Alabama is also affectionately called "Heart of Dixie" or "Sweet Home Alabama" by its inhabitants. Follow us to this charismatic southern state, which welcomes you with great nature, fascinating cities and cultural highlights.

Alabama facts

Capital: Montgomery
Area: about 136,000 km²
Population: about 4.9 million
Location: south of the USA
Nickname: The Yellowhammer State, The Heart of Dixie, The Cotton State
State animal: Black Bear, Largemouth Bass, Northern Flicker (Yellowhammer)
Time zone: UTC − 6 (Central)

Alabama: location & population

Alabama is located in the south of the USA and borders four other US states: Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Mississippi to the west, and Florida to the southeast. In addition, the Yellowhammer State has about 100 km of coastline around Mobile Bay on the Gulf of Mexico.

The largest cities in Alabama

Alabama's cities are not huge metropolises, but they are charming places with typical Southern charm. You can find them all over the state.

In terms of population, the largest cities in Alabama are:

City population
Birmingham 212,000
Montgomery 206,000
Mobile 195,000
Huntsville 180,000
Tuscaloosa 90,000

Nature and climate

The US state of Alabama is a land of endless waters: you will find more navigable rivers and waterways here than in any other state in the USA. Among the most important ones are the Coosa River and Tallapoosa River, which meander through northeast Alabama and form the Alabama River near Montgomery.

Alabama's vegetation is very diverse: while the sandy coastal plains of the Gulf of Mexico dominate in the south and west, you will find fertile, dark floodplain soils near Montgomery. Large areas of the state are covered by forests, and the northeast is famous for its mountain landscapes and plateaus.

Alabama has a humid subtropical climate. The average annual temperature is 18°C, but there are differences throughout the year. With average temperatures of 10°C, January and December are the coldest months in Alabama. From June to August, however, temperatures climb above the 30°C mark.

Since Alabama is located in the tornado-threatened "Dixie Alley" area of the American South, a visit in August and September could be a stormy experience!

Best time to travel to Alabama

The best times to travel to Alabama are spring and late fall. At that time, temperatures are pleasantly warm and perfect for exploring Alabama's nature.

Alabama in spring

If you're in Alabama over Memorial Day weekend in May, don't miss the Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classics, where countless hot air balloons transform Alabama's skies into a colorful spectacle.

Alabama in autumn

In the fall, Alabama's tornado season has subsided. Now, exciting events like the Annual National Shrimp Festival on the Gulf Coast, the Talladega NASCAR race, and the Bayfest Music Festival in Mobile await you.

Traveling to Alabama

There are three major airports located in the state of Alabama:

  • Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM)
  • Mobile Downtown Airport (BFM)
  • Huntsville International Airport (HSV)

With an annual passenger volume of around 3 million, Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport is the most important commercial airport in Alabama. From Frankfurt am Main, Air France, KLM, Delta, or Virgin Atlantic operate flights to Birmingham. You will have to plan a stopover, usually in Atlanta.

From the Asian continent, e.g., Tokyo in Japan, you can fly to Birmingham with Japan Airlines, American Airlines, or Unite

If you book a few weeks in advance, you'll pay around € 900 to €950 for your flights between Frankfurt am Main and Birmingham, Alabama. If you're traveling from Tokyo, you'll have to dig deeper into your pocket: tickets range from €1,200 to €1,600.

Travel authorization Alabama

As a citizen of one of the Visa Waiver Program countries (e.g., Japan, Australia, and most European countries), you do not need a visa for the United States. If you apply for an ESTA travel authorization, your entry to the US will usually be quick and uncomplicated.

ESTA – visa-free to the USA

With an ESTA, you can stay 90 days visa-free in the USA. Apply online now!

Airport transfer in Alabama

The airport of Birmingham, Alabama, is located about seven kilometers northeast of the city center. For the transfer, you have the following options:

Taxi from Birmingham Airport

Cabs park around the clock in front of Birmingham's only airport terminal. You will find them on the first floor near the baggage claim area.

Shuttle from Birmingham Airport

Several private companies offer shuttle services from Birmingham Airport. If you want to use a shuttle, you must book it before your arrival.

Public transport from Birmingham Airport

Public transportation in Birmingham is provided by MAX Transit buses. The RT 20 line takes you from the airport to the city center. Adults pay $1.50 for a one-way ticket, but you can also purchase a day pass for $3.50.

