Want to visit Atlanta but don’t want to spend a lot? Whether you’re planning a girls’ weekend or a family vacation, a short visit or a long trip, follow these tips on where to stay, shop, and eat in Atlanta on the cheap.
Atlanta is an amazing city to visit! But like every big city, it comes at a price. But even so, it can be affordable even on a tight budget!
There are plenty of fun things to do in Atlanta on the cheap.
Atlanta on a Budget Guide
This guide will help you plan a budget visit to Atlanta and get the most bang for your buck.
1. Save money with the Atlanta CityPASS
It’s so exciting to visit Atlanta for the first time! But planning out your itinerary can be a challenge — which attractions are worth spending your money on?
Luckily, you have the Atlanta CityPASS. This pass is perfect for stress-free sightseeing at Atlanta’s top attractions.
Here’s what’s included in the Atlanta CityPASS:
- Admission to 5 top attractions
- Valid for 9 days
- Save 46% compared to purchasing tickets at each attraction
- Visit as many of the attractions as you’d like in a day
The Atlanta CityPASS is the ultimate Atlanta sightseeing card. You’ll get fast-track entry to 5 of Atlanta’s top attractions at just a fraction of the regular price. Here’s the breakdown:
You get to visit each attraction below.
- Georgia Aquarium (Standard price: $52.99)
- World of Coca-Cola (Standard price: $20.00)
- Zoo Atlanta (Standard price: $34.95)
Plus, you get admission to your choice of 2 more attractions from the list below.
- Fernbank Museum of Natural History (Standard price: $25.95)
- College Football Hall of Fame (Standard price: $25.97)
- National Center for Civil and Human Rights (Standard price: $19.99)
With admission to the highest-priced attractions, your standard adult admission would cost $159.86. But with the Atlanta CityPASS, you only pay $86.00, leaving you with a savings of 46%!
How to get your Atlanta CityPASS:
Step 1: Click here to purchase your Atlanta CityPASS from their official website
Step 2: Check your email for your pass. This will contain the QR code you’ll need to scan at each attraction. You can print the email if you prefer printed tickets.
Step 3: Go out and explore!
How to activate the pass: It will activate once you visit your first attraction. The pass will then be valid for 9 consecutive days.
2. Use MARTA
The cheapest way to get around Atlanta is to use MARTA, the city’s train and bus system.
While the MARTA train system isn’t exactly far-reaching, it does great for visitors who are staying in the Downtown/Midtown area.
MARTA’s best selling point — trains run straight from the Atlanta Airport to the tourist hotspots in Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead. And it only costs $2.50 for a one-way trip (with four free transfers allowed).
You can grab your MARTA Breeze card at one of the ticket machines in the airport or at the MARTA stations. Breeze cards cost $2 and are reloadable.
Planning on riding multiple times during your trip? Get a MARTA Pass!
MARTA Passes provide unlimited rides during your selected number of travel days. There are 1-4 day passes, a 7 day pass, and trip passes for 10, 20, or 30 trips. Passes start at $9.
The Atlanta Streetcar is another great budget option! It’s route runs from Centennial Olympic Park to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park with 10 stops in between. A one-way streetcar ticket costs only $1, and a 1 Day Pass costs $3.
3. Cheap options for getting to Atlanta
There are many ways to get to Atlanta: You could fly, drive, train, or bus. For many, flying is the fastest and most convenient way to get to Atlanta, but it may not always be the most affordable.
Flying to Atlanta
Flying to Atlanta is pretty straight forward. The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the busiest airport in the world with hundreds of direct, non-stop flights coming in daily. You won’t have a problem finding a flight from wherever you are in the world.
To fly to Atlanta on a budget, compare flight prices before making a selection. You can set up email alerts on flight search engines like Skyscanner and WayAway. These sites will let you know when it’s the best time to book.
Hot Tip: Sign up for the WayAway Plus membership program and you can earn 5% cashback on any flight you book. You’ll also be able to receive up to 10% cashback on things like hotels, activities, and car rentals. Get 10% off your membership using the promo code PaigeMindsTheGap or by clicking this link.
