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Getting around Philadelphia

Public transport

We have William Penn’s original grid street design to thank for Philadelphia's easy navigation. Center City spans just 25 blocks between two rivers – the Schuylkill River and the Delaware River. In between, the north/south streets are numbered and the east/west streets have tree names. Each neighbourhood is clearly signposted and colour coded.

Using public transport is just as easy - the subway system, street cars and buses provide a clean and reliable service. SEPTA (tel: +1 215 580 7800; www.septa.org) operates all interconnecting buses, streetcars, subway and commuter trains in the city. Operating hours vary and some bus routes operate all night. You can buy tickets from ticket booths and machines at the stations or on board (exact change required). Token discount packs are also available, as are daily and weekly passes.

The bright purple Phlash streetcar (www.phillyphlash.com) runs a continuous loop to the major attractions, from the Art Museum to Penn's Landing. Buses stop frequently at special Phlash lampposts and daily services operate from May to early September and late November to late December. Weekends-only services operate from late March to April and September to November. There is no service on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Eve.

Between May and September, the RiverLink Ferry (tel: +1 215 629 3200; www.delawareriverwaterfront.com) provides a ferry service between Penn's Landing, Walnut Street and Columbus Boulevard in Philadelphia, and the New Jersey State Aquarium, Federal Street and Riverside Drive in Camden. You can buy tickets at dockside terminals.


You can easily hail taxis in the street throughout Center City. Taxi companies offering a telephone service include Yellow Cab Co (tel: +1 215 333 3333) and Quaker City Cab (tel: +1 215 728 8000). Uber also operates in Philadelphia and provides pickup services from Philadelphia International Airport.


With such a compact city centre and good public transport, you really don't need a car. However if you do have one, there are many parking lots and garages in the city centre. On-street parking is also available in Center City but you should look at the posted signs for restrictions on when parking is allowed.

Car hire

The minimum age for car hire is generally 25 years but some companies will hire cars to drivers aged between 21 and 24 years for a steep additional charge. If you want to hire a car, you need a full national driving licence. Liability insurance is costly but necessary. It is a good idea to check with your insurance company or your credit card to see if it includes hire car liability.

Some of the major car hire companies are Alamo (tel: +1 833 338 3323; www.alamo.com), Avis (tel: +1 215 492 0900; www.avis.com) and Hertz (tel: +1 215 492 7205; www.hertz.com).

Bicycle hire

Indego (tel: +1 844 446 3346; www.rideindego.com) is Philadelphia's bikeshare scheme. Annual and 30-day memberships are available, but if you're only in town for a few days, you can pay per half hour.

Wheel Fun Rentals, 1 Boathouse Row (tel: +1 215 232 7778; www.wheelfunrentals.com), hires out a wide range of bikes including cruisers, tandems and kids' trailers.

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Featured Hotels


Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center

Situated in the Philadelphia’s tallest tower, the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia offers a unique experience and magnificent views of Philadelphia. Facilities include an infinity pool and fitness centre (on the 57th floor), several restaurants and a spa.

Opens in August 2019

Penn’s View Hotel

Just a short walk from the historic sights of the old city, and with views over the Delaware River, Penn’s View is one of Philly’s most underrated overnight gems. The rooms are designed in a traditional style, with exposed brick walls and warming fireplaces. Stump up a little extra for a whirlpool bath, ideal for winding down before hitting the excellent Il Bar downstairs or the Panorama Wine Bar upstairs.

The Kimpton Palomar

This luxury boutique property, with 230 rooms right in the middle of the Rittenhouse Square area, is Philadelphia’s first green hotel. Developed from an original 1929 art deco building, it imaginatively combines new with old. Everything about the hotel is based around sustainability, so its eco friendliness has been elevated to an art form. It also has in-room spa program and fully-equipped gym.

Morris House Hotel

Found in a beautiful colonial-era mansion, the Morris House Hotel is regularly held up as Philadelphia’s finest. There are just 15 rooms, each one with a cosy look that gives the whole place a very English feel. There are gorgeous gardens too, perfect for kicking back in on a hot summer’s day, G&T in one hand and book in the other. In winter, decamp to the lounge where you’ll find an open fireplace to warm your bones.

The Ritz-Carlton

Quite simply, one of the best addresses in town. Located beside Philadelphia's City Hall on the Avenue of the Arts, The Ritz-Carlton occupies a grandiose one-time bank - the old domed banking hall is now the reception, while the vault is a cigar and brandy bar (the marble steps on the way down are worn where ladies once descended to retrieve their gems from strong boxes). Guest rooms are huge and the bathrooms luxurious.

Hyatt at the Bellevue

Crowning the top seven floors of the landmark 1904 Bellevue Building, the Hyatt ranks among the most elegant hotels in Philadelphia. Opulent retailers (like Tiffany & Co) are set among the marble and mosaic-filled ground floor. From there an elevator whisks you to the glitzy, domed lobby on the 19th floor. Rooms are decorated in classic old-world style with all the modern luxuries, including goose-down duvets, Wi-Fi access and handsome marble bathrooms.