Finding a parking space in large cities can be a real problem – and if you’re not careful, you might end up paying a premium to park.
While we can’t guarantee you cheap and cheerful parking every time, we’ve got a few ideas to find that perfect spot without breaking the bank.
Before smartphones, we were just all stumbling around in the dark, desperately searching for a gap in those yellow lines. Now of course, there’s an app for everything, and the magic of GPS means that finding a parking space in real time is easier than ever. Apps like Just Park allow you to book spaces ahead, saving you up to 70% on city parking. Meanwhile, the simple yet fiendishly clever Parkopedia gives you a comprehensive view of parking facilities in every city in the world, from up-to-the-minute availability to the cheapest prices or free parking areas.
No we’re not being rude – this really is a good option! Forget what your sat nav is telling you and explore the city, taking note of potentially free or cheap parking. Get off the beaten track and take a different route to work or to the shops, and you might find nooks and crannies that you wouldn’t have otherwise come across – including secret cheap parking spots.
If you regularly commute to or visit the city centre but don’t actually live there, ask around to see if people know good places to park. Some seasoned drivers know the city like the back of their hands, and might give you a few recommendations. Just make sure you don’t spread the word too much and end up talking your way out of a cheap space…
Forget the craziness of Saturday shopping – more on-street parking is available on a Sunday, as the usual 8am–6pm restrictions may not apply. Don’t forget to check the meter for times before you go, though, otherwise your shopping trip might prove to be a bit on the steep side.
If you don’t mind parking at a nearby station and shelling out for a train ticket, Park and Ride can be a cheaper option, particularly at busy times. At least one part of your journey will be in the comfort of your own car, even if the rest of it might be on a train full of screaming kids or football fans.
It might seem weird to rent a parking space, but if you have to park in the city regularly, you could save 20% on traditional multi-storeys or lock-ups. There are tons of reputable parking websites like ParkLet and Your Parking Space that will give you quotes for weekly or monthly fees, so you’ll always have a space of your very own in town.
Private car parks often charge cheaper daily rates if they’re a bit out of town, and this can be a smart, money-saving idea in some large, yet navigable cities. Some car parks are just a 10- or 15-minute walk away from the city centre, so you’ll get to stretch your legs and save money.
Looking for a car small enough to squeeze into a city parking space – but still want room for your stuff? See our rundown of the best small cars with big boots at the link below.