Help Canadians driving in London

Jan 28th, 2007, 07:48 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 7
Help Canadians driving in London

We are renting a car in London after our stay there and spending a few days dring to the coast and catching a ferry in Dover where we will drop off our car. Our concern is that we given a pickup at the Victoria Coach station on Buckingham palace road. We have never driven in England and are concerned that we should maybe not have our first experience with left hand drive downtown. Is there a better area that we could possibly take a cab or bus and pick up on the outskirts of town? Other options are Northend road East London or Old Kent Road. Is it easy to get trasport to either of these areas or should we be able to wing it and get out of town ok?

Also we are flying back into London a few weeks later but are flying to the London Luton Airport. Any Idea the best way back into town from there. Thanks for your help
sherlock9 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2007, 08:20 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Well, I would not drive a car in London under any circumstances but I have driven outside of London with a minimum of adjustment.

Since you are going to Dover why not just take a train there and rent a car in Dover and do your countryside sightseeing from there. If I were you this is what I would do.

Another thought would be to take the train to Gatwick and rent the car at that airport and go on sightseeing.

Do make sure you are not going to be surprised with drop off fees on the rental car .. renting in one place and dropping in another is not always cost effective.

I can't give advice about Luton as we generally fly in and out of Heathrow, but be aware that airlines that fly into the non-main airports have rather strict luggage restrictions .. if you have too much you pay extra for it.
Lori is offline  
Jan 28th, 2007, 09:01 AM
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I wouldn't recommend driving in London at all - doubly so if you haven't any experience of driving on UK roads at all.

If I was you I'd rent from Heathrow or Gatwick and rather than staying in London find somewhere outside of London to stay convenient to where you want to visit - if nothing else it gets rid of the risk of the Congestion Charge and probably will save you 2 hours of driving each day as you won't have to fight your way into & out of London
alanRow is offline  
Jan 28th, 2007, 09:41 AM
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I too think you should get the train out of London. GAtwick is a good place to pick up the car if there is no one-way fee on it, otherwise go to Dover and do your sight seeing from there. There really is very little you will miss by doing this.
For info on getting back to London from luton go to, click on airport guide and there you can find suggestions.
hetismij is offline  
Jan 28th, 2007, 10:51 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,170
Collecting a car in Dover is only a bit less painful than collecting it in London. There's an awful lot of wimpishness about driving in London (millions of us manage it, fellow-drivers are a great deal more disciplined than in the rest of Britain, and I find it one of the safest and most relaxing places anywhere to drive in. Far more pleasant than country lanes). But getting from any of your suggested places out to a decent road presents navigational problems which might be a distraction while you're getting used to our ways. All three London locations (including Victoria coach station) are an unpleasant hike from the nearest tube station if you've got luggage.

There are two pickup locations on or close to your route which are close to a major railway station and to a divided highway - which I'd strongly recommend is the way to start driving on the proper side of the road if you've got used to driving on the wrong side. There's usually a supplement for collecting at airports, so I'd suggest you check collecting the car at Ashford International railway station (you can't get the Eurostar to it from London, but you can get the Southern domestic train) rather than Gatwick.
flanneruk is offline  
Jan 28th, 2007, 11:42 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 64,665
Driving out of London to the west (towards LHR and beyond) is not too terrible. You get onto a motorway w/o huge difficulties at all.

BUT driving down through south London can be an utter nightmare. Don't even think of collecting your car at Victoria. Depending on where you want to tour before heading to Dover, pick up the car either at LGW or Ashford. I'd personally choose Gatwick because it would be a good starting point to get to Hever/Chartwell/Penshurst/Sissinghurst etc.

It may be slightly more expensive to collect a car at the airport - but there are usually no additional drop off fees for one way rentals.

I'd pick up at LGW and return it at Dover.
janisj is online now  
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