COVID-19 Travel Advisory: Stay up to date with the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.   Learn More >

London Driving?

Old Feb 10th, 2003, 08:46 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6
London Driving?

I hear that driving in London is horrible, is that really true? My husband and I are considering renting a car when we arrive, and will sight see London for a couple days. (We are also considering just doing the rail, for the two days, and then renting a car) Also, how much is petrol over there?
crystalbell66 is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 08:58 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,749
We go to London often and usually end up renting a car to do an additional trip going somewhere else in the UK. But if your plans are for London itself, listen carefully, DO NOT RENT A CAR!! It simply makes no sense. Worse than the driving in the city is the parking. You can get anywhere you want to go faster and cheaper without a car. Have you ever gone to New York City and rented a car for use in the city? I actually think I'd do it there before London -- but still would need my head examined to rent a car there either.
Petrol? Last summer I did a liter to gallon and pounds to dollar conversion and came up with something like $4.90 a US gallon. I'm assuming that it would be even higher now.
Patrick is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 09:01 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,107
Yes, it's really true. Public transportation is excellent in London, so you really do not need a car for sightseeing. There is a lot of traffic, parking is difficult, and petrol is very expensive compared to the US. And...ummmm...they drive on the left. If you are not used to that, it can be quite disorienting initially, and London traffic is NOT the place to get used to it.
Marilyn is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 09:02 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 423
You'll get a mixed bag of answers to the question about driving in London. It's no worse than Manhattan, or Los Angeles or any other large metro area regarding traffic. Parking is impractical and expensive in Central London.

Unless you simply want to experience driving in London, don't. As I said, parking is a pain in the rear and navigating will almost certainly take longer than riding the subway or bus.

You'll pay somewhere between $3.50 and $5 per US gallon for 1 to 3 star fuel. I think every rental agency I've ever used says to use 3 star. This can be offset to some extent by renting a fuel efficient car. Yes, it sounds expensive but in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really add up to much considering the total expense of flying, hotels, restaurants, etc.

My suggestion . . . "do the rail" as you say and then rent a car at the airport you'll be returning to or perhaps on the outskirts of London in the direction you'll be heading. Or if you want to "drive London" rent the car in London center and take a couple of hours and head out of town via Maida Vale / Edgeware Road.
Snoopy is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 09:03 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 216
For sightseeing in central London, a car is worse than useless; you might as well stay in your hotel room and burn diesel in the bathtub - you'll see just as much of the city, and won't have to pay for auto insurance.

Better yet, considering your chances of getting into an accident (left-side driving, unfamiliar traffic signs, crowded medieval streets, fast & fearless drivers) you could save time and just jump off the roof of your hotel.

Why not do what every other London tourist does: take the tube, take buses, and walk?
drsawyers is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 09:16 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 173
Let's not forget that Congestion Charging starts on Feb 17th which will add five pounds a day if you want to drive in to see any of the sites in Central London. As someone said, the driving is not too bad, but the parking is a nightmare in London - and very expensive. I would suggest getting a travelcard and using tubes and buses (and taxis and your feet) for your London portion of the trip. If and when you want to get out of London and see the countryside, then you should rent a car. It will probably be faster for you to take a train to the nearest large city to your destination and rent a car from there. You quite often can pick up your car right at the train station and the check-in/check-out times are significantly (and I mean by hours, not minutes) less outside of London than inside. Have fun!
trvlgrl is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 09:24 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 555
We are leaving for London tomorrow, it is our 8th trip there, and I would never in a million years consider renting a car to see the city.
However, we are renting a car to drive north to visit my sister in law who is studying a year abroad in Hull.
We plan to spend 4 days in London, take a train to Heathrow, then pick up the car at Heathrow, which makes a lot more sense since you can then just hop on a motor way and bypass driving in London all together. Public transpo in London is wonderful you really will be very sad if you have a car. Also petrol is really REALLY expensive.. It's sold by litre, and comes out to about $5.00 per gallon US I believe, thats why we're estimating.
Thyra is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 09:39 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,873
There hasn't been $3.50 per gallon petrol in the uK for at least 5 years. You know it is expensive when they price it by the Litre

