ultimate guide las vegas getting into city directions sign

Between airline passengers and road trippers, Las Vegas welcomed just under 43 million (yes – million) visitors in 2016.

If you’re staying on the Strip or in downtown Las Vegas, navigating your way into Sin City can seem like an intimidating prospect. Planning your drive or your transportation from McCarran International Airport in advance helps ensure that you can kick off your Vegas vacation without a hitch. With our guide to getting into the city, you can travel to your hotel and hit the casino or dance floor hassle-free.

Driving to Las Vegas

West-coast weekend warriors frequently make the trip through the Mojave desert to Las Vegas, and if you’re trekking across the country, no road trip is complete without a stop in Sin City. Whether a trip to Las Vegas is your ultimate destination or part of a longer trip, many Vegas visitors arrive by car.

Driving from the West

Roadtrippers coming from the west coast take Interstate 15, which runs roughly north-south from San Diego county all the way to Alberta, Canada. As a result, every weekend the I-15 is crowded with southern Californians making a weekend road trip to Las Vegas. Combined with long stretches that can encourage speeding and remoteness in the event of an emergency, the heavy traffic can make the drive hazardous. However, the drive is quite scenic, and it’s only about four hours long, which makes driving an easy and affordable option for Californians looking for a quick vacation.

Driving from the East

From the east, most roadtrippers take the I-40 through Arizona, then head north towards Las Vegas on the US-93 before picking up the I-15. This route will take you through Kingman, where many of our tours stop en route to the Grand Canyon, as well as the Lake Mead Conservation Area. You’ll also pass by the Hoover Dam, and may even drive over the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge.

Flying to Las Vegas

McCarran International Airport (LAS) is the main airport serving the Las Vegas area for domestic and international travel. Two other airports also service Las Vegas: Henderson Executive Airport (KHND), which services mainly private jets, air taxis, and chartered air travel; and the North Las Vegas Airport (KVGT), which services air tour providers.

Getting into the City

If you fly into McCarran International Airport, you have four main options for getting to the Strip.

1. Shuttles

Shuttles are the cheapest way to get into Las Vegas, but they are also the slowest.

There are several shuttle bus companies that take passengers to any hotel on the Strip for about $7.50 per passenger, or $9 per passenger if your hotel is located downtown. Some hotels also offer airport shuttles, so be sure to check with your hotel before you arrive or book with another shuttle company.

You can schedule round trip shuttle rides when you arrive at McCarran, just outside the baggage claim area. Reservations are recommended for return trips so you don’t miss your flight.

Learn more about shuttle routes and operators.

2. Taxis

A taxi ride from McCarran to the Strip takes about 15 minutes and costs about $18-30 (a ride downtown will cost slightly more), which makes it a quick and affordable alternative to taking the shuttle.

If you’re planning to take a taxi into the city, keep these tips in mind:

  • The meter will start at $3.20, plus an additional $1.20 for every trip that starts at McCarran.
  • The Paradise Road tunnel route is shorter, but it will produce a higher bill. You have the right to tell the driver whether you wish to take the tunnel or not.
  • The standard gratuity for taxi drivers is 15%.

If your flight is arriving at Terminal 1, taxis are available on the east side of baggage claim outside door exits 1-4. If your flight arrives into Terminal 3, you can find a taxi outside on level 0. Be prepare to wait in line for a cab – they are the most popular option for getting to the Strip.

3. Limousines

For added luxury, you can hop in a limo and ride to your hotel in style. There are a number of limousine companies in Las Vegas – a quick online search will help you find one.

4. Car Rental

Renting a car is a popular option, especially for travelers who hope to explore outside the city limits. If you’re planning to stick to the Strip and downtown Las Vegas, it’s often cheaper not to rent a car and to take taxis and public transit instead.

If you do decide to rent a car, the McCarran Rent-A-Car Center is located three miles away from the airport. If your flight arrives at Terminal 1, follow the signs from baggage claim to Ground Transportation on level 1. The shuttle to the Rent-A-Car center is located at the center median outside doors 10 and 11.

mccarran airport las vegas terminal 1 t1 rent a car rental shuttle pickupIf your flight arrives at Terminal 3, follow the signs from baggage claim to Ground Transportation on level 0. The rental car shuttle is located outside west doors 1-4 and east doors 5-8.

mccarran airport las vegas terminal 3 t3 rent a car rental shuttle pickupWhether you rent a car or opt for public transportation, comfortable shoes are a must-pack item when you’re visiting Las Vegas. Check out our packing list for expert tips on what to bring along!

The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Las Vegas

Find answers to all your questions about Las Vegas in our Ultimate Guide!

Special thanks to all the expert travelers who contributed their tips to the Ultimate Guide to Visiting Las Vegas!