Where to stay in Austin without a car: 7 Best areas

In this article, we will look at Where to stay in Austin without a car, best areas to stay in Austin without a car, how to get around without a car, and best hotels in Austin without a car for all budget visitors.

Austin has a limited but growing public transportation system that can be used to get around the city without a car. Some options for getting around Austin without a car are capital metro, biking, walking, ride-sharing services like uber and lyft.

Austin is the capital city of the state of Texas in the United States. It is located in the central part of the state and is known for its vibrant cultural scene, live music, and outdoor activities. 

Austin is often referred to as the “Live Music Capital of the World” because of its thriving music scene. The city hosts numerous music festivals, including South by Southwest, which showcases a wide range of musical genres.

The city offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. The Barton Creek Greenbelt is a popular spot for hiking, biking, and swimming. Lady Bird Lake, in the heart of Austin, is a popular destination for kayaking and paddleboarding.

Austin has become a major technology and startup hub in recent years, with many tech companies and startups establishing a presence in the city. It’s sometimes referred to as “Silicon Hills” due to its growing tech sector.

Austin is home to the University of Texas at Austin, one of the largest and most prestigious public universities in the United States. The city’s educational institutions contribute to its vibrant intellectual and cultural life.

Austin is known for its diverse and vibrant food scene. It’s famous for its food trucks, barbecue joints, Tex-Mex cuisine, and a wide range of international dining options.

Austin offers a variety of neighborhoods to stay in without a car, and your choice largely depends on your interests and what you want to experience during your visit.

Where to stay in Austin without a car?

The best areas to stay in Austin without a car for tourists are Downtown, 6th Street, Rainey Street, Red River Cultural District, East Austin, University of Texas Area, and South Congress (SOCO). Regardless of where you stay, consider using Uber, Lyft or taking advantage of buses and bikes to explore the city. 

In general, Downtown Austin is the best place to stay in Austin for car-free travelers who are visiting the city for the first time. Downtown is the heart of the city, encompassing the areas of 6th Street, Rainey Street, and Red River Cultural District.

Keep in mind that Austin’s downtown area is relatively compact, so you can easily walk between many of these neighborhoods if you enjoy walking.

Overviews of best areas to stay in Austin without a car

Here is an overview of recommended areas in Austin for visitors without a car and why you should stay in each area:  

Best areas in Austin without a carWhy should you stay in this area?
Downtown AustinStaying in downtown Austin puts you in the heart of the city, with easy access to restaurants, bars, live music venues, and cultural attractions. It’s a walkable area and well-connected to public transportation.
6th StreetKnown for its vibrant nightlife, 6th Street is a popular destination for bar-hopping and live music. Staying here is convenient if you want to experience Austin’s nightlife, but it can be noisy at night.
Rainey Street Historic DistrictThis area is known for its bungalow-style bars and food trucks. It’s a quieter alternative to 6th Street but still offers a unique nightlife experience.
Red River Cultural DistrictThis district is home to many live music venues, making it a great choice if you’re a music enthusiast. It’s within walking distance of downtown.
East AustinEast Austin is a trendy and rapidly gentrifying area with a mix of restaurants, bars, art galleries, and boutiques. While it’s a bit further from downtown, it’s still accessible by rideshare services or public transportation.
University of Texas AreaIf you’re visiting the University of Texas or want to explore the campus, this area is ideal. It offers a mix of dining options and cultural attractions and is well-connected by public transportation.
South Congress South Congress is a hip neighborhood known for its unique shops, restaurants, and vibrant street art. It’s a great choice if you want to explore local boutiques and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere.

Map of the best areas and neighborhoods in Austin without a car:

Map of the best areas to stay in Austin without a car
Map of the best areas to stay in Austin without a car

How to get around Austin without a car as a tourist?

Getting around Austin without a car as a tourist is definitely doable thanks to the city’s public transportation options and various alternative methods of transportation. 

Here are some ways to explore Austin without a car:

Capital Metro: 

Austin’s public transit system, Capital Metro, offers a variety of bus routes and a commuter rail line called the MetroRail. You can use the CapMetro app or website to plan your routes and purchase tickets.

Rideshare Services:

Services like Uber and Lyft are readily available in Austin, making it easy to hail a ride when needed. In addition to Uber and Lyft, traditional taxis are also available in Austin. You can easily hail a taxi in busy areas or call a taxi service.


