How To Navigate SXSW — Successfully

Getting around Austin during SXSW may seem a tad overwhelming but don't fret—just check this handy list for all your transportation needs.

So, you have somehow found yourself in the midst of populous, chanting crowds, honking horns, and whizzing bikes while the faint smells of barbecue and breakfast tacos linger in the air—Welcome to Austin. South by Southwest has begun and will be continuing until Sunday, March 22. Now back to those ‘populous crowds’ and ‘whizzing bikes’: You must be wondering how can I navigate myself around this city so I can successfully multitask hearing all of my favorite bands whilst stuffing my face with Chi’lantro’s kimchi fries, amirite? This is a great feat but definitely not an impossible one and we are here to help you achieve your SXSW goals. Thankfully Austin has the pleasure of many modes of transportation—from ridesharing to bike rentals—and we have the 411 on it all.


We have all grown to love our precious ridesharing services, Uber and Lyft—being able to quickly summon a car that will take you anywhere and everywhere has us feeling all those feels; it is basically magic. Uber and Lyft have both implemented new services to meet the demand of SXSW attendees. Uber has launched UberPool, which allows riders the opportunity to share a ride with another passenger and split the cost with them. If multiple riders have similar destinations and pick up places they can be ‘pooled’ together in one Uber vehicle and share their ride to save time and money. UberPool will also be offering VIP tickets to certain exclusive events for their SXSW riders.

Lyft, on the other hand, is the official ridesharing partner with SXSW and they have launched LyftLine which is a similar concept to UberPool, you share your ride with other riders that are traveling in the same direction as you. Lyft also makes pick ups super convenient by designating certain pickup and drop-off zones so you can easily find your driver in the massive sea of festivalgoers. But they don’t just stop there: Lyft has discount codes that they are offering to new riders as well as a new, special feature called ‘Magic Mode’. Lyft explains on their website what happens when you use your smartphone to request a ride in Magic Mode:

“Request a ride in Magic Mode on your iOS device for a chance to get picked up in a Ferrari F430 Spider, 1963 Bentley, Tesla Model S, or another noteworthy ride from the Magic Mode garage. Magic Mode will be available Friday, 3/13, to Sunday, 3/15, from 2 – 10 p.m. Each Magic Mode car will be playing a specially-curated Pandora radio station created for that unique ride experience. Magic Mode rides are excluded from Prime Time.”

So believe in the magic and use Uber and Lyft to your convenience during SXSW, they are here for all of your point A to point B needs.


There are also many Car2Go locations throughout Austin. It is easy to sign up and once you have you can use your smartphone to find the closest locations near you and then you can just “take it, drive it, park it” to anywhere you need to go. Car2Go’s charge while they are parked and not in use, so when you come upon a Car2Go location they are actually ready to go—and to get you to your next destination.

Bike Rentals

So let’s say you aren’t feeling all that magic from ridesharing or just using cars in general—you would rather spend your time cruising through Austin with the wind in your hair. Well, look no further—there are a plethora of bike rental companies in Austin. Google it and you shall find said plethora. Many companies are offering lowered rates and bike tours during SXSW. Rocket Electrics even has an e-bike that you can rent; their electric bikes can travel up to 20 mph for a distance of 20 miles on a single charge. Another company, Austin B-Cycle has a very easy to use mobile app and has dozens of locations that you can rent from. Just sign up for the app with your credit or debit card, search for a rental bike rack near you, and with the click of a button you are on your way.

Spinlister is a peer-to-peer bike rental company that allows “active people to connect with trusted bike owners around the world”. You can quickly sign up and connect with anyone in Austin who is willing to rent out their bike to you for SXSW. You pay within the app with a connected credit or debit card and then you are able to pick up your ride from a previous specified location. This option is quick and easy and comes with the plus that you will be meeting an Austinite who might be willing to give you some insider secrets on what-to-do’s and how-to-do-it’s within the Austin city limits.


Pedicabs are also a really common source of transportation when in Downtown Austin. If you haven’t been to Austin or another highly populated city you may not know what a pedicab is: a pedicab is a tricycle with a 2-3 seat passenger compartment and a separate seat for the driver. You can call pedicabs in advance but they are usually a much more spontaneous type of traveling because you will most likely just hail them when you see them/need them. Prices will also vary depending on the company and you should ask how much it will cost per rider or per trip destination before you hop in.

Capital Metro

Let’s be honest: Most folks don’t love riding the bus and using public transportation can be confusing and let’s just say it—annoying. But, Capital Metro does a nice job of making public transportation easy and accommodating. When trying to navigate Downtown Austin, the bus can be a life saver. There are stops everywhere and it saves you a hunk a’ change. It may not be the most efficient way to travel but it is effective. So if you have some time on your hands and don’t really care about getting somewhere quickly then the MetroBus might just be for you. You can either use their site to help you navigate around or download the CapMetro app. The app is very helpful, from explaining fares to showing nearest stops and the current schedule.

Navigate SXSW

Congratulations, you are now basically a genius on the how to’s for hopping around Austin during SXSW season. It can get confusing and hectic but just know that you can resort back to this handy guide to reiterate the fact that you have so many transportation options at your fingertips.

It doesn’t matter whether you prefer to ride in the back of a Ferrari with Lyft or in the back of a pedicab with a topless driver (yes there are multiple of those)—get out there, listen to some tunes, eat some tacos and dominate SXSW!

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I'm an adventurous Austinite, studying Corporate Communication at The University of Texas. Currently, I am learning the ins and outs of all things PR, marketing and writing related. Things that I love range from playful puppies to Alamo Drafthouse milkshakes.