One of Pittsburgh's yellow bridges with city skyline

Pittsburgh Travel Guide

By Kaye Toal
June 15, 2021

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.

Time Zone

Eastern Standard Time

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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.

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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.

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Best Hotels

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Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel

Address: 107 6th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Phone: (412) 562-1200
Website

Part of the Marriott family of hotels, the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel offers luxury accommodation in easy reach of everything there is to do in the city. A top-rated option for the discerning traveler, the Renaissance Pittsburgh is designed with tasteful, modern finishes, and is a comfortable oasis to retreat to after a busy day exploring.

Kimpton Monaco Hotel in Pittsburgh
Credit: Courtesy of Kimpton Hotels

Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh

Address: 620 William Penn Pl, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Phone: (412) 471-1170
Website

Built in 1908, the Kimpton Hotel Monaco has donned several identities in its storied history, finally becoming the gorgeous turn-of-the-century-inspired hotel it is today. It's a truly unique stay, with whimsical, colorful design as well as original art and sculpture decorating the space. If you want to treat yourself, enjoy a stay in one of the Spa Rooms, which boast soaking tubs and park views.

Mansions on Fifth Hotel

Address: 5105 Fifth Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15232
Phone: (412) 381-5105
Website

Speaking of unique experiences, it doesn't get much more interesting than a stay at the Mansions on Fifth. This boutique, independently-owned hotel is a former home, and as such it has a specific kind of elegance-meets-coziness that's hard to find in a vacation stay. Designed in the style of the Golden Age, it's a posh respite from the bustling city. A stone's throw from the desirable Shadyside neighborhood and all of its shopping and dining, it's a great choice for a discerning traveler.

Hotel Indigo Pittsburgh Technology Center

Address: 329 Technology Dr, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Phone: (412) 621-0880
Website

Hotel Indigos are known for their fun design and comfort, plus their nicely accessible price point, and the Pittsburgh Technology Center location is no exception to the rule. Centrally located near Pittsburgh University, it's a quick walk to Schenley Park and an even quicker drive to the Carnegie Library and Carnegie Museum of Art.

The Priory Hotel

Address: 614 Pressley St, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Phone: (412) 231-3338
Website

The Priory Hotel is in the heart of North Shore, close to the Children's Museum and the National Aviary. Its convenient location makes it simple to get to anywhere else you might want to be, though its grand and beautiful design might make you loath to leave. It began its life as a Benedictine monastery, and the hotel has been thoughtfully restored with modern touches that enhance its historic feel.

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Suites Pittsburgh Downtown

Address: 1 Bigelow Square, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Phone: (412) 281-5800
Website

No city would be complete without the comfortable, favorite standby of the DoubleTree hotel family, and Pittsburgh's boasts views of Mellon Park and a central location that make it tough to beat. For a more budget-friendly but no less luxurious-feeling stay, the DoubleTree is worth considering.

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Best Restaurants

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Pamela's P&G Diner

Address: 5527 Walnut St, Pittsburgh, PA 15232
Phone: (412) 683-1003
Website

Pamela's Diner is a Pittsburgh institution with several locations around the city, each as delicious as the other. The Shadyside location (address listed above) is a perfect way to begin a day of shopping, sight-seeing, and adventuring. Don't miss Pamela's iconic breakfast crepes.

Fish Nor Fowl

Address: 5523 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Phone: (412) 460-4644
Website

Highland Park's Fish Nor Fowl is an upscale, contemporary American dining experience from chef Richard DeShantz. Known for their house-made pasta and incredible rib-eye, Fish Nor Fowl is frequently busy, and a reservation is recommended.

Sly Fox Taphouse in Pittsburgh
Credit: Courtesy of Sly Fox Brewing Co.

Sly Fox Taphouse

Address: 300 Liberty Avenue, Suite 100, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Phone: (412) 586-7474
Website

Sly Fox Brewery is a local legend, and they've finally opened a taphouse in Pittsburgh proper. Boasting an incredible beer selection,  the Pittsburgh Taphouse also features a phenomenal pub-style menu of robust and rustic selections. 

Bitter Ends Luncheonette

Address: 4613 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224
Website

Bitter Ends Luncheonette is tiny and locally-sourced, a huge favorite among locals. They don't have a phone number, but they do provide grab-and-go boxes at markets around the city as well as a full menu daily. All of their ingredients are locally sourced, with their farm partners listed on their website.

Oxtails and Mac and Cheese from 2 Sisters 2 Sons in Pittsburgh
Credit: Courtesy of 2 Sisters 2 Sons

2 Sisters 2 Sons

Address: 1882 Main St., Pittsburgh, PA 15215
Phone: (412) 203-5658
Website 

The go-to Caribbean and Jamaican spot in Pittsburgh is 2 Sisters 2 Sons, with mouthwatering jerk chicken and plantains for a price that can't be beat. With generous servings and authentic recipes, it's a must-try for any visitor.

