Did you know?
London has about 30% more cars than New York.
For the second year running (2022 and 2023), London was crowned the King of Congestion by the INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard. Nowhere else do people spend as much unnecessary time in their cars as right here in The Big Smoke. While congestion rates compared to pre-pandemic times are up across Europe as a whole, the UK once again leads the charge with 72% of urban areas seeing more congestion. The same INRIX study puts the average number of hours each driver spent in traffic in 2022 at 156, compared to 138 in Paris and 117 in New York.
ParkingScout’s series on ‘Parking in London’ aims to help you find free or affordable and always-convenient parking to help you save time and money the next time you’re driving in London.
Parking in London Boroughs
Parking near London Airports, Hotels, and Attractions
More coming soon…
More coming soon…
Overview of London Parking Options
Due to high volumes of traffic, limited parking space, and restrictions meant to manage congestion and pollution levels such as ULEZ and Congestion Charges, drivers in London already face an uphill battle of frustration and costs.
Knowing your parking options and their prices, along with planning your route ahead of time to avoid roadworks or accidents, can be a game-changer in London. Continue reading to learn more about parking options in London.
Streetside parking in London is governed by local councils, each of which has its own rules and regulations. This means that they designate their own pay-and-display areas, residential parking bays and associated permits, and time restrictions. Typically, streetside parking becomes more difficult to find and expensive as you get closer to central London. You can look for the following types of streetside parking:
- Free parking bays: Free parking bays in London are rare. Don’t expect to find many in the central zone; however, ParkingScout will point out all the free parking spots we can find out in our location guides.
- Paid parking bays: Typically referred to as pay-and-display parking, these parking bays make up the majority of the streetside parking in London. Many of these bays offer free overnight parking after around 6:30pm (it again varies between locations) to about 8:00am, along with free parking on Sundays.
- Shared-use parking bays: These bays may be used by both permit holders and paying visitors. Be sure to check local time restrictions.
- Residential streetside parking: This refers to simply parking your can on the side of the street in a residential area and walking the last few minutes of your journey. As long as you aren’t parked in an area reserved for residents only and don’t block or impede traffic, this is perfectly legal and acceptable.
Hourly rates vary depending on the location, but are among the highest in the world in some areas. On average, you can expect to pay anything between £1.20 and £4.80 per hour in the outer boroughs, with rates going up to £10 near London Bridge.
Remember to check the maximum stay limit for any streetside parking in London. When in play, they typically range between 2 and 4 hours. Overstaying could result in a Penantly Charge Notice (PNC).
Finding car parks in London isn’t actually all that hard. A quick Google map search for “car park near me” or a specific location, will inevitably provide you with plenty of nearby options. However, since some of these car parks are privately operated while others are council- or NCP-run, pricing can be inconsistent and the unwary motorist might easily overpay for parking when there’s a cheaper alternative just around the corner. Drivers can expect to pay anywhere from around £3.50 per hour up to £12.50 per hour depending on the location, with a 24h stay likely costing you anywhere between £20 and £50. Planning your parking before setting off allows you to scope out parking options that offer good overnight and weekend rates.
National Car Parks (NCP) is the go-to option for many London drivers. While prices vary depending on location, they’re a recognised and reliable national parking organisation. In London alone, you’ll find about 100 NCP car parks dotted across the city, and near tube and rail stations. You can pre-book your parking via their website or app to guarantee your space and receive a small discount compared to on-the-day payment. Other larger parking companies that offer similar services and features as NCP include Q-Park and APCOA, and you’re likely to find them in strategic locations such as near shopping centres, train stations, and hotels.
Park & Ride
While the TfL (Transport for London) doesn’t operate any park and rides themselves, there are plenty of opportunities to cheaply and safely park your car in the outer boroughs and take the tube or a bus to central London. Considering how much cheaper and available parking is in the outer boroughs, this is an extremely good option. When you factor in savings on congestion and ULEZ charges and time not spent sitting in traffic, it becomes hard to think of reasons not to consider this option.
A final London parking option that we want to discuss is JustPark. Their solution to the parking problem is to help private individuals rent out their driveways or designated parking bays at either an hourly, daily, or monthly rate. The driveway owners can set their own prices, so as you’d expect, it varies immensely, even within a small geographic location. That being said, many people offer their driveways at rates that can’t be beaten. This can be a very good option to consider as you might find something very close to your destination at a good price, with the knowledge that your car is safely parked off-street.
Approaching Central London by Car
Unless your car is ULEZ-exempt and you’re happy to pay the congestion charge, ParkingScout recommends avoiding driving in central London whenever possible. The traffic levels and parking costs genuinely aren’t fun to deal with, plus, public transport will very likely get you to your destination faster than your car.
Depending on which direction you’re coming from, consider finding parking in these areas and taking the tube or bus to central London. For your convenience, we’ve provided options within and out of the ULEZ Zone that offer easy access to London’s rail network. All of these locations are outside of the Congestion Charge Zone. Please note that this data is correct at the time of writing; however, TfL has announced that ULEZ will expand to cover all 33 boroughs of Greater London on the 29th of August 2023.
Areas with affordable and accessible parking close to rail transport.
Inside ULEZ Zone
Outside ULEZ Zone
London’s public transport system comprises multiple types of rail transport including underground and overground trains, trams, and buses. Newer public transport initiatives include a current trial of rental e-scooters to test their long-term viability and practicality in London, and there are many competing e-bike companies operating across the city.
These last-mile options such as e-bikes or scooters open up new parking possibilities. You could, for example, drive to a hidden gem of a parking spot, grab an e-bike for a quick ride to the tube, hop on, do your business, and return the same way; all while beating someone –in time and price– sitting in traffic into and out of central London.