Driving To London? Don’t Get In Your Car Without This Essential Advice

Sun 25th Feb 2018

With the big bank holiday weekends on the horizon, many of us will be planning a city break across the UK. London will be a popular destination, but with train travel often more costly than jumping on a flight, driving will be the only option for many.

But if you are driving to London for the first time, you may be a little wary and unsure about the prospect of driving into the heart of one of the planet’s biggest and most congested cities, with CarSupermarket.com’s survival guide we hope to get you to your destination and help you enjoy the sights and sounds of the UK’s most popular tourist destination.

Rule No.1 – The Congestion Charge
It’s unavoidable, if you are planning on driving into central London between a 7am and 6pm, Monday to Friday, then you will have to pay the congestion fee. It currently stands at £11.50 to enter and the best place to register is to plan ahead and visit the Transport For London website. https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/congestion-charge.

However, it’s important to note that the congestion charge is only applicable during the working week, so if you are travelling on public holidays, you will be exempt.  Always best to check though.

Rule No.2 – Bus Lanes
The bane of drivers across the UK, bus lanes are the section of the road reserved exclusively for those members of the public who prefer to travel on public transport buses. You will find them in most major cities, but in London they are everywhere. The penalty for straying into a bus lane in London is up to £130, so it is worth paying attention to the road and staying well clear. It’s worth knowing that some bus lanes can open to other vehicles after certain times, so pay attention to the signage.

Rule No.3 – Plan Ahead
Like Joseph Conrad’s famous book, driving straight into the centre of London without any prior planning could be like your very own ‘Heart of Darkness’. We definitely advise taking satnav, have a good idea of your final destination, check for parking options (if any are available) and don’t be afraid to pull over (avoiding bus lanes, of course) and taking stock of your location. London is a very old city, and as such it’s road network is a confused mess or one-way options. It is very easy to get lost and spend most of your day driving around in circles.

Rule No.4 – Use Public Transport
As strange as it might sound for a guide to driving in London, one of our greatest tips once you get there is to leave the car parked up. If you have a safe and inexpensive car parking option in London then you will find it is a lot less hassle, once you have arrived at your final destination, to do the local tourist thing and get around the city using the London Underground and London buses. You can often get across London in half the time it would take in a car.

Rule No.5 – Enjoy The View
Don’t forget the reason you are there – to have a good time. Often drivers can get caught up in the rush hour, rat race, but take your time, enjoy the sights (as well as paying attention to the signs!) and make sure you enjoy the fantastic sights and sounds of one of the greatest cities on earth.