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Sutton is one of London’s most remote boroughs, set on the North Downs to the far south of the city centre, some 10 miles from Charing Cross and the inner city’s major attractions. This quiet, upscale district houses mostly commuters who travel to the city centre on a daily basis and is a shopping hub for nearby boroughs with fewer facilities. Set as it is on the edges of Greater London, Sutton is a good base for touring the south of England as far as the coast by car, but sightseeing in London’s heart is best achieved by public transport.
Who to Book With
If you’re planning to use a hire car for daytrips around the Surrey countryside, head for Sutton’s Holiday Inn with its Avis office. Several local firms also offer car rental, with or without a driver. To get the best choice of vehicle at a price to suit your pocket, try a one-stop search online at our price comparison and booking site.
Best Time to Go
Spring and early summer are good times to visit, as Sutton is just a short drive from the typical south of England agricultural countryside with its pretty villages and historic market towns. The weather can be unpredictable, but there’s plenty to see and do indoors as well as outdoors. Hotel and vehicle rentals rise around Bank Holidays, the Christmas and New Year period, and in the holiday months of July and August.
Need to Know Essentials
At your pick-up point, you’ll need to show the following documentation:
- Your valid UK driving licence, an EU driver’s licence or an International Driving Permit
- Proof of your identity, such as your passport or other photo ID passport
- The same credit card you used for your reservation
- A printed copy of the confirmed online reservation
Although driving in and around Sutton represents no challenges except during rush hours, attempting to drive to Central London for a day’s sightseeing is not recommended. The direct route via the A24 crosses the River Thames at Lambeth Bridge after hitting the traffic hot spot of Clapham Common and is a major commuter road with notoriously heavy traffic all day and traffic lights at all the many junctions. Parking in London is undersupplied and expensive, and the Central London congestion charge zone adds yet more costs to the high cost of fuel. Inexpensive parking in Sutton is by multi-storey car park at Gibson Road or the car park behind St Nicholas Shopping Centre, and street parking away from the centre is provided.
Detailed information on driving in the UK is found here.
Public transport is by far the best way to access London’s amazing shopping, sightseeing, restaurants and nightlife, but if you’re planning on heading out into the wilds of Surrey, Sussex and Kent or the English Channel coastal resorts, you’ll need to hire a car to get the best out of your daytrips. For shorter trips, taxis can be used, but are expensive.
Direct First Capital Connect trains to Central London run from Sutton Station to London’s Victoria Station as well as to Blackfriars for the ancient City of London, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. Destinations outside the city centre include Wimbledon, Epsom with its famous racecourse and the Roman town of St Albans. Morden Underground station is two miles away and is useful for fast journeys to the centre. Visitors should remember that off-peak travel on overground trains is less expensive and more comfortable than rush-hour journeys on the Underground.
Sutton is connected with London’s Heathrow Airport by the X26 Express bus, and 14 local bus routes are provided by Epsom Coaches, Metrobus and Abellio London. A 24-hour service from Victoria Coach Station to Gatwick Airport stops in Sutton. Local buses serving Sutton and nearby Cheam are of more use to residents than they are to visitors.
Sutton has its own taxi rank at Lower Mulgrave Road, just outside the railway station. It’s manned by licensed, metered London black cabs with experienced drivers, but taxi fares anywhere in London are expensive. A more economical option is to use one of the reputable minicab firms located in and around the town centre, such as GT Cars.
Sutton’s location at the edge of the giant Greater London Urban Area makes the town a good base for exploring the Home Counties, and the coastlines of Kent and Sussex with their traditional seaside resorts are just an hour or less away by car. For a dramatically different daytrip complete with ghost and horror stories, the Chiselhurst Caves are just under an hour away, and St Albans with its Roman villa, cathedral and fascinating museum is just over an hour away via the A343 and M25.
Brighton - A scenic drive on the M3 motorway, passing by manicured English villages and agricultural acres, brings you to Brighton, one of the UK’s favourite seaside resorts for its beaches, cosmopolitan shopping and nightlife, as well as its world-famous Royal Pavilion, built in the late 18th century for the Prince Regent.
Canterbury - Picking up the M23 to Kent, the Garden of England for its apple orchards, a 1 hour, 15 minute drive gets you to Canterbury, the seat of the Church of England and home to the magnificent, medieval Canterbury Cathedral. This area of Kent is steeped in 1,000 years of English history and its countryside is known for its beauty.
New Forest National Park - For a unique experience just less than two hours’ drive from Sutton, the New Forest National Park is a must-visit. Once the private hunting ground of English kings, the landscape is mostly unchanged since the days when William the Conqueror claimed it as his own. The beautiful New Forest ponies still roam wild, boars and other wildlife tour the woods, and the 1,000-year-old management system of Verderers, Agisters and Commoners is still honoured.