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Having originally come to life in the early 18th century, Cheltenham later became a popular favourite with the then-reigning King George III. While being known for its unique history and the world-famous Gold Cup horse race, Cheltenham is also surrounded by serene countryside that is best explored with car hire.
Who to Book With
There are several car rental companies to choose from, the majority of which are located in and around Cheltenham or close to Gloucestershire Airport. Of these firms, Hertz and Sixt are perhaps the best known, although they compete for custom with the likes of Blink, Apex and Midland Vehicle Rental. Booking online in advance often makes rental cheaper.
Best Time to Go
Cheltenham is popular most of the year round, but its weather conditions are undoubtedly the most comfortable between June and August. Those that head to the area in March, especially the middle of the month, will most definitely need to arrange vehicle rental and accommodation well in advance, as this is when the town hosts the horse racing Gold Cup.
Need to Know Essentials
Those collecting a vehicle in Cheltenham must produce the following:
- Valid British driving license
- Another form of photo ID
- Booker's credit card
- Printed rental confirmation
Cheltenham is not a difficult town for drivers to navigate, although its set of one-way roads can be difficult to fathom at first. Again though, the town can become awfully congested in March when the Gold Cup is held. A series of council-owned parking lots, such as the Park and Ride, can be relied upon by drivers looking to leave their vehicles and explore the town centre on foot.
The most convenient way to navigate Cheltenham is by arranging a vehicle from one of the car rental companies that operate in the town – especially when considering that some parties have to settle for accommodation as far as 50 miles out of the centre during busy periods. The town's public transport network consists of buses and taxis only.
Although it isn't possible to take a train or metro around the town, Cheltenham has regular rail links to Birmingham, Bristol, London Paddington and a string of other destinations that are mainly located in southern England. These services are mainly supplied by First Great Western.
Booking a taxi with one of the local companies (such as Starline, A2B or Andy's Cars) will have you paying less than if you were to flag down a cab somewhere in the town centre. In the evening, drivers waiting for fares mainly park around the Promenade area, but expect a wait, as the lack of night buses means locals have to rely on this mode of transport to get them home.
Stagecoach is the main supplier of bus services in Cheltenham, operating a number of routes, with a day ticket costing around £3.00 per person. The D is one of the most popular buses, running through the town centre to Bishop's Cleeve and passing by the racecourse.
The M5 is very useful for those looking to take daytrips out of the town. The nearest destination of note is Gloucester, but drivers may also wish to consider the likes of Oxford, London and various small villages located in the countryside that often offer a welcomed contrast from the hustle and bustle of the towns and cities in southern England.
Gloucester - A stone’s throw from Cheltenham, is best-known for being the setting of a famous English nursery rhyme and the birthplace of Dick Whittington. Tourists to the town mostly marvel at its cathedral and historic docks.
Oxford - Accessible by travelling along the M5, is known for its world-renowned university, regarded as one of the best in the world. It is also home to marvelous of architecture, such as the Bodleian Library and Radcliffe Camera.
Bristol - Reachable by heading south of Cheltenham, is the largest city in this part of the country. Those that are feeling adventurous can also head west of Bristol to the Welsh capital Cardiff.