Driving a vehicle is best avoided if you can. This is is a terribly congested city and the road network in central London is crowded and difficult to negotiate. First, you’ll have to get used to driving on the other side of the road, which can be quite tricky if you’re not used to it. Most cars in Europe are manual, which means that they have gears and a clutch. This is called a ‘stick-shift’ in the States, and if you have not driven one before then your first time should not be on Oxford Street in the middle of London. If you simply have to have a car, then you should be aware of the following rules and regulations regarding the use of a private vehicle or hire car in this city.
- There is a charge for driving. All drivers are required to pay a congestion charge if they are driving in the city between 7am and 6pm. It does not matter if you are in a rented vehicle or your own. The charge for driving is a daily rate of £8, which should be paid before midnight on the day before you intend on driving.
- The congestion charge can be paid in cash or with a credit card at any petrol station (gas station) and shops that display a red ‘C’ notice. You can also pay online or through your mobile phone using the text message service.
- Hiring an electric car or an environmentally friendly car means that you will not have to pay the congestion charge, so if you’re hiring a car to get around then be sure to confirm this when you make your booking.
- Parking charges are also quite expensive and is extremely limited, because most streets in central London have a blanket ban on all parking during the day.
It is far quicker and more convenient to use the excellent public transport that is available. Once you have figured out where you need to go, you will be able to find a tube, bus or train that will be able to get you very close to your destination.