Parking in London is not easy, even for local residents. It can be expensive and on top of parking charges, there’s the Congestion Charge; a fee to drive in central London during weekdays, as well as the ULEZ charge if you drive an old vehicle. If you can travel to London without your car then do. It saves a lot of problems.
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 if your hotel or apartment actually 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 can 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, usually between 6.30pm and 8.30am.
On Saturday some areas allow free parking. In other areas it’s free after 1.30pm or 6.30pm. You can 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. AppyParking shows you parking regulations for every street in London making it easier to find free parking. It also has 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. Most council’s in London now only accept payments for parking online or via apps – either Ringgo or PayByPhone, depending on the council (Most council’s in central London (zone 1) use Ringgo, Kensington & Chelsea and Lambeth use PayByPhone). 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.
AppyParking shows the parking regulations for every street in London making it easier to find free on-street parking. It also has information on the exact time restrictions of Controlled Parking Zones.
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.
Private & council car parks
Council run car parks
The car parks owned and managed by the City of London Corporation are cheaper than private car parks.
Private car parks
NCP, the UK’s biggest car park operator, has cheap parking deals at central London car parks if you pre-book.
The car parks are convenient for shopping, sightseeing or visiting the theatre.
To find other private car parks in London, try Just Park.
Park in someone’s drive
An even cheaper alternative to a private car park is to park in someone’s drive or garage – with their permission of course.
The JustPark website lets homeowners advertise their spare parking spaces. Recommended if you want to park outside central London, close to a football stadium, concert venue or Heathrow airport.
Tube station car parks
Some of the cheapest 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 the tube station car parks on behalf of Transport for London.
You can search their website for car parks in a particular area. Tube station car parks are marked (LUL).
Most Tube station car parks cost around £4–7 per day Monday–Friday, £2–£3 on Saturday and £1–2 on Sunday.
It’s possible to find free parking on the streets in outer London at the weekend, but tube station car parks are more secure.
Last updated: 23 July 2021