Super useful & totally free Philadelphia travel guides, written by locals who love Philadelphia

Scenic Philadelphia skyline view over the Schuylkill River at sunset
View of the Philadelphia skyline over the Schuylkill River at sunset

Why We Love Philadelphia: Philadelphia is known for its murals, museums, rich history, and parks. Each neighborhood in the city has its own unique character. Philadelphia is a great option for travelers on a budget who want to visit a large East Coast city. It’s also a foodie haven with a vibrant arts scene. With so much to offer, Philly is a fantastic city vacation destination!

Best of Philadelphia

Things to Do

View of the folk arts at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
Folk art at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

There is always something fun to do in Philly! Whether you’re looking for interesting attractions or great food, this city has it all.

  • Reading Terminal Market – Satisfy your craving for delicious sandwiches, sweets, and cuisine from around the world. 
  • Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens – Admire mosaic marvels as you walk through winding tunnels and art exhibits at this iconic site.
  • Mural Arts Tour – Learn about different aspects of Philadelphia’s history and culture through a neighborhood mural tour.  
  • John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge – Hike through a gorgeous nature reserve. You’re sure to spot a surprising amount of wildlife. 
  • Independence National Historical Park – Immerse yourself in U.S. history. Visit Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the U.S. Constitution Center.

👉 Explore all things to do in Philadelphia.

🗺️ Where to Stay

If you’re a first-time visitor to Philly, I recommend one of these three neighborhoods for your stay:

  • Center City – There is lots to do in this downtown neighborhood. It’s also easy to get to other neighborhoods by public transport.  
  • Old City – Philly’s historic district offers top tourist attractions and vibrant nightlife. Check out Penn’s Landing for outdoor events. 
  • Fairmount – This is a beautiful area of Philly with the best access in the city to museums and parks.

👉 Read the complete guide on where to stay in Philadelphia.

View of the quintessential architectural style in an alley in Old Philadelphia City
The quintessential architectural style in Old City

🛎️ Best Hotels

Philly has everything from hotels to hostels so you can splurge or save.

  • Hyatt Centric Center City Philadelphia – This luxury hotel is centrally located. Rooms provide a great view of the city. 
  • La Reserve Bed and Breakfast – A gorgeous boutique option south of Center City on a quiet street. Guests love the included breakfast. 
  • Sonder at Sixteen Hundred – Between Center City and Fairmount. It offers rooms with full kitchens, making it great for family vacations.

🍽️ Restaurants

A serving of lamb rib from Friday Saturday Sunday
Absolutely delicious lamb rib for my 30th birthday dinner at Friday Saturday Sunday

Philly is full of excellent restaurants with cuisine from all over the world. I have too many favorites to count! Here are a select few.

  • Vernick Fish – An upscale seafood restaurant and cocktail bar. The flavors are impeccable and each bite melts in your mouth.
  • Friday Saturday Sunday – The chef’s tasting menu is extravagant, delicious, and artful. A perfect choice for any special occasion. 
  • Ramayana Restaurant – One of the best cheap take-out options in Philly. Get a platter of mouth-watering Indonesian fare for under $12. 
  • Ocean Harbor – This popular dim sum spot often is bustling on weekends. You’ll want to try it all, from dumplings to short ribs. 
  • Amma’s – A newer location specializing in authentic South Indian cuisine packed with flavor. Don’t miss out on the dosa!

🚗 Day Trips

View of the Delaware Water Gap from the kayak
Kayaking at the Delaware Water Gap
  • Longwood Gardens – A curated paradise of plants, flowers, and trees just an hour’s drive outside Philly. 
  • New Hope – This quintessential small town has antiques and quirky shops. Check out neighboring Lambertville as well. 
  • Atlantic City – This beachfront party town needs no introduction. Peruse the boardwalk or try your luck at a casino. 
  • Wolf Sanctuary of PA – Reserve your ticket in advance to see majestic wolves up close. It’s only an hour and a half outside of Philly. 
  • Delaware Water Gap – This protected area of nature is well worth the visit. I recommend staying at least a night if you can!

👉 See the full list of the best Philadelphia day trips.

