Where to stay in Philadelphia without a car: 6 Best areas

Hi guys, as usual, on my website, I cover topics for travelers without a car. Today, we will explore Philadelphia and help you find the best places to stay in Philadelphia without a car. 

I will share my recommendations for the top areas to stay in Philadelphia without a car, along with a helpful map. Additionally, I’ll tell you where I stayed in Philadelphia and suggest the best hotels in Philadelphia for all budgets.

Philadelphia is a major city located in the northeastern United States. The city played a pivotal role in the American Revolution and the founding of the United States. 

It is often referred to as the Birthplace of America because the Declaration of Independence was adopted there on July 4, 1776, and the U.S. Constitution was drafted there in 1787.

Independence National Historical Park is where you can find major historical landmarks such as the Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated and adopted) and the Liberty Bell (a symbol of American independence).

Philadelphia is famous for its food, including the Philly cheesesteak, soft pretzels, and Tastykakes. It also has a diverse culinary scene with a wide range of restaurants offering various cuisines.

The city has a well-developed transportation system, including SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority), which operates buses, trolleys, subways, and commuter trains. Philadelphia International Airport serves as the main airport for the region.

You can get around Philadelphia without a car. Philadelphia has a variety of public transportation options and is a walkable city in many neighborhoods. 

SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) operates buses, trolleys, subways, and regional rail lines throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. The SEPTA system is extensive and can take you to many parts of the city.

SEPTA’s Regional Rail system connects Philadelphia to its suburbs and neighboring cities. It’s a convenient way to travel to destinations outside the city center.

Broad Street Line and Market-Frankford Line are two subway lines that provide north-south and east-west access within the city, making it easy to get to many popular attractions and neighborhoods.

SEPTA buses and trolleys cover a wide range of routes within the city, providing access to areas not served by the subway.

Philadelphia has a bike-sharing program called Indego, which allows you to rent bicycles for short trips around the city. There are many bike lanes and trails to make cycling safe and enjoyable.

Philadelphia is a pedestrian-friendly city with well-maintained sidewalks and crosswalks. Many neighborhoods, particularly the Old Town and Center City, are easily explored on foot.

You can also use Uber/ Lyft to get around. Taxis can be found in many places including the 30th Street Train Station, Greyhound bus station, and Philadelphia International Airport.

The PHLASH Downtown Loop is a seasonal bus service that operates during the spring and summer months, providing easy access to many popular tourist destinations in Center City, Philadelphia Zoo, and the Please Touch Museum.

You can consider purchasing a SEPTA Key card to pay for public transport. Use SEPTA’s website or mobile apps to check schedules, and find the most efficient routes to your destination.

Where to stay in Philadelphia without a car?

The best areas to stay in Philadelphia without a car are Old City, Center City/ Midtown Village, Society Hill, Rittenhouse Square, Parkway Museum District/Logan Square, and University City.

These areas offer easy access to major attractions and amenities on foot or by using public transportation, making them a popular choice for car-free tourists.

On my trip to Philly, I stayed at the 3-star hotel in the Old Town area, Penn’s View Hotel Philadelphia. It has a very central location, within easy walking distance from major sights, as well as the waterfront area and the harbor. Also easy access to public transportation.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Philadelphia for car-free travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the best areas to stay in Philadelphia without a car
Map of the best areas to stay in Philadelphia without a car

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Philadelphia, especially for travelers without a car. I’ll explain to you how to reach each area and how to get around. I’ll also provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Philadelphia have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

6 Best areas to stay in Philadelphia without a car:

1. Old City

Old City is one of the most popular places to stay in Philadelphia for tourists and car-free travelers who are interested in history and want to experience the rich historical heritage of Philadelphia.  

Old City is home to some of Philadelphia’s most iconic historical attractions, including Independence Hall, Liberty Bell Center, the National Constitution Center, and numerous historic houses and museums such as the National Museum of American Jewish History and Museum of the American Revolution.

Old City is very walkable, and you’ll find it easy to explore the cobblestone streets, historic landmarks, and charming architecture on foot. The compact layout of the neighborhood makes it convenient for pedestrians.

The neighborhood boasts a vibrant dining scene with a variety of restaurants, bars, and cafes. You’ll find options for diverse cuisines and nightlife entertainment, particularly along 2nd and 3rd Streets.

Old City offers unique boutiques, art galleries, and craft shops where you can find one-of-a-kind souvenirs and gifts.

It’s worth noting that parking in Old City can be limited and expensive. Therefore, staying without a car is a practical choice, especially if you plan to spend most of your time exploring the area and historic sites.

Best places to stay in Philadelphia Old City without a car:

  • Mid-range ($$): Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia, an IHG Hotel, 4-star hotel, located on Chestnut Street, a few steps from Independence Hall, also close to the National Constitution Center and Reading Terminal Market.
  • Mid-range ($$): Penn’s View Hotel Philadelphia, popular 3-star accommodation situated on North Front Street in Old Town Philly, a short walk from major attractions such as  Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and Independence Park.
  • Mid-range ($$): Independence Park Hotel, Premier Collection, 3-star hotel, centrally located in the Historic District, only a short walk from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, as well as Benjamin Franklin Court and National Constitution Center.

2. Center City/ Midtown Village

Center City/Midtown Village is a modern downtown area and is a great option for visitors who want to be at the heart of Philadelphia’s cultural, dining, and shopping scene. Many of Philadelphia’s top attractions are within walking distance or a short ride away via public transportation.

You’ll have easy access to cultural attractions like the Philadelphia City Hall, Washington Square,  Reading Terminal Market, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and Chinatown.

