Searching around for a parking space in a city centre is often a stressful experience. Finding the perfect spot is a careful balancing act between location, availability, and price. It can be difficult to know where’s best to look for spaces, and if your destination means you should plan ahead.
To make this easier, we’ve looked at parking factors for the twenty most populous UK cities, pulling together the top ten cities for parking and highlighting where you might need to put a bit of extra thought into where you’ll leave your car. The research looked into three factors to create the ranking.
- The number of parking spaces available in the city per resident
- Average walking distances from parking spaces to the town centre
- The average price for two hours’ parking
Total score: 245
Number of parking spaces per resident: 0.027
Walking distance between parking and city centre: 17 minutes
Average price for two hours parking: £3.20
Newcastle tops the ranking of best UK cities for parking. The Northern powerhouse has the second highest number of parking spaces per resident in the study and also ranks well for average walk times to the city centre, and prices for two hours’ parking in the area.
So, if you’ve got plans to visit the city, whether it’s to visit Newcastle Castle or take advantage of the city’s great shopping opportunities, you shouldn’t struggle to find a space.
Total score: 240
Number of parking spaces per resident: 0.023
Walking distance between parking and city centre: 18 minutes
Average price for two hours parking: £2.85
Leicester falls just behind Newcastle on this ranking. The city performs well across the board, coming fourth in parking space numbers, fifth on walking distances, and fifth on prices for parking.
Although it doesn’t sit at the top of the pile on any individual factors, its lack of a significant weak point means Leicester claims the number two spot.
Total score: 215
Number of parking spaces per resident: 0.038
Walking distance between parking and city centre: 24 minutes
Average price for two hours parking: £3.04
The Northern Irish capital comes third in the best UK cities for parking. Its high position is largely down to the number of parking spaces per resident, which is the highest of any city in the study.
Unfortunately, Belfast is held back from climbing any higher on this list due to its low performance when it comes to the walking distance from parking spaces to central locations. Belfast ranks in the lower half of the study for this factor.
So, if you’re thinking of driving or car-ferrying over to the Emerald Isle to take in its northern capital, you should comfortably be able to find somewhere to leave your car, although it might take a bit more research to find somewhere that avoids a walk.
Total score: 210
Number of parking spaces per resident: 0.011
Walking distance between parking and city centre: 14 minutes
Average price for two hours parking: £1.87
Bradford ranks incredibly well when it comes to both walking distances and the price of parking. With an average of just 14 minutes’ walk between parking spaces and the city centre, the area performs best in the study on this factor. With prices averaging at £1.87 for two hours parking, Bradford also comes in at second on this factor.
Its Achilles’ heel is the number of parking spaces available. Bradford is one of the worst performing cities on this front, with just 0.011 parking spaces available per resident.
Total score: 210
Number of parking spaces per resident: 0.021
Walking distance between parking and city centre: 19 minutes
Average price for two hours parking: £3.22
Coming in with the same total score as Bradford, Nottingham ranks just below its northern counterpart due to its higher prices. The fabled home of Robin Hood comes in mid-field in the best cities for parking. Again, the city ranks mid-to-high on all factors, hence its appearance at this point in the rankings.
Home to two universities, Nottingham has vibrant shopping and nightlife scenes, so there’s plenty of reasons to visit.
Total score: 205
Number of parking spaces per resident: 0.019
Walking distance between parking and city centre: 20 minutes
Average price for two hours parking: £2.04
Another northern city pulls into number six in the top ten UK cities for parking. Its position is largely down to its great average prices. If you visit the city, you’ll be paying an average of just £2.04 for two hours parking.
As 2018 UK City of Culture, there’s a lot going on in Hull at the moment, so it’s definitely worth a visit. Just bear in mind the low numbers of spaces and long walking distances so you don’t get caught out!
Total score: 180
Number of parking spaces per resident: 0.01
Walking distance between parking and city centre: 16 minutes
Average price for two hours parking: £2.83
This jewel in the Midlands comes eighth in the top ten UK cities for parking. Birmingham ranks highly for both walking distances and prices. Ranking third for the former and fourth for the latter. This is great news if you fancy a trip to the Bullring Shopping Centre.
It’ll be worth having a few parking options in mind when setting out though, as Birmingham’s weak spot is its number of spaces per resident, coming second from bottom of all 20 cities analysed on this point.
Total score: 180
Number of parking spaces per resident: 0.017
Walking distance between parking and city centre: 15 minutes
Average price for two hours parking: £3.30
Sheffield ranks just below Birmingham, despite their equal total score, due to its higher parking prices. This South Yorkshire city makes the list thanks to the central location of its parking spaces. If you fancy visiting to take in a concert at Sheffield FlyDSA arena or to venture into the city centre for a spot of shopping, you’ll have an average of 15 minutes’ walk, the second shortest of all the cities in this study.
Number of spaces per resident is slightly lower than average, and prices are smack bang in the middle, so you might need to make some compromises when parking in the city.
Total score: 175
Number of parking spaces per resident: 0.012
Walking distance between parking and city centre: 23 minutes
Average price for two hours parking: £1.73
Sunderland just squeezes onto the list of best parking cities. Despite a low number of spaces per resident and a middling score when it comes to walking distances, Sunderland climbs into the top ten due to its low parking prices.
With an average cost of just £1.73 for two hours parking, Sunderland is the cheapest city out of all 20 analysed in the study.
Total score: 160
Number of parking spaces per resident: 0.027
Walking distance between parking and city centre: 29 minutes
Average price for two hours parking: £4.08
The Welsh capital just completes the top ten cities for parking. Cardiff makes the list owing to high parking space numbers, ranking third for this factor. This means there should be plenty of places to leave your car if you want to visit the Doctor Who Experience or Cardiff Castle.
Unfortunately, Cardiff ranks low when it comes to other factors in the study, with average walking distances and prices being quite high. At £4.08, Cardiff is the most expensive city for parking in the top ten.
This ranking highlights which UK cities are doing well when it comes to providing parking for residents and visitors. The other end of the table also reveals where people might find it most difficult to park. London ranks dead last in the 20 cities analysed for parking facilities. The average cost for two hours parking in the city is £11.25, over three times that of the number one city, Newcastle.
Consulting this guide is just one way you can prepare to visit a new city in your car. It’s a way of ensuring you have the smoothest experience. Other things you can do to this end include route planning and checking insurance details. If you have a car on finance, it’s worth considering taking out financial gap insurance to make sure you’re covered in case of an accident. You can get gap insurance now, with InsuretheGap.
The study detailed above analysed the 20 most populous cities in the UK, based on population data from the Geographist.
All parking data analysed was sourced from Parkopedia. From this resource, we studied all information relating to publicly available parking spaces in each location document. Parkopedia only documents off-street parking.
For London, we analysed only the boroughs making up Central London, as defined by the London Plan.