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Parking an Automobile in London on the Weekend

Parking an Automobile in London on the Weekend

Old Nov 19, 2008, 4:29 pm
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Parking an Automobile in London on the Weekend

My flight is scheduled to land at Gatwick Airport very early Saturday morning this week. I would like to see the sights of London on Saturday and Sunday, as it will be my first time there.

I know when I drive in New York, I can usually secure free parking somewhere on a Saturday or Sunday. Can I do the same in London?

Because I will be in the United Kingdom for 5 days, I am thinking of renting an automobile at Gatwick, spending Saturday and Sunday sightseeing on my own in London and the remaining weekdays outside of London, possibly north or west of the city, although I am uncertain as to where at this time. I then intend to return the vehicle to Gatwick before my morning flight on Thursday. Is it advisable to rent an automobile and attempt to find parking in London on a Saturday and Sunday, is it better to rely on the London Underground transit system, or are there better options? If there is a charge for parking around London, how expensive can it get on a weekend day?

Thank you in advance for your assistance.
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Old Nov 19, 2008, 5:20 pm
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There was a survey in one of Britain's quality newspapers that showed that London is the most expensive place to park in the world!!

With all due respect I don't think you will find free parking in central London except after 1.30 pm on single yellow lines on Sundays - or at least this applies to Chelsea. I would certainly consider a car to be a liability in central London - much better to use public transport. Might I suggest that you investigate Oyster Travel Cards or Day or 3 day Travel cards as a cheaper alternative to car hire, parking fees and regretably tow truck charges.
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Old Nov 19, 2008, 5:24 pm
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We don't have "automobiles" round 'ere. Just cars or, if you want to be real posh, you can use the term "mechanically propelled vehicle". With that important clarification out of the way, I see no reason for you to be driving around London in the weekend. It's likely you can find free on-street parking on Sunday, however Saturday is much more difficult- I'm willing to bet there is absolutely nothing to be had for free in zones 1-3. But, even if you did find somewhere to park the bloody thing, the traffic will still be horrendous and generally moving about by car will take you a lot more time and effort than using public transport.
So just do a rental starting Monday morning, and, if going North, be warned that the first half-interesting city you'll come across (that'd be Northampton) is a good 70 miles away, with the really interesting options (Leicester, Derby, Nottingham, Sheffield) even further North.
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Old Nov 19, 2008, 6:35 pm
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Originally Posted by Canarsie
...If there is a charge for parking around London, how expensive can it get on a weekend day?

Thank you in advance for your assistance.
Here is the info you need, searchable by area / street.
http://www.park-up.com

You should be able to locate free parking on both Saturday after 13:30 and Sunday.
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Old Nov 19, 2008, 6:44 pm
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I think it generally costs about 1 for 20 mins parking in central London (it varies by borough). That's expensive! Parking restrictions are in place on Saturdays until early evening in some areas so it will only be free after 6.30 pm or so. Also, bear in mind that certain areas in the City of Westminster only allow payment by text messenging (I haven't really got a clue how this works). Parking on Sundays is usually free. But it's very hard to find spaces, especially those that are free, at the weekend. You will waste a lot of valuable time trying to find parking places if you intend to visit lots of places.

I agree with the previous post, you will save a lot of time and hassle by taking public transport to London and for the duration of your time here. Buy a one day travelcard from LGW, use it to travel to central London and then you can travel anywhere you like all day without worrying where to park. Just rent the car when you decide to travel out of London (or have you considered taking the train?).
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Old Nov 19, 2008, 6:44 pm
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Originally Posted by graraps
So just do a rental starting Monday morning, and, if going North, be warned that the first half-interesting city you'll come across (that'd be Northampton) is a good 70 miles away, with the really interesting options (Leicester, Derby, Nottingham, Sheffield) even further North.
Interesting definition of "interesting"!
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Old Nov 19, 2008, 7:06 pm
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Thank you all for the valuable input.

Travel, even by public transportation, seems quite expensive in London.

