By | 16th January 2018

Do you need a car in Atlanta?

Do you need a car in Atlanta > Should you rent a car in Atlanta USA > Atlanta ( ATL )
Car: Do you need a car in 3? No car: Is it worth hiring a car in 3? Slider: Should you rent a car in 3? Should you rent a car in 3?

Atlanta car hire quick facts

Cheapest rate for one week Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]



  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Atlanta but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
How much should I expect to pay in the peak season? Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]




  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.
Free parking score Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking.Total 479 - of which 311 have free parking. [full notes - parking]




  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.

Atlanta public transport quick facts

"Top trumps" train score

Higher scores go to the systems which take you to the most amazing places.



  • [full notes - top trumps trains]
  • A good rail system doesn't mean you shouldn't hire a car, but it often means you have a decent range of options.

Overall public transport score {coming shortly}

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel.



  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Atlanta good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score {coming shortly}

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Atlanta



Need, worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Atlanta", "is it worth hiring a car in Atlanta", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme:

Do you need a car in Atlanta?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city.

Is it worth hiring a car in Atlanta?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares?

Should you rent a car in Atlanta?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?

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!

Do you need a car in Atlanta? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Atlanta?", this often breaks down to two key questions:

  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in Atlanta? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?

Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in Atlanta as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Atlanta?

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Why should you rent a car in Atlanta?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Atlanta?

  • 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.

Why not? Visiting Atlanta without a car

What is public transport like in Atlanta? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in Atlanta?

  • 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.


Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Would you hire a car in ?

Have you driven in ? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in ?

Do you need a car in ? For some or all of the time? 

Tell us what you think using the comments section below:

Category: USA

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *