Coventry Car Hire
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Coventry is a city in England’s West Midlands, 40km southwest of Leicester, 18km north of Warwick and 31km east-southeast of Birmingham. Its current population is 369,127, making it the 11th largest city in the United Kingdom and the second largest in the West Midlands.
An exciting city packed with museums, music venues, theatres and festivals, as well as many mediaeval historical attractions, Coventry abounds with ancient legends but it's also buzzing with contemporary arts and culture. Built on the River Sherborne, it’s undergone a renaissance in recent years thanks to its robust cultural scene and excellent university. Coventry has been named as the UK City of Culture 2021 and a host city for the Commonwealth games 2022, so there's never been a better time to visit!
- About Coventry: this city’s musical credentials are considerable ̶ it was the beating heart of the UK ska movement in the 1980s, spearheaded by seminal bands like the Selector and The Specials, while the iconic 2-Tone record label also produced music by influential bands like The Beat. But culture in Coventry doesn't stop at music ̶ it's packed with popular galleries and museums which bring the city’s social history to life and the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum is a particular highlight, which showcases amazing artefacts such as letters from Elizabeth I and writer George Eliot's piano. Meanwhile, the Belgrade Theatre was a launchpad for the Theatre and Education movement in the 1960s and the famous Warwick Arts Centre is a cultural hub for the city and beyond. Shakespeare is said to have performed in Coventry and Lady Godiva rode through the town naked in protest at oppressive taxation policies, so the city has had a seminal influence on British culture for centuries.
Coventry was a bit of a backwater until Godiva and her husband Leofric, Earl of Mercia founded a church here in 1043 but by the 14th Century, thanks to wealth garnered from the sale of quality fleeces from Midland sheep, the city had become the fourth most powerful in the whole of England, the streets were neatly paved and the city centre had several fine buildings rendered in sandstone and timber. It also became a centre for pilgrims, with the Benedictine, Carthusian, Carmelite and Franciscan orders all having religious houses in the city and it was granted a Royal charter in 1345. The city guarded royalist prisoners during the Civil War, hence the term ‘sent to Coventry’, but it suffered because of its parliamentary support when the monarchy was restored, and Charles II vengefully ordered the town wall and its defences obliterated.
From the 1860s onwards the bicycle manufacturing industry brought employment, entrepreneurs and inventors to the city. Cycle manufacturing had declined by the late 19th century but in 1896 the Daimler company began constructing cars in disused Coventry cotton mills and this catalysed a new industry which would bolster the city’s economy until its eventual decline in the 1980s. However, industrial decline spawned a blossoming creative scene and the city’s musicians and artists have managed to keep Coventry on the map to this day.
- Airports and access: The nearest airport to Coventry is Birmingham International (BHX) which is 17km away, but East Midlands Airport (EMA) is just 49km away, Luton airport (LTN) is 98km away and Manchester Airport (MAN) is 117km away, so it’s within striking distance of several major urban areas.
- Driving around Coventry: the city is a superb starting point for excursions in the West Midlands and further afield and the excellent road network makes most journeys simple and straightforward. Here are a few recommended road trips from Coventry:
Birmingham is just 36km away from Coventry via the A45 and M6, which means you can drive there in around 35 minutes in light traffic. It’s Britain’s biggest city after London and an interesting place to visit ̶ there’s superb shopping at the huge Bullring Centre and cultural attractions like the Birmingham Museum of Art (which features sculptures by Leonardo Da Vinci), while the Library of Birmingham boasts an amazing secret garden on the 7th floor which offers stunning views over the city.
If you're a fan of Shakespeare, drive 30 kilometres South West of Coventry via the A46 and A439 and you'll be in the Bard's hometown Stratford-upon-Avon In under 20 minutes. You can see the house where he was born, Anne Hathaway's cottage and Hall's Croft. The Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare was baptised and buried is also here and if you pay a small fee you can visit his grave. You might even catch a Shakespeare play if your timing is right ̶ the Royal Shakespeare Company sits on the banks of the River Avon and usually has a packed performance schedule.
Bristol is 166 kilometres from Coventry along the M42 and M5 but you can still drive there in under 2 hours if traffic permits. The Clifton Suspension Bridge is the main landmark here, but it's also a bustling multicultural city which is famous for its own music scene including bands like Massive Attack, as well as its street art, brought to global prominence by Banksy.
- Famous Coventry: celebrated Coventrians include jet engine pioneer Sir Frank Whittle, author Lee Child, actor Nigel Hawthorne, composer Clint Mansell, singer and actor Pauline Black, rugby union player Alan Rotherham, poet and writer Philip Larkin, and musician Nicholas Bullen.
Guide to Coventry
Coventry is a buzzing cultural hub which is a brilliant place to spend time soaking up the unique atmosphere, socialising, shopping, sightseeing and more.
Coventry's contribution to the UK music scene really started with The Specials, The Selecter and the British ska revival in the late 70s and early 80s. New wave artists such as King, The Primitives, and Hazel O'Connor came to the fore in the late 80s and in the same decade Coventry producer Pete Waterman had a huge run of hits with various domestic and antipodeans pop stars. In the 90s, Coventry club Eclipse became a hotspot in the acid house scene when ravers from across the country flocked there to hear DJ sets from the likes of Sasha, The Prodigy and Carl Cox, and bands like The Enemy kept the musical fires burning in more recent years. Famous live music venues in Coventry and Warwickshire include the Kazbah, Warwick Arts Centre, Bedworth Civic Hall and the Golden Cross pub.