State Parks in Alabama

The US state of Alabama is full of natural wonders: in total, the "land of endless waters" has 21 State Parks in store for you, covering an area of around 195 km². These five beauties of nature are our favorites:

Gulf State Park

Gulf State Park awaits you with beautiful white sandy beaches and crashing ocean waves. There's no other place in Alabama where you can swim, sunbathe or do water sports as good as in this dreamlike natural paradise directly on the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to the three-kilometer stretch of beach, the park includes marshes, quiet creeks, pine forests, and three freshwater lakes – Lake Shelby, Middle Lake, and Little Lake – that invite you to camp and relax.

Little River Canyon National Preserve

Little River Canyon National Preserve in far northeast Alabama is considered one of the most beautiful places in the southern states. Located on Lookout Mountain, Little River is one of the longest rivers flowing on a mountain plateau in the world. In autumn, it's just a babbling brook, but in spring, it swells and becomes a kayaker's paradise. You can also marvel at the beautiful Little River Falls, swim, hike, and camp here.

Oak Mountain State Park

A short drive from Alabama's largest city, Birmingham, will take you to nearby Oak Mountain State Park. With an area of almost 100 km², it is the largest State Park in Alabama. Here you can enjoy over 80 km of hiking trails and a variety of outdoor activities around the idyllic Beaver Lake, including BMX biking, horseback riding, boating, fishing, basketball, golf, water skiing, and much more!

Cherokee Rock Village

Northeast Alabama is particularly known for its beautiful nature. It's home to the unique, high rock formations of the Cherokee Rock Village near the town of Leesburg. They are the perfect place to improve your climbing skills. If you don't want to get up that high, you can hike, go mountain biking or horseback riding on the Diamond Trail, and then camp and observe the local wildlife and plants.

Cathedral Caverns

You won't see the natural wonders of the Cathedral Caverns State Park in Marshall County at first glance because to do so, you'll have to venture into the darkness of the caves, also known as "Bat Cave." You enter Cathedral Caverns through one of the largest cave entrances in the world. When you then stand in the middle of a 30,000 m² tall forest of stalagmites, you'll feel like you're in a cathedral. The most famous stalagmite in the cave, called "Goliath," reaches 13.7 m in height and 74 m in circumference.

Top 10 sightseeing highlights in Alabama

These ten places in Alabama are must-sees and should be on your travel list when you're in the Yellowhammer State:

  • Gulf State Park
  • U.S. Space & Rocket Center
  • Birmingham Museum of Art
  • Oak Mountain State Park
  • Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
  • Little River Canyon National Preserve
  • Helen Keller Birthplace
  • Vulcan Park and Museum
  • DeSoto State Park
  • Birmingham Zoo

City highlights in Alabama

"Sweet Home Alabama" is home to some charming city highlights. These four Southern gems are our top picks:

City Highlights Birmingham

Alabama's largest city, Birmingham, grew so quickly with the success of the iron and steel industry that it is also known as the "Pittsburgh of the South" or the "Magic City." When you visit Birmingham, be sure to check out the chic mansions built in the style of antebellum architecture.

Be impressed by these city highlights in Birmingham:

  • Birmingham Museum of Art
  • Vulcan Park and Museum
  • Arlington Antebellum Home and Gardens
  • Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
  • McWane Science Center

City Highlights Mobile

Not New Orleans, but the former capital of Louisiana, Mobile, was the first American city to celebrate Mardi Gras! The port city on Mobile Bay, which today belongs to Alabama, shines with a pretty historic city center and a typical Southern atmosphere.

These city highlights are waiting for you in Mobile:

  • USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park
  • Mobile Carnival Museum
  • Mobile Museum of Art
  • Bellingrath Gardens and Home
  • Gulf Coast Exploreum

City Highlights Montgomery

You can tell that you're in Montgomery, the capital of Alabama, by the distinctive State Capitol that rises in the city center. You'll also find a number of museums and monuments to the American civil rights movement, which was launched here in 1955 with the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Check out these must-see highlights in Montgomery:

  • Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
  • The National Memorial for Peace and Justice
  • Civil Rights Memorial
  • The Legacy Museum
  • Montgomery Zoo & Mann Wildlife Learning Museum

City Highlights Huntsville

In Huntsville, the legendary "Rocket City" awaits you in the northern part of Alabama. In the 1950s, a team of scientists began building rockets here at Redstone Arsenal, launching the United States space program. Later, the first space shuttle to take men to the moon was also built in Huntsville.

These city highlights belong on your travel list in Huntsville:

  • U.S. Space & Rocket Center
  • Huntsville Museum of Art
  • Huntsville Botanical Garden
  • Monte Sano State Park
  • Burritt on the Mountain

Road trip in Alabama

Many exciting attractions are scattered throughout the state of Alabama. We would like to recommend a few highlights for your road trip that are particularly worth seeing.

