Albany travel guide

Albany Tourism | Albany Guide

You're Going to Love Albany

The capital of New York State is a world away from the Big Apple, and it is sometimes overlooked by tourists, but bypassing Albany is becoming less and less popular all the time.

An up-and-coming tourist center, the city offers fine dining, cultural attractions, and is right on the doorstep of the Adirondack Mountains. If you want to hike in the summer or ski in the winter, Albany can serve as the perfect base.

The town itself always rewards those who visit, with the stunning New York State Capitol building, the elegant storefronts of Main Street (which is busily reinventing itself), a lively arts scene associated with the State University of New York, and historical sights like Herman Melville's home.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Albany

1. Tour the Political Heart of New York State

Albany has been the capital of the Empire State since 1797, and has seen plenty of history made in the intervening 220 years. Start with the Capitol itself, then head over Empire State Plaza to the New York State Museum, or tour architectural highlights like the Romanesque City Hall, St Peter's Episcopal Church, or the Legislative Office Building.

2. The Adirondack Ski Slopes and Trails Are Virtually Next Door

If you have your own car (and Albany is a great place to rent a vehicle), the gorgeous Adirondacks and Catskill Mountains are less than two hours away. You can stay in a luxury urban hotel and still hit the slopes, or see sights of outstanding natural beauty like Ausable Chasm.

3. There Are Plenty of Museums and Galleries to Enjoy

As a state capital, you would expect Albany to have plenty of museums and other cultural attractions, and the city delivers. The New York State Museum has great historical exhibits, but smaller museums are worth a look, including the Watervliet Arsenal Museum, and the Albany Institute of History and Art.

4. Great Craft Ales, Asian Food, and Classy Bistros

New York State is one of the centers of the American craft brewing scene, and Albany has its own contenders, including Druthers and C.H. Evans Brewing Company. Foodies will also love the local restaurant community, particularly superb Asian options like Koto, while places like the New World Bistro Bar are as accomplished as any in New York City.

5. Take Riverboat Cruises on the Beautiful Hudson River

Geographically, Albany is dominated by the Hudson River and it's a great place to start river cruises. Companies like Dutch Apple Cruises will be happy to take you down the river and explain the history of the area while providing excellent food and beer to make the experience even more enjoyable.

What to do in Albany

1. Empire State Plaza: Capital City Central

Albany is the seat of the New York State Government, and this plaza is home to all the most important buildings - from the Capitol to the City Hall. A density of interesting, 20th-century architecture means there are sights anywhere you look. The Corning Tower looks over the administrative center, an impressive construction of marble and glass. The Egg down below is a notable performing arts center known for its bizarre architecture and intriguing shape, a sight you won't forget.

2. Palace Theatre: A Stage for American Royalty

The early 20th-century Palace Theatre is the ultimate entertainment venue in downtown Albany, having hosted the greats through the decades since its completion in 1931. It is a staple of the Clinton Avenue Historic District, and an icon known for its multicolored brick facade and inviting All-American atmosphere. Check out the schedule to see which upcoming bands will take the stage once rocked by Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones.

3. USS Slater (DE-766): Wartime Wonder

The Hudson River flows straight through Albany in upstate New York; it is also the final resting spot for the USS Slater Cannon-class Destroyer Escort. The only remaining ship of its kind still afloat, she defended the United States on the Atlantic Ocean during the Second World War. This floating museum now offers the unique opportunity to understand the life of a Naval Officer under such intense and noble circumstances.

4. Washington Park: Historical yet Timeless

The centerpiece of the Washington Park Historic District, this beloved park is the public hub of New York's capital. It is the ultimate venue for social events and summertime fun, not to mention the day to day fanfare of locals and tourists. The gardens and the sculpture park offer a restful break from the city, while sports facilities and playgrounds complete the recreation piece of the public park equation. There is always something to see or to do!