The neighborhood is renowned for its diverse dining scene, with numerous restaurants, cafes, and food markets. You can enjoy a wide range of cuisines, from traditional Philly cheesesteaks to international dishes.

Rittenhouse Square, a nearby area, offers high-end boutiques and shops, while Walnut Street and Chestnut Street in Center City provide a mix of shopping options, from major retailers to local boutiques.

If you’re interested in nightlife, you’ll find plenty of bars, clubs, and live music venues in Center City. South Street, known for its nightlife, is also nearby.

Best places to stay in Philadelphia in Center City without a car:


3. Rittenhouse Square

Rittenhouse Square is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a more upscale and tranquil neighborhood in Philadelphia. It is located next to the City Center, easy access to the Old City and Parkway Museum District.

The neighborhood is centered around Rittenhouse Square Park, a beautiful urban park where you can relax, people-watch, or enjoy a picnic. It’s a serene oasis in the heart of the city.

Best places to stay in Rittenhouse Square without a car:

  • Luxury ($$$): The Rittenhouse Hotel, 5-star accommodation, centrally located, within a short distance from major museums, shops, and restaurants.
  • Mid-range ($$): Hyatt Centric Center City Philadelphia, 4-star hotel, located within a short Uber ride from major attractions, you can walk to Independence Hall, which is a 30 mins walk away.
  • Budget ($): Motto by Hilton Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square, 3-star hotel situated on South 19th Street, easy access to  Pennsylvania Convention Center, Barnes Foundation, and Liberty Bell.

4. Logan Square/Parkway Museum District

This area is home to some of Philadelphia’s most renowned museums, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation, the Rodin Museum, and the Franklin Institute. If you have a passion for art, science, and history, you’ll be in the midst of it all.

Benjamin Franklin Parkway, often referred to as “the Parkway,” is a grand boulevard lined with cultural institutions, sculptures, and beautiful landscaping. It’s a pleasant place for a stroll and connects many of the museums in the area.

The neighborhood is adjacent to Fairmount Park, one of the largest urban parks in the United States. It’s a great place for outdoor activities, picnics, and enjoying nature.

Logan Square/Parkway Museum District is a walkable neighborhood, allowing you to explore the cultural attractions and scenic areas on foot. You can easily spend a day visiting the various museums along the Parkway.

Best places to stay in Philadelphia in Logan Square without a car:

  • Luxury ($$$): Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center, 5-star hotel, conveniently located between Logan Square and Rittenhouse Square.
  • Mid-range ($$): The Windsor Suites Philadelphia, 4-star hotel, located on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, a short walk from 15th Street Trolley Station, as well as  the City Hall Subway Station and The Barnes Foundation. Also close to the 30th Street Amtrak.
  • Budget ($): Sonder at The Terrace, good value for money accommodation in Philly, easy distance from LOVE park and Logan Square.

5. Society Hill

Society Hill is a charming and historic neighborhood located just south of the Old City, known for its cobblestone streets, 18th-century architecture, and tranquil ambiance. Staying in Society Hill without a car offers a unique and serene experience. 

Society Hill is one of Philadelphia’s oldest neighborhoods, and it boasts well-preserved historic buildings, including Federal and Georgian-style homes. Wandering the cobblestone streets gives you a sense of stepping back in time.

Society Hill is home to several small parks, including Three Bears Park and Washington Square Park, which provide green spaces for relaxation.

Best places to stay in Society Hill without a car:

  • Mid-range ($$): Sonder The Queen, 4-star hotel, located on South 5th Street, in the Society Hill neighborhood. Easy access to the Old Town and the waterfront area.
  • Mid-range ($$): Philadelphia Marriott Old City, 4-star hotel, located within walking distance from Society Hill, Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.
  • Luxury ($$$): Morris House Hotel, great boutique hotel, national historic landmark, a short walk away from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, as well as numerous world-famous  restaurants, shops and theaters.

6. University City

University City is a great base in Philly if you’re interested in exploring the vibrant academic and cultural scene of Philadelphia, particularly around the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University.  

Both universities offer campus tours and have their own attractions, such as the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Beyond the universities, University City hosts cultural attractions like the Institute of Contemporary Art, The Rotunda for live performances, and various art galleries. Additionally, the Penn Museum is renowned for its collection of artifacts from around the world.

University City has its share of shops and boutiques, especially along Baltimore Avenue and Walnut Street. Clark Park and Penn Park are two lovely green spaces in University City where you can relax, have a picnic, or enjoy outdoor activities.

Best places to stay in Philadelphia in University City without a car:

  • Mid-range ($$):  The Study at University City, Study Hotels, 4-star hotel, located close to the campuses of The University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University. Also easy access to 30th st trolley station and 34th street station.
  • Mid-range ($$): The Inn at Penn, A Hilton Hotel, 4-star hotel located on Sansom Street, easy access to public transportation, very close to University of Pennsylvania.
  • Budget ($): Sonder The Sloan, great hotel in a great location, easy access to the subway.

In conclusion, Old City, Center City, Rittenhouse Square, Parkway Museum District, Society Hill, and University City are the best places to stay in Philadelphia without a car. These are walkable areas with well-connected public transportation, making them great locations for car-free travelers.

There you have it, my recommendations for the popular areas that you can stay during your car-free trip to Philadelphia. I hope you found my article helpful and enjoy your holiday!

If you travel to Philly as a family, I recommend reading this article: Best areas to stay in Philadelphia with kids. If you are new to Philly, you can read this: safe areas to stay in Philadelphia for first time.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality travel guides.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

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