Austin is a bike-friendly city with many dedicated bike lanes and trails. You can rent a bike from various bike rental shops, or use a bike-sharing service like Austin B-cycle.


If you’re staying in or near downtown Austin, many attractions, restaurants, and bars are within walking distance of each other. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, as Austin’s terrain can be hilly in some areas.

Electric Scooters: 

Austin has a number of electric scooter companies operating within the city. You can rent scooters via their respective apps for short trips around town. Be sure to follow safety guidelines and wear a helmet if required.

Tourist Shuttles: 

Some hotels and tourist areas offer free or low-cost shuttle services to popular attractions, so check with your accommodation to see if this is an option.

Car Rentals: 

Austin also has car rental companies like Enterprise, Hertz, and others, where you can rent a car for a day or two if you plan to explore areas outside the city.

Airport Transportation:

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) is located 10 miles northwest downtown.  You can use Capital Metro Route 20, Route 100, and Route 350 bus lines to get from the airport to the downtown area, as well as taxi.

Remember to check current operating hours, routes, and any special regulations or safety guidelines for each mode of transportation, as these may change over time. Austin is a vibrant city with lots to see and do, and you can enjoy your visit without the need for a car.

7 Best areas to stay in Austin without a car are:

1. Downtown Austin

Downtown Austin is one of the best areas to stay in Austin for car-free travelers and first-timers who value walkability, easy access to entertainment, and public transportation. Downtown is a dynamic and exciting area that reflects the city’s eclectic culture and creativity.

Downtown Austin is one of the most walkable neighborhoods in the city. Many attractions, restaurants, bars, and shops are within walking distance. Additionally, it is well-served by buses and the MetroRail, making it easier to explore Austin without a car.

Many of Austin’s top attractions, such as the Texas State Capitol, Lady Bird Lake, Austin Convention Center, Statesman Bat Observation Center, and the Sixth Street Entertainment District, are located in or near downtown. This central location makes it easy to explore top landmarks.

Lady Bird Lake is a scenic river-like reservoir that runs through downtown Austin and offers recreational activities like paddleboarding, kayaking, and hiking and biking on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail.

Downtown Austin has a thriving food scene with a wide range of dining options, from food trucks to upscale restaurants, offering everything from classic Texas barbecue to international cuisine. 

While not directly in downtown, Zilker Park is just south of the area and is easily accessible by a short Uber ride. It is home to the Barton Springs Pool, the Zilker Botanical Garden, and the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

Best places to stay in Downtown Austin without a car:


2. 6th Street

The 6th Street is a great location for car-free travelers and visitors who enjoy nightlife and want easy access to bars and live music venues, can be a great choice. You’ll have plenty of options for entertainment within walking distance.

The 6th Street is a well-known and vibrant entertainment district in the heart of downtown Austin. It’s a popular destination for both locals and tourists and is famous for its lively atmosphere, live music venues, bars, restaurants, and nightlife.

6th Street hosts various festivals and events throughout the year, including South by Southwest (SXSW), which showcases music, film, and interactive technology.

A portion of 6th Street is pedestrian-only during certain hours, making it easy for visitors to stroll from one establishment to another.

6th Street is known for its vibrant nightlife, which means it can be noisy and crowded, especially during weekends and special events. If you’re looking for a quiet, serene place to stay, this might not be your top choice.

Best places to stay in Austin in 6th Street without a car:


3. Rainey Street Historic District

Rainey Street Historic District is a popular and unique entertainment district located in downtown Austin. Its central location, vibrant nightlife, proximity to the city center and Colorado River, making it a great base for a car-free holiday in Austin.

Rainey Street Historic District is a rapidly changing area known for its bungalow-style houses that have been converted into bars, food trucks, and live music venues.

Rainey Street offers a more laid-back and eclectic atmosphere compared to the more touristy Sixth Street entertainment district in Austin. It’s a favorite spot for locals and visitors looking for a more relaxed nightlife experience.

Many of the bars and food establishments in the district have outdoor seating areas with picnic tables, string lights, and a welcoming ambiance, making it a great place to enjoy Austin’s pleasant weather.

