Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is 95 miles (152 kilometers) southwest of Manhattan, New York. It's so close, in fact, that some Philadelphian "super commuters" run the heavily trafficked route twice a day. Being just a short jaunt from New York City, Philly is a relaxing break from the Big Apple. High-speed options make day trips entirely doable, but there are slower modes of travel, too.
How to Get from New York City to Philadelphia
- Train: 1 hour, 10 minutes, starting at $46 (recommended)
- Bus: 2 hours or more, starting at $1 to $30 (cheapest)
- Car: 2 hours, 95 miles (152 kilometers)
- Flight: 1 hour, from $150 (fastest)
Traveling to Philadelphia by train from New York City is a quick and low-stress option. Trains travel from Penn Station in Manhattan to Philadelphia's 30th Street Station all throughout the day. Amtrak's Acela service takes about an hour and 10 minutes, while other trains can take up to an hour and a half. In any case, most of the train cars feature WiFi, so you can spend your commute surfing social media or catching up on the news like a true New Yorker.
You can purchase tickets in advance online via the Amtrak website or in person at Penn Station. Fares range from about $46 to over $115, depending on the schedule. To ensure the cheapest fare, be sure to book two weeks or more in advance.
Amtrak is the quickest, most direct train option, but it can be rather pricey. More budget-conscious travelers might prefer to take NJ Transit to Trenton, New Jersey. From there, passengers can transfer to the SEPTA train, which goest to Philadelphia. The transfer takes place right across the track, conveniently. Though cheaper (about $20), this service does take longer—two and a half hours, usually.
If you're going to go with the cheaper train option (SEPTA), you might as well consider taking the bus instead because it's cheaper and takes the same amount of time (sometimes less). The trip takes between two and three hours, depending on traffic, so it's best to avoid major rush hours. All the major bus services—such as Greyhound, Bolt Bus, and Mega Bus—depart from Manhattan's Port Authority Bus Terminal more than a dozen times per day.
The biggest advantage to bus travel is that it's cheap and has frequent departures. Like the train, most of the buses offer WiFi, too. Purchase your bus tickets in advance online to get the best fares, which range from $1 to $30 depending on how far in advance you book your ticket. Some bus companies offer service directly from Lower Manhattan as well.
Driving the route yourself is always an option if you're not too intimidated by the traffic in New York City (and Philly, for that matter). Traffic jams, aggressive drivers, and tolls put many people off from driving in the city, but if you're one who's up for a challenge, the 95-mile (152-kilometer) commute will take you 90 minutes at best.
The most direct route will take you through New Jersey on I-95 or via the New Jersey Turnpike. The drive is rather uneventful and parking in either city can be a nightmare, so renting a car is not most people's first choice. However, if you're coming from the airport, where rental cars are cheapest, and you're traveling in a group, road tripping can be economical and fun.
Flying to Philadelphia is the fastest way to travel from New York City, with the flight taking just an hour, but that doesn't include time spent getting to and from airports (some of the busiest in the country, at that), checking bags, and clearing security. Flights cost from $150 to well over $2,000 during peak travel times (December). The cheapest time to travel is February through May.
Iberia, Spirit and US Airways offer direct flights, but American Airlines is by far the most popular airline traveling this route. While flying can be expensive, traveling to and from the airport doesn't have to be if you are flexible on time and are willing to take public transport.
Three major airports surround New York City—John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport in Queens and Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey. Philadelphia International Airport is the closest and most convenient airport to downtown Philadelphia. The SEPTA train runs from the airport to the city center.
Things to See in Philadelphia
While not nearly as big and bustling as New York City, there's plenty for a tourist to see and do in Philadelphia. Some of the main attractions include the historic Liberty Bell, commissioned in 1751; the Museum of Art housing works by Renoir, Van Gogh, and more within its 200 galleries; the Eastern State Penitentiary, Al Capone's former jailhouse; and the magnificent Philadelphia City Hall, a feat of limestone and granite.
American history buffs will also want to visit Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 and where, later, the U.S. Constitution was born. For a bite, the Reading Terminal Market—one of America's largest and oldest enclosed markets, located near the waterfront—offers fresh produce and specialty food stalls.
Speaking of food: Nobody should visit the City of Brotherly Love without chowing down on a Philly cheesesteak. This city is the birthplace of the popular, cheesy fast-food hoagie and you can find some of the best (i.e. most authentic) in town at John's Roast Pork, Tony Luke's, and the delightfully retro, neon-lit Geno's Steaks, which is open 24 hours a day.
Finally, cap your trip with an obligatory run up and down those famous steps from the Rocky movies and snap an Instagram photo in front of the colossal, red LOVE sculpture, one of the city's most recognizable landmarks.