How to Plan Your Trip Around London to Avoid the Congestion Charge [Now Revised for 2022]

The Congestion Zone can be perplexing and costly. It's easy to drive through it bleary-eyed one morning without realizing it - until you get a ticket.

We've previously discussed whether Dolphin Square is subject to the Congestion Zone and ULEZ, and this article clarifies what the London Congestion Zone is and where it is located.

You'll learn how to pay it and, more importantly, how to avoid it, especially when deciding where to stay in London and how to get around the city.

What exactly is the London Congestion Zone?

What is the location of London's congestion zone?

The Congestion Zone is a London area that stretches roughly from Kings Cross to Vauxhall and Paddington to Whitechapel. This area was identified as having the highest levels of traffic in London when the policy was implemented in 2003. Driving in this area now incurs at least one fee (the Congestion Charge, abbreviated as "CC").

You can check this interactive Congestion Zone map to see if the destinations you want to visit are in the CC Zone.

You should also be aware of the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (which covers a much larger area). The ULEZ encompasses the entire Congestion Zone.

ULEZ is in effect all day, every day (except Christmas Day), and if your vehicle does not meet the criteria, you may be required to pay this in addition to the Congestion Charge.


The Congestion Charge is £12 per vehicle. Cars, smaller vans, motorcycles, and other lighter vehicles pay $50 per day; HGVs and coaches pay significantly more.

The Charge is payable by any vehicle that drives through the congestion zone and emits more than 76g/km CO2 (most cars, vans, and motorised bikes). )


The Congestion Charge aims to reduce traffic congestion in central London, make walking and biking safer and less polluting, and make the bus network more reliable. The revenue generated by the charge is reinvested in London public transportation, making it more efficient and secure. And it appears to be working.


The Congestion Charge is in effect from 0700 to 1800 Monday through Friday, and from 1200 to 1800 on weekends and holidays. Between Christmas and New Year's (December 25-31), there is no need to pay.

The charge is enforced in real-time using Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology, which monitors every vehicle that enters or exits the zone.

Coronavirus tests

To discourage people from driving in London during the coronavirus pandemic, Transport for London made temporary changes to the charges. The original announcement of these changes can be found here.

There were also new reimbursement policies, such as:

  • A broader NHS patient reimbursement scheme for people at risk of coronavirus
  • A new reimbursement arrangement for local governments and charities operating in zones where they are providing specific support or services in response to the pandemic (including domiciliary care workers providing services on behalf of a local government and volunteers shielding residents).

Please be aware that these temporary modifications have now been removed. reversed

Paying the Fee

There are several ways to pay, including automatically with Auto Pay, in advance, on the day, or for three days after your journey. TFL's "Pay to Drive London" tool also allows you to pay for a custom date range.

Is Dolphin Square in a Congestion Zone?

We went into more detail about this in another blog post, but The simple answer is no. : Pimlico, where a href="MY_REDIRECT_PREFIX" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">span>/span>/a> Dolphin Square is located just a few streets outside the boundary. So you can drive to your apartment without paying the fee.

One of the fantastic guest amenities available at Dolphin Square is onsite parking, which allows residents to leave their vehicle there and travel into the Congestion Zone by other means, saving money.

Our serviced apartments are less than a 5-minute walk from Pimlico Tube Station, giving you incredible convenience and access to excellent public transportation and the rest of the city.

There are numerous alternative ways to enter and exit the Congestion Zone, as well as a href="MY_REDIRECT_PREFIX" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">span>TFL /span>/a>website and the a

Which postcodes are affected by the Congestion Zone?

The London Congestion Zone includes the postcodes EC1, EC2, EC3, EC4, SE1, SW1, W1, WC1 and WC2.

So, if your destination is in any of these, Then you won't be able to drive in privately without paying the Congestion Charge (unless you do it between Christmas and New Year's or late at night), so you'll have to pay or find another way to get there. More information about other options can be found below.

If you are unsure about a postcode, you can use this site to determine whether it is in the Congestion Zone. More information on traveling in, paying, and appealing the Congestion Charge can be found on this informative blog.

Driving around London without paying

So you want to visit London's other side? Google Maps provides directions that specifically avoid tolls.


Open a location in Maps e g then click the blue circle with the arrow in it for directions to the Emirates Stadium in Highbury

Emirates map

Enter your starting point, for example, e g Apartments at Dolphin Square

By default, you'll be shown the shortest route (marked 1 in the image below). You can choose your mode of transportation by using the icons above your destination (2 below), which allow you to choose between driving, cycling, public transportation, walking (or even flying).

Maps nav

Using the above example, the quickest route by car from Dolphin Square to Highbury takes 29 minutes and directs you to drive straight through the city center, but as you may have noticed, this comes up with an amber warning "This route has tolls." That is the Congestion Fee.

You can, however, avoid this. On Google Maps, look for an 'Options' link just below the 'Destinations' section. When you click on it, one of the options that appears is 'Avoid.' Tick the box next to 'Tolls,' and your route should refresh, taking you around the Congestion Zone. In this case, the route is 8 minutes and nearly 2 miles longer, but you won't be fined £12. 50 fee

Quickest route

Alternatives to the Congestion Charge

One of the best aspects of London is its excellent public transportation system. There are 8,600 buses, 270 Tube stations, and 12 major train stations connecting the city to the rest of the country - as well as a href="MY_REDIRECT_PREFIX" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">span>Santander Cycles/span>/a>, great cycle lanes, black cabs, UBER

Google Maps has a feature where you can choose "Recommended Travel Mode" and customize it to your specific needs (e.g. g wheelchair accessibility, fewest changes, and so on )

Lowering the cost of private travel

Driving is sometimes the most convenient option because it is not always practical to bring a large portfolio and all of your presentation props on a Boris Bike. You could take a taxi, where the fee is either waived or included in the fare.

Carpool - in accordance with COVID restrictions, you could share a ride with colleagues or friends, splitting the Congestion Charge.

This isn't always practical, but if you're flexible with your schedule, you could travel outside of Congestion Charge hours, which are 0700-1800 or 0700-1200 on weekends.

Taking alternate modes of transportation

The entire purpose of the Congestion Charge is to reduce traffic and pollution in the city center, so you can help by taking advantage of all of the fantastic alternatives available.

The Tube network is the world's first underground rail service. It is steeped in history and provides excellent, convenient service throughout the capital.

Overground rail and the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) make getting around even easier. There are also thousands of buses and routes throughout London, so you can always find a bus to take you wherever you want to go.

TFL has a new app that helps people plan routes around the city while maintaining social distance and taking things like the Congestion Charge into account.

If you're able and have the time, you could also take in the sights and go for a walk.

Relax your breathing

So you now understand the Congestion Charge and how to pay, avoid, or avoid it. Making the most of London's public transportation and enjoying different modes of transportation couldn't be easier, while also saving money on the Charge.

Those staying in Dolphin Square serviced apartments are in the best position to get close to central London in the comfort of their own vehicle, without having to pay to drive through it, and with easy access to excellent public transportation. So why not spoil yourself and schedule a viewing today?

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