So you plan to come to South by Southwest this year, huh? Props to you for planning to attending one of the largest, most magical festivals in the world. Hopefully you’ve already registered and found a place to stay (check out this guide for some affordable, yet trendy options if you haven’t ). But have you figured out how the heck you’ll get around?
It sounds silly, but if you’ve never been to SXSW before, just imagine 400,000 people wandering around the streets of one city trying to hail a cab or catch a bus. Things can definitely get insane. But, fear no more! We’ve come up with plenty of creative ways for you to get around the city without a hassle, so check them out below:
Car2Go is one of the best transportation inventions to come to Austin. It’s like renting a car without the usual BS you have to deal with. All you have to do is find a Car2Go at one of their 240+ stations around town (they’re everywhere, seriously), pay a small hourly fee, and you’ll be on your way. Easy as pie. Oh, and did we mention that Car2Go is giving Do512 subscribers a special during SXSW? You’ll only pay $5 in registration fees (instead of $35) and you’ll receive 12 free driving minutes… which is nice if you only need to get from one place to another. Register for the SXSW Car2Go special using promo code “Do512” here.
Yep, there are cabs in Austin. It costs about $23 to get from ABIA to downtown. You can often book them in advance, but the system can get a little weird during the festival. Yellow Cab phone number is 512-452-9999. Austin Cab is 512-478-2222.
Airport shuttles are great because they run 24/7 and cost a little less than a taxi. For $17, you can take the Super Shuttle from the airport to anywhere in the metro Austin area. Or, Yellow Cab’s airport shuttle will take you and up to four people to and from downtown for the price of one. Click here for the shuttle fare estimator.
Once you’ve landed in Austin and enjoyed at least a few songs from one of the live bands playing at the airport, you might decide it’s time to find your way to your hotel. If you’re on a tight budget, why not take the MetroAirport bus for just $1.50? During SXSW, it will operate every 15 minutes, taking you right downtown to where you need to go. You can buy your passes on the bus (with exact change) or purchase them via the CapMetro app. Click here for schedules and route maps for the MetroAirport bus.
Hell, if you can purchase a couch or find a roommate on Craigslist, why not find a ride from the airport, too? If you feel brave enough to ask a stranger for a ride, check out the Ride Share forum. We’ve had some great experiences with Craigslist (haven’t you seen the Craigslist Joe documentary?) as well as some bad ones, so please, proceed at your own risk.
Uber plans to take part in SXSW this year, but they haven’t posted any information regarding their appearance just yet. Expect them to partner with companies like Samsung or Tesla to offer free rides for SXSW attendees. They’re even partnering with pedicab companies so you can make sure you’re hooked up with a ride, no matter what. Stay updated with Uber by visiting their Twitter page.
NEED WAYS TO GET AROUND DURING SXSW?
The TMS Hotel Shuttle service is offering SXSW registrants a convenient way to get around downtown at a reasonable price. The shuttle will run March 6th-15th between the Austin Convention Center and more than 50 hotels. Shuttle passes are $20 for a one-day pass, or you can purchase the nine-day pass for $120. These shuttles will run until either 1am or 3am, so be sure to check out their online schedule. Just be warned, these shuttles don’t always come when they’re supposed to, so always have a back-up plan just in case (like the other options below). Click here to purchase your hotel shuttle pass and view their online schedule.
The Interactive and Film Festival Shuttles are great because they’re FREE (yes, free) to Gold and Platinum Registrants, and they run more frequently than the Official Hotel Shuttle. They haven’t posted the schedule or routing information yet, so check back on their website closer to the event for more details.
Capital Metro will be offering routes for SXSW attendees that will run every 34 minutes, all day. Bus passes are only $1 for one way, or $5.50 for a day pass. The bus will run until around midnight, but there’s also a late night shuttle for all you night owls out there (scroll to late night options for more details). Click here for schedules and route maps for Capital Metro buses.
While you’re here for SXSW, why not do like Austinites do and ride your bike around town? NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers is offering a free bike share program for SXSW registrants. These Tern folding bicycles will come complete with a helmet, lights (don’t be the idiot who gets run over without one), a lock and a rear basket to store your belongings. They’ll be available to rent on a daily basis from 10am until 12am. Just make sure you’re there early to guarantee a bicycle for the day. Get your SXcycle at 98 Red River, at the Southwest corner of Cesar Chavez & Red River.
If you don’t feel like renting a bike every single day, why not try Austin B-Cycle, a pay-as-you-go bike share program? By March 1st they’ll have nearly 40 stations, making it pretty darn convenient to get around during SXSW without the hassle. You can rent a bike for just $8/day, or for an entire week for only $25. My favorite part about B-cycle is they allow you to rent a bike for 30 minutes free, which is pretty nice if you just need it to get from one place to another on the fly. Download the B-Cycle app or purchase your pass here (you can also purchase passes at the bike station using a credit card).
SXSW is using Enterprise Rent-A-Car and their sister company, National Rent Car, as their preferred vendors this year. They’re offering a special discount for SXSW registrants that you can get by using the group code *L65SXSW* (PIN: SXS) on either website. However, Ace Rent-A-Car, Avis and Thrifty are also great options for renting a car as well.
One of the most wild rides you’ll take during by SXSW is on a pedicab… ESPECIALLY if you’ve never been on one before. Plus, they’re not too expensive, either. Just open your eyes and you’ll find hundreds of ready-to-ride pedicabbers. Hail one down, pay between $10-$20 (depending on how difficult or long your journey is), and enjoy the sights as you ride through a sea of people without a care in the world. Keep an eye out for these trusted pedicab companies during SXSW.
PLAN TO STAY OUT LATE?
While wandering back to your hotel might sound like a great idea at 3am, taking the bus is probably a better option. Thankfully, Capital Metro will be offering the usual Night Owl and E-Bus service until 3am everyday except Sundays (or in night owl terms, Monday mornings) during SXSW. There are five late-night routes to choose from that will pick you up at 6th street between Congress and Colorado and take you pretty much anywhere throughout the city. Click here for schedules and route maps for the Night Owl bus.
CHECK OUT THE ULTIMATE SXSW GUIDE
There you have it, 15 creative ways to get around Austin during SXSW. Now go rock it out SXSW this year! And before you do, be sure to check out our Ultimate SXSW Guide to find out the best bands to see, where to stay, what to eat, and how to enjoy it all without paying a dime.
What are you most excited to see at SXSW this year? Tell us in the comments below!
Contributed by Krystal Penrose