View of Downtown Denver before night time

Getting Around Denver (How to Do it With or Without a Car)

There are at least 11 ways to get around Denver. Your ideal transportation will depend on your itinerary, budget, time of visit, and preferences related to comfort and pace. 

I’m a Denver local and in this guide to how to get around Denver, I’ll help break down the pros and cons of each travel method for getting around Denver.

Oh, and if you haven’t yet booked accommodations, check out our guides on where to stay and the best Denver hotels

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

11 Ways to Get Around in Denver 

Not sure how to get around Denver? Getting around Denver will be a breeze once you understand your options. 

Ways include rental cars, private tours, light rail trains, buses, taxis, rideshare services, biking, and walking. 

Let’s dive in!

Rental Car

🚙 Best for: Comfort and regional travel 
💵 Cost: $$$
👉 Where to Book: Discover Cars

The author with her husband and dog inside their rented car
Because my husband and I often travel with our dogs, rental cars are our preference.

Renting a car is one of the best ways to experience Denver and the surrounding area. There are so many things to do in Denver alone. But in my opinion, a day trip into the Rocky Mountains is a must when visiting.

Heading out to Vail or Winter Park for Colorado’s world-class skiing? If traveling during the winter months, renting an AWD or 4WD vehicle is highly recommended. 

👉 Pro Tip: Looking for the best deal? Check out Discover Cars, our preferred search engine that allows you to easily compare car rental agency rates.  

Pros of Rental Cars: 

  • Ideal for day trips
  • Explore at your convenience
  • Comfort
  • Ability to travel with pets 

Cons of Rental Cars: 

  • Can be costly 
  • Potential weather and traffic difficulties
  • Risk of accidents and theft 

Private Tours

🚐 Best for: Comfort and guided exploration 
💵 Cost: $$-$$$
👉 Where to Book: Viator’ Denver Tours 

View of a woman leaning on a window vehicle

Guided tours are a great way to take a day trip without the stress of driving. Enjoy views from the passenger seat and learn from expert locals.

Viator offers tours to several destinations. When visiting Denver, I would highly recommend an excursion to Rocky Mountain National Park. Or book a Southern Colorado tour, including stops at Garden of the Gods, Manitou Springs, and Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs.

Pros of Private Tours: 

  • Comfortable and convenient
  • Insight from locals
  • Safety

Cons of Private Tours: 

  • Can be expensive
  • Set itineraries with limited time to explore 

Taxi and Ride-Sharing Services

🚕 Best for: Comfort, safety, and leisurely exploring 
💵 Cost: $$-$$$
👉 Where to Book: Metro Taxi, Yellow Cab, Uber, or Lyft

View of the Union Station building in Denver
(photo: Arina P Habich / Shutterstock)

For comfort and ease, have someone else do the driving. Hail a taxi outside of downtown hotels, or call Metro Taxi or Yellow Cab to book in advance. 

Uber and Lyft are also available in the Mile High City. But unlike taxi cabs that charge a set fare per mile, ride-sharing services’ costs fluctuate based on demand. 

If you’re trying to catch a ride after a concert or crowded sports event, know that prices may be quite high. But the convenience of immediate booking via their mobile apps is a major perk. 

Pros of Taxis and Ride Shares: 

  • Safety 
  • Comfort
  • Flexible routes

Cons of Taxis and Ride Shares: 

  • Long routes may be expensive 
  • Transport during busy times can be costly 

Light Rail 

🚈 Best for: Saving money, avoiding traffic, and meeting locals 
💵 Cost: $
👉 More Info: RTD Denver

View of people waiting to get in the light rail in Denver

If you’re on a budget, get familiar with Denver’s RTD light rail system. Managed by the Regional Transportation District, the light rail system spans 113 miles with 78 light rail stations. 

On the light rail, you can see one important city venue after another. Stops include Denver Union Station, Empower Field (previously Sports Authority Field), and Pepsi Center. 

RTD services are split into four fare zones. Local fare applies when traveling between one or two zones, and a day pass is just $6. If traveling in three zones, regional day passes are $10.50. Day passes include unlimited rides on bus and rail services on the date of purchase. 

