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Cheap car hire in the UK | Deals and driving tips for Australians

Make the most of your time in the UK by hiring a car for as little as $19 a day.


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Road tripping in the UK is almost too easy. You could drive from the southernmost tip at Land's End to the northernmost tip in John O'Groats in just 15 hours. Plus, if you compare cars you can get rates as low as $19 per day which makes it not only easy, but affordable.

The island is a springboard to the continent and getting to France is easy when you use the Eurotunnel. Here are a few top tips to hiring a car in the UK, including advice on budgets and the rules of the road.

Compare hire cars and prices in UK

We've sussed out how much you can expect to pay for car hire. Our figures are based on a quote from our engine for a rental car from Hobart for 5 days, booked a month in advance for a driver aged 30+.

Small, economy car

  • Car: Hyundai i10
  • Seats: Four
  • Luggage: One large bag, one small bag
  • Rental company: Hertz
  • Cost: $130.67 for 7 days or $18.67 per day

Medium car

  • Car: Vauxhall Astra
  • Seats: Five
  • Luggage: One large bag, one small bag
  • Rental company: Hertz
  • Cost: $152.38 for 7 days or $21.77 per day

Large car

  • Car: Kia Optima
  • Seats: Five
  • Luggage: One large bag, one small bag
  • Rental company: Hertz
  • Cost: $238.27 for 7 days or $34.04 per day

Estate car

  • Car: Honda CR-V
  • Seats: Five
  • Luggage: Three large bags
  • Rental company: Alamo
  • Cost: $342.96 for 7 days or $48.99 per day

Prices mentioned above were retrieved on 28 October 2018 and change constantly. Get the latest prices for your car hire today.

Who offers long term car hire in the UK?

What are some of the major car hire companies in the UK?

Car hire locations in UK

Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Thrifty have cars available for hire throughout the UK including the following locations:

  • London Heathrow Airport
  • London Gatwick Airport
  • London City Airport
  • Manchester Airport
  • Glasgow Airport
  • London Pancras Station
  • Euston Station
  • Paddington Station
  • Manchester Piccadilly Station

Tips for driving in the UK

  • Car types: In the UK the most commonly driven vehicles are manual as opposed to automatic transmission. When hiring a car in the UK, you'll find that it's much cheaper to opt for one with manual transmission.
  • Congestion charges apply when driving in London: The cost runs at £11.50 per day and applies when driving during specific peak areas (predominantly Zone 1) on Monday to Friday between 7am and 6pm. Full details of the congestion charge area may be found here.
  • Watch your speed limit: In the UK, speed is measured in miles per hour. Primary routes that aren't motorways are given the prefix "A" in the national classification system. When on an A road or motorway, the speed will be displayed on a national speed limit sign. This is a white circle with a black outline and single diagonal black line across the diameter. On single lane A roads, the limit is 60mph. On dual carriageways (two lanes) and motorways, the limit is 70mph unless otherwise indicated. As a standard, speed limits are generally 30mph in urban areas, 70mph on motorways and 60mph in rural areas.
  • Drive on the left side of the road: Similar to Australia the UK drives on the left side of the road.

Car hire FAQ

  • Can I hire a car in the UK with an Australian licence? Yes, Australia is one of the UK's designated countries. If you hold a valid Australian driver's licence you can drive on UK roads. However, if you intend to drive through Europe as well, you'll need to obtain an International Driving Permit.
  • Do I need an international driver's licence to drive in the UK? No, Australia is one of the UK's designated countries. If you hold a valid Australian driver's licence you can drive on UK roads. However, if you intend to drive through Europe as well, you'll need to obtain an International Driving Permit.
  • Can I hire a car in the UK if I'm under 25? Yes. Anyone over 21 can hire a car in the UK however if you are under 25 years old you'll most likely have to pay a Young Drive surcharge.
  • Can I take a hire car from the UK to Ireland? Many car hire companies let you travel to Ireland via ferry with your car, though fees and conditions apply. These are based on extra insurance and roadside assistance cover and vary between £50 ($84) plus VAT for short periods and £150 plus VAT ($252) for longer rentals. Another important consideration is that most rental companies don't cover cars while they're on a ferry, meaning you'll be liable for any damages incurred between the UK and Ireland. In Ireland people also drive on the left side of the road. There are a number of toll roads in the Republic of Ireland and plenty of narrow country lanes so be sure to check for oncoming traffic.
  • Can you take a hire car from the UK to France? Some car hire companies, including Budget and Avis, allow transcontinental travel. Some may offer continental cover where renters receive a green card to drive the vehicle around Europe, proving they have appropriate third party liability insurance. If you travel into Europe you'll need to switch to driving on the right.
  • I'm on a provisional licence. Can I drive in the UK? Unfortunately, no provisional non-UK residents are permitted to drive on the roads in the UK.
  • How does car insurance work? Car rental excess insurance can reduce the excess payable to a more reasonable amount if you need to make a claim or can eradicate the excess fee completely. Most car hire companies offer you insurance though you might not need it as travel insurance policies purchased from Australia can include this as well. Browse your options to see what you can be covered for and for what price, here.

4 popular driving routes in UK

The Central Lakes (Windermere to Windermere circular)

  • How long is the drive? 60km, round trip
  • How long do I need? Two days to fit in all the stops
  • Must-sees along the way: Windermere, Ambleside, Grasmere

The roads on this looped route from Windermere to Windermere via Storrs Hall wind through villages and countryside. Factor in time to visit Wordsworth House near Grasmere and to sample Grasmere's one-of-a-kind gingerbread. Refuel in one of the region's olde-worlde pubs. Be aware that this route can get pretty busy at peak times.

The Northumberland Coast (Newcastle upon Tyne to Berwick-upon-Tweed)

  • How long is the drive? 100km
  • How long do I need? Three days to allow for sightseeing
  • Must-sees along the way: Newcastle upon Tyne, Alnwick, Bamburgh Castle, Berwick-upon-Tweed.

The roads are top-notch along this route that ambles past the Northumberland Coast Area of Natural Beauty. Don't be too hasty to leave Newcastle upon Tyne for the rest of the drive.

You could easily spend a day visiting the city's world-class art galleries and other museums.

Black Mountain road, Wales

  • How long is the drive? 140km, round trip from Swansea
  • How long do I need? Half a day with stops
  • Must-sees along the way: Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, Brynamman, Black Mountain Range.

The road consists of many twists and turns, dipping and climbing through the mesmerisingly memorable Brecon Beacons National Park.

It's best done in summer because ice or snow can make the road treacherous to drive. You can do it in a day, but the route is dotted with a few cosy B&Bs if you want to elongate your escape to the country.

London to Paris (Kings Cross to Paris CBD)

  • How long is the drive? 493km
  • How long do I need? One to two days
  • Must-sees along the way: Amiens, Paris

Burrow through the Eurotunnel between Folkestone and Calais and drive onwards to Paris.

Make sure you take a pit-stop in Amiens, preferably overnight if you have time. The city's 13th century cathedral is a World Heritage Site and the macarons are something to write home about.

Car hire deals in UK

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