What I am thinking about doing now is booking the Hilton London Gatwick Airport at £99.88 including all taxes and fees for one night and, upon arrival, checking my luggage there for the day before I take a Southern Railway train to Victoria Station, as a standard single ticket costs £8.90, which I assume is one-way and not return.

I will look into the one-day Travelcard for one day, possibly two days, which I believe costs £6.70 per day on Saturday or Sunday for unlimited travel within Zones 1–6 where Gatwick Airport is located in Zone 6 and central London is Zone 1. Am I correct?

Would I do better with an Oyster card instead?
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Old Nov 19, 2008, 8:04 pm
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Why are you planning to stay at the LGW Hilton on your day of arrival? Are you not planning to stay in London?

There is no need to buy a single ticket from LGW to Victoria and then a separate one-day travelcard. You can buy a travelcard at LGW which includes travel to London (and back to LGW if you need) and unlimited tube and bus travel for one day. The price is £10 if you travel on First Capital Connect or £11.50 if you choose to travel on Southern Trains. You don't really need an Oyster card.

A one-day travelcard (paper ticket) costs £7.00 for Zones 1-6, £5.90 for Zones 1-4 and £5.30 for Zones 1-2. Unless you want to venture outside of central London then the Zones 1-2 travelcard is sufficient for most sightseeing venues.
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Old Nov 19, 2008, 8:15 pm
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Thank you for your replies, Strawb.
Originally Posted by Strawb
Why are you planning to stay at the LGW Hilton on your day of arrival? Are you not planning to stay in London?
This is because the rate at the Hilton London Gatwick Airport is less expensive than Hilton properties in London, and I am attempting to re-qualify for Hilton HHonors status for 2009, plus I can rent a car right there at the airport the next morning to go elsewhere in the United Kingdom should I choose to do so.
Originally Posted by Strawb
There is no need to buy a single ticket from LGW to Victoria and then a separate one-day travelcard.
I was not going to do that, and I can see how I did not make that clear.

I meant to say that I would purchase either a single ticket or a one-day Travelcard.
Originally Posted by Strawb
You can buy a travelcard at LGW which includes travel to London (and back to LGW if you need) and unlimited tube and bus travel for one day. The price is £10 if you travel on First Capital Connect or £11.50 if you choose to travel on Southern Trains. You don't really need an Oyster card.

A one-day travelcard (paper ticket) costs £7.00 for Zones 1-6, £5.90 for Zones 1-4 and £5.30 for Zones 1-2. Unless you want to venture outside of central London then the Zones 1-2 travelcard is sufficient for most sightseeing venues.
The only reason I thought about purchasing a Travelcard for Zones 1-6 is because I thought that Gatwick Airport was within Zone 6, but I suppose I was mistaken.

To reiterate: if I purchase the Travelcard at Gatwick Airport for either £10.00 or £11.50 for one day, I do not need to purchase any other travel options because that includes unlimited travel within London as well, correct? Do zones apply here?
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Old Nov 19, 2008, 10:25 pm
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Originally Posted by Canarsie
To reiterate: if I purchase the Travelcard at Gatwick Airport for either 10.00 or 11.50 for one day, I do not need to purchase any other travel options because that includes unlimited travel within London as well, correct? Do zones apply here?
Heathrow is in Zone 6, Gatwick is outside of London. (Its in the county of Sussex I think) but the rail staff at the airport will sell you a combined single ticket that covers travel once into the boundary and then anywhere within it for that day and until 4am the next day for GBP 10 or 11.50 depending on which of the two train companies from Gatwick you request. Just ask for a ticket to London with the travelcard option.

To repeat what other posters have stated, unless you are a wheelchair user, are transporting a lot of parcels or packages or have particular obscure destinations in mind it isn't useful to have a car. All of the major tourist destinations are easily reached by public transport - and most locals will happily give you advice and directions if you ask.

