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Getting around Atlanta

Public transport

Although a car-dominated city, Atlanta also has rapid rail and bus services provided by the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) (tel: +1 404 848 5000; www.itsmarta.com), which means that you can reach most places by public transport. Buses and trains take reloadable Breeze cards (www.breezecard.com) only, available at MARTA station vending machines. One-, two-, three-, four- and seven-day passes are available.

The MARTA rail network runs from the north suburbs of Marietta to the airport in the south; east-west lines also extend across the suburbs. Trains are quiet, clean and, outside the rush hour, uncrowded.

The modern, electric Atlanta Streetcar launched in late 2014 and runs every 10 to 15 minutes between Centennial Olympic Park and the Martin Luther King, Jr,. National Historic Site. You need a Breeze card to pay your fare; these are available from vending machines at each stop.

Taxis

It’s not easy to flag down a taxi in Atlanta so preparation is key. The main taxi company is Checker Cab (tel: +1 404 351 1111). Around the Buckhead area, Lenox Taxi (tel: +1 404 872 2600) is popular.

Driving

Atlanta relies heavily on cars, so there is plenty of parking for most major office buildings, malls and hotels. However, rush-hour traffic can get heavy and thanks to adequate public transport, it is not necessary for visitors to hire a car unless staying outside the immediate centre or planning to visit sites located on the outskirts of the city.

Freeways are often congested, especially within the ring road (I-285) during weekday rush hours. The I-285 is a busy 8- to 12-lane highway with multiple exits, speeding traffic and poor regard to lane discipline.

For visitors staying on the outskirts of the city and using the light rail system to travel into the city, most MARTA stations provide parking. However, you should be careful of off-street parking near theatres and music venues. Not all of these temporary parking lots are legal.

Car hire

To hire a car, an International Driving Permit is only required if the visitor's national driving licence is not in English. Some agencies will not hire cars to anyone under 25 years old or possibly over 71 years. Car hire prices are very competitive and fly-drive deals can reduce the prices further.

Companies insist on Collision Damage Waiver insurance (CDW) and car hire prices quoted will usually not include this or sales tax at 8%. However, European insurance may be extendible to cover US driving and some credit cards may have an insurance option that covers car hire insurance.

Major car hire agencies, which have several offices throughout the city, include Alamo (tel: +1 888 826 6893; www.alamo.com), Budget (tel: +1 404 530 3000; www.budget.com) and Hertz (tel: +1 404 530 2925; www.hertz.com). 

Bicycle hire

Cycling in Atlanta has boomed. Many parts of the city are relatively flat and cycle paths and lanes are increasing rapidly. The multi-use Eastside Trail in particular is a must-do. Bicycle Tours of Atlanta (tel: 1 888 502 8602; www.biketoursatl.com) offers dedicated tours of the city. Check bike hire locations at Atlanta Bicycle Coalition (www.atlantabike.org/rentals).

 

A digital image at https://illuminoto.com

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The Ellis

In a landmark building on Peachtree Street, this chic boutique hotel has elegant rooms and is a short walk from top attractions such as the CNN Studio Tours. Unique features include a private-access women's only floor, whose rooms come with luxury Gilchrist & Soames toiletries. Enjoy organic farm-to-table dining at the Terrace Bistro.

Glenn Hotel

The Glenn's selling points are its proximity to downtown Atlanta's main attractions and Luckie Marietta District and the panoramic view from its SkyLounge rooftop bar. This stylish boutique hotel downtown has sleek, modern rooms and suites. The Glenn Kitchen restaurant serves local Southern favourites.

Westin Peachtree Plaza

This 73-storey, glass cylinder skyscraper hotel defines Atlanta's skyline. A five-storey lobby atrium and a thin glass elevator that inches up the building's exterior are just as sleek. Pie-shaped rooms are outfitted in natural hues and dark woods. On the 73rd floor is the multi-levelled, revolving Sun Dial Restaurant and Bar.

Georgian Terrace Hotel

A part of Atlanta's history, the hotel's Grand Ballroom hostedGone With The Wind's movie premiere gala in 1939. Now, a tall glass atrium rises above the lobby where author Margaret Mitchell, in 1935, hesitantly handed over her original manuscript to her future editor. The hotel's terrace is a good spot for a cocktail overlooking the historic Fox Theatre.

Four Seasons Atlanta

A grand staircase in the soaring lobby underscores the opulence of this luxurious property that occupies part of a 50-storey skyscraper. This hotel has all the trappings of luxury: formal but elegantly appointed rooms, a spa with 10 treatment rooms, an indoor saline lap pool, a top-of-the-range fitness centre and a lounge and terrace overlooking the lobby's dramatic atrium.

Hampton Inn Atlanta Northlake

Located in the northern business district near the I-285, known as 'The Perimeter' to Atlantans, the hotel is easily accessible via the city's main highways. Friendly staff, the large open lobby and breakfast bar area, plus oversized rooms and a sizeable outdoor pool make it a popular low-budget stop.