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Nothing quite captures the essence of Texas better than Houston. As the 4th largest in the United States, it is a vibrant city packed full of style, savvy residents, and world-class art. To soak up as much of the city as you can, the best time to visit Houston would be from February – April or September – November. The city is close to the Gulf of Mexico, which means that it has warm weather all year. However, when you come at these times, you can find cheap flights to Houston and more affordable accommodations. Plus, the attractions have fewer tourists, so you will have a more relaxed and peaceful visit.
For direct international flights from Canada into Houston, look at Air Canada, United Airlines, WestJet Airlines. Other operators that offer non-direct flights include American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Alaska Airlines, Copa Airlines and Aeromexico. Cheap flights to Houston can be found with American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and WestJet Airlines, but these may have long layovers.
Most international flights to Houston from Canada come into the George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). Therefore, if you want easy access to public transportation and less wait times, look for flights into IAH.
Taxis are available just outside of the Baggage Claim and Arrivals level at Terminals A, B, C, and E. Airport personnel will hail a taxi for you between 7 am – midnight. After-hours service is available if you pre-book a taxi. The approximate fare for a taxi to city centre is $53 USD. An additional charge of $1.00 USD applies for trips from 8 pm – 6 am and a $2.75 USD surcharge applies for all departures from the airport.
Limousines are available if you pre-register with the service. You can find your drivers in Terminals A, B, C, and E and just follow the exits indicating “Limousines. The limousine driver must be badged to pick up passengers. Note that the cost depends on the type of limousine ordered, the time of day, and the service provider.
Shuttles for hotels are offered complimentary as part of your stay. You can find them at Terminals A, B, C, and E by following the signs for “Hotel Shuttles.
The Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO) has a local bus service riding from IAH to the city centre. The fare is $1.25 USD per person. You must have exact cash for the fare, because the driver will not have change. Transit time to the city centre is approximately 1.5 hours. You can find the METRO bus stop on the south side of Terminal C.
The Rental Car Centre is around 5 minutes away from the terminals by shuttle. Look for the best bargains for car rentals with momondo.
The William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) also has international flights to Houston coming in from Canada. You will find that this airport has fewer tourists and often more business travellers. Luckily, ground transportation is also offered at the HOU location.
Taxis are located at Curb Zone 1 just outside the baggage claim area. Airport personnel will help you flag a cab. The approximate fare from HOU to the city centre is $26 USD. A surcharge of $1.25 USD applies for all departures, and there is a $1 USD surcharge for rides going from 8 pm – 6 am.
Uber operates in Houston and runs from HOU to the city centre. You can request a ride using their smartphone app. The fare from the airport to city centre depends on the time of the day and the type of vehicle selected.
Rent a limousine or sedan service to take you from HOU to downtown Houston. The pick-up zone is just outside the baggage claim area. You must have pre-arranged transportation for these services. The fare depends on the company and the type of vehicle selected for transport.
The SuperShuttle is located in the baggage claim area. You should have an advanced reservation, but it is not mandatory. You will find the shuttle service at the Curb Zone 1. The fare for a shared-ride van is approximately $19 USD for a one-way trip to downtown, while a non-stop ride for 1 – 3 passengers costs approximately $54 USD for a one-way trip.
METRO also operates from HOU to the city centre. You can find the bus stop at Curb Zone 3. Take the METRO Bus 40. The transit time is approximately 60 minutes and costs $1.25 USD per person.
Rental cars are also available at HOU. Follow the signs from Curb Zone 1. There are 10 major rental car companies at HOU, including Advantage Rent A Car, Alamo, AVIS, Budget, and Hertz.
Houston has a bustling downtown that can be intimidating to new visitors. Once you get to know the area, however, you will find that navigating from one point to another is relatively easy. You also have multiple ways to get around downtown, such as the Greenlink system or BCycle.
Greenlink is the free downtown bus service that connects to all major office buildings and METRO transit stops too. It operates from 6:30 am – 6:30 pm Monday – Friday and stops every 7 – 10 minutes for the GREEN Route. There is also the ORANGE route which operates Thursday – Friday from 6:30 pm – midnight, on Saturday from 9 am – midnight, and Sunday from 9 am – 6 pm. The ORANGE route runs every 12 minutes.
The METRO bus costs approximately $1.25 USD one-way, but for $3 USD per person, you can get a day pass that gives you unlimited trips on the bus and METRORail system. The local bus lines run through downtown and service key attractions too.
The METRORail has 3 main lines (Purple, Red, and Green). Each line services a different sector of Houston and the surrounding areas. Take the Green Line for the historic eastern side of downtown and the Convention District. Take the Purple Line to see the universities, then hop onto the Red Line which services most of downtown, the Museum District, and the Texas Medical Center.
The Houston BCycle is a bike sharing service operating in downtown. You can pick up a bike at any designated station. Daily rates are $3 USD per 30 minutes.
Use the Six in the City cab service which costs just $6 USD for anywhere in downtown. You must hail the cab in person to unlock the discounted rate.
If you want to venture to cities neighbouring Houston, like Galveston, San Antonio, or Fort Worth, take the Mega Bus. Express travel to and from Houston starts at just $1 USD per person as long as you book ahead of time to grab a discounted seat.
The tunnels and skywalks of Houston let you walk throughout downtown for over 6 miles without dealing with vehicles. These tunnels run between the local theaters and even have shopping, restaurants, and more. There are elevators and escalators that take you out of the tunnels back up to the city centre.
Canadian citizens can enter the U.S. through the Visa Waiver Program, which lets them visit for 90 days or less without requiring a travel visa. A passport is required, and travellers must have an Electronic System for Travel Authorization approval. For foreign nationals, please check the U.S. Department of State website.
Houston is a big city. Depending on how much time you have, you may need to cut a few items off the list of must-sees. After all, you want to take your time and not rush from one end of town to another. If you are finding it hard to part ways with your original itinerary, try to prioritize these must-see items.
If you are a first-time visitor in Houston, you can blend easily with the crowd just by knowing a few insider tips and tricks.
Use the Visitor’s Center
The Houston Visitor’s Center is your go-to source for entertainment and information. You can start here and find information about history, fine arts, attractions, local eateries not in the tourist guide, and much more.
Look for coupons and deals
Use the VisitHoustonTexas.com website for bargains on local attractions. Some attractions include package pricing, which can dramatically reduce the cost of admission to the tourist hits.
Take advantage of free stuff
While it is a big city, there are plenty of free activities hosted year-round. The Miller Outdoor Theater inside Hermann Park has film, dance, ballet, and live concerts, all offered free. Movie screenings are hosted at Market Square Park in the evening, and the 12-acre Discovery Green park has free admission with events happening all through the year. The Art Car Museum is free to explore and it is home to the Roachster and Honda motorcycles transformed into rolling art cars. Lastly, catch the sunset light show known as the “Twilight Epiphany Skyspace on Rice Campus. The grass pyramid illuminates and colours swap out with reflections of natural light coming off the building.