Coventry had one of Britain’s most stunning cathedrals until it was destroyed by bombs during WWII but the ruins of the mediaeval grade I listed building are still well worth visiting and there’s a new cathedral next door which was designed by Sir Basil Spence and features a terrific tapestry by Graham Sutherland and beautiful stained glass windows. Meanwhile, the 12th century Holy Trinity Church has been described as Coventry’s answered to the Sistine Chapel because of the Doom wall art found above the tower arch which dates from the 1430s. Amazingly, the stunning work of religious art was completed by Coventry’s mediaeval artists 50 years before Leonardo da Vinci painted the Last Supper.
Football club Coventry City FC was founded in 1883 and won the FA Cup in 1987 when they beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 in the final. They also won the FA Youth Cup in the same season, becoming only one of five clubs to have pulled off this feat. However, if rugby union Is your game, you'll be glad to know that famous club side Wasps relocated to Coventry in 2014, adding an exciting new dimension to the city’s professional sports scene.
What to do in Coventry
Coventry is full of with eclectic activities and attractions to suit every taste. Your only problem will be deciding how much excitement, rest and relaxation you can pack into your visit, but that’s the perfect problem to have if you appreciate city breaks that stimulate all five senses.
If you're a fan of The Specials, The Selecter et al, you can't miss Coventry’s 2-Tone Village. Tuck into tasty English and Caribbean food at the 2-Tone Cafe and Simmer Down restaurant, shop for clothes and accessories at the 2-Tone Corner Shop and browse inspirational interactive exhibits and displays covering decades of Coventry’s music scene at the onsite Coventry Music Museum. Finally (and provided you have a designated driver) you can also enjoy a cool beer at the Knights Bar and dance the night away to live bands and DJ sets. This is a must-see attraction for any serious music fan!
Midland Air Museum is located at Coventry Airport (a small private facility) and if you're interested in aviation history, you'll be blown away by exhibits including a Vulcan bomber, Harrier Jump Jet and Mig 21 fighter jet. Coventry is the birthplace of jet engine inventor Sir Frank Whittle and this museum houses a unique collection of artefacts that bring the dawn of the jet age to life for visitors of all ages.
History buffs who want to step back in time will adore St Mary's Guildhall, one of the best-preserved mediaeval guildhalls in England and one of Coventry’s major civic venues for more than 600 years. Built in the 1340s, its fabulous interior features many fine artworks and it was once used as a prison for Mary Queen of Scots. To relax after your history fix, head to Godiva’s coffee for tasty snacks and refreshments.
Eating out in Vilamoura
From fine dining to street food and quick snacks to banquets fit for mediaeval kings, Coventry has traditional and international cuisine to satisfy every taste.
Premium pub grub
Playwright's is a chic bar and bistro nestled in heart of Coventry’s Cathedral Quarter. Since it opened its doors in 2001, it has specialised in sumptuous meals prepared using fresh local produce and it also caters for vegan diners. The sweet potato burger is a prime pick if you're sticking to a plant-based diet ̶ it's topped with vegan feta and red onion jam and served in a toasted bun with crisp cos lettuce. Alternatively, carnivores can get their chops round an Aubrey Allen rump steak served with garlic butter, perfectly roasted portobello mushroom and chunky chips. Most main courses range from £10-£15.
If Indian dishes float your boat, the award-winning Turmeric Gold restaurant is located in a stunning mid-13th Century building in the heart of Coventry. If you can take the heat, torch your taste buds with the chicken dynamite, which explosively combines naga chilli and Kashmiri spice. Alternatively, the roaring tiger house special biryani with basmati rice, whole spices, chicken, prawns and lamb is also legendary. Main courses here range from around £15-£22.
If you're a coffee connoisseur, you’ll love Rising Café which is located in the historic surroundings of Coventry cathedral. As well as awesome artisan coffee and tea you can tuck into hot fudge brownie a la mode, beautiful bramley apple crumble with custard or homemade bread and butter pudding. Specialty coffees and teas are £2-3 apiece and desserts are around £5.
Birmingham International Airport (BHX) is the closest and most convenient for Coventry ̶ it’s just 17km away so you can reach your Coventry city centre accommodation in just 20 minutes in light traffic. If you prefer the flexibility and comfort of independent travel rather than public transport, Enjoy partners with a number of trusted car hire companies at BHX, including Alamo, Enterprise, Europcar and Keddy.
Buses, trains and park & ride
services in Coventry are coordinated by Transport for West Midlands and run by a number of operators, including Arriva, First and Stagecoach services. Coventry is also well connected to the rest of the UK by rail via the main Coventry Station and others at Canley, Coventry Arena and Tile Hill. Call Traveline on 0871 200 22 33 for information on all types of public transport in Coventry. Finally, Park & Ride is a convenient way to reach Coventry city centre and saves the hassle of finding a parking space ̶ park your hire car at the War Memorial Park facility and hop on one of the Stagecoach X17 route buses that run every 20 minutes.
You drive on the left-hand side of the road in Coventry. Speed limits are 70 mph (120 km/h) on motorways, 60 mph (100 km/h) for non-motorway main roads, and 30 mph (50 km/h) or 20 mph (40 km/h) if you’re in busy urban areas. Please note the following too:
You must carry a valid driving licence, insurance documents, MOT certificate and road tax certificate (or car hire documents & driving licence).
Seatbelts must be worn by all car occupants, drink driving is strictly prohibited, and you’re not allowed to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving (truly hands-free systems are permitted, provided they don’t distract you from your driving).