Getting Around Charleston, SC
The best way to get around Charleston is on foot. That said, you'll probably enjoy the use of a car too. You can rent some wheels at Charleston International Airport (CHS) – or bring your own – and leave it parked in one of the garages that pepper the city. Having a car is especially helpful if you're staying in the city outskirts or if you plan on indulging in some beach time. City buses and trolleys are available too, as are taxis. From the airport, which is located about 12 miles northwest of the downtown area, you can take a cab or shuttle bus. There is a $15 minimum charge for taxis departing from the airport. From the airport, there is also a shared shuttle bus that departs every 15 minutes and costs $15 per person. The price is lower than a taxi ride, but the trip will be longer due to the multiple stops the bus makes.
To get the full flavor of Charleston, you need to walk. Art galleries, boutiques, restaurants and historic homes fill downtown and many are in close proximity to one another. But if you're touring around in the sweltering summer, make sure to apply sunscreen and drink plenty of water. If you want a little direction while strolling, consider signing up for a guided walking tour.
If you plan on staying in the city's outskirts or spending some time at the beach, you'll need to rent a car. You'll find several agencies, such as Hertz, Enterprise and Budget, located at Charleston International Airport and throughout the Greater Charleston area. Make sure to check with your hotel on its parking policy; some properties charge extra.
Bus & Trolley
The city operates bus lines, as well as free DASH shuttles. The DASH buses stop at popular points of interest, such as the South Carolina Aquarium, Charleston City Market, Waterfront Park and the Charleston Museum. You probably won't use the city buses as much as the DASH shuttles, unless you'd like to explore Mount Pleasant, the town east of Charleston (across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge). The city also offers service from downtown Charleston to the airport – the NASH Express route shuttles travelers back and forth.
A one-way ride on the bus costs $2 and gives weary feet a rest. You can buy passes at the downtown Charleston Visitor Center, the CARTA station and several grocery stores. One-day passes cost $7; three-day passes cost $14. NASH Express one-way tickets cost $3.50. Trolleys are free to ride. For information on route scheduled and operation hours, check the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) website.
You'll find a handful of taxis stationed at the airport and scattered throughout Charleston's downtown area. But cabs aren't as easy to come by outside city limits; plan to call ahead to book a metered taxi if you're not staying downtown. Popular companies include Charleston Cab Company and Charleston Green Taxi. Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft also operate in the Charleston area.
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