Texas, the second-largest state in the USA, is a sprawling land where remote mountains, kitschy towns, and ginormous metroplexes are connected by a vast system of highways, railways and air routes.

The state’s size means that getting to and from different destinations is going to take a lot of time, no matter which forms of transportation you choose. However, with proper planning, you can travel more efficiently and quickly throughout the Lone Star State. Here’s our guide to getting around in Texas.

Two motorcyclists drive around a curving road in Big Bend National Park, Texas. In the distance, mountains are visible.
Texas is home to a vast number of scenic roads © Donovan Reese / Getty Images

Car & Motorcycle

Driving is by far the most common method of travel in Texas. You’d be hard-pressed to get around any of the major cities without a car, and some remote destinations, like Big Bend National Park, are practically inaccessible without private transport. Driving also allows you to easily make stops at roadside attractions – of which there are many in Texas – and experience the state’s scenic landscape up close and personal. It is by far the most convenient form of travel for families.

Prepare for three-to-five-hour drives between major cities like Dallas, Austin, and Houston. Road trips to cities like El Paso or South Padre Island can be much longer. Some claim that Texas’ highway systems are confusing, and within major cities (which are also usually busy with traffic) that is certainly the case. To prevent getting lost, use an online map for navigation.

Gas currently runs at less than $3 per gallon, although if you have an electric vehicle, you’ll be glad to know that Texas ranks number two in the nation for charging access with over 4300 EV charging stations.

Motorcyclists are drawn to Texas’ scenic routes, especially those in Hill Country. The state does not require riders to wear helmets if they are over 21. Lane splitting (riding a bike between stationary or slow-moving traffic) is illegal in Texas, so stay in one lane. It’s worth noting that with high temperatures in the summer, it can get toasty riding a motorcycle on the highway between May and early October.

A local’s tips for driving across the state

Texas has a wide range of toll roads. These roads are popular because they tend to have higher speed limits. Unlike other states, you can’t stop and throw a handful of coins or pay with cash or card to use these roads. Instead, cameras scan for a toll tag from TxTag.org or a license plate. The TxTag provides access to all toll roads in Texas, as well as those in Oklahoma and Kansas. You can also use the toll tag to pay for entry at Texas airports and/or airport parking.

If your rental car or private vehicle lacks a toll tag and you take a toll road, expect a ticket to arrive at your door, sometimes months later. These tickets can result in surprisingly high fees. To steer clear of toll roads, you’ll need to specifically mark this in your online navigation tool.

A car drives over the Pennybacker 360 bridge on the outskirts of Austin, Texas. Beyond the bridge, which spans a river, a number of Austin's skyscrapers are visible.
If your car isn't fitted with a toll tag, steer clear of toll roads to avoid a fine © 4kodiak / Getty Images


As the second-largest state in the US, in-state domestic flights can make traveling within Texas much easier. It doesn’t hurt that many of Texas’ biggest cities are hubs for major airlines. American Airlines has its primary hub at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, while Southwest Airlines’ primary hub can be found at Dallas Love Field. Houston International Airport is a hub for United Airlines.

Southwest Airlines and American Airlines (and their American Eagle subsidiary) dominate the skies in Texas, and as a result, you’ll most likely find the best deals with these two airlines.

While flying is often the quickest way to cross the state, planes lack the soul and atmosphere of a road (or rail) trip through Texas’ countryside. Flying is, of course, also a lot worse for the environment.

A local’s tips for flying within Texas

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Houston International Airport are huge facilities that see a lot of foot traffic, which can cause long lines at ticket counters and security. If you’re flying in or out of Dallas or Houston to another city in Texas, you may want to bypass these hectic hubs in favor of smaller airports within city limits, like Dallas Love Field, in Dallas, and William P. Hobby Airport, in Houston.

A young man watches the sun rise over the Texas landscape through the large windows of the Amtrack train travelling from San Antonio to Alpine.
A passenger watches the sunrise over Texas on the Amtrak train traveling from San Antonio to Alpine © Kris Davidson / Lonely Planet


Train travel isn’t the most popular form of travel in Texas, but it can take away the stress of driving and offer up-close scenic views that you wouldn’t otherwise get by flying. There are 19 Amtrak stations in the state, along three different routes: the Heartland Flyer (connecting Gainesville and Fort Worth), Sunset Limited (connecting Houston and El Paso), and Texas Eagle (connecting Dallas and El Paso). Train travel is slightly slower than driving, but not much so. For instance, you could drive 3.5 hours between Dallas to Houston or take a train ride that’s 4 hours long.

The biggest drawback to train travel in Texas is the cost and the low number of trains that run per day or week. Some routes in Texas offer one train a day, while others only see three trains per week, meaning this form of transport does usually require a certain amount of planning in advance.


Buses are the most affordable method of travel in Texas. For instance, a one-way trip from Dallas to Austin on a Greyhound bus is only $20. Routes are extensive among large, small, and remote cities. Many buses come with wi-fi and have their own bathrooms.

Greyhound and Megabus, the two most popular bus providers in Texas, don’t have the most stellar reviews. Stations aren’t always in the safest areas of town and reports of breakdowns occur. That’s why some people opt to pay more for Vonlane, a luxury motor coach service with routes between Dallas, Houston, Austin, Fort Worth, and San Antonio. Vonlane’s bus routes are cheaper than flights, and they offer much more amenities than standard coaches, like plush recliners, free snacks and beverages, wi-fi, and TVs. Although Vonlane is marketed to business travelers, it’s a comfortable and convenient option that any traveler might opt to use.

A public bus drives along a highway away from central Dallas, Texas. In the background a number of skyscrapers are visible.
Public transport in Texas' cities is very affordable, and sometimes even free © Nate Hovee / Shutterstock

Local transportation

Each city has its own form of public transportation that includes everything from buses to metro rails. Public transportation within Texan cities is, on the whole, very affordable, and sometimes even free. For instance, Dallas has a free trolley that connects the neighborhoods of Uptown and Downtown, as well as a free bus in Downtown called the D-Link.

Unfortunately, public transportation in Texas cities is not as extensive or efficient as in other cities around the US. It will most likely take you twice as long to get somewhere on public transport as it would by car. For some, it doesn’t seem worth it to take a metro line or a bus only to have to drive or walk miles to the actual destination. This is why cars remain the preferred transportation choice in Texas.

Accessible transportation in Texas

Travelers with disabilities can find accessible transportation services in Texas, whether they take a plane, train, or bus. Many major rental car companies also offer adaptive devices at no extra charge.

Within the big cities, like Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and El Paso, people with disabilities will find that there is a vast array of accessible local transportation, like buses and metro lines. Depending on the city, free door-to-door van service is available. Unfortunately, there are fewer accessible public transportation options in small towns and medium-sized cities in Texas.

For more information, download Lonely Planet’s free Accessible Travel guide.

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