Philadelphia Travel Guide
Would you guess that Philadelphia is one of the US' most visited cities? It might be because of its rich history — or it might just be because of how beautiful it is. Philadelphia is the nation's first UNESCO World Heritage City; so much history happened here, the entire city is considered worth preserving. That alone is reason to plan your next trip.
When planning your next trip to Philadelphia, you're visiting a city that feels a little gravid with its history in a way that some equally-storied cities don't quite manage. But beyond that, you're also visiting a city with its share of adventure: home to the Rodin Museum, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the iconic Philly cheesesteak, there's a lot about the city of brotherly (and sisterly) love to, well, love.
Eastern Standard Time
Best Time to Go
Philadelphia shares the same weather as other east coast cities — namely temperate, damp springs, humid and sunny summers, stunning and crisp falls, and cold winters with at least one big snowstorm on average. As such, it's best to go in the spring or summer, understandably the most popular seasons for tourists. The pleasant spring and summer weather lets you get the most out of your trip, giving outdoor and indoor attractions equal opportunity to shine.
Things to Know
Philadelphia is known as the City of Neighborhoods, and neighborhoods in Philly have very distinct identities. There's something for everyone, though, whether you're looking for a quiet family-focused area to spend your time, the thriving nightlife of the Gayborhood in Washington West (festooned, naturally, with Pride flags), museums and parks, chic high-fashion shopping, or thrifty, snappy vintage and boho vibes. If you know what you want out of your vacation, do a little looking around in advance and plan around the neighborhoods.
Don't miss out on Frank's Black Cherry Wishniak and Hires Root Beer (local beloved soft drinks), a sweet and delicious (if somewhat redundantly named) water ice, a soft pretzel, or scrapple (a delicious pork-based breakfast side).
Philly's public transportation is some of the best in the country, and with their many free things to do, a trip to Philly is easy, fun, and relatively low-cost for a trip to a large city.
How to Get Around
Transit in Philadelphia is maintained by SEPTA, which runs trains, buses, and trolleys. These are all paid for either through SEPTA's Travel Wallet program and a Key Card, or cash in hand.
Trains: Philly's rapid transit system combined subway lines, buses, and trolleys to get you where you need to go. The subways run out of two major lines, the Broad Street Line and Market-Frankfort Line. Together, these lines are quite comprehensive, making Philly a highly navigable city.
Buses: What you can't reach by subway, you can probably reach by bus — the lines are connected through SEPTA and you can easily transfer from one mode to the other.
Trolleys: Of course, the most fun way to travel around Philly just for the sheer novelty of it are the trackless trolleys – also connected through SEPTA, so as easy to transfer onto or off of as a bus or subway.
Taxis: Taxis are abundant in Philadelphia and can be hailed from most main streets.
Car service: Lyft and Uber are available in Philadelphia, or there are independently owned car services available — the most popular is Philly Black Car.
Things to Do
Neighborhoods to Know
Center City: Most visitors opt to stay primarily within Center City – and there's a reason for that. This neighborhood could be considered the main hub of Philadelphia in the way that Times Square is the most iconic area of New York; here, most of the thrilling things that visitors come to Philadelphia to experience are scattered, including the Liberty Bell, Barnes Foundation, Independence Hall, and Franklin Institute.
Logan Square: City Center is broken up into smaller neighborhoods, and Logan Square is one of these. Home to the Barnes Foundation and the Franklin Institute, Logan Square is also where you'll find the iconic LOVE sculpture — if you're going to Philadelphia, a selfie with this sculpture is the ultimate in gotta-do-it cheesy-fun tourist experiences.
Rittenhouse Square: Located within City Center, Rittenhouse Square is one of Philadelphia's most fashionable neighborhoods. If your interest is in chic shopping and high-profile restaurants, make your way to this beautiful, idyllic enclave of Philadelphia's bustling heart. Walnut Street, the heart of the neighborhood, features art galleries, fashion boutiques, and spas.
Fishtown: Fishtown is by far the coolest of Philadelphia's many neighborhoods. Formerly a working-class neighborhood home to — you guessed it – sailors and fishermen, Fishtown has become an enclave of creative, youthful energy. Trends in fashion, art, and food start here, and this is the place to be for the trendiest bars, restaurants, and nightlife.
Philadelphia averages about the same amount of rain per month — between 7 and 10 days — throughout the year, which is helpful in that it is consistent, but does mean you should probably bring an umbrella or a raincoat just in case.
Spring is lovely in Philadelphia, but can be chilly at the beginning of the season. Temperatures range from around 35°F to 75°F, especially towards the summer. Spring is a popular time to visit Philadelphia thanks to its temperate weather and the blooming of the many flowers and trees around the city.
Summer can be hot, and like many eastern states, Pennsylvania gets humid — Philly is no exception. Lows tend to be around 65°F at the beginning of the season, but spike up to 90°F and occasionally above at the height of summer. Philadelphia is gorgeous in the summer, and the excellent weather makes for a great visit, but don't forget your sunscreen and your water bottle.
Fall plays host to the foliage that the east is known for, and can be a fun time of year to visit, especially as tourism falls off a bit so it's quite a bit less busy. Bring layers; average fall temperatures range from 42°F all the way up to 80°F.
And finally, winter — cold, yes, but not as bitterly so as other eastern states can get. Average temperatures range from 28°F to 45°F, and Philadelphia usually sees some snow. It can be a great choice to visit for the holidays and enjoy a less crowded, festive city.