Upon arrival in Las Vegas, visitors have many public transportation options. For solo travelers, public transportation can be a great way to meet other travelers. Whether or not it is cheaper than renting a car depends on current rental car rates and what your planned activities are. If you plan to spend all your time on the Strip, public transportation can be most economical. This is also a great option for those who get nervous driving in strange places. However, it’s also the most time-consuming option.
Most resorts do not offer free shuttle service to and from the airport, though some off-Strip hotels do. Be sure to check with your hotel directly to find out.
There are a number of shuttles operating out of McCarran that can get you to your hotel cheaper than a cab. You can find a full listing at McCarran International Airport’s website. This is an economical option, but it will take longer to get where you’re going. You can read about my experience with airport shuttles on one trip here.
I like to ride buses and trains when I’m in cities I’m visiting, because they’re a great way for a solo to be around other people, interact with locals, and perhaps chat with fellow passengers. Las Vegas is a little different, but it’s still not a bad option. As a tourist, the buses you’re most likely to ride will be filled with other tourists.
Bus routes and schedules can be found at the Regional Transportation Commission’s website. There are typically ticket machines at bus stops for you to purchase your tickets. If you plan to use the bus a lot, I’d recommend a multi-use pass, for instance a 24-hour pass. If you’re staying on the Strip, the bus routes you’re most likely to use are:
The Deuce – This is a double decker bus that runs up the Strip and to Downtown. It stops at every casino up and down the Strip and at the Fremont Street Experience. It’s got a large number of stops, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re in a hurry. Also, it can be quite crowded.
The Strip/Downtown Express: The Express line runs between the South Strip Transfer Terminal and the Government Center, with stops along the Strip and Fremont Street. The Strip/Downtown Express is quicker than the Deuce, as it has fewer stops along the Strip. But it can also get crowded.
If you’re staying downtown, you can get there from the airport using the WAX (Westcliff Airport Express) route.
The Strip Monorail
The LV Monorail runs behind the resorts on the East side of the Strip. Stops are: MGM Grand, Ballys, Flamingo, Harrahs/Imperial Palace, the Convention Center, the Las Vegas Hilton, and SLS. The Monorail can be a good way to get around if you’re staying on the far north (SLS) or far South (MGM Grand) ends of the line, or at the Hilton. Otherwise, you’d be better off walking. Taking a Lyft or Uber is probably cheaper at this point, unless you plan to use the monorail a TON and pay for a multi-day pass. The monorail stations are at the back of the resorts, and this can be a long walk for hotels like Ballys and MGM Grand. If you’re going from a West side hotel to a West side hotel, it’s less trouble to take Lyft or Uber.
Free Trams on the Strip
There are 3 free trams/monorails on the Strip you can use to get between specific properties. I have used them all multiple times. They are:
Mirage-Treasure Island: Runs from the front of the Mirage (to the left of the valet area as you exit the hotel), to the back of Treasure Island. At TI, you enter and exit indoors and take an escalator down to the casino level. The tram runs 9am-1am, Sunday through Thursday and 9am-2am, Friday and Saturday. Frequency is about every 10 minutes or so, and the ride lasts a couple of minutes.
Mandalay Bay-Luxor-Excalibur: There is a free tram that runs between these hotels. (You can also walk through indoor connectors between all three hotels, but it’s a bit of a hike.) This one runs from Thurs-Sun 9am-2:30am and Sun-Wed 9am-12:30am, at about the same 10 minute interval.
Monte Carlo-Crystals-Bellagio: Stops are (South to North): Monte Carlo (this stop is also close to the Aria casino), Crystals (near the opposite entrance to Aria), and the Bellagio (Spa Tower). Guests staying at Vdara would use the Bellagio stop and access it via a walkway between Vdara and Bellagio. It runs daily 8am-4am, every 10 minutes or so.
Free Hotel Shuttles
There are a number of off-Strip hotels that run free shuttles to and from the Strip.
Cons: It can be a long wait for a shuttle, and if there’s a big crowd waiting you might not be able to get on the next one. Plan accordingly and give yourself more than an hour to get where you need to go.
Below are a handful of free shuttles I know about. See resort websites for shuttle schedules. If a hotel is not listed here, contact them directly to find out if they have a free shuttle to the Strip.
The Orleans Shuttle – Drops off and picks up at the High Roller at the Linq and at its sister hotel, the Gold Coast (also off-Strip). Operates 7 days a week from 9am-12:30am, every 30-45 minutes.
M Resort – Offers free shuttle service between the hotel and the airport as well as the hotel and the Tropicana on the Strip. You can download their schedule at their website.
Rio – Offers a shuttle to Ballys and Harrahs on the Strip. See website for hours and specific pickup-drop off locations.
Sam’sTown – Offers a shuttle to its sister properties Downtown (The California and the Fremont) and to the Strip (this used to pick up and drop off at Harrahs, though the website doesn’t indicate where it does now).
The tourist areas of Las Vegas (the Strip and Downtown) are very walkable, assuming you have no mobility issues. I walk as much as possible when I’m in Las Vegas because you never know what you’re going to see. Bonus: It also allows you to walk off all the overeating and excessive drinking you’ve done.
Very important tip #1: Wear comfortable, broken-in shoes or sandals. You will walk a LOT.
Very important tip #2: Always bring a bottle of water with you when walking around Las Vegas and try to duck in somewhere cool out of the sun periodically. It can get very dry and hot here (it is a desert, after all), and you don’t want to risk dehydration or heat exhaustion. (I’ve done this twice, and believe me, it’s terrifying, especially when you’re alone.)
Very important tip #3: Do some research ahead of time to figure out where you can and can’t safely walk. This is important for everyone, but especially solo travelers. Try to stick to well-traveled areas with plenty of other foot traffic. When in doubt, take a Lyft, Uber or cab.