Planning a visit to Philly? We put together an easy-to-follow guide packed with information for getting around the city and beyond, including to and from the airport.
Downtown Philadelphia is easy to navigate – thanks to William Penn’s grid road design – it’s compact, walkable, taxis are easy to come by, and public transportation is easy (there’s even public transportation specifically for getting around to the top attractions).
Driving isn’t particularly challenging, but parking and traffic can make it a bit of a hassle downtown. Otherwise, it’s the most convenient way to get to destinations outside of the downtown area.
Planning to see lots of Philadelphia attractions? Check out The Philadelphia Pass – your ticket to up to 45% off the city’s most popular attractions, tours, activities, and more. The more you do, the more you save.
Philadelphia Public Transportation
Philadelphia’s public transit system, SEPTA, is one of the largest in the country and consists of commuter rail trains, subways and elevated trains, trolley’s and buses. Fare can be purchased and stored on SEPTA Key Cards.
There are 2 lines that run through downtown Philadelphia that intersect right at City Hall: the Market-Frankford Line (the “El” or Blue Line) and the Broad Street Line (the Subway or Orange Line).
In addition to those 2 major subway lines, there are 5 trolley lines, over 70 bus routes, and the PHLASH touris bus (see below) that fill in most of the gaps of downtown Philly and beyond.
Philly Public Transportation Resources:
- SEPTA Maps & Stations: view maps and stations for all public transportation services
- At-A-Glance printable/downloadable map of Philly Public Transportation
- Information about fare: cost and where to get a SEPTA Card
The Phlash tourist bus runs seasonally (May-October) and provides transportation to major tourist sites in the downtown area with over 20 stops.
Buses run on frequent, ~15-minute intervals, so you won’t have to wait long for a bus.
Check their site or download their app to see the most up-to-date service and click here to download the PHLASH map.
Popular stops along the Philly PHLASH route include Penn’s Landing, Independence Mall, The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Phildelphia Zoo, Rocky Statue & Steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, One Liberty Observation Deck, and more. (Many attractions along the route are included on The Philadelphia Pass.)
Tip: download the Moovit mobile app (free) for helpful trip planning and real-time public transportation updates.
Philadelphia is best explored by foot. It’s a compact city with history on every corner, so you’re likely to see sights you might not get to see by car or public transportation when you walk.
Tip: get acquainted with the city and where top attractions are located by downloading the Big Bus Philadelphia Tourist Map. Either save the .pdf to your phone or print it out to use and help plan your Philly itinerary. Or, download the maps.me app and download maps of Philadelphia–you can even drop pins to places you want to visit on your maps.
Philly is consistently voted a top city in the country for biking and commuting by bike for a reason—it’s super bike-friendly. Most roads have dedicated bike lanes, there are hundreds of miles of trails and paths, and bikes are readily available through bike share services and rental shops.
Taxis & Rideshares
Taxis are a popular way to get around the city and are typically easy to find – especially near popular destinations and major streets. Rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft are a popular alternative to taxis are widely available to order via your mobile device.
You can also take a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour to see the sites at your own pace – an especially fun way for tourists to get around, get a feel for the city, and get a tour of Philadelphia all in one. Hop off at popular stops and visit attractions or explore the area by foot and lear.
Tip: download the Big Bus Philadelphia Route Map in advance to plan which stops you want to hop on or off at.
Getting to Downtown Philadelphia from the Airport
The easiest and most inexpensive way to get to or from the Philadelphia International Airport to City Center in downtown Philadelphia is on the SEPTA Airport Line Regional Train.
The train stops at all major airport terminals and reaches City Center in about 25 minutes.
Service runs between 5:00 am-12:00 am (midnight).
Travel requires a Zone 4 weekday fare at all times.
Tip: SEPTA airport transportation tickets can be purchased in advance (online or at the station) for less than when you get there and if you purchase on-board, it’s CASH ONLY. Please allow 7-10 business days for your SEPTA ticket purchases to arrive by mail.
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