If you’re flying into Atlanta, you’ll also want to consider where your hotel is located and factor the cost of getting to your hotel into your budget. If you’re staying in Downtown or Midtown, you may be able to just take MARTA, which is really cheap and convenient. But if you’re staying somewhere else, you may want to look into getting a transfer from the airport to your hotel or renting a car. Keep in mind, you’ll also need a way to get back to the airport at the end of your trip.
You may also want to rent a car if you plan on exploring Atlanta’s neighborhoods, outside of the Downtown tourist district.
Driving to Atlanta
If you live near enough, driving to Atlanta may offer the best value. Atlanta is within driving distance of much of the South and a good bit of the East Coast.
And with three major interstates — I-20, I-75, and I-85 — that pass through Downtown, Atlanta is easily accessible for drivers.
If you’re driving, you’ll just have to watch out for that infamous Atlanta traffic. I recommend always having Google Maps directing you, even if you’re familiar with the city, because you never know when you’ll need to re-route around a slow down.
Parking in Downtown and Midtown can also be expensive. Street meters typically cost $2 per hour. The average cost for daily parking in lots and garages is about $14. Most hotels in these areas have valet parking that costs $35 or more per day.
Buses to Atlanta
If you’re looking to travel to Atlanta by bus, you’re in luck! Atlanta is the Southern hub for Megabus, which is known for providing bus services for as low as $1. Megabus transports to Civic Center MARTA station on West Peachtree Street in Downtown, so you’ll be conveniently dropped off in the middle of the city.
Trains to Atlanta
Amtrak offers train service to Atlanta via the station on Peachtree Street between Buckhead and Midtown. You can catch a train from New Orleans in the south (and points in between) or from New York in the north (and points in between.).
When is the cheapest month to fly to Atlanta?
Typically, the cheapest month to fly to Atlanta is March. But there are a lot of factors to consider when finding the cheapest flights. Winter months, like January, may also be cheap because winter is the off-season for travel to Atlanta.
My best advice for cheap travel to Atlanta is to avoid the summer months. May, June, and July are peak season in Atlanta, and flights as well as hotels are often more expensive.
When is the best month to visit Atlanta?
The best time to visit Atlanta tends to be in the spring. March is a great month to visit because flights and hotels are cheaper, and Atlanta’s festival season has just started so there is plenty to do.
4. Compare hotel rates
Atlanta has a great range of hotels, so you shouldn’t have any problem finding a place to stay for your budget. Start checking hotel prices early and daily when planning your trip, as prices can fluctuate.
Hot Tip: Use a booking site that offers rewards. My top sites for finding hotels are Booking.com and Hotels.com, both of which offer rewards and discounted member prices. The WayAway Plus membership is another great option that gives you up to 10% cashback on hotel stays.
Best place to stay in Atlanta on a budget
I recommend staying in these areas of Atlanta:
- Downtown — The best neighborhood for first-timers
- Midtown — Ideal for art-lovers
- Buckhead — For when you want entertainment and shopping, but tends to be pricier
- Eastside — Great for unique bed & breakfasts
Best hotels in Atlanta for your budget:
If you’re traveling on a budget, these are the best budget hotels in Atlanta:
- Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Atlanta Downtown South at Turner Field
- Inn at the Peachtrees, Ascend Hotel Collection
- Fairfield Inn & Suites Atlanta Downtown
If you have some more wiggle room in your budget, below are some of the best mid-range hotels in Atlanta:
- Homewood Suites by Hilton Atlanta Midtown
- Drury Inn & Suites Atlanta Airport
- Embassy Suites by Hilton Atlanta Galleria
If you want to splurge on your accommodations, below are some popular luxury hotels in Atlanta:
- The Candler Hotel Atlanta, Curio Collection by Hilton
- InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta, an IHG Hotel
- The Whitley, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Atlanta Buckhead
Vacation rentals are also an option when staying in Atlanta. I’d recommend them for larger groups and longer stays. If you’re just a small group staying for a short visit, then you’ll probably find better prices with hotels.
Should you stay outside the city to save money?
If you have your own car or are renting a car, then staying outside the city is a great option for saving money on hotels. If you don’t have a car, getting to Downtown and tourist sites can be more difficult or costly.
Typically, staying outside of Atlanta means you’re staying “outside the Perimeter,” or outside the I-285 loop. The neighborhoods north of Atlanta tend to be safer, and neighborhoods south of Atlanta are among the city’s most dangerous. That said, you can find great hotels by the airport.
