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Explore London

Explore London with Expedia’s Travel Guides to find the best hotels, flights, holiday packages and more!

England’s capital is a must-visit destination. Take a spin on the London Eye observation wheel to get a bird’s eye view of the city. From the 800-foot-tall Shard you can admire London’s iconic skyline while sipping a cocktail at its level 31 bar. The 900-year-old Tower of London has a grim but fascinating history and houses the Crown Jewels. No visit to London is complete without seeing Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard, the Houses of Parliament and the iconic Big Ben. Many London museums have free admission. The British Museum, with its Egyptian mummies exhibition, is a historical treasure trove.

London also has fantastic parks. Hyde Park has the famous Speaker’s Corner. Views from Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath are amazing, and Regent’s Park has a delightful rose garden. Kensington Park is home to Kensington Palace and the Albert Memorial, and there are lovely deer roaming in Richmond Park.


How to Rent a Car in London

Renting a car in London is a great way to explore the city and nearby tourist attractions. Most people will hire a vehicle when they arrive at one of London’s airports or train stations.

The main airports are Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stanstead, where the major car hire brands have a presence. London’s main train terminals also have plenty of car hire options; for example Waterloo and King’s Cross St Pancras (where Eurostar arrives).

To find cheap car hire options at London’s main arrival points or elsewhere in the city you can use the Expedia search tool, entering the pick-up and drop-off points and dates you wish to hire the car for.

There are many types of rental car available in London, suitable for all types of holiday. They include:

Car Type

Ideal Passenger Numbers

Luggage

Purpose of Travel

Mini

2-4

2

City break

Standard

4-5

3

Family holiday

Estate

5

5

Touring

4WD/SUV

5-6

5

Group trip

Luxury

4

3

Business


What Car Hire Brands Are Available?

There is no shortage of options for renting a car in London, from international operators to small local companies.

At Heathrow, the busiest airport in Europe, the main options include Enterprise by Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise by Alamo, Europcar, Hertz, Keddy by Europcar and Sixt.

Brand

Opening Hours

Telephone

Location

Avis / Budget

Open 24 hours

0344 5446000

Northern Perimeter Road, Heathrow T 2.3.4

Avis

4.45am – 12am

0344 5446000

Heathrow, Terminal 5

Budget

5am – 12am

0344 544 3870

Heathrow, Terminal 5

Alamo / Europcar

Open 24 hours

0371 3843410

Northern Perimeter Road, Heathrow

Enterprise / National

5am – 12am

020 8897 2100

Northern Perimeter Road, Heathrow

Hertz

Open 24 hours

0843 309 3009

Northern Perimeter Road, Heathrow

Sixt

5am – 12am

0844 499 3399

Great South West Road. Heathrow

Sixt

6am – 11pm

0844 499 3399

Heathrow, Terminal 5

Gatwick’s official car rental partners, with offices in the South Terminal, are:

  • Avis
  • Europcar
  • Sixt
  • National
  • Alamo
  • Enterprise
  • Budget

Other companies with a presence in London include:

  • Green Motion
  • InterRent
  • Goldcar
  • Firefly
  • Thrifty
  • Keddy by Europcar
  • Easirent
  • Dollar

Things to Be Aware of When Driving a Car in London

Driving in the UK is on the left, and drivers must give way to traffic from the right at roundabouts.

Seatbelts are compulsory and using a mobile phone when driving is not allowed. Speed limits range from 20mph on residential roads to 70mph on motorways and will be signposted. Overtake on the right on motorways and dual carriageways.

There is a congestion charge in central London between 7am and 6.30pm Monday to Friday. Some low-emission vehicles are exempt, but check with your rental company when you pick up your vehicle and register your licence plate if you do plan to enter the congestion zone.

Most vehicles are manual transmission, so if you prefer to drive an automatic request one in advance. GPS is also useful as London’s streets can be confusing.

London is always busy, especially during rush hour, so try to avoid main routes in and out of the city between 7.30am and 9am and from 5pm to 7pm.

Parking can be hard to find and if you park illegally (for example on double yellow lines) you risk being clamped. However, there are ways to find a spot. Many shopping centres and large stores offer free parking and there are multi-storey car parks around the city. Members of the National Car Park (NCP) get discounts at NCP car parks when pre-booking.


Tips and Tricks for Getting Around London

The main London international airport is Heathrow Airport, 18 miles away, but many flights also land at Gatwick Airport (29 miles). Budget airlines usually arrive at Stansted (40 miles), Luton (35 miles), and City Airport (9 miles), which has easy train connections to London’s financial district. A rental car in London can be picked up from any of these airports.

From Heathrow the Heathrow Express offers a 15-minute service to Paddington station and free on-board Wi-Fi. London Underground’s Piccadilly Line is more cost-effective but takes 50-60 minutes to Central London.

Bear in mind London’s Underground can be very crowded and not all stations have escalators if you have heavy luggage. For the same one-hour journey, you could be sitting in the comfort of a hire car from Heathrow. From Gatwick, the drive would be an hour and a half.


Discover Attractions in and Around London

London’s Underground system is useful for getting around the city centre, but it can become very crowded and not all attractions are near stations – for example, London Zoo. The city is also spread out and a car is ideal for visiting attractions that are not well served by public transport. Open spaces like Richmond Park and Hampstead Heath are great to explore by car.

Big shopping centres like Westfield are destinations that are worth visiting and offer plenty of parking.

Having a hire car also makes it easy to get to destinations outside the city. Head south to the buzzing seaside resort of Brighton, visit historic Windsor Castle just a few miles west of Heathrow, or take a day trip to Oxford or Cambridge, home of two of the world’s most prestigious universities.


Must-sees Within an Easy Drive of London

With a hire car in London, you are within easy reach of many other great destinations. You can get to Cambridge in two hours and Birmingham and Bath in under three.

For a seaside break, drive to Brighton via Croydon in two and a half hours and enjoy its pebbled beaches, the famous pier and shopping in its charming lanes. Two of the most prestigious UK universities are within a couple of hours’ drive in beautiful cities, Cambridge and Oxford. Situated an hour and 15 minutes north, St Albans is filled with Roman ruins and has a historic cathedral. A lovely day trip destination is Rye, a picturesque village with mock Tudor buildings near the coast , two and a half hours southeast. Take a stroll along the Thames followed by afternoon tea in Henley-on-Thames, famous for its annual rowing regatta; it’s 90 minutes west of London.


Ready to Plan Your London City Break?

If you’re ready to start planning your trip to London and other parts of the UK, use this city guide and the Expedia search tool to find the best car hire, flight and hotel deals and research your preferred attractions and activities.

Remember that Expedia car hire comes with no hidden fees. The price you see is the price you pay!