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Car Hire in the UK
Popular car rental cities in United Kingdom
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Car Rental in the United Kingdom: Driving a Land of Incredible History, Culture and Scenery
The United Kingdom is comprised of four different nations, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and is the site of great cultural monuments, from the Neolithic Stonehenge to more recent architectural symbols such as Big Ben. Don’t make the mistake of staying in the cities, but experience the true diversity of the UK by travelling the rolling hills and moorlands to Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, and beyond. Make the most of your travels by booking your rental car today!
The best time to visit the UK is during its mild summer, from June to September when you’re most likely to experience dry days, though bringing a rain jacket is highly recommended.
English is the primary language of the countries that form the United Kingdom, though Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Cornish, Irish, and Scots are also spoken by inhabitants throughout the UK. French, German, and Spanish are the most frequently learned second languages.
The currency in the UK is the pound sterling (colloquially “pound” or “quid”). Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs frequently available. If you are travelling from Northern Ireland or Scotland and the pound bills you received there are met with skepticism in Wales or England, you can exchange them free of charge at any bank.
Cheap car hire in the UK is available in virtually every city or town of substantial size. Some of the most popular cities in which to pick up a rental car include:
- London in southeast England
- Bristol in southwest England
- Manchester and Liverpool in northern England
- Birmingham in central England
- Belfast in Northern Ireland
- Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland
- Cardiff in Wales
At the time of writing, citizens of nations that comprise the EU and EEA, as well as Swiss nationals, do not require a visa to enter the UK. Citizens of a further 80 or so nations can enter with a valid passport and stay visa-free for up to six months. All other nationals will need to apply for a visa from a British embassy or consulate in their country of legal residence.
Driving in the UK
- Left-Hand Driving
- Traffic drives on the left-hand side of the road throughout the UK, quite unlike continental Europe.
- In cities and towns: 30 miles per hour (48 km/h)
- Single carriageway highways: 60 mph (96 km/h)
- Dual carriageways and motorways: 70 mph (112 km/h)
- Police monitor speeds, cell phone use (which is illegal while driving), and erratic behavior in both marked and unmarked cars throughout the UK.
- Traffic is likely to be quite heavy in most cities during morning and evening rush hours, from 7 to 10 am and 4 to 7 pm.
- Parking in London is difficult and very expensive, so be sure to book a hotel that can help you park cheaply if you intend to retain your car throughout your inner-city visit. For quick trips to cities, use Park and Ride parking lots on city limits to cut down on parking costs.
- Visitors to the UK can drive passenger vehicles with their domestic driver’s license alone for up to a full year.
- The only toll road in the UK is the M6 north of Birmingham, as well as a few bridges and tunnels, though you will have to pay a daily congestion charge to drive in central London.
- The minimum driving age in the UK is 17, though you will likely have to be 21 with a full year’s driving experience in order to rent a car.
- If you’re unaccustomed to standard transmissions or left-hand driving, be sure to ask your rental company to provide an automatic transmission and to book your car well in advance of your arrival.
Cheap Car Rental in the UK
Car hire in the UK typically starts at around $9 a day. Here are some of the best deals:
- Fiat 500 or similar (mini class) – $9/day
- Opel Corsa or similar (economy class) – $10/day
- Ford Focus or similar (compact class) – $11/day
- Vauxhall Mokka or similar (intermediate class) – $18/day
- Volkswagen Passat or similar (standard class) – $19/day
Note that prices vary depending on the availability of each specific car and the season in which you rent. For the most accurate offers, use the search bar above.
Tips for Renting a Car Inexpensively in the UK
There is very little seasonal variation in price if you book well in advance, though you may find that selections are limited within three or four months of popular travel periods, such as Christmas or summer holidays. Book well in advance during peak seasons to retain a low price of between $8 and $12 a day.
Airports are the cheapest and most convenient places from which to rent cars, and in cities such as Bristol, you often save over $23 per day in rental fees by simply picking your car up at the airport.
Cheap car rental in the UK is provided by EasiRent, Green Motion, and Ace Rent a Car.