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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.

London Driving Guide – SPEND LESS, DO MORE

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” If you can forgive Samuel Johnson for his dated exclusion of women, then his quote still stands true for all sexes today. Big Ben sounding the hour, being surrounded by contemporary architecture and architecture that dates back to Roman times (that which wasn’t destroyed during the Blitz of World War 2), top class museums and galleries abundant, and home to some of the best pubs in the world. Not to mention that London is home to the Royal Family. London really is one of the top cities in the world to visit. There are more than enough activities to keep you occupied for a few weeks, if not a few months.

But, while London is a whirlwind of activities, don’t discount the value of hopping in your rental car and exploring the country just past London’s periphery.

London to Brighton:

2 hour 9mins to Brighton (53.1 miles) (85kms)

If you’re visiting London in the summer months, you might find that the city can become oppressively warm, unless you’re there during a ‘bad summer’, which is when the sun barely rears its head. Climb into your rental car and head directly South for two hours and you will find yourself on the beaches of Brighton, where there is a much better chance of experiencing the English sunshine.

Now it’s important to note that while Brighton people may dream white sand beaches, it is actually pebbles and the sea is a little murky at times. But that’s the fun of this hip and fashionable fun city-like beach town, where crowds gather from the short trip south.  So spend the day in the waves, soaking up the sun while munching on fish and chips (which costs the same as a beer), practically England’s national dish.

London to Oxford

1 hour 45mins to Oxford (56.5 miles) (90kms)

A day trip to Oxford is surprisingly closer that you might think. Give yourself plenty of time to walk around one of the world’s oldest and prettiest universities. Due to the fact that it is a University Town, it is better to go during the holidays, when the streets and the local pubs (especially the well known Turf Tavern) are far less busy.

Besides walking/driving around the streets, taking in the architecture complete with gargoyles that stare eerily at the passersby, and if you’re a fan of Harry Potter, you might enjoy a trip to Christ Church College where you can view the hall which was the location of Hogwarts’ Main Hall in the Harry Potter films. While you’re there, head to a particular courtyard with a particular tree which was the site where Lewis Carroll met his muse, a young girl named Alice.

What with the Pound’s exchange rate, a trip to London and the surrounds can be a little pricey, but at Cheaperthanhotels we can help you maintain a budget by offering you a range of accommodation both in London and the surrounds. We like to think that it is better to spend your cash on activities, which is where memories are made, rather than luxury accommodation where you’re likely to spend little time anyway.

The same applies to rental cars at Cheaperthancars. All you need is a simple car that will transport you and your travel companions to the travel destination you desire, rather than a luxury vehicle that is probably overpriced anyway. With our over 30,000 pickup points, you can conveniently collect your vehicle in or near your destination of choice.

Your Cheaperthancars Team

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