Should you rent a car in AtlantaUSA>Atlanta

Of the various places reviewed for Carornocar, Atlanta is one of the cities that leans most heavily towards getting a rental car. This remains the case, even despite Atlanta having a small metro system.

There are two main reasons for this, and they are closely related:

  1. Firstly, because Atlanta is such a major air hub, it makes a natural starting point for longer road trip type vacations rather than just a short city break.
  2. Secondly, perhaps more obviously, because public transport in the area is extremely poor. Outside the city of Atlanta, it just gets even worse!

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  • Start a road trip – especially if you are flying in long haul from Europe or anywhere else that is further afield. It makes sense to pick up a rental car here and then use it to travel around Georgia and neighbouring southern states.
  • Car rental choice. Due to the wide range of flight connections, car rental choices from Atlanta airport are  very broad.
  • Public transport is very poor – even if you just want to travel to the relatively close by college town of Athens, find a connection down to steamy Savannah, or take a regular bus to go and watch the open at Augusta, transit options are few and far between.
  • Within Atlanta itself, even with the MARTA Metro, public transport is still poor – see below.
  • There is no commuter rail service in Georgia! Other than the metro (MARTA) , the only other train service is the daily “Crescent” Amtrak link running through Atlanta on its 30 hour trundle from New York to New Orleans.
  • For hiking in the Appalachians. Unless you really are planning very long multi-day hike (the full Appalachian trail can take 3 months), if you simply want easy access to trailheads and then to be able to return to your car a few hours later, then it’s far easier to manage this with a rental car.

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  • It’s fine for a very short city break – if you just plan to stay effectively within the city limits or within downtown Atlanta, then the metro (MARTA) is fine. With an easy direct connection to the airport, there are basically two trunk lines which criss-cross each other in the city centre at Five Points. These lines operate at a reasonable frequency throughout the day.
  • Major locations – the metro is well connected for key points in the city, especially in terms of the Georgia Dome, convention centre, Coca-Cola experience, Underground Atlanta, downtown markets and Peachtree Road.
  • Buses – the metro system is then supplemented by a network of buses which cover all the main bases, with around 100 routes in total.
  • Sporting break – Atlanta makes an ideal destination for watching live sporting events and music. It makes little sense to try and drive and park at any of the large venues in the city. Instead, you can use the metro or local buses.
  • Martin Luther King Memorial. This is a relatively short walk from the metro (King Memorial). You can also walk here from the edge of the downtown area.
  • Green trails – the city of Atlanta has announced an ambitious plan to develop a belt of green corridors running around the city. This network is only in its infancy at the moment. If you are staying in a reasonably central location, then you should at least be able to find some local parks which are suitable for walking and jogging.


Do you need a car in Atlanta? Irrespective of how you might usually prefer to get around, Atlanta is a city that is well behind the curve in terms of providing reliable and workable alternatives to the private car.

Unless you really are just going to very small number of locations which happen to be on the Metro, a rental car in Atlanta is all but essential.

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Author: Carometer

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