Pittsburgh Travel Guide
If you're looking for a quieter experience that nevertheless is as beautiful, fun, and vibrant as her more famous sister, Pittsburgh is the way to go. There's no other city quite like it in structure — driving in through the mountains feels like you've passed into another world, a little greener and more beautiful than the one you left behind. The city sits where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers come together to form the Ohio River, and so it is criss-crossed by some of the more beautiful American bridges.
Beyond the refreshing city design and unique geography, Pittsburgh is home to a host of true gems of tourism, shopping, and dining. From the Carnegie Library and Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, to the wonderful shopping and dining in Shadyside, Pittsburgh is a city worthy of spending your time in.
Eastern Standard Time
Best Time to Go
Like many eastern cities, Pittsburgh is most enjoyable in more temperate seasons – spring and fall are exceptionally beautiful and full of things to do. However, if you'd like an idyllic holiday experience, Pittsburgh's winter happenings are worth your consideration, and Pittsburgh PrideFest makes a summer visit a strong contender. Basically? You can't go wrong — anytime you visit, Pittsburgh will have something going on for you to enjoy.
Things to Know
You can absolutely get around Pittsburgh via public transportation, but you'll probably enjoy your visit most if you rent a car. The neighborhoods in Pittsburgh aren't like neighborhoods in other cities; they are extremely unique, and you'll know when you move from one to the next because the energy, store and restaurant selections, and even the architecture of the homes will change. Sports are huge in Pittsburgh. There's no basketball team, but football and hockey enjoy huge fanbases, and sports bars and merch shops abound. Take the Gateway Clipper Ferry for a fun and scenic way of getting to the stadiums.
How to Get Around
Trains: Pittsburgh's light rail is called the T. Pay before you board, or sign up for a ConnectCard before you go. You can transfer between the airport shuttle, the 28X, and the T (or any bus stop) for $1, but you do need to tell the operator if you're paying with cash and not a ConnectCard. Travel between Downtown and the North Shore is always free. You can get a map of the light rail system here. It's more similar to San Francisco or Washington DC than New York City or London in terms of how many stops it services, but all of the major points are reachable via the T.
Buses: Pittsburgh's bus system is pretty robust thanks to the universities within the city. Bus stops are marked by blue and white signs. ConnectCards also work on the buses, or you can pay your fare — $2.75 flat — in exact change, as bus drivers do not carry any.
Taxis: The primary taxi service in Pittsburgh is zTrip, and you can use their app or call them at (412) 777-7777 to order a car. Otherwise, taxis can be hailed just as anywhere else in the US, by standing close to the curb and lifting your hand.
Car service: Uber and Lyft are always good options for transportation, especially in a drive-heavy city like Pittsburgh. Rides are plentiful and, as always, you can order a private car or join a carpool.
Things to Do
Neighborhoods to Know
Shadyside: One of the most sought-after neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, Shadyside is known for its shopping and exuberant nightlife. You could easily spend an entire weekend exploring and never visit the same shop twice. Mixing industrial-era rustics and modern charm, Shadyside is a pleasant and fun neighborhood with no lack of things to do and see.
Mount Washington: If you're looking for a breathtaking view, visit Mount Washington. Have a delicious meal along Restaurant Row and then head to the Grand Overlook for a panoramic vista of the city. Mount Washington is also home to several parks, so if you're looking for a comfortable hike, head here and take a stroll along the trails of Emerald View Park.
South Side: Pittsburgh's South Side neighborhood is actually two, the South Slide Flats and South Side Slopes. South Side Slopes is a primarily residential neighborhood, with many streets so steep there are public stairways built into them. Across the river from Downtown Pittsburgh, South Side Flats features one of the largest Victorian main streets in the US. SouthSide Works is also in the Flats for any avid shoppers.
Squirrel Hill North: One of Pittsburgh's college neighborhoods, Squirrel Hill North is home to Carnegie Mellon and Chatham Universities, and many college students make their homes there. As a result, the area is upbeat and lively, with cheap eats, indie clothing boutiques, and bookshops. Visit the Murray Hill Historic District to take a look at gorgeous, centuries-old Victorian homes, or take a low-key hike through Frick Park.
Squirrel Hill South: Tucked between Schenley and Frick Parks, Squirrel Hill South is a multicultural community known specifically for its Asian food and markets. Travelers visiting in the winter months will want to explore the Schenley Park's ice skating rink, and visitors at any time of year will enjoy exploring the park and sampling the many delicious Indian, Turkish, and Asian eateries.
Strip District: An eclectic and vibrant neighborhood that meanders along the Allegheny River, the Strip District is home to gourmet markets, upscale eateries, down-home sandwich shops, the Pittsburgh Opera, and a sports museum. A popular neighborhood for tourists, the neighborhood features not only entertainment and dining but many hidden gem shops.
Generally, the weather in Pittsburgh is pleasant, with few extremes. Protected from wind and storms by its mountains and rivers, it rarely experiences truly inclement weather, and though snow and rain are as regular here as any northern city, you won't find yourself snowed into your hotel or flooded out of a visit to the Botanical Garden.
Spring in Pittsburgh is pleasant if a bit chilly, with the average temperature ranging from 33-72°F.
Summer is the rainy season, but tends to stay comfortable, with average temperatures from 60-83°F.
Fall is lovely, with, on average, beautiful weather. Average temperatures range from 37-75°F.
Winter can also be rainy, with that rain sometimes freezing, but Pittsburgh is generally more temperate than other cities in the area due to its rivers. Average temperatures range from 20-51°F.