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Getting Around Philadelphia

The best way to get around Philadelphia is by foot or PHLASH bus. Although some attractions like the Philadelphia Zoo require some other mode of transport, most sightseeing is centered in the Old City, Rittenhouse Square and Society Hill areas, all of which are very pedestrian-friendly. To get from Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and around the city, you can use a tangle of trolleys, buses and subways. A cab ride from the airport to Center City costs a flat rate of $28.50. From March to December, you can also get around via the purple PHLASH buses. Hailing a cab is also an option, but the cost of the rides can add up quickly, or you can use a ride-hailing service like Uber or Lyft. And if you – like the majority of Philly travelers – come to the city by car, you should invest in a good map and be prepared for some driving and parking frustrations.

If you're traveling to Philadelphia from a nearby city, you might want to take Amtrak into the 30th Street Station. For New York travelers, you'll save some money by taking a combination of New Jersey Transit and SEPTA trains.

On Foot

Once inside the city, you'll find that Philly's downtown is very foot-traffic friendly. Organized in a grid pattern, the streets are easy to navigate. You'll notice directional signs to point you toward popular attractions, but if you need a little guidance, you can ask one of Center City District's goodwill ambassadors, who are dressed in teal uniforms and can supply maps.

Bike

Biking is another popular way of getting around, and rentals are available throughout the city. Rent one from a company like Fairmont Bicycles or Wheel Fun Rentals and cycle 25 miles on the Schuylkill River Bike Path from the city center to Valley Forge. Or, for shorter trips within the city, take advantage of Philly's bike-share program – Indego. It allows you to pick up a bike from any station around the city and return the bike to another location. Day passes cost $10.

Public Transport

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) operates buses, the subway and a trolley system. The transit system can be confusing, especially when compared to other cities of equivalent size. But with patience and most likely several transfers, you'll reach your ultimate destination. Tickets, which start at $2.50, can be purchased at the Broad Street subway stop and in stores downtown, including some Rite Aids. There are two subway lines: The Broad Street line goes north to south, while the Market-Frankford line, which is an elevated train, runs east to west. A one-day Independence Pass is $13 or $30 for a Family Pass, good for up to five people. Trolley routes extend from City Hall to the 30th Street Station. The bus system tends to be confusing and not very helpful to short-term tourists.

PHLASH buses

The purple PHLASH buses offer looped service in downtown Philadelphia with stops at popular sites like the Philadelphia Zoo and the Please Touch Museum, as well as Center City. Service is provided daily from May through Labor Day and between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve; weekend service is offered March through April and September through late November. The bus operates every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The fare is $2, but you can also buy a $5 all-day pass or a two-day pass for $7. 

Car

The city is definitely drivable. Many visitors arrive by car, and they also use them to get around, especially to reach the outer-lying attractions. But because Philadelphia is such a popular spot, the usual driving frustrations apply: an unfamiliar map, expensive parking (not to mention spots that require parallel parking) and a profusion of one-way streets. You can rent cars at the Philadelphia airport and at agencies scattered throughout the city.
Taxi

Taxis are another option of getting around, but these can get expensive quickly. The meter starts at about $3 and rises every one-seventh mile. There is a flat rate for taxis from the airport to the center of Philadelphia, which is $28.50, plus $1 per extra person. Ride-hailing services, such as Uber and Lyft also operate within the Philadelphia area.

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