The Vegas buses (mentioned on our Getting Around Vegas page) available for visitors (and for locals who want to go to those main areas) are excellent, better than in most cities I have visited in North America. However, you may have the option of renting a car and may be wondering what’s best. If it’s your first time in Vegas and if you have several days, you can easily visit all the main areas on foot and by public transport.
You could visit the areas in clusters (if you stay in downtown Vegas, for example, you could do Fremont Street area and surrounding attractions in a couple of days, then North Strip, then Mid Strip, then South Strip, all on separate days of course and all do-able by bus – but be prepared for very hot days in the summer and late spring). Then you could rent a car and visit all those areas not easily reachable by public transport such as the great M Resort buffet or areas where you do need a car, such as the nearby Red Rock Canyon or the historical ghost town of ‘Chloride‘. If you have already been to Vegas recently (because it’s always changing!), then going from A to B becomes more practical by car; as long as your resort allows you to park for free (and most do, of course!), it’s absolutely the best way to go around Vegas (especially if you want to go ‘everywhere’ and if you don’t have much time); always self-park and don’t bother with valet parking (unless you don’t care about money). If you rent a car you are truly free to travel to any current hot spot in Vegas without having to calculate the time you will need to get there or the additional money you will spend if you get a taxi (taxi line-ups can be extremely long too, by the way!)
By car you can go wherever you get a great deal to eat or to go clubbing, or to an off-Strip show, for example; sometimes the best deals or the most exciting experience are not on the Strip and it’s absolutely better to be able to choose among what you really want to do rather than what you can do.
Parking Tip: most Vegas resorts are more than happy for anybody to park in their ‘self-park’ area; these areas are designed for both hotel guests wanting to self-park and for non-hotel guests visiting the resort, so that they can eat or play at those resorts. You may have to walk a bit to find the elevators to the casino or restaurant floors but, as we said, it’s often free of charge (please read our note on this further down). A handful or resorts in the downtown Area are at times a bit awkward when it comes to non-hotel-guests parking: they let you park but you will either have to pay upfront and get a refund from the casino, or show some sort of receipt from the resorts restaurants or casino floors before you can leave without paying a fee; Plaza in downtown Vegas was a bit inconsistent in this aspect, but there is no way any resort which has a casino, a bar or restaurants will prevent you from parking (free of charge): they don’t want to lose customers/patrons!
Vegas Resorts Parking Charges
To summarize, using the Deuce or the Express bus, which are good and relatively inexpensive, is extremely time consuming so you may waste a lot of time just waiting for the bus. At the same time, however, going by bus and on foot will completely let you ‘absorb’ Las Vegas inch by inch. The other thing to consider is traffic: buses go through the main areas and they are traffic-filled, whilst if you drive you can use parallel roads and move much faster (but you must know where you are going). Taxis are expensive and they always expect a tip, apart from the fact that sometimes the line ups for taxis are long and bothersome.
Which Rental Companies & Insurance Tips
Many ask which Vegas rental companies are recommended. Our answer is:
there are no significant differences between most of them, at least the more famous names, both in policy and in practices, to warrant any specific recommendation; however, lately we found 2 companies which offered good deals on a regular basis: Sixt, with an excellent selection of cars, including excellent fuel-saving hybrid cars, at very low prices, and Firefly; but; the problem with Firefly, though ‘cheap’, is that they seem to have an extremely limited selection of cars (from our experience), mostly huge cars only and/or very expensive in terms of gas/petrol consumption); moreover, their customer service is often lacking (to put it mildly). We found that, whilst we kept on booking a fuel-efficient car online, they kept on offering us (once arrived at their office) a much fuel-hungry, larger car for a higher rate (which we flatly refused to pay, but we still ended up with a fuel-hungry car, which we did not like).