Philadelphia is one of the biggest and oldest cities in the United States. It played a major role in the Revolutionary War, and was even the nation’s temporary capital until DC was ready. When you visit here, expect the best food, accommodations, and historic attractions.

Early Morning: Feast on Breakfast

Porto’s breakfast is Portuguese in style, meaning you can expect a lot of meat and a lot of spice. Sausage, peppers, onions, and eggs are all menu staples here, though vegetarian options are available, too. Try the rib eye, which comes with a deliciously spicy rub. The menu is clever, with each section boasting a slightly religious theme (like “halo” and “ultimate sin”).

Visit a coffee house with delicious breakfast foods at Chhaya Cafe. Breakfast and brunch treats get a twist at this delicious spot. Try the truffled egg toast, which comes with an over-easy egg heaped onto sauteed mushrooms, arugula, and cheese. The bagel sandwich and the pancakes are also delicious. This spot opens at 7 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on weekends.

eastern state penitentiary
The Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.

Late Morning: Explore History

You’re in one of the most important cities in United States history. Make your morning all about exploring the nation’s early days. Independence Hall is one of the most popular attractions for tourists to visit. Even if you hate doing touristy things, don’t skip Independence Hall. This building contains the room where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were both signed.

The building is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., so you can head here as soon as you’re done with your breakfast. Tickets are free, but you can only go inside with a tour group. The tour groups have timed entries from March to December, but you don’t need a specific time in January or February, or after 5 p.m. in the summer. To get free tickets, you have to go to the Independence Visitor’s Center and pick them up at the Ranger’s Desk. Get there early, because only so many free tickets to Independence Hall are available each day.

While you’re at Independence Hall, you must visit the Liberty Bell. There’s almost always a line to see the bell, and the wait time ranges from 15 minutes to about an hour. People love to stand in front of the bell for a “bellfie” photo. You can also watch a short film in the vicinity, and park rangers are available to answer your questions. Ask about the Liberty Bell crack, the story will be more fun coming from a park ranger than it will be from Google.

Noonish: Have Lunch at Reading Terminal Market

Touted as America’s oldest farmers market, Reading Terminal Market is your lunch destination during your Philadelphia trip. It’s been around since 1892, and is a huge space full of food stalls and other shopping experiences. You can return here every day for lunch, because the number of food options is simply unreal. Cuisine from virtually every part of the globe is available to you. Reading Terminal Market is perfect for families with different tastes because everyone can go off and find the perfect meal without placating anyone else.

When you walk in, the signs and lights can be overwhelming, and you might not know where to begin your search for food. Sang Kee Peking Duck House has delicious noodle dishes with roast pork and roast duck. Beck’s Cajun Cafe is also worth a stop for a delicious po’boy sandwich. If you were hoping for a cheesesteak, several stalls here offer great ones. Grab a whoopie pie for dessert at Flying Monkey, or hit up Beiler’s Doughnuts for handcrafted treats in imaginative flavors.

rodin
The Rodin Museum in Philadelphia.

Early Afternoon: Hit the Museums

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is actually two buildings: the Main Building and the Perelman Building. They share the same hours, except the Main Building is open later into the evening on Wednesdays and Fridays. Otherwise, these museums are closed on Mondays and shut their doors at 5 p.m. every other evening.

When you visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art, expect to see items spanning the globe and the centuries. Hundreds of thousands of creative works have homes within these halls from Europe, Asia, and America. Some of the permanent exhibits focus on Pennsylvania history, including Pennsylvanian German art and rural furniture. The museum also has an expanding collection of modern art, and includes pieces by famous artists like Picasso and Dali.

The Franklin Institute Science Museum is very interactive and will charm children and adults alike. The museum recently added escape rooms, so try your hand at finding clues and getting out of the locked room under the time limit. Live science shows and IMAX presentations are always entertaining, especially for kids. Notable exhibits include the Planetarium, Your Brain, and 3D Printing the Future.

Every one of these museums is extremely diverting, and you can easily spend half a day or more exploring. If that’s the case, skip your late afternoon activities in favor of continuing your museum adventures. No one will judge you for wanting to learn more!

rocky steps museum art
The Famous Rocky Steps in front of The Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia.

Late Afternoon: See Public Art at Rittenhouse Square

Rittenhouse Square is a gorgeous public park known for outdoor events in Philadelphia. Designed in the late 1600s, the square is now in the middle of one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in Philadelphia. See gorgeous trees and high-rises in the background as you seek out the public art this square is known for.

Antoine-Louis Barye’s Lion Crushing a Serpent is located in the center of the square. This sculpture is a fabulous photo opportunity, and we dare you to grab one of your friends and act it out. Other statues include the bronze Duck Girl, Billy the bronze goat, and the Evelyn Taylor Price Memorial Sundial.

Evening: Don Your Evening Wear for Fine Dining

Upscale dining experience Fork serves modern American food in a sophisticated environment. The pasta is handmade, so don’t miss the black pepper malfatti. The New Jersey golden tilefish and the dry aged steak for two are excellent choices. You can order a la carte, or you can choose the house menu which furnishes you with all the necessities, plus dessert. By the way, get the Earl Grey mousse.

