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Getting around Austin

Public transport

Austin features a vast bus system and a limited light rail system powered by Capital Metro. You can buy passes to use on all Capital Metro (tel: +1 512 474 1200; www.capmetro.org) transportation. The bus system offers dozens of routes that traverse throughout the city and go to far-reaching areas such as the airport and the Austin suburbs of Manor, Elgin, Leander, Round Rock and Pflugerville. The light rail offers nine stops starting in Downtown Austin and continues up to the suburb of Leander. You can buy single tickets or day passes onboard or you can buy seven- and 31-day passes online at www.capmetro.org/fares or at most local grocery stores. You can also use your smartphone as a ticket by downloading the CapMetro app and topping it up with single rides or passes.

Taxis

Taxis are commonly available and tipping is expected. Recommended taxi firms include Yellow Cab Austin (tel: +1 512 452 9999), Austin Cab (tel: +1 512 478 2222) and Lone Star Cab (tel: +1 512 836 4900). 

Driving

Austin is boxed in by four major highways: Mopac 1, I-35, I-183 and US 290. Within this box exists an inconsistent grid of streets. Many east-west streets are numbers but not always. Many streets in the downtown area are one-way. Construction is an ongoing challenge that causes traffic jams, especially during the morning and afternoon rush hours.

Parking is typically free in most neighbourhoods outside of Downtown. In the downtown area, don’t be surprised to have to pay for street meters or for a parking garage. Both cash and credit cards are typically accepted. 

Car hire

The minimum age to rent a car in America is typically 25, thought you can often sign a waiver to avoid this regulation. Recommended car hire agencies include Enterprise (tel: +1 512 476 2300; www.enterprise.com), Hertz (tel: +1 512 530 3615; www.hertz.com), Avis (tel: +1 512 480 8333; www.avis.com), Budget (tel: +1 512 322 9377; www.budget.com) and Alamo (tel: +1 888 826 6893; www.alamo.com).

Bicycle hire

Austin is a bike-friendly city, though it’s always important to cycle defensively. Not all streets have designated bike lanes. Austin's bike sharing scheme is called Austin B-Cycle (http://austin.bcycle.com); 24-hour and three-day access is available. You can also hire bikes at Barton Springs Bike Rental, 1707 Barton Springs Road (tel: +1 512 480 0200; www.bartonspringsbikerental.com), and Austin Bike Tours & Rentals, 102 1/2 West Third Street (tel: +1 512 277 0609; www.austinbiketoursandrentals.com).

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Doubletree Suites

This chain hotel is located in the heart of Downtown, within walking distance to some of the city's main central attractions and the UT campus. Though not as charming as the boutique hotels listed here, it offers nice amenities and polished rooms perfect for families and business people.

The Driskill

Built in 1886 and still standing as one of Austin's oldest buildings, this stately, and allegedly haunted, hotel sits in the epicenter of Downtown at Sixth Street near Congress Avenue. Enjoy staying in the ornate and classic rooms, grab a bite at the restaurant, 1886 Cafe and Bakery, and a drink at the Driskill Bar.

Intercontinental Hotel Stephen F. Austin

Located on Seventh Avenue at Congress Avenue, this impressive hotel is a common destination for travellers needing to be in the thick of the action. Featuring 189 large rooms with soft bedding, the hotel also offers a beautiful pool, a Jacuzzi and bar and restaurant offering hand-crafted beer, wine, cigars and fine food.

Four Seasons

The Four Seasons offers beautiful views of Lady Bird Lake with direct access to the Hike and Bike Trail. Located in Downtown Austin the Four Seasons offers a heated saltwater pool babysitting eucalyptus steam room and complimentary electric car charging station.

Hotel San Jose

Once a flophouse in the middle of what used to be a downtrodden neighbourhood, Hotel San Jose is now one of the premiere boutique hotels in all of Austin. Featuring hacienda-style rooms with access to a romantic courtyard with drink service and pool, Hotel San Jose is not only loved by guests, but by locals who enjoy sipping on cocktails in the warm atmosphere.

Hotel Saint Cecilia

Owned by the same proprietors as Hotel San Jose, this quaint boutique hotel located in a gorgeous Travis Heights estate was named after the patron saint of music and poetry. Hotel Saint Cecilia offers 14 impeccable guest suites and a photo-worthy pool with a neon sign illuminating it. Favoured by celebrities.