Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (tel. 404/530-7300; www.atlanta-airport.com; airport code: ATL), 10 miles south of downtown, is the world's largest and busiest passenger airport and transfer hub, accommodating 78 million passengers a year. It provides 186 U.S. cities with nonstop service.
Delta Air Lines (tel. 800/221-1212; www.delta.com), which is based at Hartsfield-Jackson, is the major carrier to Atlanta, connecting the city to the rest of the U.S. as well as 62 countries internationally. It carries 80% of the air passengers who come into Atlanta and serves more than 350 international cities.
Other major carriers include AirTran (tel. 800/247-8726; www.airtran.com), American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com), British Airways (tel. 800/247-9297; www.british-airways.com), Continental (tel. 800/525-0280; www.continental.com), Japan Airlines (tel. 800/525-3663; www.jal.com), Lufthansa (tel. 800/645-3880; www.lufthansa-usa.com), Northwest/KLM (tel. 800/225-2525; www.nwa.com), United Airlines (tel. 800/241-6522; www.united.com), and US Airways (tel. 800/428-4322; www.usairways.com).
getting into Town from the Airport -- Those flying into Atlanta have several options for getting from the airport to the downtown area. Most large hotels offer their guests shuttle service, accessible through a courtesy phone located near baggage claim at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Other options include taxi, MARTA rapid-rail or bus service, and rental cars.
Bus travel is often the most economical form of public transit for short hops between U.S. cities, but it's certainly not an option for everyone (particularly when Amtrak, which is far more luxurious, offers similar rates). Greyhound (tel. 800/231-2222; www.greyhound.com) is the sole nationwide bus line and connects the entire country with Atlanta via bus.
The bus terminal is located at 232 Forsyth St., at the Garnett Street MARTA station, one stop south of Five Points (the main MARTA station downtown). Taxis are available, but it's both convenient and inexpensive to take MARTA into the central city.
The fare structure on buses is complex and not always based on distance traveled. The good news is that when you call Greyhound, you'll always get the lowest-fare options. Advance-purchase fares booked 3 to 21 days before travel can garner big savings.
International visitors can obtain information about the Greyhound North American Discovery Pass. The pass can be obtained from foreign travel agents or through www.discoverypass.com for unlimited travel and stopovers in the U.S. and Canada.
Navigating Atlanta by car can be freeing or terrifying, depending on your approach to major traffic. While city and state officials continue to stumble around improvements to traffic flow, there is much to be said for having your own ride in this sprawling metropolis. Of course, the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) makes navigation much easier, though frequent and ongoing road construction can result in it leading you to a dead-end or blocked road. Three major interstate highways (I-20, I-75, and I-85) converge near the center of downtown Atlanta.
Below is a list of approximate mileage from other major cities in the region:
Birmingham, Ala.: 148
Charleston, S.C.: 320
Charlotte, N.C.: 240
Jacksonville, Fla.: 346
Louisville, Ky.: 417
Nashville, Tenn.: 244
New Orleans, La.: 473
Norfolk, Va.: 555
Orlando, Fla.: 441
Savannah, Ga.: 252
Tampa, Fla.: 458
Amtrak operates the Crescent daily between Atlanta and New York, with stops in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and other intermediate points. Travel time between New York and Atlanta is approximately 18 1/2 hours. The Crescent also goes beyond Atlanta to many points south each day, terminating in New Orleans. Other Amtrak trains connect with most of the country. To find out if your city connects via rail with Atlanta, call tel. 800/USA-RAIL (872-7245), or check www.amtrak.com.
Like the airlines, Amtrak offers discount fares, and though not all are based on advance purchase, reserving early may pay off.
Contact Amtrak Vacations (tel. 800/321-8684; www.amtrak.com) to inquire about money-saving packages that include hotel accommodations and attraction tickets with your train fare.
Trains arrive in Atlanta at 1688 Peachtree St., just off I-85. From this central location, you can take a taxi to your hotel or to the nearest MARTA station (Arts Center). For information, call tel. 800/USA-RAIL (872-7245) or 404/881-3060.
International visitors can buy a USA Rail Pass, good for 15 or 30 days of unlimited travel on Amtrak (tel. 800/USA-RAIL [872-7245]; www.amtrak.com). The pass is available online or through many overseas travel agents. Visit Amtrak's website for the cost of travel within the western, eastern, or northwestern United States. Reservations are generally required and should be made as early as possible. Regional rail passes are also available.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.