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Getting to Atlanta

Coming to Atlanta? It turns out getting to Atlanta might be one of the easiest cities to travel to.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the world's busiest airport

Getting to Atlanta by plane

Atlanta may be one of the easiest cities to visit, given that Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is quite literally the world’s busiest airport. That’s not hyperbole – it’s just a fact; there are hundreds of flights from almost every other airport every day. Atlanta is also the home to Delta Airlines, so you’ll find more Delta flights than any other airline – but just about every major U.S. and international airline flies here. 

Delta is Atlanta's hometown airline

With two international terminals and five domestic ones, it’s very large and can be confusing for first-time visitors, but it’s actually very easy to navigate. If you’re arriving on an international flight, there are two international terminals - Terminal E and Terminal F. No matter which terminal you arrive in, you’ll go through customs in Terminal F and it can be a bit of a hike.  

Terminal F has its own baggage terminal and you can easily get a rideshare right at this terminal; there’s no need to go to the main airport terminal to exit. If you're taking Atlanta's mass transit, you will have to go to the main terminal where the station is.

If you’re arriving on domestic flights, you’ll arrive at either Terminal T, A, B, C, D or sometimes E.  Follow the signs to take the escalator underground to the airport train to ground transportation and baggage claim. Make sure to stay on the train ALL THE WAY to the baggage claim end, then take the very long escalator to the top where there are two baggage claims -  North and South.

North baggage claim is signed in blue and South is signed in red but the easiest way to tell them apart is if you arrived on Delta, you will be in the South baggage claim. Otherwise, everyone else is in North. Simple! 

Delta Airlines uses South baggage claim. Other airlines are in the North claim area

getting to atlanta from the airport - Mass transit

The airport is about 15 minutes from Downtown. The local mass transit in Atlanta is called MARTA and if your destination is right on a MARTA line, it’s a fast, efficient and inexpensive system.

At the airport, follow the signs to MARTA. You need to buy a reloadable MARTA Breeze card for $2. Each regular trip is $2.50, although senior citizens and disabled riders can ride for $1. Children under 46 inches tall are free. There also are multi-day passes if you plan on using it for the duration of your visit. Keep your Breeze card handy - you need it when you leave the station, too.

You can buy a single, day or week ticket for MARTA

Once you purchase your card, take the escalator to the train platform. There are two lines that go north from the airport; both stop at Lindbergh Station, where you may need to change, depending on which area of town you’re going to. The MARTA map is helpful. And if you want to go to east/west areas, you need to change at Five Points Station which is in Downtown. 

You have to scan your card both when you take MARTA and also when you leave the station

getting to atlanta from the airport - RIDESHARES

I highly recommend using Uber or Lyft rideshare from the airport. The rideshare lot is a short walk from baggage claim and is very clearly marked. In my experience, the rideshare operations are much nicer and much less expensive than the Atlanta taxis. I find the taxi experience really unpleasant. 

The rideshare area is well-marked in the Atlanta airport
Follow the signs to the rideshare pickup area

Getting to atlanta - shuttles and car services

There are numerous shared shuttle services as well, such as Atlanta Shuttle (which offers everything from a shared shuttle to private transportation. If you want to book a limo or black car service, they can pick you up right at the bottom of the airport – again, the signs are really clear. Check out Blacklane or Carey.  Another option is Sixt, which is sort of a hybrid of multiple offers on various options, from rentals to limos. 

Of course, you can rent a car – every major and minor company is here. The car rental complex is a SEPARATE train ride from the main airport. But unless you REALLY need a car, I highly advise skipping this. I will tell you more about why you shouldn't drive in Atlanta. 

getting to atlanta by train

There are other ways to get to Atlanta. Since the city was founded as a train hub, it’s no surprise there is an Amtrak station right in the center of Midtown. The train that comes through Atlanta is the Crescent Line – going through New York City, Washington D.C., Charlottesville, Charlotte, Atlanta, Birmingham and New Orleans.

The station is on Peachtree so it’s easy to get anywhere from it – via ride share or taxi. There is no connecting train service. There’s been talk for years about moving the station downtown to connect with other transit, but so far, that hasn’t happened.  There's talk of expansion to other cities but again, nothing concrete

The Amtrak station on Peachtree Street

Getting to atlanta by bus

There also are several bus options to Atlanta. Greyhound's station is downtown and connects to transit, making it a convenient and affordable option. Since Atlanta is a hub, you can get a bus from almost anywhere via Greyhound.

Megabus and Redcoach buses are becoming increasingly popular, with inexpensive seats but comfortable and reclining seats and wifi-enabled buses. The route maps of these services are not as extensive as Greyhound, but the experience is better.  They are particularly popular with college students as several of the routes cover regional college towns. If you’re interested in either bus, sign up for email specials for the lowest fares.

Charter style buses are affordable and comfortable travel options

getting to atlanta by car

Of course, you can always drive to Atlanta.

It is served by three major highways – I75 and I85 that go North and South, and I20 that goes East to West. All three converge in downtown and on the outskirts of Atlanta you can pick up alternative highways that circumvent the city.

Just know that traffic is HORRIBLE and construction is NEVER-ENDING. So, what can seem like a “short” drive can be of indeterminate length. Also keep in mind that you don’t really need a car here, either (more on that on the Getting Around Atlanta page). 

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