With car rental, England, with its fascinating history and multitude of attractions, can be a brilliant place to visit...
If you are travelling to England you are destined for a whole host of wonderful adventures. The largest of the nations in the UK and Ireland, it features some world-famous areas of outstanding natural beauty. During your trip to England, car hire is essential to take you along the extensive motorway and trunk road network as you visit the destinations on your route.
From the Lake District to the Cotswolds, England is packed with national parks and beauty spots such as the West Country, the South Downs, the Peak District and the picture-perfect Northumbrian Coast. So take in the gorgeous scenery, enjoy some country rambles and rural walks and savour the sights and sounds of the English countryside.
But before you do, don’t forget to visit the buzzing capital, London. Car hire in England is available from all of the major airports, so you can take to the roads straight away if you wish.
Whether you land at London Heathrow (LHR) or London Gatwick (LGW) you can pick up your vehicle and be in central London in no time. There are hundreds of sights to see, including Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London and Nelson's Column.
Wander around the Natural History Museum, indulge your artistic side at the National Gallery or the Tate Modern and get a bird's eye view of the city from the Shard. There are a myriad of restaurants, bars, cafes and eateries in London, so whether you are looking for Michelin-starred cuisine or a bite to eat overlooking the Thames, you will find something to suit your taste.
Pre-book car hire and you can collect your vehicle from an airport location or one of many downtown car-rental offices across the country. Booking in advance also means that you are likely to find the cheapest deals.
To find the best price on car hire in England, use TravelSupermarket's search tool.
Make your car journey hassle-free by following our top tips for driving in England…
Driving a hire car in England is straightforward; the road network is good, major destinations are well sign-posted, and drivers are, overall, safe and courteous.
Hiring a car in England is also a doddle. You’ll need an in-date driving licence from your home country. If this is not in English, you might need to apply for an international driving licence in order to rent a car in England.
Book in advance to find the best rates, as walk-up rates are usually significantly higher. Booking online in advance also means that you can secure the car class that best suits your needs.
Bring the credit card you book with; some rental companies will want to see this card in order to release the vehicle to you.
Check the rental details carefully. Do you have unlimited mileage? Will you need to pay extra for an additional driver? What is the fuel policy? Is the included insurance good enough? You might be asked to pay for premium insurance when you get to the car-hire desk. These policies can be expensive, sometimes as much or more than the cost of the car hire itself. You can refuse this extra insurance, although you will then be liable for a big bill if you are involved in an accident. Instead, consider booking a standalone policy that protects you against high car-hire excess charges. These policies cost from just a couple of pounds a day and can net you big savings compared to the cost of the car-hire company’s own insurance offering.
Hiring child car seats and sat navs can be expensive; can you bring your own? Many airlines permit free carriage of one or two items of baby equipment and free or cheap updates to your own sat nav can provide coverage for your trip to England.
Check for damage on the car before you drive away and report anything that hasn’t already been pointed out to you to ensure that you aren’t held liable.
Driving is on the left. The maximum speed on motorways is 70mph, unless otherwise stated, while 30mph is the top speed in many built-up areas. Mobile and fixed cameras are used to catch speeding motorists so do obey the speed limitations.
Keep plenty of coins on hand for parking and tolls. Some car parks allow payment by card, notes or mobile phone, but many machines only accept coins.
If driving in central London at peak times, beware of the congestion charge in the central zone. This is well sign-posted. Though the daily cost is hefty, the Penalty Charge Notice – sent to the car-hire company if you fail to pay – will cost you even more. Pay in advance on the Transport for London website.
Head in any direction and the visitor attractions just stack up before you. North, east, south or west, England’s beauty will astound you...
If you fancy taking the tourist trail, why not pay a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare? This picturesque town is a popular destination for lovers of the brilliant playwright, who can take a trip to his former home and enjoy taking in a play at one of the town's theatres, often featuring world-class actors.
