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Key West

North America > United States > Key West

See: Why hire a car in Key West ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

(All of these pages will look a lot nicer when they are tidied up later in the spring. Yes, this site is being updated, but the graphics will come later)

Your key questions for any destination:

Do I need a car in Key West?

Strictly speaking, there are very few travel destinations anywhere in the world where it's absolutely essential to rent a car in order to see the main points of interest. That's why we give you loads of ratings scales from 1 to 10, rather than simple yes or no answers!

  • The need question is generally answered by looking at public transport (transit) options. Is it good enough for visitors who are happy to consider using it?
  • How many public transport routes are there, and are they mainly rail or road (bus) based?
  • Is public transport fast, frequent, safe, reliable and cheap?
  • Does public transport actually take you to the places you'll probably want to see?

Is it worth hiring a car in Key West?

This question is usually more about value for money. For this, we look at Key West car hire options, and consider how rental costs compare with using transit.

How far are you likely to drive anyway, and how much might you expect to spend on fuel, road tolls, parking and any other charges. We compare Key West with other destinations locally and around the world.

This is obviously much more of an issue if you are planning a longer road trip than it is on a small island.


Should I rent a car in Key West? 

This is basically a merging of the two questions. Everything else might be about giving certain facts about the costs of car rental or using public transport in Key West, but answering this question is very much a matter of opinion.

Please note that is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2021 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. It is expected that some social distancing rules will still apply. For additional Key West car hire advice, please use the comments form below.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Key West is in car rental price band: 4/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Key West? 

Sometimes. Car rental is slightly cheaper than global averages.


Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Key West between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 3/10

Non car score:3/10

Balance: 2

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -


Situated right on the western tip of the Florida keys, Key West is literally situated at the end of the road, as far as driving within the United States is concerned. This might make it a natural consideration for being the start or end of some phenomenal road trip, but in reality, the chances are that if you do want to do a driving tour around Florida, you will pick up a rental car in either Miami or Orlando.

So any visitor who is actually flying into Key West itself, or the “Republic of Key West” as some locals prefer it to be known, will no doubt find that there is simply no need at all to have your own rental car for driving around the town, since land here is in such finite supply that everything tends to be pretty close to everything else!

So what about the rest of the Florida Keys, and the amazing driving roads that this part of the world offers, including so many causeways and bridges? Well there is no question that this is all amazing driving territory, but a lot of this can also be visited using scheduled or tour bus services. A rental car might still make a lot of sense for visiting the Florida keys, but why start your journey in Key West, when there is a much wider choice of inbound flights and also a far greater range of rental car options at Miami International airport?

If you only intend to see the Florida keys in one direction, then be prepared to pay more for one way car rental fees, although with this being tourist oriented Florida, this isn’t always the case.

Why? Visiting Key West using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Key West ?

  • Makes sense as a one way rental back to mainland Florida.
  • Start a mammoth road trip here – but be prepared for hefty fees!
  • It’s always more flexible to appreciate the Florida Keys at your pace, and to be able to make stops, especially at Seven Mile Bridge.

Why not? Visiting Key West without a car

Why don't you need a car in Key West ?

  • No need for a car in Key West itself – it’s compact and walkable.
  • Limited range of flights to Key West.
  • Generally it makes more sense to fly in to Miami and rent a car there – see our Miami car hire advice.
  • Usually much cheaper to visit Florida Keys in a tour bus, whether one way or return.

Ratings: How does Key West compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Key West? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Key West, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?



Do you need to hire a car in Key West? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Key West (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Key West? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel


Car hire basics:


Public transportation basics:


Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):


As you start ....

Does Key West airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No






Has our advice for Key West car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 2

2019 - 2

2021 - 2

Average score - 2



Should you rent a car in Key West? Verdict – no.


Do you or don't you need a car in Key West ?

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