London is the capital of England also the most populated city in Europe. The layout of the city is similar to a maze, and many of the streets are narrow. The traffic, or "jams" as they're referred to in London, are some of the worst in the world. Driving on the left side of the road, navigating the one-way streets, roundabouts, and overall congestion may leave many first-time drivers of the city in a state of dismay.
Renting a Car in London
The best place to find a rental car is at one of the three major London airports. Heathrow Airport is London's largest airport, and most likely will be the arrival point for most tourists. There are many car rental companies available at this location, including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Easirent, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz, and Sixt. With most of the major agencies represented, customers can find competitive rates for car rentals. Consider renting a compact car. A smaller vehicle will be easier to navigate through London's narrow streets. Additionally, it will save money on gas, or petrol, as it's referred to in Europe.
Travelers looking to rent a vehicle near their accommodation will appreciate the many carriers available throughout the city. Skyscanner offers an option to search for the rental car agency closest to their accommodations. To rent a vehicle in the United Kingdom, travelers must have a valid driver's license and passport.
Driving a Rental Car in London
At first, driving in London may seem intimidating. Vehicles will have the steering wheel on the right-hand side of the car and traffic travels on the left. Initially, roundabouts may seem foreign. Remember, vehicles already in the roundabout always have the right of way. The rules of the road or Highway Code can be found easily online.
To prevent traffic in the city center, London has instituted a congestion charge which occurs from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. There is a toll for all drivers who wish to enter this zone. Signs along the road will indicate when drivers are entering or leaving the congestion zone. The car rental agency will not register the vehicle on the driver's behalf. It is the renter's responsibility to do so. Registration can be done online to simplify the process.
Best Things to Do in London
London is split in half by the Thames River. Most of the popular tourist attractions are located on the north side of the river. Start by visiting Trafalgar Square, considered by many as the center of the city. Nelson's Column and the National Gallery are also in this location. From here, go one block south down Whitehall street to visit the Prime Minister's Office at 10 Downing Street. Famous landmarks nearby are the House of Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey.
No visit is complete to London without visiting Buckingham Palace. Make sure to see the daily changing of the guard. Visitors looking to dive deeper into London's history should head to the Tower of London, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Afterward, take a drive along Tower Bridge, considered by many as one of the most beautiful bridges in the world.
Renting a car before the next trip to London will make seeing the sites that much easier. Download the Skyscanner app now for easy access.