[one data point when costing transport options - even with the plunge in the value of the pound recently and the fall in petrol prices - your comparison is something over $6 per gallon by my back of envelope calculation]
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Old Nov 19, 2008, 11:59 pm
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Originally Posted by Canarsie
To reiterate: if I purchase the Travelcard at Gatwick Airport for either £10.00 or £11.50 for one day, I do not need to purchase any other travel options because that includes unlimited travel within London as well, correct? Do zones apply here?
Correct. As stewardo says a one-day travelcard purchased at LGW will include a round-trip from the Airport to Boundary Zone 6. From there you have unlimited travel all day within Zones 1-6. There are no time restrictions at weekends so you can travel before 9.30am.
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Old Nov 20, 2008, 12:23 am
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Don't neglect the best way of getting round much of Central London - on foot! It's a surprisingly walkable city, even if the locals often ignore this fact. Just remember that the Tube map does not represent distances.

Any idea what you're planning on visiting North and West of London? Much of it is commuter belt, but there are some obscure attractions in there, as well as the nore obvious (Windsor, Cambridge et al). However, note that some of these can be as bad to park in as London itself, so you'd be better off by train, if you're not headed into the country (says someone who lives 45 miles north of London and hasn't owned a car for nearly a decade...)
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Old Nov 20, 2008, 1:49 am
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Originally Posted by stut
Don't neglect the best way of getting round much of Central London - on foot! It's a surprisingly walkable city, even if the locals often ignore this fact. Just remember that the Tube map does not represent distances.

Any idea what you're planning on visiting North and West of London? Much of it is commuter belt, but there are some obscure attractions in there, as well as the nore obvious (Windsor, Cambridge et al). However, note that some of these can be as bad to park in as London itself, so you'd be better off by train, if you're not headed into the country (says someone who lives 45 miles north of London and hasn't owned a car for nearly a decade...)
I definitely plan on walking, although the weather is expected to be a bit chilly on Saturday, with perhaps a chance of rain on Sunday.

As for what is north and west of London, I was hoping somebody here could tell me, actually. I understand the countryside is rather scenic, and I was wondering where are the best places to take in the natural beauty of England and perhaps Wales for two or three days...
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Old Nov 20, 2008, 3:10 am
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Originally Posted by Canarsie
I definitely plan on walking, although the weather is expected to be a bit chilly on Saturday, with perhaps a chance of rain on Sunday.

As for what is north and west of London, I was hoping somebody here could tell me, actually. I understand the countryside is rather scenic, and I was wondering where are the best places to take in the natural beauty of England and perhaps Wales for two or three days...
Wales is a bit of a trot. The easiest way by train, I would imagine, is to take a train from Euston to Oxenholme in the Lake District, which is the hilliest and arguably most pictuesque part. At Oxenholme station there used to be (still is, hopefully!) a Sixt car rental site where you can pick up a car. It should also be pretty easy to get buses into Windermere etc from there.

Whilst the Lake District is quite a long way away, because of the express trains it is actually a faster trip than some places within 70-80 miles of London. Make sure you book train tickets in advance though through the Virgin Trains website.
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Old Nov 20, 2008, 3:43 am
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Originally Posted by Canarsie
I definitely plan on walking, although the weather is expected to be a bit chilly on Saturday, with perhaps a chance of rain on Sunday.

As for what is north and west of London, I was hoping somebody here could tell me, actually. I understand the countryside is rather scenic, and I was wondering where are the best places to take in the natural beauty of England and perhaps Wales for two or three days...
Despite what people say driving and parking in London on a Sunday is easy. You just need to know where to park
I as a general rule only visit London in the evenings or Sunday because I can take my car and park for free. I've NEVER had a problem.
However as a tourist, I would recommend the tube. If you don't know London Streets like a cabbie you will struggle getting around by car.

As for visiting North or West of London I would recommend the Cotswolds.
http://www.cotswolds.com/site/home
Picture perfect countryside England with it's choclate box cottages and villages. Not too far from London and at this time of year I would say it's not that busy.
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