This is a car-type city (not like downtown San Francisco or New York). You need a car to get around. We rented a car at the airport -- all the major car rental companies are there, but the one I chose - Thrifty's was a pain-in-the-butt as their cars are not at the airport, but a few miles away (probably all rentals compounds were away from the airport, but I had never dealt with it before).
We had no problems leaving the airport, but I got lost returning the car (and almost missed my plane home). So heed my warning, when renting car with off-site rental locations (especially fairly distant off-site locations like Atlanta), leave enough time to drop your car off!!
We were told over and over again, unless you wanted to wait in slow traffic, do not to mess with the Atlanta rush hour. We didn't -- the traffic was bad enough in mid-day and evening. One reason traffic is so bad in Atlanta is that three major interstates meet in downtown Atlanta, the I-85, I-20, and I-75, plus the city is ringed by I-285.
Once you get downtown, there appears to be two subways (the transit system is called MARTA) - one going north/south, and the other east/west. I never tried the subway. We stayed near the airport, and drove downtown, parked and walked around. Many Atlanta features are within walking distance - Turner field, Philips arena, CNN, Coca Cola tour, Atlanta Underground, etc.
Take a flight to Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport. It´s the biggest or busiest Airport of the world. Nowhere else so many flight passengers arrive or depart. Hub of Delta Airlines. To get around in the city take your feet. All the main attractions are within walking distance from the downtown area. Public transportion is good. Try a MARTA (name of the transportation system) train if you want to go from downtown to visit Turner Field (baseball stadium of the Atlanta Braves) or if you want to get to Hartsfield International.
Hartsfield has flights from anywhere to anywhere. The largest airport in the country!
Marta can be helpful. Keeps you out of our world famous traffic jams....and some thought LA had the market cornered on smog and traffic.
The best way to get here is into Hartsfield International Airport, the busiest airport in the world. If you come into international arrivals, you have to take a train six stops and claim your baggage twice just to get to the main terminal. Luckily you can take the metro (MARTA) directly from the airport - if you happen to be going somewhere on the MARTA line, which isn't too likely. Clark Howard has some of the best travel deals coming to and from Atlanta and other places.
You're on your own here (see my traffic tips elsewhere, including The Atlanta Roadways Digest). On top of the car (or should I say SUV/minivan) problems, Atlanta is not a very pedestrian or biker-friendly city. Like I said, if you own your own helicopter you've got it made. Not being rich, I do not, though I've an XJS that doesn't go anywhere near as fast in Atlanta as it should.
Atlanta is served by the Hartsfield International Airport, the second busiest airport in the US.
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority
rapid-rail subway from the airport is the best way to reach places in town.You can rent a car at the airport.
Many important roads go through Atlanta, the I-85, I-20, and I-75. The city is ringed by the I-285.
Bus campanies also connect Atlanta to other US cities and this too is a comfortable option.
Atlanta has a good subway system and an efficient bus service run by MARTA and so getting around town is quite easy.Taxis are easily available though a more expensive option. Parking lots are located at the CNN center as also at Peachtree center and other locations.Parking is available all over town. Many places charge but you run a good chance of getting your parking stub validated at the place that you are visiting in the historic districts. the streets are wide with parallel parking in most places.parking meters are on the streets and lots are not usually free, unless you are visiting a restaurant.
If the city is not your thing or you are just saturated with concentrete, head to Stone Mountain Park, it's really very special park which in which you could spend a good portion of the day. Here you willfind a 19th century plantation house with guided tour, an antique museum, river boat and railroad tours, a laser show and the world's largest granite boulder complete with a Civil War carved relif.Admission charged.6867 memorial Dr. on Stone Mountain hoe to the world's largest relief carving on the world's largest mass of ecposed granite, Stone Mountain Park is often reffered to as the Eighth Wonder of the World. Most popular attractions in the country.
You can explore 3,200 acres of breathtaking scenery, pristine lakes, forestland, spectacular flora and nature trails.
Atlanta is a city best seen by car. MARTA (Atlanta's subway system) is clean and efficient, but if you are used to more extensive subway systems you will be disappointed with it. Rent a car if you can afford it.