🏘️ Neighborhoods

View of the Downtown Philadelphia overlooking the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the autumn season
View of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where many of the city’s best museums are located
  • Center City – This downtown neighborhood is lively any time. From here, it’s easy to get to other neighborhoods by public transport.  
  • Old City – “America’s most historic square mile” features several of the city’s top tourist attractions. It also has trendy bars and restaurants, and a great nightlife scene. 
  • Fairmount – Home to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Eastern State Penitentiary museum, and several parks along the Schuylkill River. 
  • Germantown – Germantown has both a unique Black history and abolitionist history. With its own small-town feel, it’s worth the visit.
  • West Philly – A large residential area with its own hidden gems. Have some delicious Ethiopian or Caribbean food while you’re here!

🍸 Bars

A glass of the classic negroni
A classic negroni
  • Ranstead Room – A nondescript entrance gives way to an intimate, luxurious setting with exquisite cocktails. 
  • Double Knot – One of the best happy hours in the city. It offers specialty cocktails and sake paired with fantastic pan-Asian cuisine.
  • Tavern on Camac – Live piano singalong bar in the gayborhood. Tavern serves up your favorite drinks with a hefty pour. Dancefloor upstairs. 
  • Barcade – Craft beer, cheap bar food, and over 60 arcade games make this the perfect spot for a night out with friends. 
  • South – A jazz nightclub with performances from Thursday through Sunday. The menu includes signature cocktails and savory Southern fare.

🎨 Museums

Aerial view of the Philadelphia Museum of Art on a sunny day
The Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art – This museum hosts the city’s largest collection of European, American, and Asian fine art of different periods.
  • The Institute of Contemporary Art – One of my personal favorites. Admission is free and it exhibits thought-provoking work by underrepresented artists.
  • Please Touch Museum – A must-visit for families with young children. This children’s museum offers interactive exhibits kids will love.
  • Rodin Museum – One of the most comprehensive collections of sculptor Auguste Rodin’s work outside of Paris. The detail is captivating.
  • The Franklin Institute – One of the oldest science museums in the U.S. Exhibits cover electricity, the human brain, climate change, and more.

🌳 Parks

View of the Schuylkill River from Bartram’s Garden at sunset
View of the Schuylkill River from Bartram’s Garden. Community boating happens on the river.
  • Fairmount Park – Trails, a treetop ropes course, and a playground with a giant slide. This massive city park has it all.
  • The Wissahickon – Over 2,000 acres of woodland northwest of the city provide the ideal setting for a hike or bike ride. 
  • Bartram’s Garden – This gorgeous historic flower garden hosts free community boating, outdoor events, and the Sankofa farm.
  • FDR Park – A classic city park in South Philly. It includes a massive skate park, a Southeast Asian market on weekends, and sports fields. 
  • Pennypack Park – You’ll need a car to get to northeast Philly. Once there, you can explore meadows, wetlands, and woods.

Philadelphia Travel Advice

🗓️ Best Time to Visit

Like all East Coast cities, in my opinion, the best and most beautiful time to visit Philly is in the spring!

  • 🌼 Spring – That blissful, short sweet spot where it’s sunny and 55-75°F. Flowers are beginning to bloom.  
  • 🌞 Summer – The perfect time for those who love sunshine. It can get hot and humid, so plan a Jersey Shore beach day!
  • 🍂 Fall – An increasingly unpredictable season in Philly, fall can still be pleasant as the leaves change and the weather cools.
  • ❄️ Winter – I wouldn’t recommend a winter visit to Philly when the skies are gray, it’s windy and cold, and the city sleeps early.

🚌 Getting Around

Philly’s public transit is decent in central areas of the city. If you want to explore other neighborhoods, plan to drive or take a ride share.

  • 🚶‍♀️ Walking – Philly is walkable if you stay in Center City and any of the surrounding neighborhoods. 
  • 🚗 Driving – A car makes visiting attractions in and around the city much easier. Though, driving can be challenging in Philly. 
  • 🚇 Public Transit – Public transit is not the most efficient means for every route. Still, it’s easy enough to use and available by bus, trolley, and subway. 
  • 📲 Ride Share – Uber and Lyft are common in Philly. Sometimes you get a great deal. During weekend evenings, prices may surge.
  • 🚴‍♀️ Biking – Philly is bikeable for the experienced city cyclist. Some areas have bike lanes and it’s often faster than public transit.
  • 🚴‍♀️ Bike Share – Indegogo is Philly’s bike share program. There are stations throughout the central parts of the city. It’s $20 for a 30-day pass. 
  • 🛴 Scooters – There aren’t many locations to rent scooters in Philly. It is a great form of transport in the city if you have your own.
  • Accessibility – The public transit system and many city attractions are accessible to those with disabilities. Sidewalks and streets can be difficult to navigate due to obstructions. Check out this Accessible Philadelphia guide for more detailed information.