Best places to stay in Rainey Street Historic District without a car:


4. Red River Cultural District

The Red River Cultural District is a great location for car-free travelers, music lovers who are looking to experience Austin’s unique cultural offering due to its proximity to downtown Austin and vibrant music scene.

The Red River Cultural District is situated in the eastern part of downtown, encompassing a stretch of Red River Street, from 6th Street to 10th Street.

The district is home to numerous live music venues that showcase a wide range of musical genres, from rock and blues to punk and electronic music. 

Some popular venues in the Red River Cultural District include Mohawk Austin, Barracuda Austin, Elysium, Empire Control Room & Garage, and Stubb’s BBQ, among others.

In addition to live music, the district offers a lively nightlife scene. There are bars, clubs, and lounges where you can enjoy drinks, dancing, and socializing into the early hours of the morning.

The Red River Cultural District isn’t just about music and nightlife. It is also known for its street art and murals, as well as various cultural events, art exhibitions, and creative activities that contribute to Austin’s cultural richness.

Best places to stay in Red River Cultural District without a car:


5. East Austin

East Austin is a vibrant and popular area to stay in Austin, even if you don’t have a car. It is an affordable area located just east of downtown Austin and Interstate 35 (I-35) and stretches from Lady Bird Lake in the south to the Mueller neighborhood in the north.  

The neighborhood has undergone significant development and gentrification over the years, leading to a blend of old and new Austin culture.

East Austin is home to many popular destinations, including bars, restaurants, food trucks, art galleries, live music venues, and more. East 6th Street offers a more laid-back and local alternative to the famous 6th Street entertainment district.  

East Austin has a rich history, and you can explore it by visiting places like the Texas State Cemetery, the George Washington Carver Museum, and the French Legation Museum.

If you’re a beer enthusiast, visit some of East Austin’s craft breweries, like Hops & Grain Brewing and Lazarus Brewing Company.

Best places to stay in East Austin without a car:


6. University of Texas Area

If you want to be close to the University of Texas campus, this area is ideal. It offers a vibrant atmosphere with a mix of student-friendly eateries, cultural attractions, and parks.

The University of Texas at Austin is located in the central part of the city of Austin. The main campus of the University of Texas (UT) is situated just north of downtown Austin. 

The university area encompasses several neighborhoods, including the UT campus itself, West Campus, North University, and Hyde Park.

The UT campus is bordered by Guadalupe Street to the west and is bounded by Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to the north, Dean Keeton Street to the south, and Interstate 35 to the east. 

This central location means that staying in the University of Texas area provides easy access to both the campus and the nearby attractions of downtown Austin such as Blanton Museum of Art and Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Best places to stay in University of Texas Area without a car:


7. South Congress (SOCO)

South Congress, often abbreviated as “SoCo,” is known for its eclectic shops, boutiques, and food trucks. Staying here will allow you to explore unique stores and enjoy some of Austin’s best food. It is located just south of the Colorado River and the downtown area of Austin. 

South Congress Avenue, the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, is lined with a diverse range of shops, boutiques, food trucks, restaurants, and live music venues. Notable dining spots are Guero’s Taco Bar and Home Slice Pizza.

You can go shopping for vintage clothing, handmade jewelry, art, antiques, and more. Some of the most iconic shops on SoCo include Allens Boots and Uncommon Objects.

The South Congress Bridge is known for its nightly bat flights, where thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from under the bridge at sunset. It’s a unique and popular attraction for visitors.

Best places to stay in Austin in South Congress without a car:

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To sum up, Downtown, 6th Street, Rainey Street, Red River Cultural District, East Austin, South Congress (SOCO), and University of Texas Area are the best places to stay in Austin without a car. Each area has its own unique character and attractions. 

If you want easy access to nightlife and downtown attractions, Downtown, 6th Street, Rainey Street, and Red River Cultural District,  might be your top choices. 

If you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere with unique character, areas like East Austin, University of Texas Area, and South Congress can offer a different experience. 

Consider your interests, budget, and transportation options when making your decision.

About Author: Linda Smith

I'm Linda Smith, the Hotel Expert, an experienced travel blogger who passionate about traveling. I'm here to share with you all my travel experiences and tips. I cover a wide range of travel topics, specializing in sharing information about the best areas, neighborhoods, and hotels in each city. I hope all these things will make your travel easier.

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