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A guide to driving in the UK

A break in the UK could be infinitely enhanced by driving your way around the sights you wish to see. Scottish mountains and lochs, Welsh rugged cliffs and beaches, beautiful English countryside, Northern Ireland and its dramatic landscapes — the UK is a sight for the senses, and a road trip is the best way to truly appreciate the differences between regions.

Of course, this all raises the issue of driving on a foreign license, learning new regulations and making sure you stay within a law that may be different to that in your own country.

Driving license/documents

To legally drive in the UK, you must carry your driving license at all times, and it is possible to drive within the UK with a driving license issued in another country for up to 12 months duration. You can also get an International Driving Permit (IDP) from your home country. The license should carry your photograph, in case it doesn't you should carry your passport to back it up.

Age restrictions

To drive in the UK, you must be over 17 years of age and the holder of a valid driving licence, issued either in the UK or another country.

The driving law

  • Drive on the left hand side of the road
  • Electronic devices like mobile phones should not be used
  • Everyone in the car must be wearing a seatbelt
  • Give way to other cars on the right hand side of the road
  • During poor visibility, always use dipped headlights
  • Always give priority to emergency services vehicles
  • During restricted hours, don't drive in bus lanes
  • Always use indicator while turning
  • Always carry license while driving
  • Children should always be in the rear car-seat

Speed Limits

Roads within the UK are governed by the National Speed Limit, and this should be adhered to at all times. The normal speed limits on UK roads are as follows:

  • 112 km/h (70 mph) on divided highways
  • 96 km/h (60 mph) on undivided highways
  • 48 km/h (30 mph) on built up areas

Speed cameras are in operation throughout the country and fines are handed out readily for those who overspeed.

Drunk Driving

While there is a legal limit of Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) measured at 0.08mg/100ml, how you process alcohol varies from person to person, and it’s just not worth the risk. Police can stop you and ask you to take a breath test if they suspect you’re over the limit. And if you are, you can expect a hefty fine or a ban as the lightest punishment, and in case of a serious criminal offence, you could also be sent to prison. In short, don’t do it.


There are plentiful pay and display car parks, or pay on exit multi-storey car parks up and down the country. However, if you’re parking on the road, be sure to note any markings, such as double yellows, which mean parking is prohibited or you could risk a parking fine ticket.

Edinburgh Driving Guide - SPEND LESS, DO MORE

Edinburgh bustles. This is partly due to its high proportion of young adults in their twenties. It is a center of education, known for its excellence in higher learning, in subjects such as law, medicine, engineering and the sciences. As the second most popular tourist destination in the UK, visitors flock to experience the Royal Mile, a thoroughfare (measuring one Scots mile) in the Old Town of Edinburgh, it contains the Edinburgh Castle and the Holyrod Palace. But don’t underestimate the number of those who visit Edinburgh to experience a traditional Scottish pub.

If you are a fan of art, theatre, live performance and public interventions, then you may have already booked your ticket over August to stay during The Edinburgh Festival, or The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world.

Remember, if the throngs of crowds attracted to The Edinburgh Festival and Fringe get too much for you, just outside the city you’ll find that there are many roads that lead you to endless natural surroundings.

Edinburgh to Kirriemuir, Angus:

1 hour 38 to Kirriemuir, Angus (97.1 miles) (156kms)

If it’s the great outdoors that you’re looking for, then you’ll find it along the road to the lovely town of Kirriemuir in Angus, where you’ll cross a sea loch via a ferry, for part of the way you’ll travel along the picturesque River Tay and you’ll generally be surrounded by the green open fields and hills that Scotland is known for.

Kirriemuir is home to JM Barrie, and there is a museum dedicated to him as well as sculptures of Peter Pan. An excellent camping site lies just 7 miles away in Loch of Lintrathen, where you’ll be surrounded by spectacular surroundings.

Edinburgh to St Andrews, Fife:

1 hour 20 to St Andrews, Fife (47.5 miles) (75kms)

It is near impossible to go for an outing beyond Edinburgh without enjoying a beautiful drive and the East Neuk to St Andrews, which passes through a number of quaint fishing villages, is no exception. If you are going to have a pit stop, make it a leisurely one and sample some fresh fish. There is also likely to be something deep fried, in Scotland they delight in deep frying their food, you may even stumble on deep fried Mars bars.

St Andrews is the home to golf and also where Prince William studied and it’s well worth a walk amongst the ruins of its cathedral and castle. If you’re up for dipping into the Scottish sea, or more realistically, a walk along the beach, one of the best beaches in the region lines the coast of St Andrews.

Have we enticed you to stay in Edinburgh or the surrounds? On our Cheaperthanhotels website we list a number of accommodations that won’t break the bank and are ideal, whether you’re travelling alone or with a troupe of travelling companions.

You probably took a long time to save your cash for this trip, why waste it on expensive accommodation when you can channel that money into memorable experiences, such as the activities you choose to do?

We feel that it in order to experience a location, it is best to travel beyond the city limits and take in the sites, the activities and the locals, to really get a feel for the place you’ve chosen to visit. The most convenient form of transportation is always by car, as you can decide where you want to go and when you want to go, at your own leisure. We have a large selection of cars at Cheaperthancars which are equally as affordable as our accommodation, check them out on our website to find the perfect vehicle to suit your travelling style.

Your Cheaperthancars Team

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