The cheesecakes and cheesesteaks will be just as good as you anticipated when you booked your flights, but there's plenty more to this city than its famous food. Packed with historic buildings, museums, art galleries, off-beat student bars, and remarkable outdoor sculptures, Philadelphia is quickly moving out of New York's shadow and becoming a must-see destination in its own right.
Take in a walking tour of the city's historic sights like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, or make like Stallone and run up the steps outside the Museum of Art for your Rocky photo op, before going to see Tiffany Studios' stunning glass Dream Garden at the Curtis Center. Philadelphia is also home to several professional sports teams for baseball, basketball, soccer, and hockey, so for the sports enthusiast, there's always a hot ticket somewhere in the city. Be sure to stop by JFK Plaza, more commonly known as LOVE Park due to its attention-grabbing Robert Indiana sculpture. Although it's more sedate, Fairmount Park is also great for a leisurely stroll along the Schuylkill River.
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At just over 11 km from the city centre, Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is the most convenient airport for flights to Philadelphia. PHL is a major hub for US Airways and airlines like Delta, Southwest, United, American, AirTran, and Air Canada also have frequent flights to this airport. You could also take a flight on Air Canada, American, Southwest, Delta, or Continental to Newark International Airport (EWR) or Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI). Both airports have Amtrak stations where you can catch a train to downtown Philadelphia area.
Unless a white Christmas is what you're seeking, avoid booking Philadelphia flights from late November to mid-March when the temperatures often drop to below freezing and blizzards are not uncommon — such weather is not only unpleasant, it also increases the likelihood of your flights being delayed. Summers are fairly humid with temperatures ranging from 25-30°C, and this is when Philadelphia gets most of its rainfall. Despite the humidity, June to August is the busiest tourist period in Philadelphia. Therefore the ideal period in which to time your flights to Philadelphia for pleasant weather, cheap airfares, and fewer tourists, is during the shoulder seasons from late March to May, or September to mid-November.
Arriving at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
Most flights to Philadelphia will bring you to PHL where you can make your way to one of the following ground transportation options:
Public Transit: You can follow up your Philadelphia flights with a train ride. Trains run by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) from the airport are by far the quickest travel option, taking approximately 25 minutes to the downtown area and depart every 30 minutes via each airport terminal. You will need a Zone 5 fare for travel to the city which averages approximately $7 USD per ticket on weekdays between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Discounts are available for weekend travel, online ticket purchases, or for a one-day Independence Pass. Tickets are available at each terminal or online.
You can also take buses on Routes 37 (Southern Philadelphia), 108 (69th Street Terminal), or 115 (Ardmore/Suburban Square). Base fares for one-way trips are about $2 USD while additional transfers will cost $1 USD each. Bus stops are located outside the baggage claim area on the Arrivals Road in Zone 1.
Airport Shuttle: Shared-ride shuttle services are located at Zone 7 outside the baggage claim area, and average fares range between $10-$30 USD depending on which company you book with and your destination. AAA Airport One Direct, Call First Transit, Tropiano, and Lady Liberty are a few of the companies that offer shared-van ride services at the airport. You can also use shuttle services to destinations in New Jersey, Delaware Country, and Atlantic City.
Hotel Shuttle: If your hotel provides a complimentary shuttle, disembark from your flight and make your way to Zone 4 outside the baggage claim area. Courtesy phones are also provided in this zone for you to contact the hotel if your shuttle has not arrived.
Taxi: Taxis are available from Zone 5 at the Commercial Transportation Roadway. Trips are not metered from the airport to the Central Philadelphia Area and flat rates of approximately $30 USD will be charged for trips to destinations in this area with an additional $1 USD for each additional passenger over 12 years of age. For other destinations, the minimum cab fare is $10 USD with an additional charge of $2.30 USD per 1.6 km and a $1.50 airport fee. All fares can be paid with credit cards.
Chauffeured Car Services: Arrive in style by having someone else drive you after your cheap flight to Philadelphia. Limousine and sedan services can be found at Zone 6. Advance bookings can be made by consulting a list of service providers on the airport's website or contacting the Ground Transportation Information desk which is located in each baggage claim area.
Car Rental: Shuttles to car rental facilities depart from outside the baggage claims area at Zone 2. If the shuttle for a particular company is not in sight, you can contact them via courtesy phones located in the same area. Rental services are provided by companies such as Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, and National.
Arriving at Newark International Airport (EWR) or Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI)
Amtrak services connect these airports with the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.
From Newark, regional tickets cost between $50-$100 USD depending on what time of the day you travel, and the average trip duration is about one hour. From Baltimore, Amtrak Services depart from a station near the main airport terminal and trips take about 90 minutes. Average ticket prices range between $45-$65 USD for regional trains and $120 USD or more for an express service.