Driving around might not be the first thing on your mind when taking a trip to London. There are plenty of things to do and a massive public transportation system to utilise. But you don’t want your day dictated by trains, buses and touristy travel guides. Time is precious on holiday, and you want to be on your own schedule. London car hire options can be affordable, flexible ways to check out some of the roads less travelled around one of the world’s marquee cities.

Of course London itself has plenty of beautiful attractions, such as Big Ben, the London Eye and a myriad of picturesque university campuses and classic buildings. But getting outside the city limits is another way to take advantage of being in England.

The coastal town of Brighton, one of the most visited cities in the United Kingdom, is a couple hours directly south of London. Brighton’s beaches and laid back atmosphere will have you forgetting about the capital’s overcast and bustling nature.

Other non-metropolitan alternatives are some nearby wooded areas perfectly suited for day trips. The Epping Forest district in Essex sits about 40 minutes northeast of the city centre. There you can walk or ride on horseback over the trails surrounding serene rivers and ponds. Another gateway to greenery can be found the opposite direction. New Forest National Park is about 90 minutes southwest of London and provides wide-open green pastures to enjoy.

One of the most attractive features of England is the classic architecture of its old-school buildings. Perhaps the best examples of this are its towering old castles, one of which sits about 40 minutes east of the city. Rochester Castle, originally built in 1127, is one of the most well-cared for examples of medieval life in all of Europe. This heritage-listed site offers tours and performances daily, providing a taste of a time gone by.

Everybody knows about the sites, sounds, eats and drinks London has to offer in its massive metropolitan area. But don’t let those keep you from exploring the surrounding destinations as well. Hiring a car and hitting the road can have you in a completely different environment within a couple hours, putting a whole new spin on England.

Western concourse at London Kings Cross station

Western concourse at London Kings Cross station

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