London Car Hire
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- London is the capital city of England, and an incredibly popular tourist destination. Full to the brim with activities and historic places to see, making it no surprise that over 20 million international visitors came to London in 2018, and similarly attracts millions of domestic tourists and day-trippers.
- Central London carries a congestion charge for driving, applicable from 7am to 6pm every weekday, and it can be paid online. Just like in the rest of the UK, you must drive on the left and use the outer lanes for overtaking, wear a seatbelt, and have a car seat for children.
- In addition to the congestion charge, the Low Emission Zone applies in both central and greater London.
- Due to how busy it is, most roads in central London are restricted to a speed limit of 20-30 miles per hour, but it is important to keep an eye on the appropriate signage. Round road signs with a red border will indicate any changes to the speed limit.
- London is served by multiple airports: Heathrow, London City, Gatwick, and Stansted. These airports serve hundreds of international destinations, and a number of domestic destinations.
A brief overview of London
London is the capital city of England with a population of almost 10 million people, and a metropolitan area population of over 14 million in habitants, making it the 14th most populous metropolitan in the world as at 2020.
There are 5 London airports - Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City being the city airport. Heathrow is amongst the busiest airports in the world with more than 80 million passengers on average per year.
The transport network is sophisticated with an extensive underground network commonly known as 'the tube' or the 'London underground'. During rush hour (7am to 10am and 5-6pm) the tubes can be particularly busy and jam packed with people. All the major lines run on average every couple of minutes. There is also an extensive overground train network across London and into London from the rest of England and the UK. There are 7 major train stations in London covering each area and section of the rest of the UK; Waterloo, London Victoria, Liverpool Street, Kings Cross, Paddington, St. Pancras and Euston. With almost 100 million passengers per year, Waterloo is the busiest in the UK.
London is split into 32 inner and outer boroughs, each with their own borough council making up Greater London. Each has a population of between 100,000 and 300,000 people, but the inner boroughs tend to be smaller and more densely populated.
London orientation within the UK
London is in the south east of England, the closest major coastal town is Southend-on-Sea which is roughly 40 miles from central London and in the county of Essex. One of the most popoular coastal towns accessible from London is Brighton. This is roughly 50-60 miles from central London and an hour and a half drive providing the traffic isn't heavy. Other major cities in the UK are mostly within 2 or 3 hours on the train including Birmingham (the UK's 2nd biggest city), which is 125 miles away in the Midlands and Leeds (3rd largest city in the UK), which is 194 miles by road, and can be reached by train from Kings Cross station taking only 2 hours and 20 minutes. The capital city of Scotland is Edinburgh and this is a approximately 400 miles by road or a 5 hour train journey.
Cockney rhyming slang
Londonders and the south and south east of England has a very distinct English accent, the London accent is known as "cockney". During the 19th century, originating in East London, a dialect was invented called "cockney rhyming slang". It is unknown why it was invented but it involves replaceing common words with an alternative totally different word or phrase that rhymes with it, and then knocking off the end of the new phrase so it no longer rhymes. Some examples are below and a full giude can be found here.
The word phone becomes "dog and bone" or just "dog"... eg. Answer the dog will you please?
I don't believe it... I don't Adam and Eve it.
Not a Dicky Bird about that, translates to Not a "word" about that.
Does anybody fancy a Ruby tonight? would be an abreviation of Ruby Murray meaning "Curry"
Things to do in London
London is one of the best tourist locations for family holidays, with plenty on offer for all ages. The Discover Children’s Story Centre is a magical and immersive experience full of imaginative play areas and exhibits featuring some of the best children’s books. Visit the Natural History Museum in South Kensington for a great day out, with free entry to a brilliant collection of animal specimens that draws over 5 million visitors a year – everyone will be wowed by the impressive blue whale, Hope, where she sits in the sky. Similarly popular and exciting is the Science Museum, full of interactive exhibits and galleries that bring to life impressive scientific principles and debates. Why not enjoy the thrilling 3D simulation of an Apollo space mission, and see what it’s like to shoot off into space.
Madame Tussauds is one of London’s top tourist attractions, full of over 250 realistic wax figures of your favourite celebrities and royalty. Remember your visit by taking pictures with icons like Usain Bolt, Miley Cyrus, and the Queen herself, or perhaps head to the Marvel section to see all your favourite superheroes. For Harry Potter fans, there is loads to see. Head to King’s Cross station and get a photo re-creating the iconic scene at platform 9 ¾ before heading into the neighbouring gift shop to commemorate the occasion. For a day out, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour is an enchanting look behind the scenes at the costumes, props and sets for one of the most popular movie franchises ever.
Although London isn’t known for being a hotspot of cheap activities, there are loads of places to go that won’t cost you a penny. Visit the Tate Modern to see brilliant pieces of modern and contemporary art, or for something out of the ordinary pop to Wellcome Collection and experience the innovative and thought-provoking galleries of a museum looking to challenge how we all think about health. Located a short walk away from King’s Cross station, the British Library constantly offers new and exciting exhibitions featuring iconic authors and works of literature, allowing a unique insight into the bookish history of Britain.
Out and About
If you feel like a spot of fresh air, London is full of gorgeous walks and parks for all the nature-lovers. Strawberry Tours offers free walking tours of London, with unique routes that give a great insight to either the most popular places in London, some of the brilliant street art dotted around the city, with many other options to get exactly what you want out of your visit. Bushy Park is a historic parkland with a rich diversity of plants and animals, with over 300 free-roaming deer. With a children’s playground available, take a picnic and enjoy a relaxing meal, or head to the Pheastantry Café for a bite to eat. Alternatively, take a picturesque stroll along the South Bank to see what’s on offer on this exciting stretch along the River Thames.
