Once you've landed, you won't wait long to get your Las Vegas vacation started: The wide range of transportation options from McCarran International Airport includes rental cars, taxicabs, ride-shares, limos, and buses. Some hotels even offer a free shuttle to guests. To decide which is best for you, consider how much traveling you'll want to do once you get to Vegas. If you're staying on the Strip or downtown, renting a car may be more of a hindrance than a convenience, and if you're looking to Casino hop, the Las Vegas monorail goes up and down the Strip even though it doesn't go all the way out to the airport.
No matter what mode of transportation you choose, you'll need to know how to get to and from McCarran International Airport. Traffic around Las Vegas can be stressful. Because it's a 24-hour town with shifts ending throughout the day and night, you never know when you're going to hit a jam. Generally speaking, the freeways and major streets are busiest from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m to 6 p.m., so allow extra time to reach your destination during those hours.
Taxis are among the fastest way to get to your hotel. Las Vegas has no shortage of cabs, as you'll see when you exit baggage claim, and even if there's a line for taxis, it usually moves quickly.
The Las Vegas area is home to many taxicab companies, and the fares are regulated by the state of Nevada, including the starting fee, airport charge, and per-mile rate, as well as wait time if the cab is going slower than 12 miles per hour. Not all cabs will accept credit or debit cards, and when they do there is an additional fee. Most trips from the airport to the Strip run between $18 and $25.
In Las Vegas, cabs can only pick you up at the airport or from a hotel. You cannot hail one on the street, so if you're out partying or shopping, go to the nearest hotel or casino to get a cab.
Lyft and Uber are authorized to provide ride-sharing services at the airport. Arrange for a ride using the app on your smartphone. Ride-shares can drop off passengers at the airport’s departures curbs at both Terminal 1 and Terminal 3. However, designated ride-share passenger pick up locations are located in the parking garages outside the terminals—level 2M in Terminal 1 and the valet level in Terminal 3.
RTC Public Buses
If you’re flying into Las Vegas, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) public bus system has a convenient way for you to travel to and from McCarran International Airport and your vacation destinations.
The Westcliff Airport Express (WAX) provides direct transportation from both airport terminals to the Strip (Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana) and downtown Las Vegas.
The Centennial Express (CX) provides direct transportation from Terminal 3 to the Strip (Las Vegas Boulevard and Sands) and downtown Las Vegas. You can travel between Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 on the airport’s inter-terminal shuttle.
Bus line 108 and line 109 also depart from Terminal 1 and continue on through the east side of Las Vegas, with major stops at the Las Vegas Convention Center or UNLV.
The Strip & Downtown Express (SDX) doesn't make it all the way to the airport, but you can take line 109 from Terminal 1 to the South Strip Transfer Terminal (SSTT). From there, the SDX stops at major hotel-casinos along the Strip and continues to downtown Las Vegas.
Use the RTC app to plan routes and buy bus passes.
If you plan to sightsee around the city and beyond, a rental may be the way to go, especially since hotel-casinos offer free parking. The McCarran Rent-A-Car Center consolidates 11 of the car rental companies into one giant building, about 3 miles from the airport. A free shuttle to the center departs the airport every five minutes. Each rental agency has its own kiosk, and people are generally in and out efficiently. However, depending on the season or special events, wait times for the shuttle and rental car kiosks can increase significantly.
The airport is next to two major highways (Interstate 15 and Interstate 215), and it shouldn't be too complicated to navigate to your destination. Unless you're driving on the Strip, getting around Las Vegas is also simple since the city is designed on a grid.
Shuttles and Limos
Shuttles tend to be the most affordable option. They start at $5 or $6 to Strip hotels and cost a few dollars more for downtown and off-Strip hotels. Also, check with your hotel to see if it offers its own shuttle service, which is often free. But be prepared to wait. The buses generally don't leave until they are full, and the wait can be up to an hour.
Limo and private car services can be surprisingly affordable, considering they charge by the hour (from $45 and up). If you have a long trip, a private car from a company such as Bell Limousine, ODS Limo, or AWG Ambassador may even be cheaper than a cab. Plus, if you order one ahead of time, a limo driver carrying a sign with your name on it will meet you in baggage claim, and you'll likely be whisked from the airport more quickly than in a cab.