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In ancient times, if a Londoner asked about the ‘hamlet on the street’, they meant Streatham. The street was the ancient Roman road between Londinium and Portslade on the coast, more recently known as the London to Brighton Way. This district of South London is one of the capital’s 35 official major centres of the greater metropolitan area. While not exactly a tourist destination, Streatham has a nice high street, some lovely public gardens and a handful of historic landmarks. The borough is connected to London by rail, but a car rental is even more useful for touring the outskirts of the capital and the nearby coast.
Who to Book With
Streatham has a surprising number of car hire companies to choose from, including international chains like Alamo and Europcar, as well as local firms such as Liberty and Civilised. The volume of travellers passing through Streatham stays steady most of the year so it’s best to arrange any rental plans online in advance of your trip.
Best Time to Go
July is particularly busy each year and when the popular Streatham Festival takes over the town core for several days in the middle of the month. Summers are naturally the peak travel period around London as average temperature highs reach up into the 20s (ºC) and the skies are as dry as they get. It rains evenly throughout the rest of the year, with winter temperatures dropping to around 8ºC from November through February. Try April or May for pleasant spring weather and minimal rain.
Need to Know Essentials
To pick up a rental around Streatham, be sure to bring these documents:
- An International Driving Permit or a UK or EU driving licence
- The credit card used for the online reservation
- A secondary piece of photo identification like a passport
- A printed reservation confirmation, if possible
Driving around Streatham is like driving in most other parts of central London. It has a bustling high street surrounded primarily by residential neighbourhoods. Parking on the street is monitored by traffic police so be sure to read the parking signs and watch for things like time limits. Car parks are a better option for extended outings in Streatham. Outside of rush hours, the traffic here is fairly tame by London standards.
Our Guide to the United Kingdom contains more detailed driving information.
Although Streatham doesn’t have a Tube station, it has three train stations that provide comprehensive transport around the Greater London area. Nearly a dozen London bus routes run through Streatham for even better coverage of the immediate area. You will need to get an Oyster Card for £5 and then top the card up to pay for public transport fares (the card fee is refundable if you return the card at any station). Taxis are also available for movement around this part of Lambeth.
Trains are the main form of public transportation in Streatham. Streatham Railway Station is the most central of the district’s three railway terminals, located right on High Street within Travelcard Zone 3. First Capital Connect and Southern provide service here. Streatham Hill Railway Station is also along the High Street at Leigham Court Road and features services by Southern. The third station is Streatham Common, with regular trains to London Bridge and Victoria via Southern.
If you don’t want to bother with an Oyster Card, you can pay a cash fare at the station. Travel across any three zones costs £4 per trip or it costs £5 to travel to any of the six zones. Travel within zones 1 or 2 costs £1.90 per ride. With an Oyster Card, however, the fare per ride is just £2.70 to travel across all six zones after 09:30.
Numerous city bus routes make a stop in Streatham, providing extensive transport all over the centre of the capital. London City buses run throughout the day then change over to a slightly less frequent night bus timetable. Buses don’t use a zone system, so a single trip using an Oyster Card costs £1.30 (or £2.20 without a card).
The most convenient form of transport around Streatham district is by taxi. There are several companies working exclusively in this part of London, such as Streatham Taxis, which is available 24 hours. Taxis are usually queued up in front of the three railway terminals, but it’s even easier to simply phone for a pick up. Cab fares start at £2.20 and charge £2 per mile travelled thereafter.
A car hire really comes in handy when escaping the busy streets of London and exploring the outer layers of this ancient metropolis. From Streatham, you have a slight head start on the traffic to daytrips south, west or east. The Channel coast isn’t far off, and the entire southern region of the capital is peppered with historic hamlets, all of which are well worth a visit.
Brighton – Head directly south from Streatham and you will find yourself on the balmy southern coast of England in little more than an hour. The popular Victorian seaside resort of Brighton is an easy destination for a day on the sand, strolling the boardwalk and having fun in the sun.
Dover – The white cliffs of Dover are one of the most striking natural features of England, and the town isn’t too shabby either. It takes around 1 hour, 30 minutes of driving through lovely countryside to reach these limestone cliffs that have awed and inspired people for centuries. Be sure and stop off at Canterbury along the way.
Oxford and Cambridge – These two iconic bastions of higher learning are in different direction from Streatham but are about the same driving distance. Both feature gorgeous university campuses that are open to the public and lively town centres filled with shops, pubs and cafés. Academia aside, both towns are beautiful daytrips from London that are guaranteed to inspire the mind.