For a lovely evening, London is never short on nightlife. Covent Garden and Soho are full of creative and popular cocktail bars, all you need to do is wander down the street to happen upon something brilliant. For example, Simmons Bar always has a great atmosphere and affordable drinks. The West End always has globally renowned shows on offer, but for something a bit cheaper, try the free comedy night at Angel Comedy or the Top Secret Comedy Club and laugh the evening away.
Eating out in London
Found in Soho, Kiln is a Thai restaurant dedicated to brilliance in simplicity. They serve meat and fish of the highest quality without asking for the highest price, and deliver food that will make you think you’re sat in Thailand enjoying it. Full of curries that are great for the spice lovers, but Kiln will also adjust the food to your taste if you want something a bit milder.
Another place that offers quality in a concentrated form, Padella can be found trading in Borough Market every day and serving a handful of seasonal pasta dishes that only use the freshest British produce. With everything made on-site, you can watch the talented chefs prepare your pasta on the spot. This pasta bar has a great take on traditional Italian pasta dishes, and it’s not one you’d want to miss, with very agreeable prices.
Bao in Soho is an affordable restaurant offering delicious Taiwanese bao buns and small plates. Their food has won awards in the past, is highly rated on TripAdvisor, and will satisfy all of your cravings. Why not try the classic Bao bun with sweet potato fries.
One of the few brilliant places that can be booked in advance, Counter Culture is in Clapham and will introduce you to a wonderful and exciting part of London that not all tourists immediately think of. Their menu shifts depending on the produce available, ensuring it is all fresh. Take a chance by not looking at the menu before you go, and just see what delights are available when you’re there.
For an indulgent and special meal, Hawksmoor is a steak and seafood restaurant located in Seven Dials, and is a few minutes from Covent Garden station. With an Express menu for you to have a brilliant meal either before or after a theatre show, this restaurant has a history of great food and lives up to it by cooking everything to perfection. It is more on the expensive side of things, but worth it for a treat – we’d recommend any of the steaks, or the refreshing royal sea bream.
Mildreds is a delicious vegetarian and vegan restaurant in Soho, but their food would appeal to anyone. Vibrant and internationally inspired, their diverse menu has traces of a number of different food cultures, offering a unique dining experience. This is a trendy place to eat, more on the cosy side, so you may have to wait for a table, but it’ll definitely be worth it. Their Soho location is better suited to smaller parties, but you can also reserve the private dining room for 10-14 people. Pop along for enchilada Thursdays or the amazing Teriyaki Chick’n burger.
London transport, airports, trains and car hire
- About 20 miles west of central London, Heathrow Airport is accessible by the Piccadilly line on the underground tube service, the overground TfL rail service, the speedy Heathrow Express train, coach or car. Heathrow is the largest London airport, with five terminals. It can be reached via the M4 and M25 motorways.
- The car hire agencies available at Heathrow are: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz, National, Easirent, and Sixt.
- for larger groups it may be worth hiring a 7-seater, 9-seater vehicle or minibus.
- Gatwick is located 30 miles south of central London, and can be reached via Gatwick Express from London Victoria, Southern and Thameslink train services, coach or car. It is the UK’s second busiest airport, and offers the most destinations of any UK airport.
- The car hire agencies available at Gatwick are: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz, National, and Sixt.
- For short trips there are many weekend car hire options and special offers.
- This airport is accessible via the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) or car, and it is the closest to central London, most often used by business travellers.
- The car hire agencies available at City are: Avis, Budget, Europcar, and Hertz.
- Found 35 miles north east of central London, Stansted airport can be reached via train, car or coach.
- The car hire agencies available at Stansted are: Alamo, Avis, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz, Budget, National, and Sixt. es over 125 destinations and is just 30 minutes from the city centre. Car hire at the airport is provided by several international car rental companies operating 24/7. You can also reach any part of the UK from Bristol Temple Meads’ Station, the West of England’s largest.
- Kings Cross station: Coming to London from the north of England and Scotland. The East Coast / LNER main line calls at Stevenage, Doncaster, Wakefield, Leeds, York, Durham, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
- Euston station: Will take you from Birmingham, the Midlands and Manchester to and from London.
- London Paddington: The busy route to Heathrow airport, including the Heathrow Express and the Connect service, Bristol and the south west.
- London Victoria: Coming into London from Gatwick, the south coast and Brighton.
- Waterloo station: The key route to the south and western side of the south coast such as Southampton and Portsmouth.
- London Liverpool Street: Takes you to Essex and Stansted airport, including the Stansted Express train.
- London Bridge station.: A central London station connecting with South East of England and multiple underground lines.
- London Kennington: The home of the Oval Cricket Ground.
- Streatham station: In east London opening to the east and Essex.
- Fulham Broadway station: Fulham Broadway is between West Brompton and Parsons Green stations in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.
Car hire in London can start from as little as £8 a day, depending on the time of booking and your requirements.
The 4 major London airports
More about Heathrow can be found here - Heathrow Airport (code: LHR)
Gatwick Airport (LGW)
More about Gatwick can be found here - Gatwick Airport (code: LGW)
London City Airport (LCY)
More about London City airport can be found here - London City Airport (code: LCY)
Stansted Airport (STN)
More about Stansted can be found here - Stansted Airport (code: STN)
Getting around London by train
There are many train stations in London, if you're coming by train, on arrival its quite easy to either travel around London by tube (underground) or the majority of stations are either near or have an onsite car hire operator.
Some of the main London train stations
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