Solo Travel Philadelphia
For those planning a trip to Philadelphia in the USA, this guest post will help you to plan your solo trip there. From what to see to things to do by yourself in Philadelphia, I hope this inspires you to take a solo trip to Philadelphia.
- Planning My Philadelphia Trip
- How To Get To Philadelphia
- Top 5 Things To Do in Philadelphia
- Tours in Philadelphia
- Accommodation in Philadelphia
- Getting Around Philadelphia
Planning My Philadelphia Trip
Going Solo in Philadelphia was relatively easy but I had no idea of what I was going to do when I got there. Planning had been so much easier for Washington D.C. as everyone knows the White House, the Capitol Hill and the Pentagon. Watching an episode of my favourite celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, I took on board everything he had to say about “Philly” and the restaurant scene before reaching the city boundaries.
How To Get To Philadelphia
I had caught a coach from Washington DC to Philadelphia. For booking the tickets I used the bus comparison site called Wanderu, which compares lots of different companies and fares. If you are travelling to Philadelphia from NYC and book your trip early, you can get a ticket to Philadelphia for as little as $15 USD. The main bus companies on this route are called Greyhound, Peterpan and Megabus, which I have also used a lot in the UK. The buses should offer wifi and USB charging sockets.
Top 5 Things To Do in Philadelphia
1. The Mural Mile Philadelphia
The Mural Mile is by far my favourite part of Philadelphia. It’s a mapped route, along which you will find 17 of the city centre’s most iconic and popular murals. The route is actually 2.5 miles long by foot so don’t let the name fool you! Luckily there will be endless restaurant and bar options to choose from along the way, if you fancy a refreshing pint or a glass of wine along the way.
What’s incredible about these gigantic pieces of art is that the craziest murals have adopted the 3 dimensional format! When you approach one from a distance, you feel like you are looking at a life-like, optical illusion. Only when you stand directly underneath the mural, you see how the artist has actually incorporated traditional sculpting techniques that lift parts of the graffiti off the wall.
2. South of Philadelphia
South Philadelphia is proud of its Italian heritage. If you have seen the movie called Rocky, you may also remember a scene where Sylvester Stallone runs through an area of run-down streets. In real life the market area where Rocky trains is a vibrant street with stalls of fruit, vegetable, butcher meats and Italian produce, like mouth watering cheeses and a variety of pastas.
Directions: The Italian Market is located South of the 9th and Christian
3. Reading Terminal Market
Reading Terminal Market is a great spot to visit, especially if you don’t mind having a snack or staying for a bigger meal. Reading Terminal Market claims to be the oldest farmer’s market in America. I recommend one doughnut stall in particular – just head left and keep walking towards the very end of the market, where you will find Amish or “Dutch” pastries and doughnuts, a tradition of the Lancaster County. They are just incredibly crunchy on the outside but absolutely melt in your mouth.
I would have these every day if I lived in Philadelphia! Here you can also find lots of ethnic vendors side by side with Philly Cheese Steaks. A Philly Steak is actually a bread bun stuffed with beef and some sauce. Most guide books state that DiNic’s Roast Pork and Beef is the best sandwich in America.
Actually, the Travel Channel voted this delicacy as the top dog. When I tried one, my expectations were incredibly high. I remember thinking “yeah it’s a bread bun with some meat and sauce”. I’m not sure if it’s worth the hype but luckily it fit the price bracket of a solo traveller just fine.
Directions: 51 N 12th Street, Philadelphia 19107
4. Philadelphia Museum of Art
This museum has an impressive selection of pieces by Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso and Cézanne amongst others. As the collection is huge, you may want to plan your visit around the must-sees and then see how much time you have left to explore the rest. Many tourists actually flock all the way to the Philadelphia Museum of Art – not because of the Picassos and Van Goghs – but because of Rocky Balboa. The statue of Rocky stands by the main stairs leading up to the entrance.
Any given time there will be a small queue forming in front of the Stallone statue, as everyone wants a picture with Rocky. As I was traveling solo and as I’m not great with selfies, I took photos of other people’s aunts and uncles instead. I also had a great time watching someone try to recreate the scene from the Rocky movie where Stallone trains at the museum stairs, running up and down for ages.
I watched as someone dressed like Rocky was trying to sprint up, only to be stopped by a homeless person telling stories each time. By the time the runner managed to get past this person at the stairs, he was too exhausted to run all the way to the top…
Directions: 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia 19130
5. Eastern State Penitentiary
The Eastern State Penitentiary is one of America’s most historic prisons. Ever heard of “Scarface” Al Capone? This is where he was held. At the prison you can visit the hospital, the synagogue, the soup alley or the dining halls and the prison cells.
Directions: 2027 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19130
Tours in Philadelphia
Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide helps you to find top-rated activities and day tours in worldwide destinations including Philadelphia. Choose from a Founding fathers historical walking tour, a Segway adventure or a Philadelphia sightseeing bus tour. There are several to choose from including a Revolutionary women walking tour and it’s really simple to use. Just check the reviews, price and availability then book online. Read my review here or click the link below for all tours.
