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Driving from London to Stonehenge

Okay we got a great deal (at least I think it was)from Virgin-Atlantic flying into Heathrow. We finally found a little hotel and booked it Cherry Court Hotel. My husband would like to go to Stonehenge so for his birthday I was thinking of doing the Stone Circle Access but you have to be there 1 hour before opening or after hours. I was wondering how difficult a drive it would be if I rented a car go to Stonehenge. I would also like to go to Bath and possibly Salisbury-does this sound like a good idea. I do have an international license that doesn't expire until May

Posted by
4555 posts

If you wish to drive in the center of London, you are charged a flat rate for the privilege....imposed to cut traffic and pollution. Your car rental firm should tell you if you'll have to pay it as you leave London. Go to http://tinyurl.com/csxs2m for details on what areas the zone covers, prices, etc.

Posted by
356 posts

It's a pretty easy drive for most of the route as it's the M3 and then the A303. So, if you are okay on motorways you will be fine. The A303 is a main road and Stonehenge is just off it (you can see it from the road). The only problem with the A303 is that it can be very congested during the summer. Getting out of London might be a bit hairy for you, it really depends on how used you are to driving in cities. Salisbury and Bath are also on main roads. Just remember that many roads in this area are single carriageway so you need to be someone who is not easily intimidated by impatient people driving right behind you.

P.S. If you are driving after dark remember that some of these country roads will not have lights along them.

Posted by
518 posts

If you rent a car at the airport -- either Heathrow or Gatwick -- driving is no problem. Don't attempt driving in London. I would suggest a GPS system. Traffic, etc. is not a problem if you leave from the outskirts of London. Have you driven on the left side before? If not, I would suggest an automatic. If you reserve ahead from the US, you will get a better rate. Also, think about going to Avesbury. It is in the same vicinity as Stonehenge and is more enjoyable. Look it up in R.S. or online. Don't worry about the driving part.

Posted by
36 posts

Thanks so much for your replies. If I rented a car on Sunday in London would that be difficult to do with London Traffic?

Posted by
2654 posts

Linda, you don't want to drive in London on any day. It would be easier to take the train to either Salisbury or Bath rent a car there.

Posted by
356 posts

I agree that Sunday is the only day to try driving in London if you are a newcomer. I also agree that getting a train is a great idea. If you do decide to drive in London during the week remember the congestion charge.

Posted by
2023 posts

We rented a car and drove out of London on a Sunday and it was a nerve racking experience. Rented at Marble Arch and were soon on the Ring Road that went past LHR and it should have been easy. As we passed LHR we realized how much easier it would have been to pick up the car there. As navigator, I had to keep reminding my husband that we had mere inches between the car and a big red bus.

Posted by
36 posts

Thanks for all the replies!! Susan was easier traveling once out of London-We're going to see Stonehenge

Posted by
525 posts

Linda,
Have you checked into a tour from London that covers Stonehenge and a couple other towns around there?
If you want to rent a car, take the early train to Tilehurst outside London and rent a car from 1Car1. RS group has used this car rental agency. Or, you could take the train to Bath and rent a car at the train station to drive to Stonehenge, return the car to Bath, tour and take the train back to London. You would have to get up early so you have plenty of day time to see both sights. Or, spend a night in Bath before returning to London. The 1Car1 rental agency in Tilehurst is about a mile from the train station.We walked to pick up the car but maybe one of the agents would pick you up at the train station.

Posted by
36 posts

I know my hubby would really like to do the Stone Circle Access. I'm waiting for confimation from the Stonehenge to see if they have room on the 8:00 am tour. I don't think the tours arrive that this time of day that's why I was thinking renting a car is probably my only option.

Posted by
270 posts

If you need to be at Stonehenge at 8am then it is best that you stay at Salisbury the night before. I would also recommend hiring a car from Salisbury or Bath. Last time I drove in England I hired a car from Oxford, and it saved all of the worry of driving in London.

Posted by
881 posts

I'd definitely avoid driving in London itself, as others have said, think downtown New York traffic, and now make it geographically about 15/20 times bigger.

You can take the underground out to the airport in a few stops. Semi confusing, but cheap. OR take The Heathrow Express from Paddington station: https://www.heathrowexpress.com 16.50GBP pp ea way, 15mins to airport.

I'd try to avoid driving in London at all costs. :) I hope it all works out for you! Sounds fun!

Posted by
6898 posts

In September, we plan on taking the National Express bus from Heathrow to Bath. They have 50% off fares for people over 60 (which we are)(19.50pounds for two). The bus trip takes 2.5hrs. The next day we will rent a car and drive one hour to Stonehenge. To us, it's better to drive from Bath instead of London. We'll be in Bath for a few days anyway for the Jane Austen Festival.

It was our thought to not have to go in the wrong direction to London and then backtrack on the more expensive train. Second, we don't mind renting a car after a long flight but driving on the opposite side of the road adds a different dimension. We're choosing the bus. We'll finish our 3 week trip to Britain with 5 days in London.

Posted by
1659 posts

Heathrow is west of London, so it would be the best choice for a car rental location. We drove from there to Winchester--one hour, my husband was OK with the drive, although as a lefty he LOVES driving in the UK. From Winchester, it is about 20 miles to Salisbury and then another 12 or so to Stonehenge. Check drive times at theaa.co.uk. Use their route planner---their times are accurate. If you need to be at Stonehenge early morning, it would really be a lot easier on you to overnight in Salisbury. There are lots of interesting sites in that area if you go the day before your Stonehenge visit or want to stay on a while before returning to London. Visiting Stonehenge "private access" is very special and well worth the extra effort.

Posted by
10344 posts

Linda: Good news: You've got this more thought out than the person (on another topic thread) who thought they were going to sleep in London and then get, by public transportation, to Stonehenge in time for a 6:15am private access visit (you know, some ideas are just not feasible). Good luck on your planning.

Posted by
27 posts

Hello,

I am in the same position. We are staying in London but got Stone Circle access for a morning. We are going to rent a car to get there. I understand from this that renting from the airport is the way to go but does it make a difference which airport we leave from? We would be leaving early early (our tour is at 615 am) so hopefully that will help with some of the traffic.

Posted by
36 posts

We went to Stonehenge and it was one of the memorial sights I've been to - just walking among the stones gives you a wonderful feeling - the bus trip we took was wonderful and it was well worth the money spent!!

Posted by
1631 posts

Linda, when I was considering renting a car I quickly realized I would be driving on the other side of the road, on the other side of the car and shifting with my left hand. I then decided to take the train to Bath and then book a tour for Stonehenge that included Avebury and Castle Combe. Have fun!