Visitors sometimes feel confused when they have to tackle the public transit system of Atlanta. MARTA, or Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, is the transit rail system of Atlanta and there are plenty of stations throughout the city. But once you know what you are doing, you can easily move through Atlanta. We'll help you out with that too.
Another great option and a part of the Atlanta public transport is the Atlanta Streetcar which is a unique and cool way to get around downtown Atlanta. You can also take a taxi or shuttle instead of using MARTA. Car rentals are available if you want to take on the city streets, and of course, you can lace up your walking shoes and take a walking tour of different neighborhoods to learn more about the city.
Keep reading to learn how to get around Atlanta, there are several different options for you. Before you start exploring the city, drop your extra bags at a luggage storage service so you are not dragging your heavy items with you on MARTA or in a cab. There are plenty of ways to get around Atlanta, so enjoy the city!
How to get around Atlanta by train
The MARTA system includes trains, buses, and a downtown streetcar. There are four main lines that are color coded that intersect at the downtown Five Points Station. The train lines that are gold and red run north and south. The green and blue lines run east and west. Metro Atlanta is the fastest option to use in Atlanta and visitors can navigate it pretty easily.
You can also access the MARTA rail system directly at the airport and be whisked into downtown Atlanta to shop or even DeKalb and Fulton counties. With 420,000 passenger trips each year, MARTA provides convenient transportation that is quick and pretty easy. It is relatively cheap to ride MARTA, especially if you have a Breeze card which can be pre-loaded making getting on and off the train or bus a breeze.
The red line from the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to North Springs whereas the gold line runs from Hartsfield-Jackson to Doraville. The blue line starts at Hamilton E. Holmes and ends at Indian Creek, the green line starts at Bankhead and also ends at Indian Creek.
Five Points Station
Address: 20 Broad St SW, Atlanta, GA 30303
This metro station is the main transport hub for MARTA in Atlanta and is the transfer point for all of the metro lines. Five Points Station provides direct access to the Five Points Business District, City Hall, Underground Atlanta, Station Soccer, the Richard B. Russell Federal Building, and downtown Atlanta, just to name a few of the main attractions.
The red and gold metro lines are located underground and the train goes through a tunnel under Broad Street. The line goes north to south between Peachtree Center to Garnett. The blue and green metro lines are located on the second level of the station but are below the elevated street viaducts in the downtown area of Atlanta and run east to west.
This station also provides bus services for those who prefer riding the bus rather than the metro. Catch connecting buses that will take you to several main attractions including Grant Park, East Atlanta Village, Zoo Atlanta, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, City Hall, South Dekalb Mall, and many more.
Address: 216 Peachtree St, NE, Atlanta, GA 30303
Located at Peachtree Street and Andrew Young Boulevard, the Peachtree Center services the red and gold metro lines. The station is 120 feet underneath Peachtree Street and there is no parking at the station. There are two entrances at Peachtree Street and John Portman Blvd, and two entrances at Peachtree Street and Forsyth.
This busy station also has an Atlanta Streetcar stop located near Forsyth right next to the elevator. There are several tourist attractions, restaurants, shopping, hotels, and office building within walking distance of the Peachtree Center. It is one of the busiest MARTA rail stations in Atlanta.
Address: 7010 Peachtree Dunwoody Rd, Sandy Springs, GA 30328
Located east of GA 400 and just west of Peachtree Dunwoody Road, the North Springs station is the final station along the red metro line. There is plenty of parking available and if you are just planning a day trip you can park for free, otherwise, there is a small fee to park each day.
Local and regional buses also stop at North Springs. The Cashier’s Office handles all metro and bus transactions if you are not using a Breeze card. Use the Peachtree Dunwoody Road entrance or the flyover ramp at the GA 400 entrance.
How to get around Atlanta by bus
MARTA is also in charge of the public bus system in Atlanta with almost 100 routes that crisscross the city. The bus system can be confusing because of all the stops and transfers in the city and suburbs, making it complicated to master. You will want to check out the MARTA bus website for a map of the bus routes.
It does cost the same to ride the bus or the train and it is easiest to use your Breeze card or Ticket pass. Transfers are only available for those with a Ticket pass or Breeze card. Buses do run every day from 5:00 a.m. until 12:30 a.m.; some areas run until 1:00 a.m. if it is a more populated area. Atlanta by bus is a great way to see more of the city but can be time consuming with all the stops along the way.
