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Getting Around London in a Rental Car

driving tips in london

London is one of the most popular cities in the world, but a lot of first-time visitors are unsure about driving in the city. If you are planning to rent a car and drive in central London, here is a quick guide to help you make the most of your trip.

Where to drive your rental car in London

  • Westminster: First time visitors to London cannot afford to miss the chance to explore the tourism epicentre of the city. Home to popular attractions like Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, Westminster is a must-see.
  • Southwark: Just south of the Thames, this is the area where history, art and modern London all meet. Visit the Borough Market and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.
  • Greenwich: Offering visitors a slightly different perspective on London, Greenwich features many historic and cultural sights such as Cutty Sark and the National Maritime Museum.
  • Kensington: If all things that are upscale and fancy about London appeals to you, Kensington is a great destination. With perfectly even streets, high-end shopping brands and iconic galleries, the area is unforgettable.
  • Camden: For something a bit different, Camden is an easily accessible destination in central London with lots to offer in the form of markets, vintage shops and a colourful atmosphere.

Driving tips in London

  • Avoid driving in London at peak times, when traffic across the city is often heavy.
  • Signs indicating the speed limits are not common in the UK. It is a good idea to do your research beforehand so that you are familiar with national speed limits.
  • Be careful not to use lanes that are designated for buses between certain hours.
  • London has a congestion charge that applies to all drivers entering the central city zone. You can pay the charge online.
  • If you are travelling from abroad, make sure you keep left.
  • Plan your route ahead of time and check the traffic before you depart.
  • If you are just passing through London in your rental car and do not want to drive in the city, you can always take advantage of the convenient Park and Ride buses to avoid the congestion charge.
  • There are a lot of roundabouts in the UK. Traffic travels in a clockwise directions, and drivers will need to take note of what exit they need to make sure they are in the correct lane.

Parking in London

Parking in London can be quite expensive, and there are often restrictions in place on the street during certain hours. There are a lot of car parks in central London, but be wary that these can be busy and you may miss out on a spot. If you are parking on the street, you will often need to purchase a ticket and display it in the vehicle. 

Toll roads in London

There are no toll roads in central London, but the city's congestion charge scheme means you will still have to pay a charge if you are driving in the designated zone. 

Driving Distances

  • London to Brighton: 1hr 30mins
  • London to Chelmsford: 1hr
  • London to Oxford - 1hr 15mins


Before you return your rental car, make sure you have filled it with petrol to avoid paying any additional charges. Here are some conveniently located petrol stations in central London:

  • Sainsbury's Petrol Station, 95-105 Lower Richmond Road
  • Esso, 77-83 Park Lane, Mayfair
  • Esso, 196 Camden Road
You will not run out of things to do in central London. Explore iconic sights such as the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, the Tate Modern, Tower Bridge and take a ride on the London Eye.

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