Miami

By | 16th January 2018
Do you need a car in Miami > Should you rent a car in Miami USA > Miami ( MIA ) Do you need a car in Miami? Is it worth hiring a car in Miami? Should you rent a car in Miami?

Miami Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all cost and quality factors. [Full notes - drive rating]

90%

  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Miami but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
  • Cost factors include - price of car hire (peak and off peak season), car hire extras, fuel, tolls and parking costs.
  • Quality factors include - scenic drives, road quality and upkeep, general safety and congestion levels.
  • A complete index of all 10 factors will be uploaded shortly.

Cheapest rate for one week

Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]

€140

 #159/300

  • This is the very lowest price we could find for a one week car rental period in Miami during the quiet season.
  • You will almost always end up paying more than this figure, but any extra costs or supplementary charges are usually determined by the renter, so we cannot easily compare like with like.
  • In many cases, rental companies will offer a cheap rental and then expect you to take out expensive insurance waivers. There are always ways to avoid this!

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]

 €215

142/300

  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "why not" section for more suggestions.
  • For most featured destinations, the peak season will be during the summer, typically July and August for northern hemisphere destinations. However, peak demand might occur at different times, for example in some ski resorts or winter sun destinations etc.


Free parking score

Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking. Total 979 - of which 258 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

26%

#223/300

  • Free hotel parking is very useful to have when you are hiring a car, and it's always worth checking ahead beforehand.
  • If free hotel parking is not available, you might want to consider renting a car for a single day, rather than for your whole trip.
  • The availability (or lack of) free hotel parking can be a really important factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Miami, as it can be a significant extra daily cost which you won't usually be paying at home!
  • Parking costs play a very major part in our consideration of whether or not it's worth hiring a car in each destination.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

Miami public transport quick facts

Train score

Higher scores go to the systems which don't just take you to the most amazing places, but also to the ones which are easy to use, fast, reliable and frequent. A good train system on its own is usually enough to determine that you don't need to hire a car in many destinations.

60%

  • [full notes trains]
  • Trains include all kinds of urban rail system from trams up to metro and suburban networks.
  • Trains also include mountain railways and cable cars.
  • Generally, places with a good rail network will automatically mean that you don't "need" to hire a car, but you can still might find that on balance you are better off by having one.

Water travel score

This is a general rating for all types of water travel, including scheduled ferries, sea / rivers cruises and excursions in Miami

100%

  • [full notes - water score]
  • The water score looks at means of transport on water - it does not consider water based activities like surfing or kayaking.

Overall public transport score

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel, and also including ferries and other boat services, where they are part of the public transport network.

40%

  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Miami good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?
  • Even if public transport is cheap and reliable, you might still feel that you should hire a car in Miami because it will still give you more flexibility to reach out-of-the-way places, especially in rural areas.

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Miami. It includes factors such as the quality of the street environment, and whether you are likely to feel safe walking or cycling, together with the availability of bicycle hire and the ease of linking walking or cycling routes with public transport.

30%

  • [full notes - active score] walking (city) | hiking | cycling (city /  country).
  • A high active travel score means that you might not need a car in Miami, because you can see everything you need to see using a combination of your own two feet and the public transport system.

Car rental in - Miami Need v worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Miami", "is it worth hiring a car in Miami", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme. Here we break each one down according to the criteria we use for each question. This is a weighted score based on the values above. These are explained further in the text which follows - [#why] [#whynot]. Do you need a car in Miami?

Do you need a car in Miami?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city. For the lowest "need" score, the destination should have a combination of excellent all-round public transport, great opportunities for walking and cycling, together with poor value car hire or generally poor quality roads. 
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "do I need a car in  Miami " will swing towards a strong no, because you can do absolutely fine without one).
Is it worth hiring a car in Miami?

