Getting Around Atlanta
The best way to get around Atlanta is by MARTA, Atlanta's public transportation system. MARTA operates both bus and rail lines throughout the city and into nearby suburbs. For $2.50 per person, you can take the Red or Gold train from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), which sits about 10 miles south of downtown. You can also use the city's newest mode of transportation, the Atlanta Streetcar, to get to locales not within walking or biking distance of one another, but this system only stops by select downtown and Eastside attractions. Driving – though notoriously hectic here – is another option, and you'll find rental car kiosks in the airport. Taxis and ride-hailing apps are available as well, but expect high rates due to time spent sitting in traffic.
|On Foot & By Bike|
Attractions like World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium and the Center for Civil and Human Rights sit within walking distance of one another, while other sights, such as Oakland Cemetery and the Fox Theatre, can be reached by bike from the city center. Loaner bikes are available by the minute (starting at $3.50 for 30 minutes) through Atlanta's Relay Bike Share system. But remember, many locales situated outside the downtown area, including Stone Mountain Park, the Atlanta History Center and the trendy Buckhead neighborhood, are too far to get to on foot or by bike, so plan on using another mode of transportation.
Walking and biking tours are another great way to see the city's top attractions with the help of a local.
MARTA's trains are the quickest way to get around, but – at times – can be inefficient. All four Red, Gold, Blue and Green lines intersect at only one point (the Five Points station), making the train most effective for trips going north to south or east to west. Fare is a flat $2.50 for a one-way trip, with day passes costing $9 and multiday passes ranging from $14 for two days to $23.75 for one week. Riders can also opt for a 10- or 20-trip pass for $25 or $42.50. Up to two children measuring less than 46 inches ride for free with each paying adult, and reduced rates are available for seniors. Train times vary by line but generally run every 10 to 20 minutes starting as early as 4:45 a.m. and continuing past midnight.
MARTA buses operate throughout downtown and the suburbs. The system has more than 100 lines covering more than 1,000 miles, which can get confusing for some travelers. However, MARTA buses can be the easiest way to reach neighborhoods not accessible by MARTA train, such as West Midtown and Atlantic Station in the Westside. Buses are scheduled to arrive every 12 to 15 minutes on weekdays and on the half hour on weekends, but times vary depending on the line. Fare is the same $2.50 flat rate as the rail system, although transfers are only available to Breeze smart card and Ticket pass holders.
Offering 12 stops along a 2.7-mile loop, the Atlanta Streetcar is a viable option for getting between downtown and Eastside sights. Attractions located within walking distance of streetcar stops include Centennial Olympic Park, the College Football Hall of Fame and the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. Streetcars operate every 10 to 15 minutes (on average) from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 6 to 1 a.m. on Fridays, 8:30 to 1 a.m. on Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays, though exact hours may vary on holidays. To ride the streetcar, you'll need to purchase a ticket, which costs $1 per one-way ride and $3 for each one-day pass. Kids that measure less than 46 inches ride for free with a paying adult. Tickets are sold through the free Atlanta Streetcar mobile app – five- and seven-day passes can also be bought with the app for $10 or $11 – and at every stop's fare vending machines. A route map is available on the streetcar's website.
Driving can be a real pain in Atlanta; you should really only use a car if you're trying to get somewhere beyond MARTA's range. Beware of the terrible congestion, the local motorists' hectic driving style and scarce parking. Hotels can also charge $20 or more per night to park on-site. What's more, the city can be confusing to navigate – there are many one-way roads, frequent road name changes and several roads even share the same name. Rental agencies are located in the airport and throughout the downtown area.
In Atlanta, taxis hang out by the airport, hotels and special events. Flat rates from the airport to the business district – downtown, Buckhead and Midtown – are available for $30 to $40, with each additional person adding $2 to the fare. Using a taxi within those areas is fairly reasonable, but rates outside the business district are calculated with a meter and tend to be pricier. Metered rates start at $2.50 for the first 1/8 mile, with an extra 25 cents added for each additional 1/8 mile traveled. If you plan on using a taxi, bring printed directions for lesser-known destinations – the streets are so confusing that even cab drivers occasionally get turned around. Uber and Lyft are also available in Atlanta.
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