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We are planning to visit England (mostly Cornwall) by car.
At the end, we want to spend a few days in London before driving back to the continent, but we want to avoid taking the car into the city.

Are there any good options to park your car for two, three days just outside London and do the rest by public transport?
(Where "good" should take prices, availability, security, reachability into account)

  • Does it have to be a proper paid-for car park or can it just be roadside parking (free, most places very safe)? – A E May 22 '16 at 18:09
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    On your way back from Cornwall, you will presumably join the M4 in Bristol, so you can park in the Long Term Parking at Heathrow and take the tube in. Since it's a supervised, built for purpose car park directly on your route, it probably meets all your criteria. – Gayot Fow May 22 '16 at 18:16
  • Also, where in London are you staying? (or where do you want to be able to get to easily?) – A E May 22 '16 at 18:17
  • Cornwall is wonderful! What a shame to ruin your vacation with being stuck in London for the last days. – Fattie May 22 '16 at 21:41
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    @GayotFow I would use the A303 - M3 route. M5- M4 is a longer, less scenic route. – davidb May 23 '16 at 13:18
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I don't believe there are any true park and ride schemes in the London area (park for free and pay just your transport costs). London is just too big for that.

However this website is a good tool for those unsure of what parking options there are at London transport stations outside of the centre.

It searches from which direction you will be coming from to London and what your final destination is and calculates the best places for suitable tube/rail station car parks outside of Central London on the commuter belts. The information it returns is Station names, number of parking spaces available, costs of parking, time to final destination and London transport zones are all included so you can find the best car park for your stay.

For your example you will most likely be travelling from Cornwall on the M3 motorway and I calculated your final destination as Trafalgar Square as that is pretty central. Here is in an option the website brought up to park at, but there are others to choose from:

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  • That sounds like a really useful site. – CMaster May 23 '16 at 9:31
  • Do also check the price of parking where the site tells you. As far as I remember Station parking at Hounslow was not cheap, not too bad for a whole day but they did not do any 'part of a day', if my memory serves me right. – Willeke May 23 '16 at 18:11
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Easy to find car park areas with good public transport into the city are the airport areas.
All of them have the official as well as alternative parking areas.
Heathrow is on your way to London, Gatwick on your way around towards Dover, Luton and Stanstead can be useful if you plan to use the ferries at Harwich.

You can also look in booking a hotel out of the city for one night before and one night after the visit to the city and contact them ahead of time to talk about the parking 'problem'.

I stayed in Maidenhead recently and while parking at the hotel was full for the weekend, during the week they did not need all the spaces.
So will a lot of hotels near London and alternatively, a lot of the hotel owners will know alternative parking spots near their hotel, they have to because their guests often need them. By the way, Maidenhead will not be in the best location.

And of course, all of the commuter area will have good transport into the city and most of the train stations will have some kind of parking at the station. Most of those are not free however and might have a limit on the time your car may stay.
If you are on the far end of the commuter beld, at at a small station without direct trains, you are more likely to find free parking at or near the station.
There are too many options to give you names of towns and villages.

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