Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

The world’s busiest airport is the beating heart of Atlanta’s economy.

Everyone’s been to Atlanta. Not everyone has stayed the night, or grabbed a bite at some Southern eatery, or taken in a show, but at one point or another, everyone’s technically been here.

It’s the airport. It’s huge. It’s the global hub for Delta Airlines. There are five runways. 207 gates. Seven concourses. A quarter million people come and go through ATL every day, whether they’re grabbing a puddle skipper to Birmingham, or embarking on one of the world’s longest non-stops (Johannesburg, South Africa, if you were curious).

Atlanta takes a great deal of pride in its airport. The city actually owns the place, and since first impressions are everything, there’s an incentive to keep it top-notch. This manifested itself especially a few years back, with the opening of the Maynard Jackson International Terminal: with a price tag of $1.4 billion, it’s one part transportation hub, one part Atlanta showcase, boasting a lineup of local shops and satellites of some of the city’s favorite eateries, from white napkin establishments like Ecco (try the goat cheese balls—trust us on this) and One Flew South (consistently ranked as one of the best airport restaurants in the world), to easy-going international joints like Virginia-Highland transplant The Original El Taco.

If you find yourself with a layover at ATL, here are a few suggestions:

  • Wander from terminal to terminal. The airport’s Plane Train makes it easy to get from A to F in a matter of minutes, but if you’re in the middle of a pair of long flights and need to get the blood pumping, make time to walk the distance from the first domestic terminal, all the way to international. It’s a two-mile hike, but on the way, you’ll be treated to a hearty dose of local history, and some displays of regional artwork, so at the very least, you’ll get some eye candy with your exercise.
  • Head over to the Club at ATL, and buy a day pass. For $35, you get a relaxing environment with free snacks and beverages, not to mention some super-fast Wi-Fi for getting some work knocked out between legs
  • If you’ve got a particularly long layover, getting to the city is actually super-simple, and totally worth the trip. The MARTA rail line connects to the airport itself (it’s located in Terminal T, near the baggage carousels), and in 20 minutes, it’ll deposit you in Downtown, where you can take in some local culture in the museum district, or in Midtown, which has some of the best restaurants in the city. When you’re done, getting back in is pretty quick: TSA screening times typically run less than 10 minutes.

MARTA to ATL

MARTA’s rail service terminates at the Domestic Terminal of the Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. If you are traveling outside of the United States, passengers should check in at the International terminal. Contact your airline for specific check-in requirements.