The city of Birmingham is another firm favourite thanks to its eclectic blend of shops, architecture and contemporary culture. Known as the second city of England, its place at the heart of the country makes it accessible and easy to find. If you are flying in then you'll land at Birmingham Airport (BHX), which is just on the outskirts of the city. Take in a concert at the National Indoor Arena, visit an exhibition at the National Exhibition Centre, wander around the shops at the Bullring and enjoy a visit to the famous jewellery quarter, which features a massive range of shops all making jewellery on the premises.
Other hot city destinations in England include Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds. To unravel the complicated tapestry of the country’s history, meanwhile, consider Canterbury, York, and Durham. Lovers of the great British seaside should hire a car to hit the sands – or pebbles – at beach destinations including Brighton, Cornwall’s Newquay, or family favourite Blackpool.
If you enjoy the countryside, you might have seen the stunning Yorkshire Dales at the start of the 2014 Tour de France. Rent a car in England and you’ll be pleased to learn the M1 motorway is a direct link from London to Yorkshire.
Rent a car in England and the open road beckons. Check out these amazing journeys to see the country in a new way…
There are some truly astonishing driving routes around this green and pleasant land. Will you travel along any of these recommended roads?
Buttertubs Pass in the Yorkshire Dales
Take an incredible journey through the Yorkshire Dales on this spectacular stretch of road when you drive from Hawes, Wensleydale, to Thwaite in Swaledale, along the famous Buttertubs Pass. Along the way, the scenery changes from valley roads flanked by sheep-dotted fields and hand-built stone walls, to steep drops and craggy outcrops. Every turn brings a new panorama framed by big skies and soaring peaks. Daring sheep will often dart across the road, so check your speed. If you want to tackle an English route that perfectly captures the raw and heart-pounding beauty of the north, this is it. Explorations of the north of England are easy when you rent a car in Leeds. You could also consider car hire in Manchester, Liverpool or Blackpool for access to North Yorkshire.
B4632, Cheltenham to Stratford-upon-Avon
Plenty of routes allow motorists to devour the intense beauty of the Cotswolds, via dreamy cottages, undulating pastures, and old-fashioned pubs in which to take a quick break. Take your leave of the regency spa town of Cheltenham and navigate along the B4632. It’s a minor road, but it traverses some of the most picturesque vistas of this area of outstanding splendour in central England. Stop at castles, fruit farms, steam railway stations and pretty villages that ooze Cotswold charm. Shakespeare’s Stratford can be your final destination, or drive on to historic Warwick, where one of England’s finest castles draws crowds. Birmingham International Airport is centrally located in England; rent a car in Birmingham and jump into the romance of the Cotswolds.
A1(M), Durham to Gateshead
It might not be the most inspiring road, but the heavenly sight of the Angel of the North off the A1 will brighten any driver’s the day. It takes just 20 minutes to reach the five-storey-high statue from Durham, which is a pleasant and historic university city. See this 200-tonne angel up close by exiting the A1 onto the A167. Collect a rental car at Durham Tees Valley International Airport or at a city-centre location for your journey to see the Angel of the North.
The Cat and Fiddle, Peak District
Named after the pub along the route, this tricky but rewarding road offers magnificent views of the Peak District National Park. Officially known as the A537, linking Cheshire’s Macclesfield to Buxton in Derbyshire, hairpin bends and sheer drops riddle the route – it is not for the faint-hearted. Swallow those gulps, take your time, and drink in some of the most dramatic scenery in all of England. Hire a car at Manchester Airport to journey into the glorious landscapes and charming villages of the Peak District.
B3306, St Ives to Land’s End in Cornwall
This coastal route snakes along the northern shoreline of Cornwall, from St Ives, where beach chic, surfing and art mingle alongside the sea, to Land’s End, the most westerly point of England. There are other routes that take less time (and less concentration, as this route twists and turns through the countryside), but none highlight the history of this fascinating county quite like this road. The ruins of tin mines cast shadows on the route, striking out from the patchwork of moorland and rock that feels unique to this part of Cornwall. Complete your trip to Land’s End on the A30 to feel the bracing Atlantic breeze. Collect car hire at locations in Cornwall, including Newquay Airport, or at Exeter Airport in neighbouring Devon or Bristol Airport, which is 3.5 hours by road from Land’s End.