in sufficient time to unpack, relax and plan the rest of your trip.
In the main, speed limits in London are the same as they are in other British cities. Therefore you’re not permitted to drive at over 48 km/h in built-up areas, 96 km/h is the maximum for single carriageways, 112 km/h is the limit for dual carriageways and you can drive at up to 112 km/h on motorways, which is the fastest type of UK road. However, please be aware that there’s a recently introduced speed limit of 32 km/h in many areas of central London, which is significantly lower than the regular limit in built-up areas with houses, shops and schools on either side of the road. These limits are clearly signposted but don’t get caught out – apart from the danger speeding causes, you could be handed down a steep fine.
The congestion charge zone is located in the London Inner Ring Road and covers the includes the City of London, where Britain’s big banks are based, and the West End, which is packed with shops, theatres and various other entertainment venues. The charge is £11.50 daily but you can get a discount by pre-paying on the transport for London website. The charge is levied in this area between 7am and 6pm Monday-Friday, but you don’t have to pay at weekends.
Reducing pollution within the capital city and its environs was also the impetus for lawmakers to create the Low Emissions Zone (LEZ) which covers the whole of Greater London, but rather than cars this targets large vehicles like coaches and lorries which burn diesel and leave a heavy carbon footprint.
However, the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) applies in the same geographical area as the congestion zone and this does apply to cars. It’s in force 24/7 all year round and requires that vehicles driving within it can’t produce emissions above a tightly controlled level. Your Stansted Airport car rental provider will be well aware of this issue and advise you accordingly, but if you’re unsure, be proactive and confirm with them as soon as possible that your ideal car complies with the rules.
The UK Government website has lots of official information and guidance on the Highway Code, traffic signs and legal obligations for drivers – read these before you arrive at STN and you’ll feel cool, calm and collected by the time you set off on the road. In the meantime, take a look at the following extra tips for drivers in London and the rest of the UK:
- If you need to use glasses to see properly while driving, it’s mandatory that you wear them in the UK and the standards for vision while driving are that you can read a car number plate from 20 metres away and possess visual sharpness of 0.5 on the Snellen Scale.
- It’s illegal to hold your mobile phone while driving in Britain, but you can take hands-free calls if your vehicle is set up for this. If your car is safely parked you’re permitted to hold your phone while you make a call, and this also applies any time you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency.
- British authorities don’t tolerate drink driving and the limits in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are 35 micrograms per 100 ml of breath and 80 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood. If you’re driving in Scotland, please remember that the drink driving limits there are much lower – check them out here. Penalties for drink driving in the UK are severe, so for your own safety and that of others, you’re safest not to drink at all before driving and also to leave plenty of time after a big night out for the alcohol to leave your system before you get back behind the wheel the next day.
- Drivers and all passengers in the UK must wear seatbelts – you could be fined £500 if caught not wearing yours.
A quick guide to London and Essex for Stansted Car hire customers
You’ll never run out of amazing things to do in London and Essex, but here’s a quick guide to help you start planning your itinerary:
- Want to see 55 of London’s most iconic attractions in just 30 minutes from a legendary lofty viewpoint? Then take a spin on the London Eye – it must be the world’s most famous Ferris wheel and offers unrivalled views of the cityscape.
- The Tower of London is a hotspot for history fans – take a tour here and you’ll learn all about its unique heritage and also see the priceless Crown Jewels. Unfortunately you don’t get to try the jewels on – we already asked!
- Driving through Essex, there’s plenty to see and do on the famous Discovery Coast, 350 miles of stunning coastline that included historic castles, delicious seafood, and chic boutique hotels in resorts like Clacton-on-Sea and Southend-on-Sea, where there’s nothing better than strolling along the seafronts and stopping at a bar to sip a refreshing drink while you watch the inspirational sunsets this part of the world is famous for.
- Colchester is another excellent place to visit in Essex and there are ample distractions in this historic settlement. Known as ‘Britain’s First City’, its town centre is enclosed by the longest standing Roman wall in the UK, while Colchester Castle has the largest Norman keep in Europe. The Dutch Quarter is delightful to stroll through too – situated just north of the high street, it’s peppered with lovely timber framed houses and you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time. Last but not least, Colchester has a fascinating zoo where you and your family can see amazing animals like aardvarks, bears, wolves, chimpanzees, elephants, lemurs and lions. If you’re wild at heart you won’t want to leave!
- If you want to swap car travel for vintage trains for an afternoon, the Epping Ongar Railway is the longest heritage railway in the county and runs from Ongar through to Epping Forest via North Weald. For fans of the romantic nostalgia of retro rail travel, this is a unique opportunity to chug along in a stunning steam train and watch the world go by.
As you can see, renting a car at Stansted Airport with Enjoy Car Hire makes seeing the sights of London and Essex easy-peasy. Choose your customised STN car hire package today – adventure awaits!
Popular London airports
|Luton Airport||London City||Southend|
Popular UK car hire destinations