Congratulations on your decision to visit beautiful Juneau, Alaska! Unless you’re on a cruise ship that’s only in town for a couple of hours, you’ll need some transportation to visit some of our beautiful sights.
If you’re trying to get around in Juneau while on vacation, there are a bunch of options, each one with its pros and cons. You’ll have to decide what makes the most sense for your trip based on cost, convenience, and availability.
If you’re not totally sure what you’ll be doing in Juneau that would be the first logical step. If you’re on an Alaskan cruise, check out our port itinerary for Juneau.
5 Easiest Ways To Get Around In Juneau, Alaska
1. Capital Transit (The City Bus)
Juneau’s city bus system is reliable, although maybe not the fastest mode of transportation. A one-way trip will cost $2 for an adult or $1 for a child.
A short walk from the cruise ship docks is the bus depot, called The Downtown Transit Center. The bus goes from downtown to the Mendenhall Valley, home of the famous Mendenhall Glacier.
If you take public transportation to the bus, I hope you’re ready for a walk! It’s a mile and a half from the closest bus stop, which is Dredge Lake.
The bus to the glacier takes about an hour each way. If this is your chosen method of transportation and you want to see the Mendenhall Glacier, you can expect to spend about 4 hours roundtrip.
2. Taxis and Cabs
There are several taxicab companies in town, but they might be a little different from taxis you’ve used in other places.
Nearly every taxi company in Juneau also offers guided tours of major sights throughout the town. Tours cost $70 for an hour, with a minimum of 30 minutes required.
Beaches, The Shrine of St. Therese, Mendenhall Glacier, and many other beautiful sights are included. Drivers also take requests, if there’s anywhere specific that you’d like to visit.
All taxicab prices are set by the City and Borough of Juneau, so you don’t have to worry about calling around for the best rate.
Cabs are often a 10-15 minute wait, due to the lower number of drivers these companies have been able to attract in the past few years.
If you’d prefer a more direct way of going from point A to point B and would rather not wait for a cab, Juneau does offer both Uber and Lyft.
Most rideshare drivers in town drive for both Uber and Lyft, meaning you’re likely to get the same experience no matter which app you choose.
These services generally have good availability, although they can be as hard to come by as cabs during special events like July 4th or particularly around 2 AM, when bars close.
4. Car Rentals
If you’re in Juneau for more than a few hours, you may want to consider renting a car. This gives you the greatest amount of freedom and allows you to take a self-guided tour of the city.
The Main Drawback – Cost
The cost of a rental will also be higher than you’ve probably paid in other cities, due to the nature of Juneau being on an island.
Since Juneau’s roads are not connected to the rest of the state’s, everything (and everyone!) has to arrive by boat or by plane. This includes repair parts and the cars themselves, leading to higher prices.
At the time of writing, the cheapest option for a 24-hour car rental in August is $175 on Expedia, although you may be able to find an option slightly lower than that, especially if you aren’t coming during the tourist season of May to September.
The cost of gasoline is also a factor, as the price of a gallon of fuel is usually 75 cents above the national average.
Most of Juneau’s car rental companies operate out of Juneau International Airport, which is about 8 miles from downtown. For this reason, if you’re flying into Juneau, I highly recommend renting a car.
The Juneau Car Rental Company and some others do offer a shuttle service that will pick you up at the cruise ship dock and take you to the rental lot.
Is it worth it to rent a car in Juneau?
Despite the cost, renting a vehicle does have its advantages. The road system in Juneau extends 40 miles north of downtown, or a little over 25 miles from the Alaska Marine Highway dock in Auke Bay.
The drive from Auke Bay to the end of the road takes about an hour each way and provides beautiful views, beaches, and hiking trails, among other things.
If you do take the drive, just remember to go to the bathroom and stock up on snacks and drinks first. There are no stores or services along this stretch of Glacier Highway.
Downtown Juneau is one of the most walkable cities in the country. This is because everything is compact and located within just a few square miles.
Within a mile of the cruise ship docks, there are restaurants, gift shops, the Foodland IGA grocery store, bars, museums, a bowling alley, and much more. Many hours of entertainment can be had with a walk of 15 minutes or less.
If you’re on a cruise ship and you’re in Juneau for less than 6 hours, you could easily walk everywhere if you aren’t going to the Mendenhall Glacier, visiting a friend, or doing anything else outside of the city center.
If you are flying in and staying at a hotel near the airport, walking will be slightly more difficult. The Mendenhall Valley is more spaced out and has many residential districts located between businesses.
Now that I’ve listed all of the best ways to get around as a tourist in Juneau, I’ll break it down by situation and give my recommendations.
If you’re coming into town on a cruise ship for a couple of hours and don’t want to see the glacier, you should be able to walk just about everywhere you want to go.
If you do want to see the Mendenhall Glacier, consider signing up for a tour. They’ll take you on a bus from the cruise ship docks at Marine Park to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor’s Center and make sure you’re back in time to reboard.
If you’re staying in Juneau by the airport for a few days, I’d recommend renting a car, taking an Uber/Lyft, or catching the city bus downtown.
If you want to hike or walk on trails, there are downtown options, but the best and more secluded are out the road. I highly recommend a car and an offline map, as cell phone service can be spotty past Auke Bay.
No matter which mode of transport you use to get around in Juneau, you’ll enjoy the natural beauty and rich history of the city.