Austin Travel Information
When to Go
South-central Texas' climate makes it possible to visit year-round, but it's not exactly a tropical destination; in winter, temperatures may still dip below freezing at night, even though they stay rather moderate during the day. May to September is the rainiest, most humid period and late June through August can be stiflingly hot, even though there's air-conditioning blasting everywhere.
Things can get crowded during the big music festivals, especially during South by Southwest in March and the Austin City Limits festival in September. Otherwise, Austin doesn't have a definite tourist season. The bats come to roost between March and early November, if that counts.
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In July and August Texas sizzles, with temperatures routinely hovering around 100°F (38°C). In the spring and autumn you can count on blue skies and 70°F (21°C) weather. May through September is the rainiest part of the year and sees Austin in the grip of a semi-tropical climate with humid days. Winter days are still often pleasant but can get chilly at night.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) hosts a few flights from Mexico and Canada, but you're more likely be flying into this convenient terminal on a domestic hop (Houston and Dallas are Texas' major international hubs). A nice welcome to the city, the airport features live music by local acts on some evenings near the center of the departures level. The Airport Flyer Capital Metro Flyer bus, hotel shuttles, taxis or car rental get you into town and back.
Austin is serviced by both Greyhound and Amtrak to link you nationwide. There are numerous car hire hubs at the airport and in the city center.
Capital Metro is the city's public bus network, with a solid system of inexpensive neighborhood, express and downtown routes. The latter, known as 'Dillos (short for Armadillo Express), are free. Parking downtown is difficult; look for municipal parking garages, as officers will ticket you in the blink of an eye. Biking is a great way to see the city with Austin's own Yellow Bike Program.
The Texas Steam Train Association has several regional rail tours. The Hill Country Flyer steam train departs weekends in March through to December from Cedar Park, 20mi northeast of town.
Health and Safety
Travelers should exercise a reasonable level of caution when in Austin. It's not a particularly dangerous place, but property crime is always a potential threat. Keep a close eye on all valuables, especially when on public transport, at popular tourist destinations, or in other crowded spaces. It's wise not to keep all essential items together, and to use reliable hotel safes when possible. Transients and panhandlers congregate downtown near Congress Ave, especially from 4th through 7th Sts. Keep your wits about you when returning to your car at night, or hail a taxi (or a pedicab).
Austin's climate can also pose a risk. It can be extremely hot in summer, while minimums well below freezing have been recorded in winter. Ensure adequate cover is worn, and be sun-smart when the heat turns up.