Planning a solo trip to Philadelphia? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- Located in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia has a population of around 1.6 million people.
- Founded in 1682 by William Penn to serve as the capital of the new colony.
- Was the meeting point for the nation’s Founding Fathers, who went on to sign the U.S. Declaration of Independence there in 1776 (and the Constitution in 1787).
- Nicknames: Philly, The City of Brotherly Love, Cradle of Liberty, The City that Loves you Back, The Quaker City.
- Currency: US Dollar (USD)
- Spoken languages: English.
- Best time to visit: from June to August (summertime).
- Arriving via airport: the best way to get to the city is via the SEPTA regional rail (tickets cost $6.75 if bought at the station or $8.00 on the train).
- There is a flat taxi rate of $28.50 from the airport to downtown Philadelphia.
WHERE TO STAY
- Best hostel for solo travelers in Philadelphia: Apple Hostel. Very clean, comfortable beds, social atmosphere, and friendly staff. It’s downtown, just a short walk from Independence Hall. Perfect for exploring the city and meeting fellow travelers. Book ahead!
- A good area to stay in is Center City / Rittenhouse, with plenty of great shops and restaurants.
- Old City is the most convenient place to stay if you’re visiting primarily to experience the historic attractions (around Independence National Historical Park). This is where you will find the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and many more attractions.
- Tip: If you’re driving to the city, pick a hotel with parking included (downtown parking rates are high).
- Septa operates over 110 bus routes throughout the Pennsylvania metropolitan area, and stops are almost everywhere in the city. SEPTA also operates eight trolley routes, two subway lines (the Broad Street and Market Street subways), and 13 regional rail lines. Fares are $2.50 for every ride, and must be paid with exact change.
- Instead of taxis, do as the locals do: call an Uber or Lyft via their respective smartphone apps.
- Another option is the Patco speed line, which can get you between many of the cities between Philly and South Jersey. A great alternative, especially when traffic is congested.
- There are many car rental options in the city (including ZipCar).
- Drinking age is 21, and last call is at 1:30 AM.
- Popular: Rittenhouse Square, Penn Center, Washington Square West, Old City.
- Hipster: South Street, Queen Village, Passyunk.
- Upscale: Avenue of the Arts, Market East, Washington Square West.
- Great bars and pubs for solo travelers: Fergie’s Pub, The Black Taxi, Philadelphia Distilling, R&D Cocktail Bar, 1 Tippling Place, a.bar.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- Visit the National Constitution Center to learn more about the nation’s founding and history. Just a short walk from Independence Hall, this non-profit institution is America’s forum for constitutional dialogue.
- Check out Independence Hall. Maintained by the National Park Service, Independence Hall is where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed. The park is also home to the Liberty Bell.
- Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence in Declaration House on Market Street. Now maintained by the National Park Service, Declaration House maintains the bedroom Jefferson occupied.
- Visit Eastern State Penitentiary, the origin of solitary confinement. See a restored cell that Al Capone lived in.
- The American Philosophical Society Museum was established by Benjamin Franklin in 1743. The museum is home to a historically significant collection of over 2,500 artifacts dating back to the late 18th century.
- Take a walk through Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest continually occupied residential street in America. Since 1702, Elfreth’s Alley has been home to over 3,000 residents. Over thirty houses line the street, all constructed between 1728 and 1836. One of the last intact streetscapes in America.
- Walking tours are held regularly at the Christ Church Burial Ground, one of the most significant burial grounds in the United States. The Christ Church Burial Ground is the final resting place for Benjamin Franklin, Francis Hopkinson, Philip Syng Physick, Michael Hillegas, and Sarah Franklin Bache.
- Take a walk through Old City, considered to be the most historic square mile in the United States. Old City is located near the Delaware River, where William Penn made his famous anding in 1692. Start at Penn’s Landing and walk up to the Betsy Ross House, taking in the old architecture.
- Tip: bring comfortable walking shoes, warm weather clothes, and a camera! Pack layers as the temperature can vary greatly between day and night.
- Philadelphia is full of public art and stunning murals. All done by local artists, these murals are on the sides of buildings throughout the city.
- Best “hole in the wall” restaurants in town: Locust Rendezvous (must try), Cherry St. Tavern, Giorgio On Pine, Monk’s Cafe, Mom-Mom’s Kitchen (Polish).
- People in Philly love their Cheez Whiz, and it is even served in restaurants! It is entirely possible that you’ll get Cheez Whiz on a sandwich if you’re not careful about paying attention to the menu.
- Philadelphia is home to the TastyKake, a line of snack cakes originally distributed exclusively in the Philadelphia area. TastyKake has almost a cult following throughout Philadelphia, and you can pick one up almost everywhere.
- Dangerous areas: wander too far out of the city center, and you will end up in one of the ghettos. It is best to stay within the tourist areas. Unless you have a very good reason to go there, avoid North Philly.
Recommended trip duration: 3-4 days