Atlanta is often touted as an example of short-sighted infrastructure. Its metro hardly covers the ground it should, and its uncontained urban sprawl has created a commuter-city much like L.A., where often the only reasonable way to get from point A to point B is with a car. This makes the city a tricky one for visitors to navigate if wanting to venture to areas outside of the rather drab city center. But "MARTA," what Atlantans call the metro, can be used creatively enough to hit up both the main attractions and some more alternative neighborhoods. For the most die-hard urban explorers, however, a rental car or Uber will be pretty essential.
There are countless car rental businesses in Atlanta, many with airport kiosks, and this is absolutely the way to go if you have the money to spend (it may actually be cheaper than solely relying on Uber). A car provides easy access to many of Atlanta's more culturally rich offerings, such as the Chamblee-Doraville area, and certainly facilitates day trips to Stone Mountain Park or Arabia Mountain.
Biking in Atlanta should be a challenge taken on only by the most fearless. There are hardly any bike lanes, the roads are often poorly maintained and drivers are not on the look out for those on two-wheels. But a bike paired with MARTA is certainly the most adventurous way to see the city and will force an intimacy that is hard to come by otherwise. One of Atlanta's newest urban-development projects, the BeltLine, has been a game-changer for cyclists, making biking the city much more plausible for anyone with the right amount stamina. In fact, renting a bike for a free, guided BeltLine tour is one of the best ways to get a overview of the city.
The metro, called "MARTA" by locals, has long been the bane of Atlanta's existence. Created in the 70s, it has never reached enough as the city as a metro system should, laying across the sprawling, disparate city a rather ineffective cross. One can go north or south, east or west, but with only two lines, huge quadrants are left only for those who have cars or are willing to be patient with the often unreliable, slow-moving buses. The best bargain is the $24 7-Day Pass, which gives travelers unlimited rides within a week-long period.
If you are determined to only use the public transportation system (which requires quite a bit of determination), the bus system will be necessary to get to the more out-of-reach places not served by the metro. The buses are not always punctual, the intervals are often irregular and the stops not easy to find. It's always a good idea to check the interactive map, or simply Google-Map a route, before embarking on any journey.
As in many cities, Uber has completely transformed the way people get around Atlanta and might be the best bet for visitors who don't want to go all in for a rental car but want to cover more ground than MARTA can. Being able to call up a car in the metropolitan area will prove to be a life-saver, especially when the nearest station is miles away or it's past 1 or 2 am. Taxis are also around, but only really practical and affordable within the city center.