Viator – Viator are similar to Get Your Guide. They are an American company and a tour platform with more than 345,000 tours and worldwide activities. Choose from an old city historic walking tour in Philadelphia, a dark Philly adult night tour with tales of vampires and haunted attractions, to a trolley tour of the city where you can bring your own alcohol and mingle with others. Read my Viator review or click the link for all their tours.
Accommodation in Philadelphia
There is a wide choice of accommodation in Philadelphia but if you are backpacking here, hostels are limited. Instead, you’ll find international chain hotels, boutique hotels, apartments and Bed and Breakfasts.
If hotels are too pricey for when you want to travel, there is also Airbnb which offers rental accommodation on a short-term basis and rooms in Philadelphia with a local. You can stay in a private room in a local's house or rent their whole apartment. Save $20 off your first stay with this Airbnb link.
All of the accommodation below have been recommended by solo female travellers and come with our Solo Female Friendly endorsement. For all other Philadelphia accommodation click on the link below.
For those on a budget looking for shared accommodation, Apple Hostels of Philadelphia is a sociable hostel offering dormitory rooms and private rooms in a great location (near the Museum of the American Revolution). You can break the ice with the other guests by challenging them to a game of pool or on the Xbox. If you’re there on selected nights you’ll receive a complimentary dinner and drink too. It’s easy to meet others here to explore the city with. Choose from a bed in a 4 or 6 bed female-only dormitory room, a twin room or a standard queen room.
- Prices from £30/$43 USD per night for a bed in a 4-bed female dorm room
- To book, check prices or availability for Apple Hostels
Located a short walk from the Mutter Museum, the ROOST Ritterhouse is a great choice if you’re looking for an apartment to stay in, especially in the Downtown area. These stylish studios come with a fully equipped kitchen as well as a dining table and a flat-screen TV if you need some entertainment in the evenings. You can rent bikes to explore the city and there’s a 24-hour desk so it doesn’t matter if you arrive late. Choose from a studio or one-bedroom apartment with a view of the city.
- Prices from £144/$204 USD per night for a studio apartment
- To book, check prices or availability for ROOST Rittenhouse
This historic hotel with gorgeous architecture and decor is a stunning hotel with a lovely courtyard. Its location is perfect to able to walk around the city, and if you don’t feel like dining at the on-site restaurant and bar, it’s only a short walk to Reading Market for even more food choices. The rooms are clean and spacious and come with soundproofing, a coffee machine, and a refrigerator. Choose from a queen room, a studio suite, a one-bedroom suite, or a king room. Or upgrade to a signature king, a city view queen, or a pure wellness room. So many choices!
- Prices from £172/$245 USD per night for a queen room
- To book, check prices or availability for The Notary Hotel Autograph Collection
For those wanting to stay somewhere more intimate with friendly hosts, this family-owned bed & breakfast is perfect. The historic building has a Victorian charm with colourful stained glass window and antiques. Coffee, tea and snacks are available 24 hours and breakfast is included in the rate (which you can eat on the porch), and it is well located too. Choose from a deluxe king room, a king room, king suite or deluxe suite.
- Prices from £173/$245 USD per night for a king room
- To book, check prices or availability for The Cornerstone Bed & Breakfast
Getting Around Philadelphia
Philly is a very walkable city due to its great city planning that favours pedestrians. Most of the sights are easily reachable by foot. Especially the area around South Philadelphia or “South Philly” are best experienced by foot. The city centre hotels and shopping opportunities are also within close proximity of one another.
It is also the home of “The Mural Mile”, a mapped route around the neighbourhood that showcases some of the most well-crafted wall murals and graffiti I have ever seen.
South Philly is bounded by South Street, the Delaware River and the Schuylkill River and is roughly 21 square kilometres in size. Most Philly residents are extremely proud of this area and say it is the heart and soul of the city. And it’s easy to see why, as the creative vibe is almost tangible. The atmosphere of South Philly is incredibly creative, artistic and picturesque. The pot plants, strings of coloured lights in the trees and colourful bikes and retro Vespas all make you feel like you have just found one of the friendliest places in the whole country.
For those who prefer the freedom of the open road consider hiring an RV and driving yourself around the USA stopping in Philadelphia on the way. As a solo traveller, you’ll have plenty of space for your accommodation, your own transport and possibly a kitchenette too. RVshare allows you to compare RV rates from different brands and find local owners near you. In most cases, they deliver to a specific location or park, so the home-away-from-home will be ready and waiting for you on arrival. Plus, you can bring your pet! Prices start from $75 a night. * Book a campervan with RVshare
About the Author
Raisa has spent time travelling solo in the US and especially on the East Coast. Raisa fell in love with the Amish doughnuts at the Reading Terminal Market. Raisa was also enchanted by the artistic and creative vibe of the city and if she was ever to spend longer periods on the US continent, she’d seriously consider Philadelphia or “Philly” as her top spot.
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