The biggest city in Texas, Houston draws in more than 20 million visitors a year from all over the globe. Many people are drawn to the city for its unique history and cultural landmarks, with local sites of interest including the world-famous Space Center Houston, the Houston Zoo, and the city’s stunning Historic District, with its beautiful buildings dating back to the 1800s.
It’s clear to see that Houston has an awful lot to offer, from family-friendly attractions to world-renowned museums and much more besides, but if you don’t have much experience with the city or happen to be visiting for the very first time, it can feel a little intimidating.
Houston is the fourth largest city in America, with its metropolitan area being home to almost 7 million people. Finding your way around can seem like quite a challenge, so here’s our detailed guide to getting around in Texas, covering everything from public transport to the city’s road system and parking.
Driving In Houston
If you’re prepared to tackle the hectic roads of Houston and don’t mind dealing with the city’s enormous size and scope, driving can be a simple and convenient way to get around. You can bring your own car or rent one in Houston, and all the big rental agencies are present.
You might have heard about Houston’s reputation for aggressive driving, and as city congestion levels continue to rise, frustration can become an issue. It’s therefore very important to stay focused, avoid tailgating, and do your best to be courteous to other drivers.
For general driving, remember that all passengers should have seat belts and any children under seven should have a safety seat too. In the city, the limit is usually 30-40mph, but out on the highways, it gets up to 70-75.
There are several toll roads around the city, so this is something to bear in mind, and parking in Downtown Houston can be quite pricey, so consider using parking apps to find cheaper or even free spots further away from your destination.
Buses In Houston
If you prefer to rely on public transport during your stay in Houston, buses are a great way to get around. Millions of people make use of the Houston METRO bus system on a monthly basis, and there are dozens of different routes that can take you pretty much anywhere you want to be.
Traffic in the busier areas of the city might slow you down if you opt for the bus over other options, but it’s a reliable and relatively affordable option, with day passes available and plenty of discount potential for seniors, students, and other groups.
Most buses on the busy routes run every 10-20 minutes, so you never need to wait long, and if you buy one ticket, you can use it for free transfers on other buses for the three hours that follow.
Light Rail In Houston
Houston also has its own light rail system, with 22 miles of track in total. It doesn’t cover a ton of ground, but it can prove highly useful for tourists looking to see the city’s main sights.
You can get to various key locations like Downtown, the Museum District, and the Theater District via the METRORail system, and trains can run as often as every six minutes during peak times.
The fares for the metro are the same prices as the buses too, so it’s quite affordable and can be the speediest option for zipping around the center of the city.
Aside from the buses and light rail system, you might also want to take advantage of Houston’s bike-sharing BCycle program.
It has over 110 stations across the city, mostly in high traffic areas downtown. You can spend a few dollars for half an hour of cycling, or buy daily or weekly passes to suit your needs.
Ride sharing apps like Lyft and Uber are also popular in Houston, along with taxis, so it’s never too hard to find a ride as and when you need one.
Due to its huge size, Houston can seem like quite an intimidating place at first glance, which is why a lot of people prefer to make use of the city’s public transport, rather than driving around. Still, with rental agencies all over the city, driving is a totally viable option, if you’re feeling up to it.
Whatever you choose, be sure to plan your trips ahead of time to ensure that you have a smooth ride and make the most of every day you spend in the big city.