Is it worth hiring a car in Miami?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares? This question mainly looks at issues of cost and practicality.
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "is it worth hiring a car in  Miami" will swing towards whichever option offers the lowest overall cost for a group of 2-4 people travelling together.
Should you rent a car in Miami?

Should you rent a car in Miami?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
  • The final "carometer" swing is much more opinion based, and it takes into account which options will give you the truly best travel experience (n our humble opinion of course). Where a destination offers an excellent score with or without a car, the swing will go towards whichever option we feel gives the most truly unforgettable experience.
  • Ultimately, it's your choice whether or not you rent a car here. We're trying to give you something that's sufficiently far enough away from a "maybe" to help you make that choice. Ultimately, people only come to us because they are uncertain, but we don't really know what each person's preferences are. Whether we say you should or you shouldn't rent a car in  Miami, you might also want to look up some of our other cities to see how  Miami compares with other destinations in  USA or  North America.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.


What does everyone else do?

Do most people hire a car in Miami?

This is based on our observations of (a) car rental facilities and (b) what we think most people will do here. It's not an exact figure, just an estimate of how likely people are to get hold of a rental car here.
  • his is based on the percentage of people "in the market" who we think are likely to hire a car. This includes anyone arriving on holiday here who would usually hire a car on their travels, so it doesn't include people who don't usually drive (or don't drive), people staying with friends etc.

20%

Visitors per year (million)

  • Cities with more visitors are more likely to have more complex airport car rental arrangements, and generally they will also have better public transport, but this is not always the case, especially in North America.

2

  • [full notes - do as everyone else does?]
  • You may wish to go with the flow, or you might prefer to avoid doing the most popular or obvious option. This will vary according to the range of choice available. This tends to be much higher in destinations which are closer to the middle of the car or no car scale.

Who is travelling?

Your group size and travel budget has a major impact on whether or not getting a rental car is good value compared to using public transport as your main means of getting around. Ultimately, these are all "worth" questions:

Is it worth renting a car in Miami if I am a solo / budget traveller?

Generally, hiring a car is not good value for solo travellers for multiple reasons, especially as most of the costs of renting apply to the car, not the occupants. With public transport, the reverse is usually true! However, there are always some places where you will need a car, simply because they are almost impossible to reach using public transport.

Is it worth renting a car in Miami for 2 people travelling together?

A rental car can be good value for couples or for friends travelling together, but since most cars come with at least four seats, it's often still better value to use public transport. However, if you prefer to keep yourselves to yourselves, then you might still want to rent.

Is it worth renting a car in Miami for families?

Families of groups of 3-4 people travelling together will always get the best value from a rental car. However, you may also be burdened with extra costs for car seat hire, and you well also prefer to use local trains and buses, if they are quicker than getting stuck in heavy traffic.

Where are you staying?

The place you are staying, together with the sort of places you want to see, will have a large impact on whether or not you "need" to rent a car:

Do you need a car in Miami if we are staying in the city centre / main resort area?

Most large towns or purpose built holiday resorts will have some kind of public transport, whereas parking provision will vary greatly from one place to the next. 

Do you need a car in Miami if we are staying on the edge of the urban area?

Typically you may be staying in an apartment or hmall house on the edge of a resort or urban area. These places usually have some level of public transport, but not as much as city / resort centres.

Do you need a car in Miami if we are staying in a rural area?

Rural proprties might include larger villas or apartments, but they can still be within a short walk of a bus stop or local railway station, and the opportunities for hiking and cycling might also be substantial, depending on the destination.

What is your attitude towards driving?

We can give you suggestions based on whatever we consider to be a "typical" visitor to Miami, but ultimately your decision is also going to be influenced by whether or not you ususally prefer to hire a car in the first place.

Should I hire a car in Miami if I prefer not to drive?

This is especially the case when there is only one main driver in the group, and it's based on the attitude of the driver rather than their passengers! The main driver may also simply prefer to use public transport, or they may prefer to take scenic train journeys where available.

