By | 16th January 2018

Do you need a car in Philadelphia?

Do you need a car in Philadelphia > Should you rent a car in Philadelphia USA > Philadelphia ( PHL )

It’s fair to say that alongside Washington DC, Philadelphia tends to have a broader appeal to domestic American visitors than it might do for the international tourist. Whether you are here to see the Liberty Bell, the “Rocky Steps”, or anything else within the downtown area, it’s fairly obvious to point out that a rental car is certainly not needed.

Do you need a car in Philadelphia? Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

It’s also worth mentioning that public transit in Philadelphia is amongst the best in the USA. The local South East Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) providing a range of light rail, metro and commuter rail services. This includes a direct connection to Philadelphia International Airport, although with stops at each of the 5 concourses, this does get a bit tedious if you are joining or leaving the system at the end of the line!

Philadelphia also has a small selection of riverfront hiking and biking trails. Being the main rail gateway to Atlantic City, it’s also easy enough to escape to the New Jersey coast from here.

Another popular cultural point of interest is to visit some of the Amish settlements in Lancaster County. This is the sort of excursion where a hire car is really neither necessary nor particularly appropriate. The film “Witness” includes a scene in the city’s main 30th Street station. This building is a 1930s classic, which you will inevitably pass through if you aren’t picking up a rental car at the airport.

Philadelphia is also a natural base from which to explore the wider north-east seaboard. For visitors arriving from Europe, sometimes flights here can be exceptionally good value when compared to flying into more congested airports in New York or in the Washington area. From Philadelphia, you can easily jump on the train up to New York or down to Baltimore and then on to Washington DC. Although we would tend to suggest that there are quite a few places around Washington itself where a hire car might well be useful, if you’re travelling up and down the north-east seaboard, most of these places are better to visit in a rental car out of Washington DC, or possibly out of Baltimore, rather than Philadelphia.

Why should you rent a car in Philadelphia?

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 Philadelphia?

Philadelphia Car hire summary

Overall drive rating



Cheapest rate for one week




How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?





Free parking score

Total 271 - of which 137 have free parking. [full notes - parking]



  • Generally, a rental car is not that useful in Philadelphia.

Why not? Visiting Philadelphia without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Philadelphia public transport quick facts

Train score



Water travel score


Overall public transport score


Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)


  • Excellent local public transport (transit) – including bus, metro and regional train.
  • Fast Amtrak express services north towards New York, and south to Baltimore and Washington DC.
  • Lancaster County – best at a slower pace!
  • Philadelphia is a compact and vibrant city – much of it is easily walkable, especially around colourful South Street.

Do you need to rent a car in Philadelphia? On balance, a rental car in Philadelphia isn’t really particularly useful. The public transit is good enough that there is little need for one. Depending on where else you want to visit, it might be worth looking at Philadelphia car hire deals based on a one or two-day rental, rather than getting a hire car for the whole period of your stay.


Car rental in - Philadelphia Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Philadelphia?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.

Is it worth hiring a car in Philadelphia?

Based on value for money

Should you rent a car in Philadelphia?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Philadelphia if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?


Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Philadelphia if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?


What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Philadelphia if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?



Final score:


Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Would you hire a car in Philadelphia?

Have you driven in Philadelphia? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Philadelphia?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
Category: USA

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