City Highlight: Philadelphia - Philadelphia, Skyline on the Schuylkill River

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City Highlight: Philadelphia

Philadelphia is more than just a beacon of American liberty, it's vibrant art scene, diverse population and world-class museums all add to its appeal

Philadelphia, affectionately known as ‘Philly’, is immensely rich in history. Both the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution were signed here, and it even served as the capital of the United States while Washington DC was being built. Art is a major draw – the city has the largest collection of public art in America, while its many outstanding museums and charming parks also contribute to its appeal.

Best time to go

With precipitation distributed evenly throughout the year, you’re advised to pack a raincoat or take an umbrella with you when visiting Philadelphia.

Spring (March to May) starts off cold with March seeing an average high of 13°C (55°F) and an average low of 1°C (34°F). But the weather turns pleasant and by April, wildflowers bloom and the locals come out in droves to enjoy the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival.

Summer (June to August) is hot and muggy, but peak season nonetheless. As the birthplace of America, Philadelphia celebrates the Fourth of July with a string of events and fireworks.

Autumn (September to November) is beautiful as the leaves start to change colours. In October, the average high is 21°C (70°F) while the average low is 9°C (48°F).

Winter (December to February) can be wet and cold, but you can warm yourself up with many rounds of ice skating at the Rothman Ice Rink at Dilworth Park or the Blue Cross River Rink Winterfest.

Getting Around

Philadelphia is a walkable city as each neighbourhood is signposted and colour coded. The SEPTA Bus and the seasonal Phlash Bus, as well as the subway system, are just as easy to use. For information on the RiverLink Ferry, taxis, bicycles and rental cars, see the Getting around Philadelphia guide.

Must-see attractions

The Liberty Bell Center

Located at 6th and Market Streets, the famed Liberty Bell is displayed in a magnificent glass chamber – a perfect backdrop for a great selfie. The Centre also shows a film giving visitors a good insight into the iconic relic.

National Constitution Center

Just two blocks from the Liberty Bell is this amazing Center dedicated to the US Constitution. Visitors can explore the interactive exhibits and walk among the 42 life-size bronze statues of the Founding Fathers.

City Hall

The largest municipal building in America, this formidable building took 30 years to build. Approach this building from South Broad Street on the Avenue of the Arts to take in the sensational views first.

For more recommendations, check out Things to see in Philadelphia guide.

Must-try specialities

Philadelphia is famous for ‘Philly cheese-stakes’. This popular fast-food is a sandwich of thin strips of beefsteak with melted cheese in a long hoagie roll. Pennsylvania Dutch food such as Apple Dumplings and Shoo-fly pies (a sweet dessert made with molasses), as well as water ice (similar to sorbet), are must-try specialities.

Tipping: a 20% tip is expected when going to restaurants.

For more information, check out our Restaurants in Philadelphia page for the best places to eat.

Hotels in Philadelphia

As a popular tourist hub, Philadelphia has a wide range of hotels to suit all pockets. The Hyatt at the Bellevue is an excellent choice for those who want a 5-star treatment. For budget conscious travellers, Alexander Inn is a good bet. To see other recommendations, check out Hotels in Philadelphia guide.

Nightlife in Philadelphia

Philadelphia comes alive when the sun goes down with smooth jazz clubs, raunchy nightclubs and classy concert halls vying for your business. Best places include the trendy South Street, the riverfront around Penn’s Landing, and along Columbus Boulevard. See the Philadelphia Nightlife guide for more information.

Visa requirements to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Visitors coming from Australia, Canada and the UK do not need a visa unless they are staying more than 90 days. You must, however, apply for an ESTA before travelling. For more information on ESTA and USA entry visas, please see the United States of America Passport and Visa guide or see the Do you need a visa to the United States article.

Before you go, check out:
Philadelphia travel guide
Pennsylvania travel guide

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