These are the neighborhoods outside the city to stay in:
5. Visit during the off-season
While Atlanta does see its fair share of visitors year-round, there are some times that have fewer visitors than others.
If you’re looking for fewer crowds and lower hotel prices, the off-season is the best time to travel. In Atlanta, that season is between January and March, in the winter months.
The good news is, Atlanta has very mild winters so you won’t freeze down to the bone! You can still enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and bike riding as well as a visit to the city’s open-air activities like the zoo (which usually has a Winter Days discount!).
When is the cheapest time to fly to Atlanta?
The cheapest time to visit Atlanta is in the winter months (January through March). The cheapest time to fly is typically in March.
When are hotels cheapest in Atlanta?
Hotels are cheapest in Atlanta in the winter, but be sure to look out for weekends with big events and holidays like Christmas that can drive up the price.
You can usually find cheap hotels during March, which is also the cheapest time to fly.
6. Find free things to do in Atlanta
There is a lot you can do in Atlanta on a budget!
Make the most of your Atlanta CityPASS for the big sites, and then fill the rest of your time with free things to do in the city.
Below are some of my favorite free things to do in Atlanta:
- Walk or bike along the BeltLine
- See the iconic view from Jackson Street Bridge
- Enjoy Centennial Olympic Park or Piedmont Park
- Visit the Fernbank Science Center
- Check out the Georgia State Capitol Museum
- Explore the Georgia Governor’s Mansion
- Visit Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park
- Stroll through Historic Oakland Cemetery
- Go on a scavenger hunt of Tiny Doors ATL
7. Make the most of your visit with a guided tour
Want to see as many of Atlanta’s amazing sights as possible on your visit? Then a guided tour is probably your best bet — both for your time and for your budget.
Here are some of my favorite Atlanta tours that are budget-friendly:
- 90-Minute Narrated Sightseeing Trolley Tour in Atlanta
- Martin Luther King Jr. History Walking Tour
- The Touring Dead Walking Tour
- Atlanta: Haunted Buildings and Ghosts Tour
- Atlanta: Self-Guided Audio Walking Tour
8. Rent a bike and explore the BeltLine
Biking along the BeltLine is a great way to explore Atlanta, and it’s budget-friendly, too!
Built on a former railway path, the Atlanta BeltLine has plans to circle the city. It takes you through neighborhoods that aren’t easy to walk to otherwise. This area is filled with amazing street art you won’t want to miss. Some of the city’s best restaurants, bars, and breweries are located on the BeltLine or very near it, so you can work up an appetite while riding.
Atlanta Bicycle Barn is located on the BeltLine and offers rentals. The Atlanta BeltLine also occasionally organizes guided bike tours of its own. Atlanta also participates in the Relay Bike Share by HOPR program where you can pick up a bike all over the city and pay for your time as you go. And if you want another guided tour option, here’s a bike tour that takes you on the BeltLine and through the Inman Park neighborhood.
9. Find the cheap eats
You don’t have to sacrifice taste to eat cheap in Atlanta. There are plenty of worthy restaurants that won’t break the bank.
Here are some affordable place to eat in Atlanta:
- Aviva by Kameel — this Mediterranean food stall is one of the best places to eat Downtown
- Little’s Food Store — for amazing burgers in Cabbagetown
- Eats — a landmark Atlanta restaurant on Ponce De Leon for Southern favorites
- Julianna’s Coffee & Crepes — Hungarian-style in Inman Park
- Victory Sandwich Bar — sandwiches piled high with meats for a great price
Luckily, most Atlanta restaurants have their menu and prices online, so you can look it up before you go. There’s nothing worse than being blindsided by food prices on a night out.
Below are some more tips on how to eat in Atlanta for cheap:
- Look for happy hour deals. Get reduced-price drinks, appetizers, and more from 4 p.m. an on, depending on the establishment.
- Get a quick breakfast from a local coffee shop if your hotel doesn’t have breakfast included.
- Keep an eye on the daily specials for a great deal.
- Research menus online before you go. This will help you see if there’s something in your price range, if there are any daily specials, if there is a happy hour, or if there are any special discounts.
