Atlanta, Georgia, is a sprawling metropolis so it can be overwhelming to think about getting from Point A to Point B. But there are plenty forms of transportation to help you get around, whether you’re visiting for a big event or a weekend vacation. We’re sharing our insider tips on the best ways to explore the city.
Don’t be intimidated by Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest. It’s set up with spokes along a straight line so you can either walk the distance or take the Plane Train. It goes in two directions and comes frequently, so don’t worry if you miss one. Signs will alert you to which stop is next and to the stores and restaurants located at the terminals. If you’re looking for ground transportation and baggage claim, wait until the very last stop.
If you want to go from the airport elsewhere, there are also additional connections you can make. The ATL SkyTrain is a rail connection to the Georgia International Convention Center and its neighboring hotels as well as the rental car center. The Airport MARTA Station can get you to the rest of the city.
MARTA Buses and Rail
MARTA is Atlanta’s public transportation system, which includes both bus and rail services. There are four rail lines that cover different parts of the city. Red and Gold lines go north to south and vice versa, while Green and Blue cover east and west. All rides, both bus and rail, cost $2.50 per segment. You can purchase a refillable Breeze card, including commemorative versions, for both or use individual tickets. The buses cover more surface area and connect the places in between.
If you’re visiting for an event, the stations you’ll want to be aware of are Peachtree Center and the Georgia World Congress Center, which provide access to attractions like Centennial Olympic Park, the World of Coca Cola, the Georgia Aquarium and Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Buckhead and Lenox stations are close to Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza malls as well as the Atlanta History Center. Arts Center and Midtown stations provide access to landmarks like the High Museum of Art and Piedmont Park, while the North Avenue station is close to the Fox Theatre and Ponce City Market. Georgia State and King Memorial stations are near historic Sweet Auburn and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park. The Airport station is where you’ll get off to fly home.
(Gene Phillips, AtlantaPhotos.com)
The Atlanta Streetcar is a new addition to Atlanta’s transportation scene, connecting downtown with Sweet Auburn in a loop. The 12 stops include Peachtree Center, Centennial Olympic Park, Sweet Auburn Market and the King Historic District. The streetcar is an air-conditioned carriage that runs on street level. You can pay for an individual fare or use credit from your Breeze card, the same way you pay for MARTA trips. You can also pay with the Atlanta Streetcar app. Each trip is $1.
Catching a cab is another way to get around Atlanta, but keep in mind that they’re not on every corner like they are in other cities. The best places to pick up a taxi are at the airport and in front of hotels. You might be able to hail one on the street, but it’s also a good idea to keep the numbers of a few companies in your phone. It’s also a wise to carry cash in case they aren’t outfitted with a card reader.
Atlanta has ridesharing, one of the easiest ways to get around the city. Lyft and Uber both have pros and cons, but it’s smart to download both apps to ensure you’ll be able to find a ride. The apps allow you to choose the type of ride you want, whether a large SUV or a shared car with other passengers. Lyft also lets you tip your driver within the app. You don’t need to carry cash to use these services. You might have to walk to a certain street to actually get to your car if affected by traffic and closed streets. Prepare yourself for surge prices, especially during the big game.
Scooters and Bikes
(James Duckworth, AtlantaPhotos.com)
The newest way to get around Atlanta, especially short distances, is on two wheels. The city has fully adopted the electric scooter craze, offering rentals from Lime, Bird, Lyft and Jump. Each has its own app that allows you to find the closest scooter, rent using a connected credit card, pause your rental and return it once you’re done.
The city also has bike shares and rentals. Relay was the first to arrive on the scene with docking stations throughout the city. Bikes can be unlocked using the app and then returned to another station. Jump also has electric bikes, which can be rented through the Uber app. Some neighborhoods are bike-friendly with separate lanes, especially Midtown. The BeltLine is also an ideal thoroughfare for bikes, connecting the Old Fourth Ward with Piedmont Park.
For both scooters and bikes, use your best judgment when it comes to use. Don’t ride while intoxicated, be sure to wear a helmet and follow traffic rules. Park in a place to the side that doesn’t block the sidewalks.
(James Duckworth, AtlantaPhotos.com)
Atlanta can also be explored on foot, especially in Midtown and around Downtown, a pedestrian-friendly part of the city. There are plenty of signs around to help you get around to desired landmarks. Be sure to use crosswalks and cross only when you have the light.
Caroline Eubanks is a writer, author, and metro Atlanta native. You can see her work on ThisIsMySouth.com and CarolineEubanks.com.