Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International
(ATL) is the world’s busiest passenger airport, which not only makes getting to Atlanta easy, but often translates into competitive fares for travelers. Delta and AirTran both have their home bases here, and offer direct flights to and from scores of cities around the country. ATL is also served by every other major U.S. carrier. The airport has its own MARTA station (between the North and South terminals), making rapid transit one of the easiest—not to mention cheapest—ways to get into the city. For just $2, MARTA's Red or Gold Line trains will whisk you Downtown in just 20 minutes. Cabs covering the same distance run $30 plus tip ($32 to Midtown, $40 to Buckhead). For added convenience, both Delta and AirTran have even installed check-in counters at the airport MARTA station.
Atlanta is a major stop on Amtrak
's Crescent line, which makes daily trips between New York and New Orleans. From the north (including other major stops like Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Charlotte and Greenville), the train leaves New York at 2:15 pm and arrives in Atlanta around 8:15 am the next morning; from the south (including Birmingham) it leaves New Orleans at 7 am and arrives around 8pm. The Atlanta Amtrak station is located at 1688 Peachtree Street NE, on the north end of Midtown. It's unfortunately not directly linked to the MARTA train system, but bus route 110, which you can catch outside the Arts Center MARTA train station, stops in front of the Amtrak station (be sure the bus is heading toward Lenox Square/Buckhead).
links Atlanta to hundreds of locations across the United States, with daily scheduled service going in every direction into and out of the city, making it one of the most popular forms of Atlanta transportation to and from the area. The main terminal is downtown at 232 Forsyth Street, right near the Garnett MARTA station (on both the Red and Gold Lines). Greyhound also provides a Flightlink service to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which stops at the lower level of the North terminal. Apex Bus
, a much smaller operation, provides daily transport between New York City and Atlanta. Apex is one of New York's so-called Chinatown buses, which can sometimes be an adventure; but Apex travels the long route (with no pick-up stops in between) in an impressive thirteen and a half hours, at one way fares under $100. Apex's Atlanta stop is at 5600 Buford Highway NE in rather out of the way Doraville, but a MARTA Gold Line station is a just few blocks away.
Cabs in Atlanta aren't cheap: For all rides starting and ending at a business (e.g., from hotel to restaurant) within Downtown, Midtown or Buckhead, there's a high $8 minimum, plus $2 for each person beyond one. (In an expansive city like Atlanta, this can definitely work to your advantage though, since a metered ride within a large area like Buckhead could easily cost far more than $8.) For all other rides, taxi rates are metered at $2.50 for the first 1/8 mile and 25 cents for each additional 1/8 mile. Cabs can be hailed (especially in Downtown and Midtown), but you may have better luck getting your hotel's concierge to call one for you. Cabs sit waiting for passengers outside many hotels, tourist attractions, and even some Downtown MARTA stops. Cabbing around as your Atlanta transportation can be frustrating, but it certainly can be done. Locals aren't generally thrilled with any of Atlanta's cab companies, but Checker
(404-351-1111) is among the ones that they complain about the least, and it's been around for 60+ years. More information on Atlanta taxis is available at 404-762-6087.
While driving might seem essential in a city as spread out as Atlanta, between the city's elaborate MARTA system and taxis, there's really no need, unless you plan to venture beyond the city limits. If you must drive, bear several things in mind: 1. Parking here is difficult and expensive, especially Downtown—some hotels charge upwards of $30 per night for the privilege of parking your car; 2. One way streets, again especially Downtown, can be confusing and nerve-wracking; and 3. Atlanta has a reputation for scary, unpredictable drivers, and as such many visitors claim roads here are worse here than Los Angeles or New York. Buckle up, and don't say we didn't warn you. If it's your first time visiting the city we don't recommend driving as your primary source of Atlanta transportation, we want you to love it here.
Atlanta's MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) is the ninth largest urban public transport system in the U.S., and its easily navigable network of convenient rail stops makes it a great way for visitors to get around. With a little advance homework, the web of bus routes can add even more car-free mobility. While crime can happen anywhere, and late night rides (as in any big city) can sometimes feel a bit dodgy, MARTA is mostly a very safe option for Atlanta transportation. Trains run from 5am to 1am, with peak hour service every 12 minutes, off-peak service every 15 minutes, and night service (after 9pm) every 20 minutes. Buses run from 5am to 1:30am on weekdays, and until 12:30am on weekends and holidays. Single rides are $2, including free transfers between buses and trains. A 7-Day Pass is just $15 for unlimited transport throughout the system. Fares are loaded onto Breeze Cards (plastic refillable cards often used by locals) or Breeze Tickets (paper refillable cards that expire within 90 days and have a $20 limit often used by visitors). Breeze Cards have a one-time $5 surcharge, but include two free trips. Breeze Tickets have a one-time $.50 surcharge. Breeze Cards and Tickets are both sold at RideStores (in the Five Points, Lenox, and Airport rail stations) and Breeze vending machines (in all 38 rail stations). Full system maps and information is available online at www.itsmarta.com