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The best ways to get to and around Atlanta, Georgia, from the world's busiest airport to local transit tips

Su-Jit Lin   

The best ways to get to and around Atlanta, Georgia, from the world's busiest airport to local transit tips
The Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia.EB Professional/Shutterstock.
  • As a major hub of the American South, there are plenty of options for getting to Atlanta, Georgia.
  • The most popular arrivals are via Hartsfield-Jackson, the busiest airport in the world.

Atlanta's location at the crossroads of the East and the South makes it a pulsing, ever-growing hub with spokes in all directions, extending toward coasts, mountains, and deserts.

That was one of the major reasons I moved to Atlanta two years ago: to be in the middle of it all.

Another reason was that it's tremendously easy to get to, no matter your preferred method of transit. Package that selling point with Atlanta's many attractions and it's no wonder that friends near and far have taken me up on my offer to come visit.

Many opt to fly into the world's busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and then use public transit, ride-hailing services, or rental cars to get around town. Others drive in on any of the many major highways that funnel road-trippers directly into this heart of the New South.

Here are all the ways you can get here, plus pros, cons, and local tips for every mode of transportation in Atlanta.

How to get to Atlanta

How to get to Atlanta
Expansive highways make it easy to get to Atlanta by car.      Tetra Images


Since Atlanta is an inland city surrounded by major highways, getting here by car is as easy as hitting the gas and going. You can enter the city boundaries via I-85 from the northeast and southwest, I-20 from due east or west, and I-75 from the northwest or straight south. Around these arteries are hundreds of capillaries of major streets that crisscross and loop around the city.


Some leave the driving to the pros by taking a coach or charter bus. Greyhound brings in travelers from all across the country, while Southeastern Stages exclusively services Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Both buses drop off and board at the 24-hour bus station downtown. With Greyhound, you also have the option of arriving at or departing from the airport or the nearby city of Marietta, where the hours are more limited.

FlixBus is another option, with origin points scattered across the coasts and a few Midwestern and Southern stops. This company will drop you off downtown at the Civic Center.


Another option is to skip the interstate traffic and ride the rails. The Amtrak station in Atlanta is well situated between midtown and Buckhead, on 1688 Peachtree Street NW, making it easy to hit the ground running as soon as your train pulls away. In the other direction, there's a waiting room for when you're ready to bid the Peach State's capital adieu.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.      ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Getting to Atlanta isn't just a walk in the park — it's a breeze on a tailwind. Within a two-hour flight for 80% of the US population, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is a convenient choice. It connects with 150 US destinations and more than 75 international destinations in 50 countries. It's also the world's busiest airport, servicing over 75 million passengers in 2021.

There are seven large concourses across the domestic and international terminals, two of which are connected by a free shuttle that departs every 15 minutes. Even more convenient is the complimentary Plane Train/SkyTrain, which stops at all the domestic and international concourses.

ATL is also the home base of Delta Air Lines. Because of this, it has the added advantage of housing not one but three Delta lounges, plus one for American Airlines and another for United Airlines.

Among the other carriers that service ATL are Alaska Airlines, Boutique Air, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Air Canada, Air France, British Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic.

Getting around Atlanta

Getting around Atlanta
You can bike or walk the scenic Beltline trail in Atlanta.      Nicholas Widener for Insider

Because Atlanta is a continuously growing, sprawling city, many residents in the metro area rely on cars to get around. But for tourists remaining in the city center, Atlanta's primary public-transit operator, MARTA, is a good way to literally go — you can traverse most of the city this way.

Public transit

Atlanta is serviced by the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority — MARTA for short. While it began as a bus system, it now has 38 train stations across Atlanta, plus an easy-to-use, low-cost airport shuttle. Rides cost $2.50 each way with four free transfers permitted within a three-hour window. When I was a visitor I used to hop on frequently as a quick way to get to my friends' places in midtown.

The airport station, part of the red and gold lines, is in the domestic terminal's baggage claim. If you're coming off an international flight, you'll want to take the free shuttle, which will drop you off at the baggage claim, where you can hop on the train.

If you plan on using the MARTA system, you can purchase a Breeze Pass for one, two, three, four, seven, or 30 days, or punch cards for 10 or 20 rides. The red and gold lines mostly run north and south, diverging past midtown to go to Buckhead and OTP to Dunwoody and Sandy Springs (red) or to Lenox, Brookhaven, Chamblee, and Doraville (gold). The blue and green lines run east to west for easy access to midtown, downtown, and neighborhoods like Five Points, Inman Park, Edgewood, and Decatur. All trains run about 20 minutes apart.

MARTA also has a streetcar that runs every 10 to 15 minutes; it costs $1 to ride with no transfers or $3 for unlimited rides within 24 hours. This route doesn't cover a large distance and mainly stays downtown, circling from the Peachtree Center near the Centennial Olympic Park and the CNN Center to Sweet Auburn and Georgia State University.

Finally, you can take a MARTA bus. This enormous network extends well beyond the perimeter in several directions. Access is covered in your Breeze Pass, too.

Rental car

In such a car-heavy city, there's a wide selection of wheels to choose from. Offices for Sixt, Enterprise, Avis, Budget, Thrifty, Hertz, and more are scattered throughout the metro area for easy pick-up or drop-off. Several of these providers also offer reservations so you can pick up your ride at the airport.

However, while driving is the most flexible way to get around the city, it may not be your best choice. Parking availability varies by neighborhood, but it's never truly plentiful or free until you enter the suburbs. Atlanta traffic is notorious, and the supersized highways are frequently bogged down with heavy construction, poorly marked signs, sudden lane endings and merges, and changing exits as cars and big rigs make their way through the city.

Ride-hailing services

I'm a big fan of Uber or Lyft as a method of getting around Atlanta. Rates have gone up — but, to be fair, so has fuel. To me, splitting the cost with your travel companions to ride in comfort without having to brave the chaotic interstates yourself is invaluable, and having a designated driver after having yourself a good time in Atlanta's glittering nightlife scene is always a good idea.


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