Denver Airport 101: The best way to get to DEN

Nov 9, 2019

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Denver International Airport is the largest airport in the United States by land area and is the fifth busiest in the country, serving some 64 million passengers each year. United and Frontier both use the airport as a hub and it’s a focus city for Southwest Airlines.

Denver Airport (DEN, though often referred to as DIA) is located 25 miles northeast of Downtown Denver. That might sound far, but there are many easy and cheap options for getting to and from the airport, including public transportation, ride-share and taxi services. Here’s a closer look at how each option works.

Public transportation

It’s probably no surprise that the least expensive way to travel to and from the airport is via public transportation. The quickest public transportation option is to take the A Line commuter train, operated by the Regional Transportation District (RTD). It runs every 15 minutes during peak travel times, and every 30 minutes from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. The ride takes 37 minutes to Denver Union Station in the heart of downtown. There’s also the airport’s bus line, SkyRide, which runs from approximately 3:30 a.m. until midnight, but that ride takes about an hour.

Denver, Colorado, USA-June 1, 2016. Denver Airport commuter rail station in the Summer.
(Photo by arinahabich/Getty Images.)

Unlimited travel day passes for either option are $10.50. They depart from the DEN Transit Center, which can be accessed at the south end of Jeppesen Terminal by exiting through the glass doors and taking the escalator or elevator to the ground level. Shared rides and shuttle buses are other options.

Transit time: ~40 minutes to an hour

Cost: $10.50 for a day pass

Related: The best credit cards for commuting

Ride-share

A much easier way to get from the airport to the city center is via ride-share. The two ride-share apps that operate at DEN are Uber and Lyft. They pick up and drop off passengers on Level 5, which is the same level where passengers can find other ground transportation. For departures, you’ll be dropped off curbside at your specific airline. For pickups, exit the doors between 506-511, then head to Island 5. Standard private rides typically cost around $35 to $40. You can certainly drive that price down by opting for a shared vehicle, but expect time to be added to your trip.

Related: The best credit cards for Uber and Lyft

(Photo by Darren Murph/The Points Guy.)

If you’re fine with shared rides, another option would be to take a shuttle. There are a number of reputable companies that offer regular shuttle service between the airport and downtown, such ABC Shuttle. Shared rides to downtown hotels start around $30 one-away and pickup and drop-off from Level 5, Island 5, outside doors 505-507 (east side) and 510-512 (west side). As with other shared vehicles, expect time to be added to your trip as your driver will likely be picking up and dropping off other passengers in different parts of town.

Transit time: ~40 minutes to an hour

Cost: $25 to $40

Related: How to make sure you’re getting your Amex Platinum Uber credits

Taxi

Taxis provide another door-to-door option in the Denver metropolitan area. There are flat rates to Downtown, Denver Tech Center, Boulder, Tower Road, and the Broomfield and Louisville area. The rates range from $29 to $89. To give you a general idea, the flat rate to go downtown costs $56, including the airport access fee. Fares to all other metro-area destinations are metered and subject to a $5 airport access fee.

(Photo by wellesenterprises/Getty Images)
(Photo by wellesenterprises/Getty Images.)

Taxi pickup and drop-off from Jeppesen Terminal, Level 5, Island 1, outside doors 505, 507 and 511 (east side), and doors 506, 510 and 512 (west side).

Transit time: ~40 minutes

Cost: The flat rate to go Downtown is $56, but rates to other popular destinations range from $29 to $89.

Car service

If money is no object, the most comfortable option would be to book a black-car service like GroundLink or Blacklane. Prearranged car services are especially great for families as they allow you to book car seats for children or send a note that you’re traveling with a pet.

If you request a meet and greet service, your driver will park and wait for you with a sign at the arrivals area and help you with your luggage. Otherwise, you’ll need to check in at the limo booth located outside the Jeppesen Terminal on Level 5, Island 2, outside doors 505-507 and 511-513 (east side), and 504-506 and 510-512 (west side).

Transit time: ~40 minutes

Cost: ~$100

(Photo by Lisa Weatherbee/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Lisa Weatherbee/The Points Guy.)

Bottom line

There’s no shortage of ways to get to and from Denver Airport, but you’ll want to plan ahead. Public transportation is quick, easy and cheap, but depending on how much luggage you have, it could make more sense to pick one of the other options.

Further reading:

Featured image by Gary Conner/Getty Images.

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