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World Travel Guide > Guides > North America > United States of America > California > Los Angeles

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Getting around Los Angeles

Public transport

Despite LA being one of the most car-oriented cities in the world, public transport can be a good way to get around. Metro (tel: +1 323 466 3876; www.metro.net) operates one of the largest fleets in the nation, with around 200 bus routes and six rail lines, including subway and light rail. Due to the size of the city, bus journeys can be time-consuming and may involve changing, but if the subway stops where required, it is a very good option.

You can pay with a token or in cash on the bus (exact change is required). Otherwise, buy a reloadable TAP smartcard, available at vending machines in Metro stations. Day, weekly and monthly passes are also available. Many hotels, convenience and grocery stores and Metro Customer Centers sell Metro passes and tokens.

Downtown Los Angeles also has its own bus system called DASH, operated by LADOT (tel: +1 310 808 2273; www.ladottransit.com).

Taxis

Taxis are readily available and there are ranks at major hotels, but you can't hail them on the street. The size of Los Angeles makes them expensive and impractical for cross-town journeys, but they are useful for night journeys within one area. Tipping at 15-20% is expected.

There are nine franchised taxi operators in the city (www.taxicabsla.org). Look for the official Los Angeles Taxicab Seal before getting in, as those without it have no legal authorisation to operate.

In Beverly Hills, the Beverly Hills Cab Company (tel: +1 800 273 6611; www.beverlyhillscabco.com) is a recommendable taxi service. Elsewhere, try Bell Cab (tel: +1 888 481 2345) or Independent Taxi Company (tel: +1 800 521 8294; www.taxi4u.com).

Driving

The distances between LA's various points can seem daunting, but it is pretty easy to get around by car. Plan your journey in advance and get to know a map of the major freeways or rent a car with GPS navigation. Other streets are laid out on a grid system and easy to navigate.

Freeways are well marked, but jammed during rush hours. Most have designated car pool lanes for cars carrying more than one person. Merge in and out of them when road markings permit and take care not to get stuck in one and miss your exit. LA drivers rarely use turn signals so stay alert.

For on-street meter parking (they take credit cards), read all signs carefully as there is a complicated system of days or hours when parking is not allowed for street cleaning etc. Illegally parked cars are ticketed and may be towed. Meters are usually free after 1800. Valet park at many restaurants for a nominal fee.

Car hire

All major car hire companies have offices in the LA area. These include Avis (tel: +1 800 633 3469; www.avis.com), Budget (tel: +1 800 218 7992; www.budget.com), Enterprise (tel: +1 800 261 7331; www.enterprise.com).

Drivers must be at least 25 years of age, depending on company policy. Optional CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) insurance is always recommended if not already covered by the driver's own policy.

Los Angeles Rent-A-Car (tel: +1 310 670 9946; www.la-rentacar.com) hires to drivers age 21 to 25.

Bicycle hire

Away from the freeways, Los Angeles is cycle friendly, with designated cycle lanes criss-crossing the city and running along the beachfront. A new Metro Bike Share system (bikeshare.metro.net) opened in 2016 which allows cyclists to pick up and drop off bicycles from stations across the city. Bikes are available on a pay-as-you-go and a membership basis. For pay-as-you-go access, go to a station with a credit or debit card to rent a bike.

Topanga Creek Outpost, 1273 North Topanga Canyon Boulevard (tel: +1 310 455 2111; www.topangacreekbicycles.com), hires out mountain bikes and can point you in the direction of some great trails in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Perry's Beach Cafe, 2400 and 2600 Oceanfront Walk, Santa Monica (tel: +1 310 939 0000; www.perryscafe.com), has bikes, tricycles and skates for hire and easy access to the bike paths on either side of Santa Monica Pier.

Metro plans to launch a bikeshare programme in mid-2016.

Featured Hotels

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Sheraton Universal

Bang next door to Universal Studios, the Sheraton Universal has something of a corporate air to it but is relaxed enough to offer a poolside bar. Rooms are reasonably sized, with plenty of creams and browns keeping things neutral. It also has a small pool and modern gym facilities. Ask for a room with views of the Hollywood Hills.

The Standard

Chic and affordable, The Standard is a glimpse into the mind of hotel designer André Balazs. Young sophisticates gather in the floor-to-ceiling shag-carpeted lobby for live DJs and performance art shows, while its poolside cafe and 24-hour restaurant serve up quality American comfort food. Rooms offer kitsch furniture, including beanbag chairs.

The Beverly Wilshire

Popularised by its appearance in Pretty Woman, this Four Seasons hotel is renowned for its classical grandeur and impeccable service. An ornately carved entrance leads to a magnificent lobby and a choice between the elegant Boulevard Restaurant, a wood-panelled piano lounge and Cut, the Wolfgang Puck steakhouse. Luxurious rooms have marble bathrooms and the spa is stunning.

Shutters on the Beach

One of two luxury hotels on the beach, Shutters combines sophistication with a beach holiday atmosphere. The lobby has esteemed modern art, including pieces by David Hockney and Roy Lichtenstein, and each room has a veranda. All have four-poster beds, plus a copy of Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea.

Howard Johnson Inn and Suites Reseda

A clean and affordable option in the San Fernando Valley, this hotel features free Wi-Fi, an outdoor pool and complimentary continental breakfast. Parking is free and access to the rest of California is made easy with Interstate 405 and Highway 101 running nearby.

Jerry's Motel

A low-key motel in Downtown, just minutes from major city attractions like Los Angeles Convention Center, Dodger Stadium, Broad Museum and The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. Unfussy double and twin rooms offer free Wi-Fi, satellite TV and coffeemakers, and the hotel provides free parking for patrons.