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Leicester may not be as well-known as nearby tourist destinations such as Stratford-upon-Avon or Birmingham – both within an hour’s drive – but there’s plenty to see here, not just in the city but scattered through the surrounding Leicestershire countryside and towns. Hiring a car will give you the freedom to explore this unassuming region with its wealth of family-friendly attractions.
Leicester is served by East Midlands Airport (EMA), half an hour away from the city centre on the M1, or about an hour by the Skylink bus (every 20 minutes during the day or every hour at night), and the same by train.
If you want to hire a car from the airport, you can find a range of big names at Arrivals, including Alamo, Enterprise, Budget, Avis, Europcar and Hertz.
Car hire brands available in Leicester include Alamo, Enterprise, Budget, Avis, Europcar and Hertz.
Budding naturalists will love Tropical Birdland, outdoor aviaries where you can get up close and personal with 250 parrots and macaws, see chicks hatching or go for a woodland walk. There’s also a play area and tearoom. Driving time: 25 minutes.
Hear the name Melton Mowbray and your mind will probably stray to deliciously crusty pork pies. However, there’s a lot more to this historic town than pastry-filled meat treats. First on the list is Twinlakes Park, a theme park with rides, a waterpark, a zoo farm – and the UK’s first Easter bunny grotto. If the English weather is putting a dampener on things, try the Melton Carnegie Museum instead, a fascinating insight into the area’s cultural and food history. Speaking of food, you mustn’t miss the Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe, or the chance to sample locally-made Stilton cheese, while beer lovers can tour the Belvoir Alehouse. Driving time: 40 minutes.
More energetic adventures can be had at the National Forest, 200 square miles of protected young woodland with plenty of options for walking or cycling, plus regular events from guided walks to volunteering and conservation opportunities. Covering such a large area, it also covers attractions such as the Swadlincote Ski Centre. Driving time: 50 minutes.
If you’re not a UK driver, the chances are you’re used to driving on the right, so the first thing to get used to will be driving on the other side of the road. You may also need to adjust to the level of traffic and narrowness of some of the roads, as well as the frequent need to parallel park. Leicester’s roads can get congested, so you may want to avoid driving at peak hours – generally 6am-9am and 4pm-7pm.
To start organising your trip to Leicester and other parts of the UK, use the Expedia search tool to help you find the best car hire, flight and hotel deals and research the best attractions and activities.
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