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World Travel Guide > Guides > North America > United States of America > Maryland > Baltimore

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Getting around Baltimore

Public transport

Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) (tel: +1 410 539 5000; http://mta.maryland.gov) operates the Light Rail, Metro Subway, buses and the MARC (Maryland Area Rail Commuter) between Baltimore and Washington, DC. Day, weekly and monthly passes are available, giving unlimited local bus, Light Rail and Metro Subway access. You can buy paper tickets and passes, or pre-load money or passes onto CharmCard smartcards (www.mtacharmcard.com). Passes are available online, through the MTA's transit store at 6 St Paul Street, and at retailers across the city.

The Light Rail connects the centre to the northern and southern suburbs and offers service to BWI Marshall Airport and Amtrak's Baltimore Penn Station. It operates at street level, crossing several bodies of water by bridge.

The 14 station Metro Subway runs from the Owings Mills corporate and shopping complex through downtown Baltimore.

Buses run frequently, providing an easy means of seeing the city. Pay the exact fare as you board or use a CharmCard.

Taxis

You can hail taxis on the street, board them at ranks or book them by phone. Try Yellow Cab (tel: +1 410 685 1212). Tips of 15% are generally expected.

Use Baltimore Water Taxi to see the whole Inner Harbor area (tel: +1 410 563 3900 or +1 800 658 8947).

Driving

Don't drive in the downtown area if you can avoid it; the one-way system is tricky and parking is both expensive and difficult. You can pay for metered street parking with coins or credit cards. Some locations limit stay to an hour - others give up to four hours; less central spots can be used for up to 10 hours. To save hassle, save your car for out-of-town attractions.

At traffic lights, unless otherwise specified, a right turn on red is permitted after making a complete stop. At crossroads with no lights, the car to the right has the right of way. At a junction, a flashing amber light means 'be prepared to stop'. A flashing red means 'stop' and proceed on a first-come, first-go basis. Cars must stop for all pedestrians crossing the street.

Car hire

If your own insurance policy doesn't cover driving abroad, make sure you take out optional CDW (Collision Damage Waiver). The minimum driving ages for hiring a car range from 21 to 25 depending on the company.

Most of the major companies are available in Baltimore, including Alamo (tel: +1 888 826 6893; www.alamo.com), Avis (tel: +1 410 859 1680; www.avis.com), Budget (tel: +1 410 691 2913; www.budget.com), Dollar (tel: +1 866 434 2226; www.dollar.com) and Hertz (tel: +1 410 684 7900; www.hertz.com).

Bicycle hire

A unique urban biking (and hiking) route is the Gwynns Falls Trail. Light Street Cycles, 1015 Light Street (tel: +1 410 685 2234; www.lightstcycles.com), hires out bicycles and organises guided group rides, but is closed on Sunday. Or rent a bike from Baltimore Bicycle Works, 1831 Falls Road (tel: +1 410 605 0705; www.baltimorebicycleworks.com).

Featured Hotels

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Kimpton Hotel Monaco Baltimore

There's something of a beaux-arts feel to this hotel, with marble staircases leading up form the grand lobby. The actual building has been around for more than 100 years, but this belies the modernity of the property, which is sleek and chic. Even the entry-level rooms are of a nice size, and the suites are enormous.

Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel

This contemporary hotel features soothing earth-toned décor, good conference facilities, a fitness centre and all the in-room services you would expect from the Marriott chain. Seafood dishes are especially good at Watertable restaurant. The hotel is conveniently attached to the attractive Gallery mall and has lovely harbour views.

The Ivy

The luxurious accommodation in this 19th-century Mount Vernon mansion aims to give you the feel of staying in the home of a wealthy friend. Nine characterful rooms and suites are fitted out with cosy four-poster beds and sleek bathrooms. Curl up with a book in the library, tinkle the piano or dine in the upscale Magdalena bistro.

Wilson House Bed & Breakfast

Housed in a grand 19th-century mansion this elegant 10-room bed and breakfast offers cosy accommodation near Penn Station. It was here that William Jennings Bryant made deals that led to Woodrow Wilson taking the presidency in 1912. The home is within easy reach of Mount Vernon's cultural venues and eateries and around 5km (3 miles) from the Inner Harbor.

Lord Baltimore Hotel

A fixture in the city since 1928, this is a classic hotel in the French Renaissance style, the huge lobby chock full of chandeliers, staircases and everything you really want on old-style hotel to be. You're only a few blocks from Inner Harbor, and its 400-plus rooms are mostly a good size.

Sleep Inn & Suites Downtown Inner Harbor

A short stroll from the Inner Harbor this hotel puts you within walking distance of Baltimore's main attractions. Rooms are smart and modern with a choice of two double beds or a king bed. Many also have a pull-out sofa bed. A hot buffet breakfast is included.