en
en es
Photo: f11photo/Shutterstock

If you’ve only seen Philadelphia through social media, you might think the city is nothing but rowdy fans and demonic mascot memes. But beyond that eccentric reputation, you’ll find a city full of young people, artists, and immigrants, with dozens of different neighborhoods that all share a passion for their city. As the first city in the United States to be recognized as a World Heritage City, it’s the perfect destination for history buffs or anyone who enjoys a leisurely stroll along cobblestone streets. Art is everywhere in Philadelphia, with murals and sculptures on almost every street corner, and there’s plenty of parks and rivers for nature lovers. There’s always something to do at night, whether it’s an outdoor dance party, punk rock drag show, or library-themed lounge. Whether you want to shop at the quirky and hip South Street, go to the biggest Fourth of July party in the country, or visit a museum with a skull collection, you’ll find it in Philly.

Contents

introduction

If you’ve only seen Philadelphia through social media, you might think the city is nothing but rowdy fans and demonic mascot memes. But beyond that eccentric reputation, you’ll find a city full of young people, artists, and immigrants, with dozens of different neighborhoods that all share a passion for their city. As the first city in the United States to be recognized as a World Heritage City, it’s the perfect destination for history buffs or anyone who enjoys a leisurely stroll along cobblestone streets. Art is everywhere in Philadelphia, with murals and sculptures on almost every street corner, and there’s plenty of parks and rivers for nature lovers. There’s always something to do at night, whether it’s an outdoor dance party, punk rock drag show, or library-themed lounge. Whether you want to shop at the quirky and hip South Street, go to the biggest Fourth of July party in the country, or visit a museum with a skull collection, you’ll find it in Philly.

MATADor guides

General Tips

When to visit

Philadelphia doesn’t have beaches or ski resorts, so there isn’t one tourist season. Winters here range from mild to apocalyptic, so if you visit during the colder months make sure to brush up on the forecast. Otherwise, it’s personal preference. Fall can be a great time to visit the historic sites, since many of these old structures can put you in the mood for Halloween, and Terror Behind the Walls at the Eastern State Penitentiary may be the most fun haunted attraction in the entire country. Late spring and summer are perfect if you want to enjoy the warm weather and urban parks. Just be mindful that Philadelphia’s summers can be humid, so make sure to stay hydrated and cool.

Language

English is the predominant language in Philadelphia, but the city’s large immigrant population means you’re bound to hear many languages. Spanish is the most common second language, but you might also hear Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, and Arabic during your stay. 

Philadelphians also speak in slang that’s in its own category. For example, “jawn” is a big word around here. It doesn’t have a set definition, but can take the place of pretty much any noun, making sentences like “pass the jawn” or “what’s that jawn?” common. “Hoagie” is the term for a long sandwich never ask for a hero or sub. Don’t be confused if you hear people asking for “wooder,” as that’s how many Philadelphians pronounce “water.”

Transportation

During your stay in Philadelphia, you’ll become familiar with the acronym SEPTA. SEPTA is the public transportation system that connects every neighborhood in the city and the suburbs, and it includes trains, the subway, buses, and trolleys. If you need to get around and can’t drive or take Uber, SEPTA is everywhere. 

Philadelphia has two main subway lines: the Broad Street Line and the El (officially the Market-Frankford Line, but you’ll never hear a native call it that). The El earned its nickname by being partially elevated above the city. It can take you anywhere from the Northwest to the suburbs west of the city. The Broad Street Line runs along Broad Street, connecting you to the Avenue of the Arts and Avenue of the Sciences, through City Hall, and to the South Philadelphia Sports Complex. 

Bicycling is always an option. Philadelphia is repeatedly ranked among the top cycling cities in the country, and the city is expanding its bike paths. In Center City, where everything’s close together, you might prefer to walk. There are signs posted on most major streets, so it’s easy to find your way around.

As for driving, it’s fine in most neighborhoods, but watch out around Center City and Old City. The roads in these neighborhoods are older than the country itself, so it’s a landmine of narrow and one-way streets. 

Safety

The media makes Philadelphia seem dangerous, but those fears are overblown. Like all major cities, Philadelphia has its good neighborhoods and its not-so-good neighborhoods. The busy downtown areas are safe day or night. Just be mindful of your surroundings and use common sense. As long as you don’t wander back alleys on your own in the middle of the night, you should be fine.

Itineraries

Essential Philadelphia: Day One

History, shopping, and a touch of quirkiness.

Essential Philadelphia: Day Two

Take in one of the best art scenes in the country.

Essential Philadelphia: Day Three

Explore the city’s surroundings.

Why we need to stop calling Philly’s food scene ‘up and coming’

Why you need to include a park in your Philly itinerary

How to save money on your trip to Philadelphia

Hershey, Pennsylvania, is even more chocolate-filled now than it was when you were a kid

Local favorites

Add Spot
No spots found

Be a local. Wherever you go.

Download the travelstoke app

Latest

The 5 best cheesesteaks in Philadelphia

How Philadelphia breweries and distilleries are helping their community

10 things people get wrong about Philadelphians

10 giveaways you’re not a local in Philly

9 things Philadelphians always have to explain to out-of-towners

12 funniest Philadelphian expressions (and how to use them)

9 things that make Philadelphia so unique

7 ways Philadelphians celebrate the holidays

Wawa is releasing its own beer and it tastes like Christmas

7 classic Philly foods and drinks for the holiday season

8 things Philadelphians are weirdly obsessed with

You’re not a real Philadelphian if you haven’t been to these food spots

10 expressions you need to learn before visiting Philadelphia

10 totally free things to do in Philadelphia

11 ways to participate in the DNC without being a delegate

Philadelphia just created a new holiday that bans cars for the day

Load More
We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. This includes personalizing content and advertising. For more information on how we use cookies consult our revised Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.
Disable Cookies I accept