👉 Tips & Things to Know

  • ☁️ Weather can fluctuate – Winter is dreary, but sometimes, it’s not! Temperatures in Philly vary from day to day. Spring is still your best bet.
  • 🤧 Allergies may act up – Air quality can be poor in Philly. Compounded with spring pollen, it may impact those who already suffer from seasonal allergies.  
  • 🚌 SEPTA Key Card – Philly’s public transit card to make travel easier and more affordable. Costs $5 (fee applied to your fare if you register the card). 
  • 🍻 Alcohol and beer are sold separately – One Pennsylvania quirk is that wine and spirits stores don’t sell beer. Beer is always sold separately. 
  • 🚗 Driving can be challenging – Philly does not have the best roads. With potholes, construction, and aggressive drivers, it’s not for the faint of heart.

🧳 What to Pack

  • 👟 Comfortable Shoes – Make sure you have comfortable walking shoes. That way, you can explore as much as possible in this walkable city. 
  • 💃🏽 Dancing Shoes – After a day out, don’t miss out on the nightlife! There are tons of places to dance in Philly, ranging from salsa clubs to techno parties.
  • 💊 Allergy Meds – Pollen levels are high in the spring and summer. Pack your meds so the allergies don’t stop you!
  • 🗺️ Map – True, paper maps are nearly extinct, but peek at a map of Philly while here. The city is expansive and it’ll help you get oriented.
  • 🚰 Reusable Water Bottle – A staple item for any destination. Why pay for bottled water when you can hydrate all day for free as you travel the city!

🤓 Facts & Info

  • Census Population (2020) – 1,603,797 (city), 6,245,051 (metro area)
  • Time Zone – Eastern Standard Time (UTC -5 / UTC -4 during daylight savings)
  • Area Codes – 267, 215
  • Airports – Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
  • Nickname – The City of Brotherly Love
  • Demonynm – Philadelphian 
  • StatePennsylvania
  • CountryUnited States of America

💵 Costs & Budgeting

  • 3 Star Hotel Room – $120-$200/night
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $120-$600/night
  • Rental Car – $25-$50/day
  • Public Transit Ticket – ~$2.50 ($6.75 to airport from center)
  • Ride Share from Downtown to Airport – $30-$40
  • Take Out Meal for Two – $20-$60
  • Sit Down Dinner for Two – $30-$150
  • Draft Beer – $8-$10

FAQs About Visiting Philadelphia

Is Philadelphia safe for tourists?

Philadelphia is relatively safe for tourists. However, there is crime in the city, as in any large city in the U.S. 

As long as you use common sense safety precautions when out in the city, it is safe. Remain aware of your surroundings, especially alone and at night. Consider a ride share back to the hotel if you’re unsure of the best public transit route.

What is the best month to visit Philadelphia?

The best months to visit Philadelphia are April through June. Flowers are in full bloom throughout the city. The sun is shining and temperatures are warm, but not too hot. Make sure to visit Bartram’s Garden, Fairmount Park, and the Longwood Gardens to fully appreciate Philly’s beautiful spring season.

How many days do you need to see Philadelphia?

You need three days to see Philadelphia. This gives you plenty of time to see the sites and try a few restaurants. You may even fit in a day trip to the Jersey Shore. Stay longer and you’ll have more time to take in Philly’s rich cultural attractions.

What is Philadelphia famous for?

Philadelphia is famous for its place in U.S. history The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were both signed in Philly. The Liberty Bell, a symbol of the abolitionist movement, is also in Philadelphia. The city is also famous for its countless influential Black activists, artists, and innovators.

Meet Our Philadelphia Travel Expert

Maya Nojechowicz

Maya Nojechowicz is a freelance writer from Boston now living in Philadelphia. Maya’s passion for travel began with family trips to Argentina over the years to visit relatives and has only grown since then. As a city person with a deep love for nature as well, Maya is happy traveling to almost any new destination.

👉 Read Maya’s Articles

📰 Philadelphia Travel Guides

Rich in history and culture, there are countless ways to fill a Philadelphia itinerary. Another perk of Philly is that it’s only a few hours away from many other cities. Between these destinations are beautiful beaches and other hidden gems of nature. Check out our other guides on the area:

🗺️ Philadelphia Map