With one of the world's most iconic cities just minutes away, it is no wonder London's Heathrow airport is among the busiest air terminals in the world. Pick up your hire car and discover the varied delights of the English capital and surrounding countryside. Book car hire Heathrow airport
Why hire a car at Heathrow airport?
Train, tube, coach... public transport into the centre of London is pretty speedy, but it can also be pricey, and if you want to see more of England than just the big smoke, you really need your own set of wheels.
That all-important first mile:
driving out of Heathrow airport?
Unlike the rest of Europe, the English drive on the left-hand side of the road. Heathrow is less than a mile away from the M25 - the motorway that orbits Greater London - while the city centre is accessible by the M4. Watch out for speed cameras - fines for driving above the speed limit (usually 30 miles per hour in built-up areas) can be hefty. Also, if you're driving into central London between 7am and 6pm on a weekday, you will have to pay the congestion charge.
There are five terminals at Heathrow, but whichever you arrive at, you'll find car hire desks in the arrivals hall. Just follow the signs or ask one of the helpful members of staff.
If your wardrobe needs updating, pop into the Burberry store and pick up designer fashion items from one of Britain's most prominent style labels. And to keep the kids amused on the flight home, the world-famous Hamleys store stocks both innovative and classic toys.
At Terminal 1, you'll find cash machines before and after security. At Terminal 2, there is a cash machine located in the main arrivals area - between the post office and bureau de change. If you're flying to Terminals 3 or 4, you'll find ATMs in the arrivals concourses, while cash dispensers can be found before and after passport control in Terminal 5.
Whether you're looking for a quick breakfast to get your day off to a flying start or want to fill up before boarding your long-haul flight, there are plenty of places to choose from. Pick up a smoothie at Giraffe Juice, grab a tasty sandwich at Eat, or - if you're flying from Terminal 5 - why not treat yourself at Gordon Ramsay's Plane Food?
Remember, many flights require you check in three hours before departure. Don't forget to check which terminal you're flying from, getting it wrong could add time to your journey.
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Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, Houses of Parliament... London is home to some of the most famous tourist attractions in the world. But there's so much more to see, from the decadent boutiques and coffee shops of the Kings Road to the trendy hangouts of Shoreditch and cultural hot spots that line the South Bank. And with plenty of parks and commons, you'll find lots of places to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
If you're looking for a fun-filled family day out, Thorpe Park is one of the best theme parks in the country. Thrill-seekers will have their appetites sated by adrenaline-pumping rides like Saw and Nemesis, while there are plenty of live shows and playgrounds to keep younger members of your party happy. And with lots of water-based rides, prepare to get wet!
If a trip to the country takes your fancy, head to the natural beauty spot that is the South Downs National Park. With breathtaking vistas, ancient woodlands and picturesque villages, it's amazing to think the South Downs are just a couple of hour's drive away from Heathrow and the buzzing English capital.
Head to the spires and steeples of the famous university city for a history-soaked day out. Having marvelled at Magdalen College's chapel and wandered past the impressive Radcliffe Camera, you can unwind with a slow punt down the River Cherwell.
No visit to London would be complete without a trip to its landmark stores. If you’d like to pick up a few of life’s luxuries and have a chance to spot celebrities, then Harrods is a must. But, if it’s fun you’re after, you’ll easily get a full day of it at Hamleys, the largest toy store in the world.
The Mayfair Car Park on Achilles Way is just a ten minute walk away from either store. Make sure the hire car is empty; because your hands won’t be when you return to it.
This is the largest open-air park in London, home to Queen Mary’s Garden which is filled with the nation’s largest rose collection. If flowers aren’t your thing, the park is also home to a boating lake and London Zoo. Allow two full days here to see and do everything and make sure you pack a picnic in the boot of your rental car.
Lomax Car park on Pratt Street is just a short walk away from the Regent’s Park entrance.
To catch a glimpse of the British monarchy, the best place to hang out is of course, Buckingham Palace. If the Royal Standard flag is raised then the Queen is in residence. Tours are available for £18, but tickets must be booked in advance and do not always guarantee entry.
The Mayfair Car Park on Achilles Way is just a ten minute walk away from the palace.
This is one of London’s most charming, interesting and famous markets. It is the largest antiques market in the UK, but is also home to trendy fashions, quirky homewares and retro goods of all shaped and sizes.
Arthur Court Car Park in Bayswater is only fifteen minutes away from the market on foot.
Covent Garden is a bright, colourful and energetic quarter made up of restaurants, bars, markets, street traders and some superb buskers and artists. This is a great place to just stroll around and soak up the London scene.
The Q-Park Chinatown car park on Newport Place is just a ten minute stroll down the road.
Just a short drive from the airport is this great family destination. Here, you’ll find Legoland, Royal Ascot Racecourse and Windsor Castle, so whether you want to play, gamble, or stroll around an elaborate country estate like a lord and lady, there’s something here to suit everyone.
Head west out of the airport on the M4 motorway and all three attractions will be signposted between exits 5 and 7.
Birthplace of William Shakespeare and home to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company, you can come here and indulge in romance, tragedy or comedy the Old English way.
Leave the airport and join the M25 Motorway north. Leave at exit 16, signposted M40 to Birmingham. Oxford, and stay on this road until ext 15. Leave there and follow the A46 all the way into Stratford.
Picking up your car hire at Heathrow doesn’t mean you have to stay in the city, that’s the beauty of being mobile. Leave the capital behind and head out to the mountainous Brecon Beacons. Here, you can horse ride, kayak, hike, walk, or swim in one of the region’s waterfalls and if none of that appeals, the beacons are worth the drive even if you never step out of the car.
Leave the airport following signs for the M4 motorway towards Newport. Stay on that road until exit 25A, then follow the A4042 all the way to the Beacons.
This is Britain’s largest gorge and makes for a great winding drive through the 450ft deep valley with craggy rock faces right on either side of the hire car windows. You could stop off at the Gough’s cave where you can meet our ancestors, or stay outside instead and go rock climbing. Whatever you do, make sure you get some cheddar cheese.
Leave the airport and follow the M4 motorway signposted to Bristol. Leave at exit 19 and join the M32 motorway, which will take you all the way to Cheddar.