About London City Airport (LCY)
Address: London City Airport King George V Dock, Silvertown, London, E16 2px
London City Airport (LCY) may be the fifth busiest airport in Greater London; however, it’s easily the most convenient airport in the metropolis, approximately 6 miles (10 km) from the Square Mile and Covent Garden. Heathrow (17 miles /27 km) and Gatwick (29 miles /47 km) are traffic light years further way. The standard lineup of major airport car rental purveyors — Avis, Hertz, Eurpocar, National — can be found in the Car Rental Center, just a short walk from the terminal.
London City’s “sneak attack” vibe meshes well with a car hire mindset, for those of you bold enough to venture behind the wheel in Greater London. (LCY)’s brilliant location just on the edge of the inner ring of the M25 orbital motorway system gives you direct access to Canary Wharf (4 mi / 7 km), or head in the other direction for Southend-by-the-Sea (46 mi / 70km), or jet up north to Cambridge (54 mi / 82 km) without getting sucked into the chaos of “Britian’s largest car park” on the M25.
Choosing your car
Greater London is a massive and sprawling metropolis with an endless selection of must-see attractions. Thus, choosing your car will be dictated by your agenda. Fortunately, you have a plethora of options at (LCY). A Chevrolet compact is ideal for hardcore city driving. For extended road trips, a spacious full-sized BMW carries 5 passengers and their luggage. With a group of travel companions, you’ll want a 7-9 seater minivan from Nissan, Volkswagen or Mercedes. And for all-purpose urban navigation, rent a Ford SUV.
Tips and advice
In order to dissuade people from driving in central London, the city has imposed a Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ), generally in bounds of the London Inner Ring Road, the Financial District, and the West End. Your airport car rental agent should bring this up during the paperwork routine.
The M25 has to be one of the most reviled motorways in the world. The best thing you can say about the M25 is at least it’s free to drive. The best tip is to plot a course on your GPS that finds ergonomic places to cross the M25 — as opposed to driving on it.
Parking rates in London, especially near the big tourist attractions, have been described as “extortionate”. And you’re taking a huge risk with street parking anywhere in The City — particularly before 6:30 PM. Another solid bit of advice is: the further from the Tower of London, the cheaper the parking. Look for a car park near a metro station such as Limehouse on the A13, and take the tube into town.
London’s speed limits are so complex and variable that the city government has published a map for driver’s reference. Generally speaking, the speed limit in central London is 20 miles per hour, except on main feeder routes, where it’s 30 mph. Further out toward the ring roads, the limits increase to 40 mph. You won’t see 50 and 60 mph until you way out on the fringes of the city — mainly on the M25.
You must be 21 or older to rent a car from (LCY), but drivers under 25 are limited to economy and compact cars.
The Chunnel is a tunnel under the English Channel that links England and France. Cars are transported on trains, rather than driving through the tunnel. You’ll need an additional insurance policy to make this journey. For example, Avis offers a Continental Cover plan. This applies to driving in Ireland as well.