Vernick Food & Drink is near Rittenhouse Square, and with such a posh address you know this place is great. Delicious options at this upscale American restaurant include sea urchin with warm scrambled eggs and Wagyu beef pastrami. Dessert here is worth waiting for; try the blueberry pie for an all-American yet surprisingly cosmopolitan treat.

shofuso japanese house garden
The Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Philadelphia.

Where to Stay

Hotels

Choose true luxury when you stay in Philadelphia. Five-star hotels offering classic luxury are available throughout the city near the attractions you want to see most. The Rittenhouse Hotel is one of the best hotels in the city and possibly the best known for luxury. The Sofitel Philadelphia Hotel and the Ritz Carlton Philadelphia are also five-star choices for those seeking sophistication and pampering.

Value hotels in Philadelphia offer affordable room rates without skimping on the amenities. Stay downtown or near the airport at accommodations that fit your budget. The Sonesta Philadelphia Downtown is a popular choice for those seeking value, and has consistently good guest ratings. If you want something a little less touristy, try the Alexander Inn. It sits in a neighborhood and doesn’t carry that hotel chain stamp, meaning you get a bit of a bespoke stay.

Budget hotels allow you to save your vacation dollars for sightseeing and eating. Choose the Penrose Hotel Philadelphia or the Rodeway Inn City Center to get extremely competitive room rates. Remember that Philadelphia prices are still higher than many places you may have stayed, so keep that in mind when budgeting.

Hostels

Philadelphia has a few reputable hostels where you can find dorm and private accommodations at rates far less expensive than hotel room rates. One of the least expensive hostel options is City House Hostels: Old City Philly. Only dorms are available, but they’re very affordable and the hostel has a good reputation. Hostel choices that offer dorm beds and private rooms include Apple Hostels of Philadelphia and City House Hostels: Philadelphia Liberty.

Vacation Rentals

For extra space during your Philadelphia stay, consider a vacation rental. For the price of an upscale hotel room, you can get multiple bedrooms and kitchen space. Locations on West Chestnut Street and Washington Square are just a few of the most popular vacation rental choices. For solo travelers or couples, a vacation rental might not save you any money. If you’re traveling in a group and need to book multiple rooms or a multi-room suite, a vacation rental may offer a competitive price and more room for your group.

Boathouse row
The Boathouse Row in Philadelphia.

Your Philadelphia Airport Guide

If you fly to Philadelphia on a commercial flight, you’ll land at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). As the largest airport both in Pennsylvania and in the Delaware Valley, PHL is a large airport with about 500 flights every day.

Airlines and Terminals

Fifteen airlines serve PHL. American Airlines uses PHL as an international hub. Though most airlines only operate out of one terminal, American Airlines (and American Eagle) flights will land in and depart from several terminals. Other domestic airlines include Delta and United in terminal D. International airlines include Icelandair in terminal A-West and Air Canada in terminal D.

The airport consists of seven terminals. Once you go through the PSA checkpoint, you can access all gates and terminals at the airport. Terminal A is divided into West and East.

Airport Amenities

Throughout the airport you’ll find charging stations, private rooms for nursing mothers, and ATMs. The airport provides passengers with free Wi-Fi. If you’re traveling with an animal, PHL has plenty of animal relief areas located throughout the terminals.

Expect to see different art exhibitions throughout PHL; the airport is always updating the art it displays, and you can catch some award-winning pieces just by flying through this location.

The terminals feature dining and shops, and if you’ve got time before your flight you can cross between terminals to find your favorite food and shopping experiences. Fast food like Bruegger’s Bagels is available for those who only have a few minutes, and quick sit-down restaurants like La Tapenade are perfect when you’ve got an hour to kill. Forget your luggage or lose your favorite jacket? Airport shops like B-Iconic will have the perfect replacements.

Ground Transportation

You can catch public transportation on SEPTA trains (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) to Center City from the airport. You can catch the train every 30 minutes, and it runs almost all day and night, except for the hours between midnight and 4:30 a.m. You can also catch a SEPTA bus from the airport in Ground Transportation Zone 1, which will take you to a few different locations, from which you can always grab another bus. A single bus ride is $2.50, and it’s $1 to transfer.

To contact rental car companies, you need to look for a Ground Transportation Information desk. You’ll find these desks in Baggage Claim A-East, B/D, and D/E. Your rental car company choices include: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, and National. Shuttles to the rental car areas are in Zone 2.

If you’ve arranged a hotel shuttle to pick you up, you’ll wait for it in Ground Transportation Zone 4.

You can also take a taxi from the airport, and taxi stands are available outside the baggage claim areas. To travel to Center City, you’ll be charged a flat rate of $28.50. If you’re traveling with other people, add $1 to the flat rate for each person, up to three. Taxi rides from the airport to destinations other than Center City will be metered, but will cost at least $10. Every cab company now takes credit cards. Pick up taxis in Zone 5.

A visit to Philadelphia offers you chances to glimpse an older version of the United States, while experiencing newness in the form of science and restaurants. This exciting city is perfect for travelers of all ages and from all parts of the world.