How to Visit Philadelphia on a Budget

On its 2014 list of the 25 most expensive cities in America, “Economic Policy Journal” ranks Philadelphia as number six. But don’t let that statistic dissuade you from visiting this amazing city. Here are some things to do in Philadelphia without breaking the bank.

Take Public Transportation

Image via Flickr by Studio 34: Yoga | Healing | Arts

The best way to travel cheap in Philadelphia is by relying on the city’s mass transit system. The SEPTA rail line runs from the airport to the city center, providing easy access to the main landmarks, including restaurants and historic sites. If you’re visiting the city for a day, you can buy a one-day pass for $8 that covers any buses, trolleys, and subway trains (except regional rails). Even better, if you’ll be spending more time in the city, pick up the $24 weekly TransPass, allowing unlimited travel within the time zone. In addition, you could also score great discounts on selected services with the use of Pass Perks.

Get Cheap Accommodations

Philadelphia hotels are not cheap. Hotels in the city center cost more than $100 a night, if you are looking for luxury. The best option to save money is by renting a private room or a room share via Airbnb for less than $50 a night. Most rentals in the city center are close to the train station, making it easy to commute without extra charges for a cab. If you’re arriving by car, you may even be able to find a free parking space near your rental room. Staying in a hostel is another great alternative for those with a tighter budget. Apple Hostel and Chamounix Mansion offer rooms for less than $25 a night.

Eat Cheap

Image via Flickr by pchow98

Philadelphia is home to plenty of eats that won’t blow your budget. Spencer ETA Burger and Butcher & Singer Steakhouse, located a few miles from University City, offer great burgers for less than $10. You can also grab a large cheese steak meal for $7 at Dalessandros Steaks & Hoagies. Some restaurants offer a money-saving combo, where you’ll enjoy a free drink with a meal. For happy hour, head to Jerry’s Bar after 10 p.m for half-price cans of beer and cocktails. Foodies will also love Philly’s food trucks at University City. Stop by to sample local delicacies from cupcakes to sandwiches to pizza.

Take Advantage of Free Attractions

Image via Flickr by Prayitno

Two of the busiest tourist spots in Philadelphia—Liberty Bell and Independence Hall—are free to visit. Independence Hall requires a walk-up ticket; Liberty Bell needs no ticket, but you can expect to wait in line to get inside the building. Art lovers can also feast their eyes on the glass mosaic at “The Dream Garden,” which was created with more than 100,000 pieces of iridescent glass.

A great way to stay relaxed in the city is by exploring the rustic natural parks that offer endless outdoor activities. Hike or bike the seven-mile trail along the beautiful Wissahickon Valley Park, where a great meal awaits you on the other side at Valley Green Inn. Explore the trails of Awbury Arboretum, a family estate landscaped in the English romantic style, with open woods, ponds, meadows, and rolling hills. Admire the public art at Fairmount Park that brims with streams, trails, and historic buildings.

Philadelphia is a city of hidden gems—especially if you’re not looking to spend a fortune. An afternoon spent strolling the 200-year-old cobblestone streets in the Old City checking out vintage furniture stores, trendy clothing boutiques, and urban art galleries, will convince you that Philadelphia has much to offer for everyone.

If  you’re looking to visit Philly on a budget during a game, be sure to check out a detailed guide I wrote on budget-friendly accommodations.

 This article is an Expert Opinion Piece and is published as part of the Hipmunk #CityLove Project.

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  1. This is great – it reminds me of when I used to live in Philly and allllllll my good food memories. I love Philadelphia’s food trucks so much, especially the falafel one near UPenn. Yum!

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