Parking in London is not easy, even for local residents. It can be expensive and on top of parking charges, you need to pay the Congestion Charge; a fee to drive in central London during weekdays. If you can travel to London without your car then do. It will save a lot of problems.
Very few budget hotels in central London have car parks and even if you stay outside the centre, don’t assume you’ll be able to park for free. If you need parking, always check your hotel or apartment has a place to park before booking.
On-street parking in London
Many streets in London are Controlled Parking Zones (CPZ); areas reserved for residents who pay an annual fee to park in front of their own homes. Other streets are marked with double yellow lines where you can’t park at all at any time.
Non-residents are able to park in Controlled Parking Zones at certain times of the day, but the timings vary and will rarely be more than 4 hours at a time during the day Monday to Friday (if at all). There are no restrictions in the evening, between 6.30pm and 8.30am.
On Saturday some areas allow free parking, in other areas it’s after either from 1.30pm or 6.30pm. You can generally park for free all day Sunday. This is a general guide — check the CPZ signs by the side of the road before you park.
There are residential streets in outer London that have no parking restrictions at all. A useful free iphone app, AppyParking, helps you find London streets with free parking. It also provides information on the exact time restrictions of Controlled Parking Zones.
Pay-and-display & parking meters
Some parking areas are available to non-residents. You pay at a roadside machine or parking meter. Avoid them if you’re on a budget — they’re expensive. Like the Controlled Parking Zones, it’s free to park in these areas after 1.30pm or 6.30pm on Saturdays and all day Sunday.
park-up.com gives details of pay-and-display parking.
Traffic wardens & parking fines
Wherever you park, pay very close attention to the signs indicating when you’re allowed to park. If you’re late returning to your car there could be an £80–£120 fine. If you park illegally, you risk having your car towed away AND a £250 fee to retrieve it. Call the TRACE service on 0207 747 7474 if your car is missing.
Tube station car parks
Some of the best places to park are at underground station car parks outside central London (zone 1). The car parks are usually cheaper than privately run car parks and as you’re next to a tube station, it’s easy to continue your journey into central London. You’ll also avoid paying the Congestion Charge.
How to find a tube station car park
NCP manage these car parks on behalf of Transport for London. You can search the NCP website for car parks in a particular area. Tube station car parks are marked (LUL). There’s also a useful search option where you can see if there’s a cheaper car park in the area.
They cost around £5–6 per day Monday–Friday, £2 per day on Saturday and £1.50 on Sunday. Hatton Cross and Greenwich North stations cost around £11.
It’s possible to find free parking on the streets in outer London at the weekend, but the tube station car parks are secure.
Private & council car parks
Some council-managed car parks are cheaper than private car parks. See the central London Councils’ websites for more detailed information about parking in their areas.
- City of London council car parks (for the City of London area)
- Camden council car parks (for Bloomsbury, Kings Cross and Euston)
- Kensington & Chelsea council car parks (for Kensington, Chelsea and Earl’s Court)
- Southwark council car parks (for the South Bank area)
All the car parks in the borough of Westminster, which covers the very centre of London (the West End, Victoria, Mayfair, Paddington and Westminster) are privately managed.
Private car parks
Park in someone’s drive
An even cheaper alternative to a car park is to park your car in someone’s drive or garage – with their permission of course. The JustPark website lets homeowners advertise their spare parking spaces. Highly recommended.
Last updated: 12 February 2015