The Church Brew Works

Address: 3525 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Phone: 412-688-8200
Website

The Church Brew Works is, indeed, a former church, now serving pizza, bratwurst, and beer. It's a unique dining experience to say the least - there are few things that compare to having a really great bratwurst and beer while sitting under a stunning stained glass window. 

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Things to Do

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Pittsburgh Fringe Festival

Website

Pittsburgh boasts a thriving art scene, with a cavalcade of options for art-loving visitors. The Fringe Festival usually spans 3 days in early May, with a packed schedule of local, national, and international art, film, and performance installations.

Art All Night

Website 

Art All Night is a 22-hour marathon of multi-disciplinary art installations that's a whirlwind from start to finish, showcasing art and performances by hundreds of new and emerging artists.

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

Address: 7370 Baker Street Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Phone: (412) 665-3640
Website

Like many of the city's institutions, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium primarily focuses on conservation and education. The Zoo is sprawling and beautiful, with several endangered species on display. If your child (or you!) falls in love with one of them, you can "adopt" many animals for a year for $30 to support the Zoo's efforts.

Carnegie Museum & Library

Address: 4400 Forbes Ave. Pittsburgh PA 15213
Phone: (412) 622-3131
Website

Libraries are easy to overlook when vacationing, but it would be remiss not to visit the main branch of the Carnegie Library. Not only does it have an excellent collection of art and history, and frequent community events, the building features windows between the library and museum - you can look down on the dinosaurs while you browse for the perfect book.

Two blue birds with yellow beaks at National Aviary in Pittsburgh
Credit: Courtesy of National Aviary

National Aviary

Address: 700 Arch St, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Website

One of only eight aviaries in the US, the National Aviary is a stunning visit, with lush, carefully-created habitats and bird species from around the world. They host animal encounters with birds and small animals, if you want to get up close and personal with a favorite.

Pittsburgh Botanic Garden

Address: 799 Pinkerton Run Road, Oakdale, PA 15071
Phone: (412) 444-4464
Website 

Settled on nearly 500 acres of land, the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden's focus is conservation through land and water revitalization efforts. Visiting the Garden directly contributes, and gets you a couple of hours in paradise to boot.

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Shopping

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Station Square - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Credit: Michael Lee/Getty Images

Station Square

Address: 100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 1900, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Phone: (800) 859-8959
Website

Home to the famous Grand Concourse Restaurant, Station Square is a waterfront indoor/outdoor shopping mall with shops, restaurants, and a walkway along the river from which there is a view of the Downtown Pittsburgh skyline. It's easily accessed via ferry, and a trip to Pittsburgh isn't complete without a trip to Station Square.

Fifth Avenue Place

Address: 120 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Phone: (412) 456-7800
Website

Located in Downtown Pittsburgh, Fifth Avenue Place is an indoor/outdoor plaza in the style of a European arcade. Complete with a Food Court and thoughtful touches, Fifth Avenue Place is a lovely shopping experience close to many hotels and points of transport.

Walnut Street in Shadyside

Website

Take a walk down Walnut Street, the crown jewel of Shadyside, one of the most coveted and quaint neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. Walnut Street features a plethora of boutique and chain shops including clothing, gifts, beauty, and art galleries.

SouthSide Works

Address: 424 S 27th St #300, Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Phone: (412) 710-7220
Website

SouthSide Works is a riverfront "lifestyle center" in the historic district of Southside. In addition to a residential complex, SouthSide Works features a cinema and several restaurants and a variety of  top-shelf shopping. Take a break from shopping with a walk along South Shore Riverside Park, right nearby, then head back in for lunch.

South Hills Village

Address: 301 S Hills Vlg, Pittsburgh, PA 15241
Website

Enjoy modern shopping in this chic mall that plays homage to the height of mall culture. With a huge variety of shops, you'll find anything you can think of here, from books to clothes to gifts, and from chain to local venues.

White Whale Bookstore

Address: 4754 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA, 15224
Phone: (412) 224-2847
Website

This community-oriented independent bookstore features events for young and old, and a curated selection that will make you love to get lost in the stacks. Picking up your TBR pile here supports a good cause - White Whale Bookstore is devoted to local artists and writers, and part of their proceeds go toward their community events and online writing workshops.

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.

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Weather

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.

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Apps to Download

Go Mobile PGH: Pay for parking from the comfort of a car, restaurant, or activity.
iOs | Android

zTrip: Hail cabs from anywhere, and track when they'll get to you.
iOs | Android

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium: Enjoy an interactive map, exclusive games, and learning opportunities as you walk around the Zoo and Aquarium.
iOs | Android

OpenTable: Restaurant reservations and menu previews.
iOs | Android