If one wanted to park his car for free on the street and visit London's city center, what would be the closest/most accessible place to do so? For the sake of the question, let's assume that the centre of London is Charing Cross, Westminster.

The parking spot has to be free of any kinds of restrictions (e.g. only free on certain days) and has to be available to non-residents. Obviously parking in Central London itself would never be free, but surely there is free parking somewhere within a 20km radius from the downtown area?

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    Where is your starting point? Where is your exact destination - there is no single point that is "London city centre"
    – Peregrine
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 14:22
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    If all you want to do is get from the airport to central London, taking the train / tube is a much better option. Why pay for a hire car just to leave it parked ...
    – Peregrine
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 14:25
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    Which side ? North, east, west south ? It is going to be a looooooooong search.
    – DumbCoder
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 14:36
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    Considering it costs to park most everywhere on the street as a non-resident on weekdays, even as far out as zone three, I think you'll find it very difficult to find somewhere that is free every day (and, even if such a place exists, the likelihood of it being unoccupied is small). You really are best off taking the tube.
    – Tom H
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 14:57
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    Addendum: you can verify the lack of free on-street parking borough by borough, if you're so inclined. For example: transact.westminster.gov.uk/docstores/publications_store/… and rbkc.gov.uk/pdf/Controlled%20parking%20hours%20live.pdf
    – Tom H
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 15:12

2 Answers 2


I know this isn't the answer you are looking for but...

You would be crazy to attempt to park for free in central London.

First there is the congestion charge. This means it is going to cost you eleven pounds to simply bring your car into London, even if you park for free.

Second, while there is free parking in London (but very little), what there is always has very tight restrictions and is incredibly popular. Even if you found free parking, your chances of being able to park there are negligible. 'Unrestricted' free parking, that allows you to park all day for free, would be taken by about 12.02am.

Third, driving in Central London is extremely crowded and not that easy. Unless you have a really good reason, or enjoy being yelled at by other drivers, you should reduce your stress levels and stay out.

Fourth, almost everybody who visits central London wants to move around, and by far the best way to do this is use the underground (or the bus, but mostly underground). If you are going to do that, you may as well park outside the centre and get the underground in.

Finally you are going to say "what about the locals, what secrets do they have about parking in central London?" Well, the locals do have a secret, and the secret is - they use the underground. Even if you live in central London, most people use the underground to get everywhere.

If you absolutely have to bring a car into London because you or a passenger are disabled and can't use public transport, that's an entirely different matter.

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    I'm not speaking of driving into Central London. Rather, I'm interested in dropping off the car in Zone 3-4 and taking the tube.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 17:13
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    Which side of London are you coming in from?
    – djna
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 17:15
  • @djna whatever is closest to London city center by public transport is best. Otherwise it could be any airport.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 17:47
  • If you are flying in, then just take the tube a rental car has no value for a tourist in Central London. If you already have a car and are coming into London from elsewhere the direction really matters, driving across or round London to look for a parking space is impractical. There is no fun, or convenience driving in Central London, the public transport system works.
    – djna
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 17:54
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    The issue is that these parking spaces are ideal for commuters, so many people drive to the edge of tube system and hope to park for free. Hence from 06:30 these spaces are full. So my telling you that West End Road, near Ruislip Gardens station meets your criteria is actually useless to you. Let alone that driving to it from Heathrow is a nightmare of congestion, can easily take an hour for what should be a 20 minute journey.
    – djna
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 0:04

The closest place you can find parking with NO RESTRICTIONS is East Finchley on a residential road. From there you can hop on the Northern Line down into central London in roughly 20 minutes.

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    But can you actually park there? Round my way (Northwood/Ruislip) any such places are full from about 6:30 AM and remain so all day.
    – djna
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 0:01

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