Philadelphia is the sixth largest city in the United States, so public transportation is a must. Whether you arrive by bus, train or plane, you will have several options for getting around to see this historic and vibrant city.
Although large, Philadelphia is easy to navigate on foot, by taxi, or by public transportation. It is better to divide the city by neighborhood to reduce transportation time. Here is a list of the best ways to get around the city.
If you are in no rush and time permitting, walking is one of the best ways to see the city and the hidden treasures of architecture and public art scattered throughout the city. Whatever the neighborhood, always be aware of your surroundings. If in doubt, it’s a good idea to download Google maps if you get lost.
Some of the best areas to explore on foot include: East Passyunk (filled with bakeries, bagel shops, and international restaurants), Old City (for shopping), and University City (for that college town feel).
Local Council: Streets running east to west are named after trees, such as chestnut, walnut or spruce, and streets north to south are numbered sequentially.
Public transportation is the way to go to all the museums and attractions.
SEPTA stands for Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. It’s the city’s transport giant that has locked the city down! It operates the buses, metro and trolley system. You can easily get to any part of the city by any of these modes. Buy a day pass ($ 2.50) or a SEPTA key (a rechargeable contactless chip). This gives you access and without having to carry cash or coins with you. Do not throw away your SEPTA key card. You can fill it up in cash on your next visit to Philly. If you want to pay cash on public transport, this is only the exact fare.
Subway trains operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Be aware of rush hour and off-peak hours. During rush hour, express trains will get you to your destination a little faster. Be sure to check the train letter (A or B) before boarding. Metro maps are available at most stations or from kiosk attendants.
- Trains, buses and trams run frequently and, on average, people can expect to wait 15 minutes between trips. On Sundays, you may have to wait between 20 and 30 minutes, so plan accordingly.
- All buses, trains and trolleys are equipped with accessible seats and services. The buses offer a kneeling feature that allows easy access in and out of the bus for people with accessibility issues.
PHLASH service is provided daily from May to Labor Day, September 10 to December 30, Friday to Sunday only. The bus runs every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The fare is $ 2, but you can also purchase a $ 5 all-day pass or a two-day pass for $ 7.
Philadelphia is a city made for cycling. There are over 200 miles of bike lanes, buffered bike lanes, conventional bike lanes, dotted / board lanes, marked shared lanes and neighborhood bike lanes throughout the city.
Launched in 2015, Indego is Philadelphia’s bike sharing program, offering more than 130 stations and 1,000 bikes across the city, available for hire 24/7. Users simply collect a bicycle from a self-service docking station and return it to a station near their destination. Prices range from $ 12 for a 24-hour pass to $ 156 for an annual pass.
Taxis and carpools
If you are short on time, then a taxi or carpooling is the solution. There are taxis everywhere and available 24 hours a day. Taxis can be found near transportation hubs like Philadelphia International Airport and 30th Street Rail Station and Greyhound Bus Station located at 10th and Filbert Street. Most taxis accept cash and credit, debit, and prepaid cards.
For a ride anytime or anywhere, ridesharing apps like Uber or Lyft are the way to go. But remember, if you go to a big event or travel during peak hours, the prices will go up dramatically.
Hop-on hop-off guided tours
A sightseeing hop-on hop-off tour is one of the best ways to start your trip. Get to know the layout of the city and top attractions like Independence Hall, Elfreth’s Alley or Christ Church Cemetery while making the most of your time. You can see more than 28 stops or sit and enjoy the city during the 90-minute tour. Prices for day passes start at $ 38 for adults. Multilingual audio commentary is available.
From hotels to historic sites like the Liberty Bell Center and the Benjamin Franklin Museum to outdoor activities like ice skating on Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia offers a range of options and infrastructure for visitors with disabilities. SEPA and PhillyPHLASH are both wheelchair accessible. The halls and historic sites of the city offer wheelchair rentals (on a first come, first served basis). Philly Touch Tours are historic tours specially designed for visitors with vision loss.
Click here to download Lonely Planet’s free accessible travel guide.