Car Hire in Southampton
This information is correct as of April 2015
Hire a car in Southampton and enjoy the ultimate freedom to discover the city and its surroundings. Explore the coastline, visit the south-east’s fantastic National Parks, or just whizz around town on your own schedule. With Skyscanner you can find and compare the best car rental options in and around Southampton. We’ve got plenty of tips to help you make the most of driving in the city, too.
Where to hire a car in Southampton
There are a few car hire options down in the city centre, down by the waterfront. Thrifty has a branch in Ocean Village, and there’s a cluster of car rental pick-up spots by the cruise terminal. These include National, Europcar, Hertz, Alamo, and Enterprise. Southampton Airport also offers a good range of car hire companies, which are based at the car rental building across from the terminal. There are six premium brands to choose from at the airport, including Hertz, Europcar, and Avis.
Driving in Southampton
Southampton has a good network of cycle lanes. While some are shared with pedestrians, others run alongside traffic. Always keep an eye out for cyclists coming up your inside, and never turn left without first checking your blind spot. Every July the roads close for an afternoon while the Skyride bicycle event takes place.
Make sure you have plenty of coins on you if you’re planning on driving across the Itchen Bridge as change isn’t given. The smallest denomination you can use is 10p. The toll you pay is based on the height of your vehicle. Most cars and small 4x4s will pay 60p during peak hours (Monday-Friday 7am-9:30am, and 4pm-6:30pm) and 50p off-peak. Large vans and big 4x4s pay £1.20.
Parking in Southampton
There are lots of parking spaces in Southampton, whether you prefer on-street pay and display bays or feel more secure leaving your vehicle in a car park. Grosvenor Square multi-storey is the closest to the trendy district of The Polygon, Bedford Place multi-story is close the student hang-out of Bedford Place, and the West Park multi-storey is within walking distance of Southampton Central Station.
Most of the parking bays in the city centre fall under the Inner Tariff. The maximum stay is two hours, and charges apply from 8am-6pm Monday to Saturday. On Sundays and bank holidays charges apply from 1pm to 6pm, and evening charges apply from Monday to Saturday 6pm-8pm. During the day it’s £1 per half hour, and in the evening it’s 50p per half hour.
Some streets fall under the cheaper Outer Green Tariff, with maximum stays of four hours. Always check the signage to see which tariff applies to your parking bay.
Great day trips from Southampton
South Downs National Park
England’s newest National Park was inaugurated in 2011, and is a beautiful landscape full of rolling hills, chalk cliffs, and bustling little market towns. It may be England’s newest National Park, but the area is ancient. It’s been inhabited since the Stone Age, and is home to some of Britain’s earliest mines, hill forts, and camps. At the far end of the park (just under two hour’s drive from Southampton) you’ll find the iconic Seven Sisters cliffs.
It only takes 20 minutes to reach this attractive cathedral city. Parking in town can be quite scarce. As the sights are easy to get around on foot, you might want to consider leaving your car in one of the three Park & Ride car parks. Parking and bus travel for the day costs £3, or £2.50 if you arrive after 10:30am from Monday to Friday.
Lepe Country Park
When the British sunshine comes out, there’s no better place to be than the beach. Lepe Country Park is where the New Forest meets the sea, with great views across the Solent as well as some fantastic nature walks. You can go windsurfing if you’re feeling adventurous, or just enjoy a picnic on the pebble beach if not.
Prices subject to change