How to get around Los Angeles: getting around by subway, bus or car?

Los Angeles, the second most populous city in the United States, is a huge territory to explore. The question arises how to move in Los Angeles? Do you have to have a car to visit the city?

Let's say Los Angeles is a city designed to travel by car. Distances are enormous and the car remains the preferred means of transport for most tourists and locals despite the heavy traffic and congested roads.

But also the public transport network, simple and efficient, is a valid alternative to the car. Metro and bus they quickly reach most of the attractions such as Downtown, Hollywood and Universal Studios ... The only flaw is that public transport does not go everywhere and often you have to go from the subway to the bus, making travel times longer.

If you have decided to visit Los Angeles, discover in this guide how to get around Los Angeles, the pros and cons of each type of transport.

From LAX airport to downtown Los Angeles

Most travelers visiting California arrive at Los Angeles International Airport, LAX. Its nine terminals are connected by a free shuttle service LAX Shuttle which stops on the lower floor, the arrivals one. This is where you will also find taxis, hotel shuttles and car rental companies that will take you to their branches located outside the airport.

FlyAway bus

FlyAway shuttles depart from the arrivals terminals and take approximately 30 minutes to Union Station, Downtown. Then they continue to the coast, stopping in Hollywood and Santa Monica. This is certainly the most practical and comfortable alternative to reach the center by public transport.

By renting a car

The car is the most common means of transport in Los Angeles. Despite the traffic, this is the most effective way to reach the different attractions of the city. At the airport you will find several car rental agencies.

An easy way to check the rates of all major Los Angeles car rental agencies is to compare prices on sites like Skyscanner.

All car rental companies at Los Angeles International Airport are located outside the airport and to reach them you will need to take the shuttle buses that stop at the transportation islands just outside the baggage claim in each terminal.

Rent a car with Sixt

By taxi

Taxi is the most convenient way to get to the center quickly, but it is also the most expensive way: a ride to the center starts at a minimum of $ 40 and if there is no traffic the journey takes about 30 minutes.

As in all airports, taxis are parked in a restricted area. If you don't find one available at the moment, you can call the number you find on the terminals.

Private shuttle

The private shuttle service offers the advantage of being taken directly to your destination. It is less expensive than taxis and faster than traditional buses. There are several agencies that offer this service and you can reserve a seat online or in loco.

By subway

The metro is faster than the bus but less convenient because the metro network does not go all the way to the airport. To reach the center you take a free shuttle bus from parking G which takes you to the Metro Aviation Station. Here you take the metro line Green Line and then change with the Blue Line which goes all the way to Downtown LA.


Getting around in Los Angeles

Getting around Los Angeles by public transit

Undoubtedly, public transit is a practical way to get around Los Angeles, especially for first-time travelers who don't feel like dealing with the heavy car traffic that LA is famous for.

The public transport network in Los Angeles features a combined subway and bus service that connects almost the entire city. But there is something to keep in mind: Los Angeles is a huge city and getting from one place to another will take time despite efficient public transportation.

Cost of tickets

The single ticket for the subway or bus is quite cheap: it costs only $ 1,75.

The ticket can be purchased directly at the machines in the various stations of the city.
In order not to have to buy a ticket every time you can buy a pass that is valid both on the metro and on the bus.

To be able to make the pass you need to buy a prepaid card called TAP card which can be recharged and used both to pay for a single journey, and as a pass by selecting the appropriate recharge at the machine.

  • Single ticket - $ 1,75
  • Day Pass – $ 7
  • Weekly pass - $ 25

Getting around Los Angeles by subway


The metro is the best way to get around Los Angeles by public transportation, especially if you have a subway line near your hotel. The metro runs are less frequent than the buses, but the metro is quite punctual and allows you to get there quickly in the most visited tourist places, avoiding road traffic and the problem of parking.

The only problem with the Los Angeles subway is that there are few lines connecting the city. The best place dove stare to Los Angeles if you want to travel comfortably by subway it is the Downtown area. This is where most of the subway lines pass.

Los Angeles has only six subway lines, identified by different colors on indicative panels.

One of the most used lines is the Red Line which connects Downtown Union Station with North Hollywood and also reaches the Universal Studios Hollywood

La Blue Line connects Union Station to Long Beach, famous for its endless beaches

La Gold Line connects Union Station with the residential area of ​​Pasadena

La Purple Line va da Union Station a Wilshire/Western, Koreatown

La Green Line runs from Redondo Beach to Norwalk and also passes through Los Angeles International Airport.

THEExpo Line runs from Downtown to Culver City, a few miles from Santa Monica

Most lines are in service from 05:00 to 24:00 and the frequency of the subways varies from every 5 minutes at rush hour to every 10-20 minutes for the rest of the day.

Metro transportation in Los Angeles is pretty economic: A ticket costs only $ 1,75 each way and includes free transfers on buses or other subway lines made within 2 hours. Alternatively, day, weekly or monthly passes can be used.

To find the way, you can consult the map of the Los Angeles subway network. The app Go Metro it is useful for planning trips and viewing offline maps.

Getting around Los Angeles by bus

How to get around Los Angeles: getting around by subway, bus or car?
Fermata bus to Los Angeles -

The city of Los Angeles offers a good city bus network with around 200 lines divided into 3 categories:

  • Local Metro (orange) - they serve the main arteries of the city with short runs and sections and make numerous stops
  • Bus Metro Rapid (red) - they allow you to make quick trips because they make fewer stops than the local service
  • Metro Express (blue) - they are used for longer distances, they connect the various areas of the city and are faster because they follow the motorway network

The cost of tickets for buses is the same as for the metro. A one-way ticket costs $ 1,75 and you can choose to use a daily, weekly or monthly pass.

There are also other bus networks operated by the small towns in the Los Angeles area that have their own lines and fares. We can name for example those of Dash operating in the central areas of the city, or those of Big Blue Bus, which operate mainly in the West Los Angeles area and connect Santa Monica, Venice, Westwood, the airport and Downtown Los Angeles.

Getting around Los Angeles by car


The distances to be covered between one attraction and another in Los Angeles are very large and traveling by car, despite the heavy traffic, will make you save a lot of time. The car remains the best choice for getting around Los Angeles.

To move faster, avoid using the highways during rush hour from 07:00 to 10:00 and between 15:30 and 18:00. If there are more than 2 passengers, use the preferential lane Car Pool Lane. Instead, avoid the lane Express Line which requires a subscription.

Using the highways will allow you to move from one area of ​​the city to another in a short time. But remember to always respect speed limits.

As for parking, look carefully at the signs and never park in front of a sidewalk with a red line. Finally, pay attention to the time remaining on the parking meter ticket. An extra minute can cost you as much as $ 53 ...

  • Find out how to park in the United States

In taxi / Car sharing

There are not as many taxis in Los Angeles as in New York. They are also not stopped on the street, but must be booked phone. Or you can find them permanently parked in front of bus and subway stations and in front of large hotels.

Getting around by taxi is expensive because Los Angeles is a big, packed city. However, if you want to move quickly to a rather isolated destination, you can only do it with a rental car or taxi.

Car sharing services, Uber and Lyft, are very popular and cheaper than taxis.

How to get around Los Angeles: getting around by subway, bus or car?
Downtown Los Angeles skyline at night


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