Getting around in Indianapolis isn’t a challenge with many modes of transportation. Although Indianapolis is the 15th largest city in the United States, it isn’t as compact as other big cities, such as nearby Chicago. 

Because Indianapolis is so spread out, the most convenient way to get around is by car which is fitting because the city is best known for the Indianapolis 500, the annual racing event and biggest single-day sporting event in the world. But even if you’re not planning on getting behind the wheel while you’re in town, you can still navigate Indianapolis and have a good time, especially if your accommodations are in downtown Indy. 

Whether you’re driving, cycling or taking public transportation, here are the best ways for getting around in Indianapolis. 

Get around the city using the IndyGo bus system

How do you get around in Indianapolis without a car? The best way is by bus. The Indianapolis bus system is called IndyGo, which has 31 routes across the county. Use Route 8 to get from Indianapolis airport to downtown, which runs seven days a week.  

The Red Line is the newest addition to Indianapolis’s public transportation. This rapid transit line takes riders along a 13-mile route from Broad Ripple to the University of Indianapolis. Traveling on this line, you can visit plenty of Indianapolis attractions, including the Indianapolis Art Center, the Broad Ripple Farmers Market, Indiana State Fairgrounds, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Harrison Center for the Arts and Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library. Buses on the Red Line run every 15 to 20 minutes  

Inside tip: Don’t carry cash? MyKey allows you to pay digitally. You can also download the MyStop app to get accurate GPS locations of the buses so you know when yours will arrive. 

Locked bicycle in downtown Indianapolis Indiana USA
Rent a bicycle to explore Indy's Cultural Trail, an 8-mile art trail connecting different districts © benedek / Getty Images

Enjoy a leisurely pedal on a rental bike

The Indiana Pacers Bikeshare program has stations around downtown and throughout neighborhoods on the outskirts of downtown. More than 500 of these bikes can be found across Indianapolis, and the program is part of the wider BCycle program. The bikes charge a base fee of $1 per ride, with each additional minute costing 15 cents, or an annual membership option costs $125 for unlimited 60-minute sessions. If you buy the annual membership, you can also use BCycle bikes in other cities. 

Taking a bike to explore Indy’s neighborhoods is especially easy along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, an eight mile art trail connecting the six cultural districts: Massachusetts Avenue, Fountain Square, the Canal and White River State Park, Indiana Avenue, the Wholesale District and Broad Ripple. 

Enjoy total freedom with a car

Indianapolis is about a day’s drive away from more than half of the US population, so chances are you can drive your own car into the city, making getting around super convenient. Indy is nicknamed the Crossroads of America because of its access to four major interstate highways: I-65, I-69, I-70 and I-74. These highways, along with the grid layout of the city, make it fairly easy to navigate.

If you don’t have a car, rental cars are available from 10 companies at the airport. Driving is the easiest option if you’re planning on traveling outside of the downtown area. It’s also easy to find free parking in Indianapolis. Some spaces are metered between 7am and 9pm, but on Sundays, it’s free. Download the ParkMobile app for convenient contactless payments. 

Catch a ride with Uber or Lyft 

If you’re only planning on using public transportation a few times during your trip to Indianapolis, booking a ride through a ride-hailing app such as Uber or Lyft could be convenient. You can get a price estimate on both the Uber and Lyft websites, but the actual fare will vary depending on the availability of drivers and the time of day. Ride availability can be hit or miss in Indianapolis, so it’s best to have both apps open. Request a ride with five to 10 minutes of buffer time to find a driver. 

Riding an electric scooter is quicker than walking, and you can park them anywhere © Roberto Galan / Shutterstock

Scoot through downtown quickly on a Lime or Bird

Electric scooters like Lime and Bird are prevalent in downtown Indianapolis, and riding one is a fun way to get around the downtown area. It doesn’t take as much time as walking, and you can skip any potential traffic congestion you might experience in a car or bus. An added bonus is that you can park your scooter anywhere. Unlike a rental bike, you don’t have to dock it at a specific station. 

You need a smartphone to use either of these electric scooters because the rentals are checked out via their apps. Pricing changes from time to time, and the most updated city-specific prices can be found on the apps.

Accessible transportation in Indianapolis

All of the IndyGo buses are wheelchair accessible. Travelers with disabilities can apply for IndyGo Access, a paratransit shared-ride service for those who aren’t able to ride the standard IndyGo buses. If you’re just visiting Indianapolis, you must apply for your temporary IndyGo Access status at least three days in advance of your trip. A one-way ride on the IndyGo Access costs $3.50, and it operates on reservations rather than on a time schedule. 

Find out more information about accessible travel with Lonely Planet’s Accessible Travel Resource Page.   

Why taking a car is my favorite way to travel in Indianapolis

I travel around Indianapolis by car because it is fast and efficient, and it gives me a good sense of the city’s layout. Because I don’t live downtown, I prefer to have anything I may need before heading out so that I won’t have to return before the day’s end. My car trunk holds plenty, from a picnic blanket to extra layers in case I get cold. A grocery trip to Needler’s Market has turned into a romantic picnic more than once thanks to the convenience of my car, and the trunk keeps any goods I purchase (from the countless pop-up markets) secure. When I’m ready to head home after a day downtown, I just need to get back into my car with no logistics to figure out.

Explore related stories

Young woman sitting near the Chicago River at night with skyscrapers © Oleggg / Shutterstock

Destination Practicalities

A first-time guide to the Midwest

Sep 16, 2023 • 7 min read