When you are on the highway, be careful of "exit only" lanes that always seem to be popping up on the right. Keep one or two lanes to the left until you get near your destination exit.
I recently rented a car from Thrifty's "airport" location and strongly recommend against renting from them. Although they claim to be located at the airport online, they are not really right at the airport--it's actually a mile or so away. And the people there pressured me into paying extra for insurance, something I never usually do. They more or less threatened that if I didn't purchase the insurance, they would find something wrong with the car when I returned it. I called their customer service when I returned home and the money was refunded, but I didn't appreciate being lied to and pressured at 1:00 a.m. when I finally got to Atlanta and picked up my car.
I have had luck with Enterprise car rentals in Atlanta in the past, but I don't know if they are located at the airport. Plenty of other companies are though.
I spent part of my time in Atlanta getting around by myself on MARTA, and part of it with one of my friends shuttling me around in his car. My friend was a South Carolina native but had been to ATL several times. We found the streets extremely hard to navigate, even with a map. A lot of streets have very similar names, differentiated only by the direction designation on the end (NW,SE, etc.). And the jokes about "Peachtree" being in every street name are truer than you'd think. Peachtree Street/Avenue/Drive/Square, etc.--they're everywhere you look. For this reason, I recommend using the rail to get around if you're looking for a hassle-free vacation.
Atlanta, by far, has the worst transportation system of any large city, including Los Angeles. Not only does MARTA suck, but the freeway system is a joke.
Atlanta is served by the 20 (which runs east west), the 75/85 (they run together throughout the city and then split at both the north and south ends of the city); and the 285 (which essentially goes in a big circle). There are a few other smaller freeways that serve the area but none of these smaller ones will take you where you need to go.
There are 12 or 13 different streets named Peachtree, which literally drove me mad. I also found out that the closest distance between two points was not a line, but rather a series of twisting roads that seemed to take you right back the way you came from. Atlanta traffic was a little bit much for me.
I'd seriously suggest studying a map and having your route clearly established before you travel here.
You really should have a car or you're going to miss out on a lot. The rail line runs North/South/East/West. If you're only planning to visit Downtown, Midtown, or Buckhead, I suggest taking the rail line.
Atlanta is a horrible town to drive around in (one of the most congested in the U.S.). Luckily there is an alternative to driving. The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority is Atlanta's state-of-the-art public transportation system. MARTA trains are an inexpensive and reliable way to get around town. It's also well integrated with the bus system, which serves many of the areas MARTA doesn't. Transfers between the two systems are free. MARTA trains conveniently connect the airport and downtown Atlanta.
Atlanta international airport or passenger rail
The easiest way to get around is to use the above ground rail system called MARTA. It is only $1.75 US for a ride and can get you from the airport to downtown in 5-10 minutes.
Getting there's not too bad, it's getting through it. I'd think that driving would be a little better than flying. Flying is only hard when you have to get out on the road to your destination. When driving, you become part of the traffic and it kind of flows like a river, a fast river, but none the less a river.
Get a car! It gets pretty bad, but I'd rather drive then have a face-off with hundreds of cars doing 90! Make sure you have plenty of time! We were passing through one time and normally it takes about 30-45 minutes and you're out, it took us almost 2 hours to get out of there! So time is a MUST!
One can take MARTA, however, it is very limited and you could still walk miles to your destination from the MARTA station. If you don't have a car... rent one. There is no way to really effectively do anything in Atlanta without a car.
Gray Line Loop Tour gives you a good taste of, Midtown, Buckhead and Downtown.
It loops through the city and you can exit and enter the bus all day long when ever you want.
Gray Line Atlanta:
705 LIVELY AVENUE
NORCROSS GEORGIA 30091
From the north east and southwest, use rt. 85. From the north, use rt. 75. From the east and west, use rt. 20.
Since Atlanta is far away from other major cities, it always helps if you can just fly in. But for a college student like myself, the road is where my heart is content.
Either use a cab, or you can use the public transportation system which is really easy to find your way around with. It's called Marta. 'Marta is Smarta!!'