There are even para-transit buses that will have a wheelchair lift for those needing accessible transport. Check the MARTA website for para-transit bus routes. Drivers of the para-transit buses are trained in operating the wheelchair lift and properly securing chairs and walkers for safety.
Ride the MARTA Streetcar
The MARTA Streetcar runs along a loop through downtown Atlanta to the Peachtree Center Station in the King Historic District. You can hop on or off the streetcar at any of the 12 stops and the streetcars run every 15 minutes seven days a week. Times do vary depending on the day, check the MARTA website for daily operating times.
There are several amazing attractions located near the MARTA streetcar stops and you can easily walk to these attractions including museums like the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park, Centennial Olympic Park, and the College Football Hall of Fame. You will need to purchase a one-way ticket to ride the streetcar or you can purchase a one-day pass if you are planning to hop on and off throughout the day.
You can also use your Breeze card to ride the streetcar. Children that are under 46 inches tall can ride the streetcar for free when riding with a paying adult. Children really get a kick out of riding the streetcar and seeing so many of the amazing attractions in downtown Atlanta. Check out the route map on the MARTA website so you know where the stops are for the streetcar.
How to get around Atlanta by car
Hailing a taxi in Atlanta is pretty simple and flat rates are available from the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to downtown Atlanta. Flat rates are also available from the airport to Buckhead and Midtown. Meter rates do apply when you are heading to other areas in and around Atlanta and are based on a per mile rate.
Taxis are generally available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and it is pretty simple to hail a taxi at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport where cabs are waiting for you in a designated taxi service area. Many taxis are also parked outside the larger hotels to keep you from having to call for a cab and waiting for them to arrive.
Most places in and around Atlanta including the central business district are easily accessible by car with plenty of parking available for visitors and workers. While the streets in Atlanta can sometimes be a bit confusing, especially in construction zones, you may still choose to drive yourself around the city rather than rely on public transit or taxis.
Thankfully, with the use of a GPS, you can avoid the heavy traffic and construction zones and even make sense of all of the streets in Atlanta that have Peachtree in its name. You should be able to navigate from point A to point B without too many missteps or turnarounds.
Limo Services and Shuttles
If you do not want to drive yourself around Atlanta, you can hire a limo service or even a shuttle service. Move through the city in style by being chauffeured around in a limousine. Your driver will safely get you to where you need to go without the hassle of you having to deal with the heavy Atlanta traffic.
If a limousine is not to your taste, you can hire a shuttle service or Lyft or Uber to take you around town. While it will cost you more for any of these options, it does keep you from having to ride public transit or take a cab.
Free shuttle service is available by many hotels to and from the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. When you make your hotel reservations be sure to ask if they provide a free shuttle service or if you will need to use public transportation to get to the hotel.
You can bring your own bicycle or even find a bike rental service near Centennial Olympic Park or the Atlanta Beltline. While you probably will not want to bike along some of the highways, there are plenty of fantastic biking trails and sidewalks that are wonderful for those wanting to get around the city on two wheels.
There are several areas in Atlanta that are bike friendly, including several green spaces that connect much of the city together. Many places in the city do also have bike racks where you can secure your bike so you can explore a bit on foot, visit a restaurant, attraction, or even shops.
Can I get around Atlanta by foot?
One of the most iconic walking paths in Atlanta is the Atlanta Beltline which follows debunked railroad lines. The Beltline is an ongoing project that is being developed to include walking and biking paths, restaurants, shopping, entertainment venues, and so much more. The Beltline will make a 22-mile loop around Atlanta that can connect neighborhoods with well-manicured paths.
It is also easy to walk through downtown Atlanta to check out the various attractions. Wide, well-maintained sidewalks make it easy to stroll along. With plenty of shopping and restaurants throughout downtown, you can spend hours exploring on foot and never need to use public transit or hail a taxi.
See Downtown Atlanta via Public Transportation
Whether you are a tourist visiting Atlanta or a local trying to figure out the public transportation system, it can seem a bit daunting at first to try and learn the MARTA system. On the flip side, tackling the Atlanta roads by car can also be daunting.
The good thing is there are many benefits to public transit like free transfers, the speed of the MARTA train, and the wide reach of the MARTA buses. Zoom around the metro area by leaving your car if you have one at most MARTA stations, avoiding traffic woes, and even taking the time to read a good book!