5. Times Union Center: Get Ready to Rumble

For a truly North American experience, head to the Times Union Center - the home of the Hockey League and host to a slew of other events. The sprawling arena can seat a staggering 15,000 spectators, and it is unforgettable to be one of those thousands of eager and enthralled sports fans. With an atmosphere like this, it is impossible not to join in on the chants and human body waves, no matter what the occasion.

1. Empire State Plaza: Capital City Central

Albany is the seat of the New York State Government, and this plaza is home to all the most important buildings - from the Capitol to the City Hall. A density of interesting, 20th-century architecture means there are sights anywhere you look. The Corning Tower looks over the administrative center, an impressive construction of marble and glass. The Egg down below is a notable performing arts center known for its bizarre architecture and intriguing shape, a sight you won't forget.

2. Palace Theatre: A Stage for American Royalty

The early 20th-century Palace Theatre is the ultimate entertainment venue in downtown Albany, having hosted the greats through the decades since its completion in 1931. It is a staple of the Clinton Avenue Historic District, and an icon known for its multicolored brick facade and inviting All-American atmosphere. Check out the schedule to see which upcoming bands will take the stage once rocked by Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones.

3. USS Slater (DE-766): Wartime Wonder

The Hudson River flows straight through Albany in upstate New York; it is also the final resting spot for the USS Slater Cannon-class Destroyer Escort. The only remaining ship of its kind still afloat, she defended the United States on the Atlantic Ocean during the Second World War. This floating museum now offers the unique opportunity to understand the life of a Naval Officer under such intense and noble circumstances.

4. Washington Park: Historical yet Timeless

The centerpiece of the Washington Park Historic District, this beloved park is the public hub of New York's capital. It is the ultimate venue for social events and summertime fun, not to mention the day to day fanfare of locals and tourists. The gardens and the sculpture park offer a restful break from the city, while sports facilities and playgrounds complete the recreation piece of the public park equation. There is always something to see or to do!

5. Times Union Center: Get Ready to Rumble

For a truly North American experience, head to the Times Union Center - the home of the Hockey League and host to a slew of other events. The sprawling arena can seat a staggering 15,000 spectators, and it is unforgettable to be one of those thousands of eager and enthralled sports fans. With an atmosphere like this, it is impossible not to join in on the chants and human body waves, no matter what the occasion.

Where to Eat in Albany

Albany caters for a demanding dining crowd, with state politicians and their staff always looking for food that competes with the Big Apple, so there are plenty of places to eat well. Koto cooks excellent teppanyaki meat, the Blu Stone Bistro serves sophisticated European fare, Gandhi does a great-value Indian lunch buffet, while Paesan's is an excellent family-run pizza parlor. Costs vary by the type of establishment, but expect a good meal to come to around $20-25.

When to visit Albany

Albany in December
Estimated hotel price
$126
1 night at 3-star hotel
Albany in December
Estimated hotel price
$126
1 night at 3-star hotel

Albany is definitely at its best during the summer months, from around June through to late August, when you can make the most of the warm weather to cruise the river and see the sights. Then again, the fall sees the local countryside erupt into color, while winter is a great time for skiers to head to the nearby slopes.

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How to Get to Albany

Plane

Albany International Airport (ALB) has connections to all over mainland USA (and Canada). The cheapest way to get into town is via CDTA buses 610 or 737, which cost just $1.50. A taxi will cost you around $25, while car rental services like Avis and Enterprise are also present at the arrivals terminal.

Train

Albany's Amtrak station can be found at 525 East St and is situated just across the River Hudson in nearby Rensselaer. However, getting into town is fairly easy thanks to CDTA bus 214, which stops just outside the station. You can use Amtrak to reach the city from Chicago, Toronto, New York City, and destinations to the south, so it's a handy option.

Car

For those coming from Chicago or other northern areas, I-90 is the road to take, while I-87 runs north from New York and south from Montreal, and I-88 runs from upstate New York and Pennsylvania. If you are coming from the airport, just take Albany Shaker Road directly into the city.

