To drive or not to drive? A comprehensive tourist guide to driving in London

Thu 3rd June, 2021

London is favoured by tourist for a number of reasons. From its iconic architecture to its bustling streets, and its vast range of cuisine to the sheer ease of getting around via the city’s famous tube system. Yet despite the extensive transport network and fairly safe walking environment, many travelers opt to hire a car during their stay, or even make use of their own car if coming from within the UK. For reasons such as convenience, potentially lower costs and also the opportunity to explore the country in a different way, it’s easy to see why some tourists take this route. Here’s what we think you need to know if you’re thinking of driving in London and its surrounds.

Check your license

It is essential that you have a license that covers the type of vehicle you will be using. Licenses from the European Economic Area are fully recognized throughout the UK. For those coming from outside this region, it’s best to do the online check to determine your license compatibility with UK motoring laws. You can do so via this link: https://www.gov.uk/driving-nongb-licence

Cover yourself (and your car!)

Motor insurance is essential. Make sure you have sufficient cover for your time away as you could face significant penalties for driving without insurance. Some travel insurances have the option to extend cover to accommodate car liability so be sure to check with your service provider when planning your trip.

Hire smart

Should you choose to hire a car, make sure you shop around before you commit. Prices can range greatly between companies, with some providers being better suited to longer stays (versus other, higher priced short rentals!). Many holiday booking sites also offer great discounts when booking flights, hotels and car rental together so it’s worth considering this too. Some hotels offer great rates when booking through them so it’s also a good option to speak to your hotel contact about assisting with this. Fuel policies also vary greatly so make sure you have full transparency into any potentially hidden costs.

Know the rules of the road

This is a pretty important one! For starters, the UK is a left hand ride region so if you are visiting from the likes of the France or the UAE, it’s best to get your head around this significant change. Knowing the speed limits on various road types is also super important. The national speed limit through London and the UK is 113 kilometres per hour which is around 70 mph) on motorways and dual carriageways, 97 km/h (around 60 mph) on single carriageways and 48 km/h (around 30mph) in urban areas. Wearing a seatbelt and protecting children is also heavily emphasized in the region so be mindful of these regulations. For a full breakdown visit this website https://www.gov.uk/browse/driving/highway-code-road-safety

Be aware of parking

Parking is one of the factors which generally discourages visitors from driving in London. The more central parts of the city can be extremely challenging, with very limited parking options and often only available at very high prices. Many London hotels do not have their own parking facilities and offer very limited options for guests with cars. At Mayflower Hotel, we are fortunate enough to be walking distance from an affordable parking area which our guests frequently make use of. (We’re also a 3-minute walk from Earls Court tube station if you feel like ditching your wheels for the day!). Contact our reception

Be safe and have fun

Once you have the logistics in place, driving in London can be quite the experience. Whether it’s navigating the bustling (and tariffed!) streets of central London, alongside a dozen red buses, or enjoying the long stretch of country once you head back up north, it’s a chance to experience London and the UK in a different way altogether.