If you live in Atlanta or planning to visit, you need to know how to get around the city! Traffic is as synonymous with Atlanta as Santa is with Christmas., syrup with waffles, and ketchup with mustard.
You just can not go anywhere in Atlanta without experiencing some sort of traffic. It is very easy to be stuck for 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on where you are going and the time of day. For these reasons, I wanted to make a list of some ways to get around Atlanta that might help you! It is very important to plan ahead when traveling around Atlanta.
Driving in Atlanta
Living in Atlanta is a luxury and a curse all at the same time. So many people want to be here because of the thriving job market, positive outlook, and southern charm. Unfortunately, non of those things are complimented by the herd of traffic we experience day by day.
If you are going to live and drive in the city, you are going to want a gas efficient vehicle. There are plenty on the market now, so it should not be a problem. For instance, if you live 5 to 10 miles away from your work, and you work in the city, your commute could still be 20 to 40 minutes on some days. Easily, you would have to fill your gas tank up 4 to 5 times a month which is a hefty expense once you add it all up yearly.
Drive at Specific Times
Specifically, the traffic get increasingly bad around specific times:
- 12:00 am to 6:00 am – Light traffic
- 6:00 am to 9:00 am – Heavy traffic
- 9:00 am to 12:00 am – Medium traffic
- 12:00 am to 7:00 pm – Heavy traffic around the city, still light traffic on the highways until 2:30 pm.
- 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm – Medium traffic
- 9:30 pm to 12:00 am – Light traffic
Some strategies I use are leaving early for work every morning. Basically, this cuts my commute for a good 15 to 20 minutes every time I leave 30 minutes earlier. Another one is, take an early lunch to zip in and out of lines to beat the lunch rush.
Additionally, if you can stay and get your personal work down around the office after hours until 7:00 pm, you can miss most of the evening heavy traffic. For my job personally, I have to study for exams. I do this right after work for a few hours to cut my drive home by around 20 minutes on average.
Learning to drive in Atlanta
Driving in Atlanta is not like normal driving. Every highway has 8 to 10 lanes and it can be quite a challenge sometimes. Additionally, there are a large amount of 18 wheelers traveling through the Atlanta area everyday which can be intimidating for newer drivers.
When driving here, it is best not to be too aggressive. Atlanta is not a city to speed around cars and try to look cool in your convertible. No one in this city really cares and you will probably annoy people more than anything. Instead, be polite on the road and understand most people are tired of the traffic everyday but tolerate it.
A huge part of driving around the city can be parking. Luckily, there are plenty of parking garages around the city for events and meetings. You can practically find a spot anywhere, and just about every parking garage will let you park there for a small fee.
Most businesses or jobs additionally do not come with free parking. For instance, I work in one of the nicest buildings in Buckhead, and we still have to pay monthly for our parking. ouch.
Another way to meander the city is to take MARTA. Built all the way back in 1971, MARTA is still one of the most reliable ways to transverse the city. Ironically, the trains and stations are all pretty clean as well.
Getting on a MARTA train or bus is simple really and they can save a ton of time during rush hour. Another great feature is the ability for Marta to take you all the way from north of Atlanta to the Airport all on the same train ride. The clear is a great added travel benefit for the city.
Uber + LYFT
Uber and Lyft both have a huge presence in the city of Atlanta. They might not be the cheapest way to transport around the city, but they are the most efficient and huge time savers. You can easily grab a ride within 1 to 5 minutes and be on your way to your destination without having to find a parking spot or remembering your keys!
I will say that during the busy hours of Atlanta, the fees can climb quickly, and you really do not want to drop $50 on one ride. Most rides within the city will only cost you $15 – $25 dollars, but if you have to go out of the perimeter, you might want to just use Marta most of the way and them get a ride for the last little bit of your trip.
Bird is a type of scooter that can be found all around Atlanta. While Bird is not the only brand of scooters that are around the city, it is one of the most well known. It seems these days you can not walk anywhere in the city without seeing a couple of scooters lying around waiting to be used.
From experience, the scooters are extremely fun. They are a great way to see the city or simply get from point A to point B if you do not have a car. The other clear plus is that you do not have to pay for parking where ever you are going because the scooters can just be left on the sidewalk after you are finished with them.
Another great way to see the city, but with a little bit more work are the bikes! All around midtown and most of the main part of Atlanta there are stations where you can rent bikes. The bikes will typically only have a few gears (if any at all) and a small basket on the front. they are usually one solid color like bright red or light blue.
From experience, I enjoyed riding a bike we rented. A group of friends of mine all went to the Mercedes Stadium to see an Atlanta United game. Afterward, they wanted to rent bikes to ride back to our part of town. Quickly after a few blocks I realized how out of shape I was since they were racing up a hill, but it was super fun passing by all the people walking.
Traveling Around Atlanta
While there are a bunch of ways to see the city and travel around Atlanta, there are some that are better than others. I highly recommend using Uber or Lyft if you are visiting. It is the easiest solution since the entire city has cars ready to go at almost any hour of the way.
My second favorite option would have to be Marta. Although, there are only select location this applies too. Regardless, get out there and have fun exploring Atlanta!