Booking can be completed via their app, or at ticket vending machines found at certain stations’ Park-N-Ride lots.  

Pros of Light Rail: 

  • Affordable
  • Saves time 
  • Less travel difficulty in poor weather

Cons of Light Rail: 

  • Limited hours  
  • Limited regional access 
  • Frequent stops 

Airport Rail 

🚉 Best for: Saving money, saving time, and avoiding traffic 
💵 Cost: $
👉 More Info: RTD Denver

View of an incoming train on a train station in Denver

If you’re flying into Denver International Airport, the RTD airport railway is an easy and affordable way to reach downtown Denver. Riders coming from DIA pay just $10.50 one-way or less, depending on if you qualify for discounted rates

From 5 am to 8 pm, trains depart DIA every 15 minutes. Trains leaving outside of those hours are available every 30 minutes.

Board the University of Colorado A line and disembark at the 38th and Blake Station to explore the River North Art District. One of Denver’s best neighborhoods, RiNo is home to colorful street art, trendy microbreweries, and fantastic eateries.

Alternatively, take the A line to Denver Union Station and experience Lower Downtown. The LoDo city center is bustling with shops, sightseeing opportunities, and some of the best places to eat in Denver.

Pros of Airport Rail: 

  • Affordable
  • Saves time 
  • Avoids traffic

Cons of Airport Rail: 

  • Limited routes 
  • Frequent stops 
  • No assistance in loading luggage 

Bus

🚌 Best for: Saving money and mingling with locals 
💵 Cost: $
👉 More Info: RTD Denver

View of buses in the street of Denver
(photo: Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock)

Denver, Colorado has an extensive bus system that serves as another affordable means of public transportation. The SkyRide bus is a great alternative to the Airport Rail, departing from Denver International Airport every hour. 

With 9000 stops and more than 170 routes throughout the Denver metro area, navigating the system may be a bit confusing. But conveniently, they operate nearly 24 hours a day, every day of the year. 

Looking to take a day trip from Denver? To reach Boulder, take a ride on the Flatiron Flyer rapid transit bus. Other destinations available via Bustang include Buena Vista, Cañon City, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Idaho Springs, Glenwood Springs, and Grand Junction.  

Pros of Buses: 

  • Luggage assistance 
  • Affordable day trips
  • Opportunity to meet Denver locals

Cons of Buses: 

  • Limited routes
  • Frequent stops 
  • Navigation may be confusing 

16th Street Mall Ride 

🚍 Best for: Saving money and saving time
💵 Cost: free

View of an electric bus in the 16th Street Mall Ride
(photo: GagliardiPhotography / Shutterstock)

The 16th Street MallRide electric buses offer free rides up and down the 16-block retail center in downtown Denver. Aside from countless shops, 16th Street Mall contains a variety of restaurants and hotels

Explore the area by boarding the bus at any 16th Street intersection between Civic Center Station and Union Station. Seven days a week, buses start as early as 4:59 am. The last complete round trip departs Union Station at 1:19 am.

Pros of 16th Street MallRide: 

  • Free to board
  • Faster than walking 
  • Safe transportation after dark
  • Easy way to explore one of the best malls in Denver

Cons of 16th Street MallRide: 

  • Single route 
  • Limited hours 

Bike 

🚲 Best for: Saving money, avoiding traffic, and freedom to explore
💵 Cost: $-$$$
👉 Where to Book: Lyft, Lime, or Viator

View of people biking in Denver

Explore the city like a local via a wide network of dedicated bike paths. 

One 15-mile route connects Cherry Creek State Park on the southeast side of town to Cuernavaca Park on the northwest. The scenic paved path takes cyclists along Cherry Creek and to the South Platte River near Confluence Park. 

The hundreds of miles of bike paths can take you to a variety of areas around the city. Standard and e-bike rentals are available at several bike shops, as well as through Lyft and Lime. 

👉 Pro Tip: Consider a guided tour! Cruise by Denver attractions or test your mountain biking skills on trails in the nearby foothills. 

