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Basic info and car hire in United Kingdom

  • Capital: London
  • Population: 53,012,456 (2011)
  • Official languages: English (Cornish is recognized regional language)
  • Currency: Pound sterling (GBP)
  • Weather: 16-21 °C in July and August, 3-6 °C. The average of rainfall is 800 mm in the central and southern England and around 1,600 mm in the North. Heavy rain and showers are typical for fall and winter, but summers can be warm and sunny with only occasional rain.

About United Kingdom

Not many countries offer so much as England. Near continental Europe, but still separated from it lies England, the unique country famous for its special and daft humour. Tea is served at five, but otherwise you have a complete freedom to get as much time you need to discover England and its culture, history and scenery. Other parts of England are extremely different from multicultural and vibrant London and surprise with rich diversity.

Driving in United Kingdom

  • Suitable for tourists: Tolerant and forgiving English drivers make driving in England a pleasant experience. You can take your time and never feel rushed. Do not forget to drive on the left side!
  • Problematic areas: Most rural roads are narrow. Farm roads are often wide enough for only one car, but this should not be really a problem due to the frequent passing places.
  • Age limits: 17 for provisional licence and 21 for a full licence
  • International Driving Permit: Usually only a valid driver’s license from your own country is necessary. With a learner’s or provisional licence issued abroad, it is not possible to drive or rent a car in the UK.
  • Additional papers: Passport, valid insurance policy and registration certificate or vehicle rental agreement.
  • Additional requirements: A warning triangle, first-aid kit, a reflective jacket and fire extinguisher are not compulsory, but highly recommended. A warning triangle must not be used on a motorway! If your vehicle breaks down, warn others by using hazard-warning lights.
  • Pssssst: Using a car horn in built-up areas from 23:30 to 7:00 is forbidden.
  • Children in the car: Children under 12 or less than 135 cm tall must use suitable child car seat.
  • Drink & drive: 50 mg per 100 ml of blood and 35 mcg per 100 ml of breath (The penalties for refusing to provide a specimen for alcohol testing are the same as for actual drunk driving!)
  • Driving side of the road: left
  • Lights: Using headlights is a must at night (except on a road with street lighting) and when there is reduced visibility.
  • General speed limits: 110 (70 mph) on motorways and dual carriageways, 95 (60 mph) on national roads and single carriageways and 50 (30 mph) in built up areas (Be aware of many automatic speed cameras that recognize your number plate!)
  • Parking suggestions: Complicated parking system and expensive fines. Red and yellow lines signal where parking is restricted. The alternative of on-street parking with pay&display system are car parks.
  • Congestion Charge: If you want to drive in central London Monday-Friday from 7:00 to 18:00, you will have to pay a daily charge.

Useful traveling tips

  • Some places you should not miss: The greatest city of England is absolutely London and it is impossible to explore everything that it has to offer. The most wonderful cathedral with magnificent castle can be found in Durham, near seaside resort of Newcastle in the North. Between London and Newcastle, there is a diversity of regions with bigger and smaller cities, romantic country site and unique scenery. Do not miss to visit at least one of English National Parks and see the beautiful and tiny Isles of Scilly near Cornwall on your own eyes.
  • Best time to visit: Weather is the most stable in August, but the famous tourist attractions will be crowded in this part of the year. July or early September is a better option.
  • How to save money? Museums and other cultural institutions often offers fresh meals for affordable price. Purchase a Great British Heritage Pass that will give you an opportunity to visit museums, castles and other sites for cheaper price.
  • How to save time? Book your accommodation, rent a car and tickets before you leave. Visit popular tourist spots early to avoid long waiting times.
  • Electrical devices: Electric voltage in England is 240 V and not 120 or 220 as it is common in North America or Europe, so for all your electrical devices you will need a special plug for the wall.
  • Keep your tank full: There is not many petrol stations and they can be especially in rural areas quite far away from each other.
  • Emergency number: 999 for police or ambulance
  • You will need a lot of change: Parking without having enough change in England is almost impossible.
  • Credit cards: Local stores and most Bed and Breakfasts do not take credit cards and it is sometimes hard to find or an ATM in the countryside, so it is wise to get some British money before you leave home or in exchange bureaus in bigger cities before heading to the country.

Time travel in the extraordinary country of England

Rich history of England begins around 5 thousands years ago in Stonehenge, followed by many centuries of amazing castles, King Arthur and other heroes of the past that can be find almost in every corner of the country. London is not only urban and modern city, but has also great historic sites and attractions that cannot be find anywhere else in the World. The city centre can be easily discovered by public transport, but otherwise it is advisable to travel in England with a rental car and get from your journey as much as possible.