Bus

Bus companies serving Albany include Megabus, Greyhound, and local CDTA services. Intercity buses stop at the main bus station on Hamilton Street, next to the Hudson River.

Airports near Albany

Airlines serving Albany

United Airlines
Good (2,602 reviews)
Lufthansa
Good (1,686 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (4,035 reviews)
KLM
Good (311 reviews)
Air France
Good (353 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,151 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (2,791 reviews)
British Airways
Good (1,093 reviews)
SWISS
Good (396 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (1,014 reviews)
Iberia
Good (756 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (915 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (734 reviews)
Austrian Airlines
Good (236 reviews)
TAP AIR PORTUGAL
Good (439 reviews)
Brussels Airlines
Good (83 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (229 reviews)
Finnair
Good (557 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Excellent (212 reviews)
Alaska Airlines
Excellent (2,236 reviews)
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Where to stay in Albany

Downtown Albany - New York State's capitol, Empire State Plaza, the New York State Museum, and the stores on Lark Street are some of the highlights in this historic neighborhood. If you want to focus on museums and architecture during your stay, Downtown is the place to be.

Popular Neighborhoods in Albany

Troy - located a few miles north of Albany, Troy is a smaller city with a rich trove of historical sights. Famous as the home of writer Kurt Vonnegut and the birthplace of the poem "the Night Before Christmas", Troy has great attractions like a child-friendly Science Museum, the Waterfront Farmers Market, and the Burden Iron Works.

Pine Hills - just northwest of the city center, Pine Hills is a green, prosperous part of town. It features Washington Park, the city's largest green space, the Albany Institute of History and Art, and great restaurants like Paesan's and the Ginger Man.

Where to stay in popular areas of Albany

Most booked hotels in Albany

Crowne Plaza Albany - The Desmond Hotel
Excellent (8.5, Excellent reviews)
$277+
Hampton Inn & Suites Albany-Downtown
Excellent (8.1, Excellent reviews)
$217+
Hilton Garden Inn Albany SUNY
Excellent (8, Excellent reviews)
$173+
TownePlace Suites by Marriott Albany Downtown/Medical Center
Good (7.8, Good reviews)
$212+
Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Albany
Mediocre (3.5, Mediocre reviews)
$116+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Albany

Public Transportation

CDTA's public transportation network is limited to buses, but they are a useful way to get around. Single fares are $1.50 ($4 for a day pass), and be aware that the weekend services can be extremely limited.

Taxi

Taxis are a good way to get around Albany, which operates a zonal fare system (not a uniform table of rates). Because of this, it makes sense to double check any fares before you leave, and beware of crossing the city line, as this may incur higher final fares.

Car

Albany is a fantastic place to rent a car. Not only can you get around town easily, but it opens up the whole Hudson Valley and the Adirondacks and Catskills for exploration. Car rental outlets in town include Hertz, Avis, and Enterprise, and typical rates are around $15-20 per day for smaller models.

The Cost of Living in Albany

Shopping Streets

Albany isn't one of America's greatest shopping destinations, but it is improving all the time. For starters, there are a couple of excellent malls - Crossgates and the Colonie Center - where you'll find major brands. But Downtown Albany has plenty of stores to explore as well. Lark Street is a particularly good street to visit, with jewelers like Elissa Halloran and the Upstate Artists Guild selling works by local artists.

Groceries and Other

Downtown Albany doesn't have a huge range of supermarkets, but the metropolitan area has plenty of options, including budgets stores like Market 32 and Hannaford Supermarkets, along with upscale stores like Whole Foods. Expect to pay just over $3 for a gallon of milk or about $2.80 for 12 eggs.

Cheap meal
$21.40
A pair of jeans
$66.95
Single public transport ticket
$2.57
Cappuccino
$6.90
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