- Check out the restaurants on Buford Highway for international cuisine and affordable prices.
10. Find free events in the park
Finally, a great way to stay on a budget when visiting Atlanta is to find free events in the city’s many great parks and green spaces.
There are free events every time of the year. The Atlanta Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park is huge in the spring. Spring is also a great time for art festivals. The Atlanta Jazz Festival is held every Memorial Day weekend. In the summer, you can enjoy the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival or the Grant Park Summer Shade Festival. In the fall, you’ll find plenty of arts and craft festivals as well as the Little 5 Points Halloween Festival & Parade.
There’s always something fun going on in Atlanta!
Ready to plan your Atlanta vacation? See what hotel deals are available on Booking.com.
Atlanta on a Budget FAQ
Below are some common questions about how to visit Atlanta on budget.
Your daily budget should be around $136 per person for your vacation. Based on the expenses of other visitors, this is the average daily price.
Average Daily Cost (per person): $136
One Week (per person): $954
One Week (per couple): $1,907
March is the cheapest month to visit Atlanta. Flights during March are cheaper and hotels offer lower prices during this month.
1. Explore the BeltLine on foot or by bike.
2. See the view from Jackson Street Bridge
3. Enjoy Centennial Olympic Park or Piedmont Park
4. Visit the Georgia State Capitol Museum
5. Visit Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park
6. Save on the city’s top attractions with the Atlanta CityPASS
You can absolutely travel to Atlanta on a budget! There are hotels at great prices and plenty of free and cheap things to do in the city.
Money-saving tips for getting around Atlanta:
— Ride MARTA: Atlanta’s public transit is the cheapest way to get around the city. You can save more by purchasing a pass based on the number of days you’re visiting or the number of trips you plan to take.
— Rent a bike or scooter: Atlanta isn’t the most walkable city, but that doesn’t mean you need a car. There are bikes and scooters all around the city that you can rent to get you from Point A to Point B.
Money-saving tips for sightseeing in Atlanta:
— Free attractions and events: There are plenty of free things to do in Atlanta, from museums to festivals.
— Get the Atlanta CityPASS: If you want to visit all the top attractions for 44% off the regular price, consider getting the Atlanta CityPASS. This can be a good option for first-time visitors.
Money-savings tips for cheap hotels in Atlanta:
— Compare prices: I like to check hotel prices on Booking.com and Hotels.com. These are my two go-to sites for finding cheap accommodations.
— Last-minute deals: Find last-minute hotel deals on Hotels.com.
— Get cashback for hotels: Join WayAway Plus and you can get up to 10% cashback on every hotel stay you book.
Money-saving tips for cheap flights to Atlanta:
— Compare prices: I like to check flight prices on Skyscanner and WayAway. These are my two go-to sites for finding cheap flights. You can set up price alerts so you know the cheapest time to book.
— Last-minute deals: Find last-minute flight deals on Skyscanner.
— Get cashback for flights: Join WayAway Plus and you can get up to 5% cashback on every flight you book.
2-4 days is the perfect amount of time to do Atlanta. If you’re visiting for the first time and plan to check out a lot of attractions, stay 4 days. If you just want a short trip to see a couple of attractions, then 2 days in Atlanta is enough.
Atlanta isn’t the most expensive city for dining out, but it can be pricey. Check each restaurant’s menu before going to make sure that it’s in your budget. You shouldn’t have any problem finding a place to eat that’s affordable for you.
Map Out Your Stay
Craving More Atlanta Activities?
If you need more things to do while visiting Atlanta, check out these top posts:
- 14 Romantic Things To Do for Couples in Atlanta, Georgia
- 15 Best Day Trips from Atlanta, Georgia
- 2 Days in Atlanta, Georgia: The Perfect Weekend Itinerary
Ready to visit Atlanta, Georgia? Plan your trip with these tips.
- Get Familiar With the City: Check out my Ultimate Guide to Atlanta to help plan your trip!
- Book Your Flight: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
- Find Accommodation: You can find top hotels in Atlanta using Booking.com.
- Save on Attractions: Save 44% on admission to Atlanta’s top attractions using the Atlanta CityPASS.
Are you planning a trip to Atlanta on a budget? Let me know in the comments!