Albany, much like Boston, is one of those cities that is best enjoyed by walking it. Albany is loaded with historic, beautiful churches that you would otherwise miss during a drive. Albany also has some of the best architecture in the US and also the most diverse. Here you will see just about every style of building there is to see. Another great aspect of Albany are all the ma and pa run shops, cafes, pubs and carts. Check the link below for guided and self guided walking tours info, also check out the horse and buggy tours offered.
You're best bet to traveling in the area is to have car access. If you do, nothing is beyond your reach.
That's why if you're visiting from overseas, connect with someone in the area who can drive you to the best places and drop you off if need be.
City Buses are do-able and affordable - I used to take them to work all the time - but you're really better off walking when you want to get around downtown, and buses to anywhere else are a bit of a hassle. Too much changing vehicles and checking schedules. Do-able if need be, but find a friend with a car. It will make your life so much easier!!
You can use taxis, too, of course, but you need to call one if you're not downtown. Besides which, they can get pricey.
One of the many ways to get to Albany for NYC is to take the train. Amtrak provides daily service to Albany several times a day. There are two stations serving the Albany area, one located at 555 East Street in Rensselaer and the other located at 332 Erie Blvd. in Schenectady. You'll have to take a bus or a cab to get to Albany from either of these two stations. Fares start at around $40 for a one way ticket.
I only live about 1.5 hours away from Albany so each time I go I drive. Traffic usually isn't an issue and the drive up is rather beautiful, especially during Autumn. The quickest driving route is off course the NYS Thruway, but you can take longer more touristy routes by taking Routes 9W or 32. Beware that if you go any other way other than the thruway, you will have to travel thru every tiny town between your starting and ending points. The positve side of taking the road less traveled is that you'll get to see some of the historic sites along the way that you would otherwise miss.
As per my usual method, I rented this 2004 Chrysler Sebring Touring at the Montreal airport for the 215 mile drive south to Albany. No hassles at the border, but I was surprised to see a few slabs of ice still holding onto the rock walls of Interstate 87 as it passed through the Adirondack Mountains in the Lake Placid area! The Albany area is very spread out, so you really need a car to get around. This was was nice to drive and I tuned in various radio stations to keep me company on the drive (I forgot to bring some CDs!). Here it sits outside the Barnsider restaurant off Wolf Road.
I just found lately that the Dragon Coach (A Chinese Co. ) operates a bus line from NYC to Albany and from Albany to NYC for only $20 (one way)!! (For your information, Greyhound:$32) Call 1-800-4751160 for updated schedule.
schedule: departure ( 1250 Broadway, NYC) 8:00AM
departure (420 Broadway, Albany)
To get from Albany to the Adirondack area, travel the Northway (I-87)
To travel between the NYS Thruway and the Massachusetts area, take (I-90)
And of course, to head west in NY as well as south to New York City, hop on the NYS Thruway.
The best thing about getting around Albany, is that whether you're uptown or downtown, even when you are moving into the more suburban areas, you can walk and see so many attractions.
When your feet get tired, there are numerous CDTA bus stops to catch for a low fare and they stretch from the city to the more suburban and even semi-rural areas.