Getting Around Phoenix

The best way to get around Phoenix is a car, especially as this ever-expanding metropolis rests neatly on a grid. A car is a necessity to reach the spread-out attractions, your hotel and food — not to mention the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). Walking outside for more than a few blocks is an easy way to be identified as a tourist. Phoenix has a public bus system, but you would hardly know it. It is unreliable and infrequently used even by residents. Smaller public shuttles, such as the Scottsdale Trolley and Downtown Area Shuttle, however, are useful to traverse those specific areas.


Phoenicians love their cars, and you'll see why. This city is easy to navigate (the road grid is only interrupted by the mountains) and parking is abundant and convenient, so you should consider renting a car. Having one of your own could especially come in handy to get to the spread-out attractions. However, you'll soon see that Phoenicians love their cars (traffic can be brutal; vacate the major freeways for the side streets during rush hour), and they like to drive fast (going slower than the speed of traffic will enrage locals). If you're interested, secure a rental at PHX Airport before your arrival.


Valley Metro operates city buses that travel along the main traffic arteries. They are also relatively inexpensive ($2 per ride, $4 for an all-day pass).The major issue is how to cover more than 400 square miles of city adequately. The system has yet to figure this out, so renting a car is a must, unless you plan on relegating yourself to the confines of your resort (which is a perfectly normal decision).


Several cities in the greater Phoenix area offer free shuttle service for touring the downtown areas. The Scottsdale Trolley runs circular routes in Old Town Scottsdale, a popular shopping, restaurant and nightlife district. The Downtown Area Shuttle (a specific bus route of Valley Metro) services Downtown Phoenix, which contains many attractions, sports venues and bars. Tempe's Free Local Area Shuttle (FLASH) operates buses around the Arizona State University area. Each service runs according to its own schedule. Many resorts will also offer free shuttle service to nearby shopping districts and mountain trails.

Light Rail

As the lines extend farther into the city's suburbs, this tourist-friendly option will become more and more appealing. The METRO light-rail system currently operates one line, running from Tempe's university district to Downtown Phoenix. It's a cheap ($2 per ride, $4 for an all-day pass) and convenient option for those looking to avoid downtown traffic.

Next Steps: Phoenix

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