Pros of Biking: 

  • Affordable
  • Avoids traffic  
  • Good for your health and the environment
  • Memorable experience 

Cons of Biking: 

  • Must be physically able 
  • Limited routes
  • Only ideal during good weather 

Scooter

🛴 Best for: Saving money and leisurely exploring 
💵 Cost: $-$$
👉 Where to Book: Lyft or Lime

View of rental scooters on the side of the road in Denver
(photo:  jenlo8 / Shutterstock)

Want a fun mode of transportation? Book a scooter via Lyft or Lime’s online apps! 

Just be sure to stay off sidewalks and 16th Street Mall, and follow the rules of the road. Given that these scooters get up to 15 MPH, wearing a helmet is recommended. 

Pros of Scooters: 

  • Affordable
  • More eco-friendly than other methods
  • Unique experience 

Cons of Scooters: 

  • Must be physically able
  • Potential safety risks
  • Only ideal during good weather 

👉 Read Next: Is Denver Safe?

Walk

🚶 Best for: Saving money, avoiding traffic, and exploring at your own pace
💵 Cost: free

The author walking around Denver neighborhood with her dog
In volunteering at a local shelter, I became accustomed to walking around Denver’s neighborhoods

One of the simplest ways to explore Denver, Colorado is traveling on foot. Many city attractions and experiences are within walking distance.

Given our desert-like environment, temperatures can fluctuate 30°F from morning to night. Wear layers like lightweight windbreakers, flannel shirts, and insulated vests. You’ll be both comfortable and Colorado stylish!

Pros of Walking: 

  • Free
  • Healthy and eco-friendly 
  • See sites up close 

Cons of Walking: 

  • Physically demanding
  • Limited range of exploring
  • Can be time consuming
  • Poor weather may affect your itinerary 

Pedicabs 

🚴‍♂️ Best for: Saving time and comfort
💵 Cost: $$
👉 Where to Book: Mile High Pedicabs or Denver Pedicab Tours

View of people and pedicabs in Denver
(photo: Arina P Habich / Shutterstock)

If biking or walking a mile above sea level sounds daunting, leave the hard work to a pedicab cyclist. Their mountain bike-style tricycles pull passenger cabs all around the city. 

Mile High Pedicabs’ fleet operates 365 days per year, with drivers charging a standard rate of $2 per block. Or consider booking a tour with Denver Pedicabs, who will take you to various destinations throughout LoDo and RiNo. 

Pros of Pedicabs: 

  • Eco-conscious without physical demand
  • Fun experience

Cons of Pedicabs: 

  • Somewhat dependent on weather 
  • Long routes can be expensive 

5 Tips For Getting Around Denver

If You Can, Rent A Car 

View of an empty road in Denver
Renting a car provides the most freedom to explore

In my opinion, renting a car is the best way to explore downtown Denver and the nearby Rocky Mountains. No other travel method is as convenient when it comes to day trips especially.

To score a great deal, compare agency rates on Discover Cars or Kayak, which are both trustworthy booking sites. 

Download Your Maps

Mobile service is generally reliable in the downtown area but can often become spotty in the mountains. Google Maps allows you to download your routes, making them accessible even when you’re offline.

Purchase a Denver CityPASS

Planning to visit several of Denver’s major attractions? Consider purchasing a Denver CityPass. It will gain you discounted admission to the Denver Art Museum, Denver Botanic Gardens, Downtown Aquarium, and several more of Denver’s top attractions.

Take Advantage of Discounted RTD Fares

If you’re a senior (age 65+), disabled, recipient of MediCare, or youth rider (age 6-19), you qualify for a discounted fare on bus and rail system services. Children under 6 and active U.S. military members ride free. 

Highly Consider Biking

Tourists should highly consider this affordable and green mode of transportation. Paved, designated bike paths connect to many of the best things to do in Denver. In fact, Denver ranked as the United States’ fourth most cycling-friendly city!

Map of Denver

***

Transportation options are abundant in Denver, Colorado. Your ideal method will depend on your preferences, budget, and planned destinations. 

Put together your Denver trip itinerary like a pro with our extensive Denver travel guides.

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