The birthplace of the United States of America, Philadelphia has it all. From elite sports to music, fantastic food, museums, shopping opportunities, and plenty of accommodation options, "the City of Brotherly Love" covers all the bases, and more.
Philly has a unique atmosphere. Maybe it's the beautifully painted murals in Center City, the cobblestone streets in the Old Town, or the relaxed vibe of Washington Square. It's a city that welcomes everyone, from sports fans in bars like the Fox & Hound to the tour guides at Independence Hall who field every question, no matter how obscure.
It's also a city that caters to daytime and nighttime activities. You can spend the day at the Museum of Art or visiting iconic sights like the Liberty Bell, then stay up into the small hours at jazz bars like Time or clubs like Rumor. It all comes together in a city that really lives up to its nickname.
Philadelphia is steeped in historical significance: in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed at Philadelphia's Independence Hall. After the end of the American Revolutionary War, the same room provided the backdrop for the signing of the Constitution.
Philadelphia is a city of sports fanatics, and it's the kind of place where you can watch elite NFL (the Eagles), NBA (the 76ers), NHL (the Flyers), or Major League Baseball (the Phillies).
Wherever you walk in Philadelphia, you'll encounter delicious smells, from the sizzling cheese and beef of a perfectly made cheesesteak to the rich buttery aroma of freshly baked pretzels. Head to legendary restaurants like Geno's for the best cheesesteaks, then wash them down with local brews from craft breweries like 2nd Story.
Philadelphia's Museum of Art isn't just one of the finest galleries in the world, it's also an iconic cinema backdrop, immortalized by Sylvester Stallone in Rocky. See masterpieces like Rodin's "Thinker" before posing for a shot atop the Rocky Steps.
In Philadelphia, beautiful 18th-century homes, historic churches, and narrow, cobbled streets appear as if from nowhere, making it a great city to explore by foot. Center City and the Old City are compact and easy to get around, while the Metro puts most suburbs within easy reach.
The most popular time to visit Philadelphia is summer, when the Pennsylvania weather is at its best (and you can take part in July 4th celebrations). However, if you want to dodge the peak season crowds, try visiting in fall, when warm spells and dazzling sunshine are common, or even the festive season, when Philadelphia really goes to town, with ice rinks, markets, and holiday sales.
Philadelphia International Airport is served by almost all major US airlines. The easiest and fastest way to get into town from the airport is to take the SEPTA regional rail connection, which costs $6.50. Taxis are available for around $30, while the 37 bus runs to Center City and costs $2.25.
Philadelphia is home to one of the USA's most beautiful Amtrak stations - 30th Street Station - and the city has good rail connections to other US cities. Routes like the Keystone connect Philly to New York, while Northeast Regional and Carolinian services link it to Washington D.C. and cities in the South. Getting from 30th Street to the city center is simple: just take the Market-Frankford Metro line.
Philadelphia is easy to reach by car from regional cities like Boston, New York, Washington D.C., and Pittsburgh. If you are coming from the north or south, take I-95, while anyone coming from Chicago can take I-90 and I-76.
The major bus operator in Philadelphia is Greyhound, which stops at 30th Street Station and Filbert Street in Center City. However, there are plenty of other bus companies to choose from, including Peter Pan, Megabus, HGT Bus, and Bolt Bus.
Most of the city's best hotels are located in Center City and the Old City, and popular options include the Wyndham, Marriott, and Le Méridien. If you want a more boutique-style accommodation experience, have a look at Rittenhouse 1715, or bed and breakfasts like Spruce Hill Manor. There are also budget hostels, like Apple and Philadelphia House, which provide affordable dorm-based accommodation within a stone's throw from the major historical attractions.
Center City - Philadelphia's downtown neighborhood, Center City, is the place to shop, eat, and drink. If you are after a superb cheesesteak or some authentic Philadelphia pretzels, Reading Terminal Market is not to be missed. Chinatown offers great Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese food (check out the sushi wraps at Hai Street Kitchen), while Walnut Street hosts stores like Gap and Barbour.
The Old City - Where America's story began, Philadelphia's Old City is full of atmosphere (and tour parties). If you're looking to surround yourself with historical sites like Benjamin Franklin's Printing Office, Betsy Ross' home, Independence Hall, or the Liberty Bell, there's no better place to stay.
Fishtown - Philadelphia's hippest neighborhood, Fishtown is about 30 minutes' walk northeast of the city center. Full of coffee houses and bars like ReAnimator or Kraftwork, it's a creative hub too, thanks to independent galleries like Black Vulture and boutiques like SWAG.
SEPTA (the South East Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) runs all public transportation in Philadelphia. The Metro is a great way to hop between Center City and the Old City, while buses cover all major suburbs. Single tokens for the Metro are $1.80 each, day passes for all transportation are $8 and weekly Transpasses cost US$24.
Taxis are a convenient way to get around Philadelphia - but they're not cheap. Expect to pay a meter drop of $2.70 and then $2.30 per mile to reach your destination. The cheapest UberX vehicles cost $1.25 for the meter drop, then $1.10 per mile with a minimum fare of $5.75.
Renting a car in Philadelphia isn't really necessary unless you are staying in outlying suburbs like King of Prussia or Delco (Delaware County). If you do need to drive into town, there are plenty of parking garages on Market Street and other locations, but expect to pay $18 or more to park for a day. The bridges out of Center City are usually packed at rush hour, so try to travel outside peak periods if possible. Most major rental companies are represented in Philadelphia, including Avis, Budget and Enterprise.
Philadelphia is a great shopping destination. Center City streets like Market Street, Chestnut Street, and Walnut Street are the place to go for major brands. 2nd Street in the Old City hosts a collection of offbeat independent boutiques and galleries like Pentimenti and Muse, and Fishtown is another excellent place to look for apparel, art, and jewelry. Philadelphia Mills also offers stores like Old Navy, Forever 21, and Foot Locker.
Central Philadelphia isn't crammed with supermarkets, although there are a couple of ACME stores that offer a good selection. There are also 7-Eleven outlets and various smaller deli markets like Mulberry Market, while Reading Terminal Market is a good place to hunt for fresh produce. Expect to pay $3 for 12 eggs or $2 for a pound of apples.
For an authentic Philadelphia Cheesesteak, head to Geno's or Carmen's in Reading Market, while the hotdogs at Franks a Alot are a great snack between the sights. You'll find excellent Vietnamese at Pho Cali in Chinatown, sushi at Kabuki Sushi, and gourmet burgers and high-quality craft beers at the Misconduct Tavern on Locust. Expect to pay $15-20 for a medium range meal (plus 10 percent sales tax) and more than $30 at the more upmarket restaurants. A basic cheesesteak costs around $8-10.