U.S. Space & Rocket Center

If you're a space and technology enthusiast, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville will make your heart skip a beat. At the museum near the Marshall Space Flight Center, where the first moon rocket was constructed, you can see giant Saturn V rockets and the Apollo 16 capsule that orbited the moon in 1972.

Moundville Archeological Park

In the archaeological park south of Tuscaloosa on the Black Warrior River, you can follow in the footsteps of America's cultural beginnings. The site is one of the largest pre-European settlements on the North American continent. It includes 29 artificially created mounds, on which probably residences and temples stood around the year 1,200.

Vulcan Park and Museum

The city of Birmingham created a monument to its iron and steel industry with the largest cast-iron statue in the world. The figure of the Roman god of forging, Vulcan, stands on the top of Red Mountain, from where you have a magnificent view over Birmingham. The site is also home to the Vulcan Park and Museum, where you can learn more about Birmingham's history. The beautiful park regularly hosts exciting events.

Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail

On the 87 km long Selma to Montgomery Trail, you'll walk along the path of an important chapter in American history. Along this route, some 25,000 African Americans marched and demonstrated in 1965 to demand equal rights. The march was led by Dr. Martin Luther King and was a landmark in the civil rights movement, leading to the creation of the Voting Rights Act. After driving along the trail, you can also visit Dr. Martin Luther King's home in Montgomery.

Talladega Superspeedway

If you're traveling to Alabama in early October, don't miss the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway. Opened in 1969, the high-speed circuit is considered the fastest and most difficult NASCAR Series race track on the North American continent. During the race weekend, you can also camp on the grounds and watch race cars from different categories speed around the oval.

Instagram hotspots in Alabama

You'll want to share the best parts of your Alabama adventure with your friends and followers. Some of the most spectacular photo opportunities in the Yellowhammer State are at these five locations:

  • Bayou La Batre
  • Gulf Shore
  • Neversink Pit
  • Gulf State Park
  • Talladega Superspeedway

Cuisine in Alabama

In the US state of Alabama, many seafood dishes are on the menu, for example, shrimps, crabs, and oysters. To enjoy the Southern feeling to the fullest, you should definitely try the traditional seafood dish "Shrimp and Grits." Southern fried chicken or a hearty barbecue will also please your palate.

The official nut of the state of Alabama, the pecan, is found in many desserts and other dishes. For most people in Alabama, it is best served in a delicious piece of cake.

Fun facts Alabama

You probably didn't know these interesting facts about the Yellowhammer State:

  • The word Alabama means "tribal town" in the Creek Indian language.
  • Alabama is the only US state that has all the major natural resources needed for iron and steel production.
  • Montgomery was the founding site of the Confederate States of America.
  • The Confederate flag was designed and first flown in Alabama in 1861.
  • The mysterious Neversink Pit, which is about 50 m deep, has become one of the most photographed sinkholes ever. Cave explorers from all over the world come to Alabama just to see this natural attraction.
  • The harbor town of Bayou La Batre served as a filming location for the movie “Forrest Gump.”

Immigrate to Alabama

Once you've fallen in love with the state of Alabama so much that you don't want to leave, the following tips will give you some ideas on how to make it happen.

Working in Alabama

Traditionally, Alabama is a state where a lot of agriculture is performed, especially in the floodplain of the Alabama River. Cotton, corn, sugar cane, tobacco, and potatoes thrive particularly well in the Yellowhammer State. But there are also many jobs in cattle and pork farming, as well as in the forestry and lumber industries.

Another important industry is the iron and steel industry. Job opportunities are particularly good in the Birmingham area, where iron ore is abundant.

In addition to the traditional industries, car manufacturing is also on the rise. For example, important plants of Mercedes-Benz, Honda, and Hyundai are located in Alabama. Many high-tech companies and good job opportunities in space technology can be found in the region around Huntsville.

Living in Alabama

It is said that the neighbors in Sweet Home Alabama are particularly friendly. And not only that: you also live here about 17 to 18% cheaper than the American average. Three of Alabama's four largest cities (Birmingham, Montgomery, and Huntsville) are among the 25 places with the lowest cost of living in the United States.

According to the Cost of Living Index, you can save particularly well in housing. On average, housing in Alabama is 40% cheaper than in the rest of the US. In Birmingham, housing prices are even as much as 60% below the US average.

Moving to Alabama with a Green Card

You want nothing more than to be able to call "Sweet Home Alabama" your own home soon? Then you should apply for a Green Card because it is the only way to live and work anywhere in the USA for an unlimited period of time.

The fastest way to get a Green Card is to participate in the Green Card Lottery: every year, the US Department of State draws 55,000 Permanent Resident Cards for the USA.

Green Card CheckAre you eligible?