A city at the crossroads of three states (Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi), Memphis has a major airport, train line, buses, and highways that make it an easy place to travel to and around.

However, first-time visitors can find navigating around the various sights a little overwhelming due to the size and buzz of the city. But there are plenty of options for transportation, whether it's hopping aboard a bus, a trolley or exploring on foot.

Here's what you need to know about getting around magnificent Memphis.

Save bucks by taking the bus

MATA, the Memphis transportation system, has a wide network throughout the city, especially when it comes to buses. Most visitors will use the same few routes – Route 28, which runs from the airport into downtown, and Route 12, which comes from the Amtrak station.

This transit map highlights which buses go to the various big attractions around the city. The fare is $1 for an adult.

A yellow trolley on the street in Memphis, Tennessee
The trolley is a classic Memphis experience that isn't just about getting around © Bo Shen / Getty Images

For the best views of downtown, hop on the historic trolley

Even if you don’t need them to get around, the colorful, vintage trolleys are a fun sightseeing opportunity and a great experience. The Main Street Rail Line in particular runs from the Amtrak Station in the South Main Arts District past landmarks like the National Civil Rights Museum and Beale Street before terminating in the Pinch District.

The Riverfront Line also goes through the Pinch District, near the transit center, as well as alongside the Mississippi River past the Pyramid and Memphis Farmers Market. The Madison Avenue Line is the east-west route, connecting Memphis Park to the Madison Park & Ride Lot.

Fares are only $1 per ride and you'll need the exact change or a transportation pass. Double-check the hours during your visit because some services end at 6pm.

Get around quickly by booking a rideshare

If you need to get somewhere quickly, your best bet beyond driving is to book a ride using popular apps like Uber and Lyft. Taxi companies do exist in the city but you might not be able to hail one unless you’re at a hotel or the airport. Download the apps before you arrive if you don't already have them – it'll save you a lot of time if your account already exists.

Explore on two wheels with a scooter or bike

Bikes and scooters are a good way to cover short distances quickly in Memphis. Explore Bike Share is run by BCycle, a national bike-share chain, with outposts throughout Memphis, including in Overton Park, Crosstown and Downtown.

The fleet of e-bikes comes with baskets and locking capabilities, but you’ll need to bring your own helmet. Follow traffic patterns and use bike lanes when possible. You can rent using the app and fares start at $5 for a 20-minute ride.

Scooters have made a recent appearance on the streets of Bluff City from brands like Bird and Veo, which has both traditional scooters and seated scooters. They can be rented through their respective apps, but keep in mind that some parts of downtown are in a “no ride zone” after 10pm on weekends.

Smiling sisters hanging out at back of car after finishing backpacking trip
Hire a car and take some day trips to neighboring states and cities © Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

For day-tripping and general ease, rent a car

If you want to explore surrounding areas like Arkansas or the Mississippi Delta, having a car makes things easier. With a few exceptions, most of the rental car options are located at the airport, including major companies like Hertz, Enterprise, Budget, and Avis. Avis and Enterprise also have locations downtown.

Peer-to-peer car-sharing programs like Zipcar and Turo are also available in Memphis, and they tend to have more flexible options and pickup locations than traditional rental cars.

Get to know the city’s neighborhoods on foot

There’s a reason there’s a song called “Walking in Memphis.” Despite the sprawl, it’s a very walkable city, especially within certain neighborhoods. The South Main District, Downtown, Overton Square, and Cooper-Young, in particular, where you can pop into restaurants and shops, are great for exploring on foot.

Zip between attractions with the Memphis Hop bus

The Memphis Hop is a hop-on-hop-off bus that conveniently stops by the city’s major attractions, including Graceland, the Stax Museum and Beale Street. The loop runs from 10am to 5:30pm on air-conditioned buses.

Tickets can be purchased online and at the Memphis Hop ticket booth next to the Hard Rock Cafe. The cost is $40 for adults and $28 for children and doesn’t include entry to the various attractions.

Is parking widely available in Memphis?

Unlike in some major cities, parking is widely available in Memphis, including street parking and paid lots. It can be harder to find in the downtown core but many neighborhoods have street parking, often for free.

You can also download the ParkMobile app in advance, which has a map feature showing available lots, prices, and accommodations for oversized vehicles.

Beale Street at night with crowds of people outside live music venues
The sidewalks of Beale Street can get very busy in the evening © FangXiaNuo / Getty Images

Accessible transportation in Memphis

Buses and trolleys, as well as their stations, are accessible to passengers with mobility issues. Buses have a “kneeling” feature and there is a designated area inside for wheelchair users. Trolleys arrive at an elevated platform and a ramp allows wheelchair users to board with ease.

The sidewalks are generally well-paved and wide, but wheelchair users may find that in crowded areas like Beale Street, it will be slightly more difficult to get through as people spill out of the blues clubs. When the area closes to traffic, there’s more space to get around on the streets.

Transport passes

On buses and trolleys, the fare is $1 per ride for adults and children under the age of five ride for free. Students in grades one through twelve also have access to reduced fares. If you plan on taking advantage of the MATA bus and trolley network, it’s best to purchase a multi-day pass, which can be picked up from one of the three MATA transit centers.

The GO901 Smart Card is a refillable option that's also available at transit centers. Purchasing a FastPass on board for just $2 will cover you for an entire day of transport. The GO901 app is also useful for buying tickets and passes on the go.

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