When you touchdown at Gatwick airport you'll find not only the bustling streets of London, but the traditional towns and classic countryside of England’s south just a short drive away.
Why hire a car at Gatwick airport?
With more than 30 million passengers travelling through Gatwick every year, the ticket halls and shuttle trains are busy to say the least. Unless you want to pay through the nose for a cramped ride in a commuter's armpit, you'll want to hire a car. Having your own mode of transport will also come in handy if you want to travel further afield than London.
That all-important first mile:
driving out of Gatwick airport?
Gatwick airport is situated just under 30 miles south of London - hop on the M23 motorway at junction nine and follow signs, or head for the M25 to be connected with the rest of southern England. Be calm, confident and aware of your surroundings, and the drive into London will be a breeze.
You can find the car hire desks near the entrances of the North and South Terminals. If you have booked in advance, you can pick your car up from the lower forecourt road of both terminals.
From Hamleys to Harrods, Gatwick boasts the great and the good of London retailers. When it comes to cutting-edge fashion, All Saints will help you look like a local, at reasonable prices.
London life can be expensive, so it's just as well there are plenty of ATMs at the airport! You can find cashpoints in the arrivals and departures halls, and at either side of security, in both terminals.
With legendary culinary critic Egon Ronay and his team inspecting the airport every month, Gatwick has high gastronomic standards. For a luxury dinner, visit the Caviar House & Prunier after security for fine, freshly prepared seafood. For something a little simpler, visit Garfunkel’s. Established in London over 30 years ago, this restaurant serves up hearty, tasty food to suit any budget.
A range of eateries are scattered throughout the departure lounges in both terminals, but the distance between gates can be quite a stretch. It's best to head to your designated departure spot before tucking into your lunch.
We compare prices from leading suppliers
Contrary to children's fairytales, the streets of London aren't paved with gold but with heavyweight historical landmarks, show-stopping theatre and more gastronomic treats than any Parisian boulevard. The capital has enough arty and cultural opportunities to satisfy the fussiest of cats in boots.
Undulating cliffs, river valleys, rolling hills and sleepy villages - the South Downs are the perfect getaway for anyone who enjoys the great outdoors or the cosy indoors of quaint British pubs.
Set in 16 hectares of stunning gardens, surrounded by an 11th Century dry moat and boasting nearly 1,000 years of history, Arundel Castle makes for a fascinating day trip. Inside you’ll find armoury, priceless art and intricate tapestries among the classic rooms of this impressive British fortress.
Brighton has been synonymous with the hip and trendy since the Mods and Rockers flocked here during the swinging sixties. The costumes might now be a little chic and the fringes less severe, but Brighton remains a haven for liberal thinkers and creative types eager to party along the amusement-packed promenade, check out the unique shops of The Lanes and stroll along the pebble beach.
This magnificent London Museum is home to more than 70 million specimens from the natural world. Children aged 2-92 will be entertained while learning something new among the interactive exhibitions.
Parking is available at any of the three NCP car parks located within a ten minute walk.
Cruise along the Thames, England’s longest river, for a totally different view of the country’s capital. Along the bank of this famous tributary lie some of London’s greatest landmarks, including Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, the Docklands and Canary Wharf. Tours are available from the Westminster, Greenwich, London Eye or Tower Piers.
Parking is available in NCP car parks, located within walking distance of any pier.
Greenwich is home to the Prime Meridian, the official line where the eastern hemisphere meets the west, and by which all the world’s clocks are set. The scientific and architectural accomplishments of this old English city have earned its recognition as a World Heritage Site.
Street parking is available throughout Greenwich but keep some change handy, like most things in London, it isn’t free.
If you need reviving after a long flight, make the first journey in your hire car a short one. Just 20 minutes from the airport is Whyteleafe, a town where you can get out of the driving seat and into a giant inflatable ball before hurtling 160m downhill. Better known as Zorbing, this activity will sort jetlag in an instant.
Free parking is available onsite.
Step back in time with a visit to this 13th Century Tudor castle and its grounds. Once home to the wives of Henry VIII, the house, boating lake and gardens of this Royal manor spread themselves across 125 acres of England’s finest countryside.
Free parking is available onsite
The world famous white cliffs of Dover sit along the coast in Kent, a county known as 'The Garden of England’. Take the four mile wildlife walk along the coastal paths to spot birds and insects, or look-out at one of the many ships and ferries that cross the English Channel between Dover and France every day.
From the airport, follow the M23 motorway north. Take the M25 motorway towards Dover and follow the signs from there.
This attractive town came into existence when people came to drink from, and wash in the Chalybeate, a mineral spring thought to have healing properties. Other sources of drinking water are now available, as are teas and coffees in one of the many cafes. Take a seat, sip some tea, eat some cake or go for a stroll along the quaint streets and avenues.
Follow signs for the M3 motorway on exit from the airport. Then take the M23 south until the exit for A264 to East Grinstead is signposted. Follow this road all the way to Royal Tunbridge.
Hiring a car from Gatwick, means being able to escape the excitement of the city. Take a day or two to explore the South Downs National Park; recognised as an area of outstanding natural beauty, the cliffs, hills, forests and towns here offer refreshing country pubs or scenic views at almost every bend in the road.
Leave the airport and follow signs for the M23 motorway. Take the A23 south until the view becomes green and lovely and you’ve arrived. From there, the best thing to do is get lost and let the road take you away.
No tour of the British Isles is complete without a visit to the seaside. Herne bay prides itself on being a traditional English spot, so expect candyfloss, cafes and fish and chips. Treat yourself to an ice-cream and a stroll along the pier but be on guard, the seagulls in Herne love a bit of strawberry or vanilla and aren’t shy of trying to get a lick.
Leave the airport and head north on the M23 motorway towards London. Join the M25 motorway towards Dartford, then the M26 for Maidstone, and finally follow the M2 all the way to Herne Bay. The journey should take no more than 1.5 hours.