I lived in the UK for 5 years, have driven a lot in central London. I know my way around - and never, NEVER rent a car in London unless I absolutely have to for some reason. I can think of no logical reason to rent one for a vacation in London. The public transport is cheaper, faster, and MUCH easier.
janis is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 09:50 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,579
Petrol is priced by the liter because the UK and almost everywhere else in the world uses the metric system. They also use kilos for weight.
jsmith is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 09:54 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,873
jsmith - I am aware they use the metric system. That was a (lame?) attempt at a joke. Did you notice the

Sort of like the USA pricing gas by the quart . . . . .
janis is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 10:02 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,749
The latest figures by AA Roadwatch (in the UK) shows for the end of January average UK fuel costs. Multiplying by 3.8 to get gallons from liters, and using 1.635 as a current exchange rate to convert pounds to US dollars I find this:

Unleaded= 88.9c per liter or $ 5.53 US per gallon.

Super unleaded = 1.00 per liter or $6.21 US per gallon.
Patrick is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 10:09 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 88
We rented a car from Avis near Grosvenor Square to leave the city for country excursions. We left on a Saturday morning, driving out and finding the highway was not that bad. I would imagine weekdays would be worse. I've driven on the left, so it was just a matter of navigation. There were a few road closures that made the map almost useless. We were lucky and got out ok.

If you are not leaving London renting a car is a waste of money on gas, insurance and parking.

If you are leaving the city and really do need a car, make sure someone in your party and can drive a manual transmission. My friend who does not, must of called Avis 3 or 4 times to confirm a rental of a auto transmission. Of course when we went there they did not have one, so I did all the driving. It was just like a Seinfeld episode.
Alicia is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 10:09 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,107
drsawyers, thanks for the belly laugh. Jump off the roof, indeed! Having driven more than once in London (not really by choice, but by necessity), I would have preferred jumping off the roof.
Marilyn is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 10:14 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,164
Thyra, have a great trip! We're in the same city (LA), let's compare notes when you get back.

Crystalbell, I lived in London for 4 years, and did not have a car the whole time. I'd say the only time I missed not having a car was to do weekly grocery shopping or picking up a Christmas tree to bring home (dragged it on the bus!). There is convenient tube stops, bus service (both in an out of the center of London), wonderful taxis and, oh yes, walking (which was a pretty foreign method of transportation for someone from L.A.). Seriously, central London can be walked from one end to the next in little over an hour. For those who dispute this, I've done it.

You can even go to Windsor by rail.

Get a car as you're leaving London if you want to get outside the city. Then again, rail and bus also have good services outside London as well.
Surfergirl is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 10:30 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 555
Thanks surfergirl! I will miss our weather though.. but I've heard it's supposed to rain Wednesday in Los Angeles... enjoy it!
Thyra is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 12:31 PM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6
Thanks for the great advice everybody! We decided to see London via rail, and then rent the car on our way out of town!
crystalbell66 is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 03:28 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,579
Janis, sorry. I didn't recognize those strange characters for anything other than mistyping. I'm only familiar with standard punctuation which, I guess, shows my age. And I'm not sure I've even punctuated this whole paragraph correctly.
jsmith is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 04:41 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 57
I spent almost two weeks driving from Glasgow to Edinburgh to York to Bath and to London, but returned the car at Heathrow and took a shuttle from Heathrow to our hotel in London. Although I drove in London before (in 1968) I would never think of driving there today. (I was indestructibe in 1968!)
Ron
Raghnall is offline  
Old Feb 11th, 2003, 08:04 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2
I have been to London several times and I would NOT attempt to drive a car there. The street signs are different, they have the round abouts, and not to mention they drive on the other side of the road. If you are staying in London, the tube will take you wherever you need to go or within walking distance. If you travel outside of London, take a train. You'll thank me later! Enjoy your holiday!
MsBehavin is offline  
Old Feb 12th, 2003, 06:24 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 423
janis,

I have the receipt which calculates to $3.47 given the price per litre and the exchange rate for October 12, 2002. The gas was purchased in Scurlage in Southern Wales, just off the A418 or A4118, near Oxwich Castle.
Snoopy is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
SLLovett
Europe
7
Feb 9th, 2006 08:01 AM
tsm0885
Europe
11
Jun 17th, 2005 01:35 PM
Cdleebunny28
Europe
10
Nov 21st, 2004 03:12 PM
ninja88
Europe
7
Oct 21st, 2004 12:16 PM
chonan3
Europe
28
Jul 11th, 2004 05:15 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO