London congestion charge
The daily fee you have to pay to drive in central London on weekdays
The city of London currently charges you £11.50 per day to drive in the city center, but only Monday to Friday between 7am and 6pm.
It's to encourage more people to commute using public transit, which is fine, but it also affects visitors.
Yes, if you drive anywhere in the city center of London (see the maps in the photo gallery), a traffic camera will snap a picture of your rental car's license plate, and if you fail to pay the fee, your rental company will do it for you—and then pass it along to you with a ludicrous "administrative fee" added (on the order of $30–$50).
We've already established that it is folly to get around London by car anyway (though you might want one to leave the city).
Do yourself a favor and either:
- Pick up and drop off any rental cars at an office outside the congestion zone (and be sure you don't stray into it while driving in or out of London).
- Pay the fee online at www.cclondon.com. It's important to do this before or on the day you drive inside the zone. If you wait until after midnight of the day you drive the zone, the fees goes up to £14. If you fail to pay that £14 by midnight on the following day, a penalty of £130 will be added.
- Gov.uk - Official UK governmental rules of the road, guides to road signs and their meaning, and more
- Amazon.com - A link to get road maps of Great Britain.Partner
- Slowtrav.com - Nice article introducing all of the quirks of driving in the United Kingdom—not just how to drive on the left, but roundabouts, highway types, speed cameras, and handy tips.
- Orcutt.net - Almost comically in-depth blog entry—with loads of links—about driving in the U.K. This guy went way above and beyond what's necessary when planning to drive on his British vacation, but it is about the most complete explanation of being on the British road from a Yankee's point of view as you'll ever find. Some good tips.
- Cclondon.com - All about the infamous "congestion charge" you have to pay if you happen to drive in central London.
- Theaa.com - The British version of AAA provides, among other things, a monthly gas prices chart and a map of traffic incidents and slowdowns.
- Parkopedia.co.uk - live parking maps
- Autoeurope.com - Wholesale prices on rentals (and short-term leases) from major rental companies. You end up picking up the car at the local Avis, Hertz, Europcar, or whatever office; you just pay less than the rack rate from those companies.Partner
- Rentalcars.com - Comparison shop the rates at multiple rental companies all at once.Partner
- Momondo.com - Comparison shop the rates at multiple rental companies all at once.Partner
- Europebycar.com - Offers both short-term rentals and short-term leases, making it easy to compare prices on a single site.
- Priceline.com - Actually finds good prices on U.K. rentals.Partner
- Vayama.com - aggregatorPartner
- Parkopedia.co.uk - Search for lots, garages, and other public parking options.
- Parkatmyhouse.com - Like Uber for parking, a "sharing economy" site allowing individuals and private entities to offer parking, often just a space or two but for far than garages and lots (plus it is reserved in advance and gauranteed).