Should we rent a car in Miami if we are easy either way?

This is more aimed at the typical visitor who isn't that bothered about how they get around, as long as it is the most convenient / best value option.

Should I rent a car in Miami if I prefer to drive?

For people who usually prefer the freedom and flexibility of having a hire car. Is it still best to rent a car in Miami, or are there good reasons not to?

Do I need a car in Miami? Miami is the real Florida, a simmering melting pot of cultures that is a complete contrast to the theme park land of Orlando. These different cultures have created many cities within the city, so what is the best way to get around and experience this richness?

Do you need a car in Miami? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Miami?", this often breaks down to two key questions:
  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in Miami? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?
Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in Miami as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Miami?
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Why should you rent a car in Miami?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip? In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Miami?
  • City of cities: Miami has more foreign born residents than any other city in the USA. There are so many different nationalities represented within the immigrant groups who have settled here. Most famous amongst the different Miami communities is Little Havana, but there are many others. A car will give you the flexibility to drive around all these different areas.
  • Be Flashy. If there is one place in the world where you really want to show off in a snazzy performance car, Miami is as good as anywhere.
  • Did somebody say walk? In Miami? Do they not know how hot and sticky it is? However, the real problem with walking in Miami isn’t actually the climate, but the sheer unpleasantness of walking alongside 6 lane highways, and waiting in the heat to cross giant concrete junctions. It’s no surprise that the default option is to rent a car in Miami!
  • Sprawl.Whereas some cities on the US east coast have central areas which are quite compact — for example Boston, Miami is certainly not one of them. Nor will you necessarily be rushing to head into downtown Miami, which is predominantly a business district. The geography of Miami is much more dispersed, and this really tips the scales in favour of having a rental car, even if you aren’t planning on leaving town. If you are visiting people, or businesses, then Miami is a city of sprawl, even by US standards. Over half of the population of the Miami metropolitan area do not live in incorporated cities, and walkable neighbourhoods are rare.
  • Cruise. If you are in Miami because you are using the cruise terminal and you have a few days before your flight home, why stay restricted to slow public transport? You’ve been stuck on a boat at 25 knots all week (or fortnight), only a car can give you freedom to see the best the area has to offer.
  • Public transport isn’t “nice”: Although we want to be as unbiased as possible at Carornocar, we are still ‘driven’ (if that is the best word) by Architecture, and this gives us a bias towards public transport, as stations can often be very impressive buildings, whereas freeways and car parks rarely are. Yet, Miami somehow manages to reverse this notion – the new Miami Central Station is one of the most monstrous carbuncles to be built anywhere in the world, yet Miami has so many spectacular road bridges. Putting the buildings to one side (transport is there to get you from A to B), its location says it all – the so-called ‘centre’, sorry ‘center’ of Miami is actually just next to the airport. This might well be the geographical centre of the Miami area, but the metro (Metrorail) and suburban (Tri-Rail) rail links will just connect you to more sprawl and the barren business district, not to Miami Beach, where the major resort hotels are.
  • Vistas: Roads in Miami are in stark contrast to the roads in Orlando. Around Orlando, you can drive on mile on mile of flat concrete peppered with suburban sprawl. Miami is a city of waterways. Now it would be a stretch to compare ultramodern Miami with classical Venice, but Miami is still a city of bridges and sweeping vistas dotted with lush palm trees. If you are unfortunate enough to be travelling around the city by bus, you will find yourself wanting to get off and take pictures, and then realising that you might have to wait another half an hour until the next bus comes along.
  • Miami Mansions: Miami will tempt you to drive around some of its plusher neighbourhoods, where you’ll see all manner of villas of different architectural styles. Again, a car is a must.
  • Beaches: With a hire car, you can drive up the coast to Fort Lauderdale, or just get away from the bustle of the city itself and visit some less crowded beaches – but you might have to drive for a while to find them!

Beyond Miami

  • Florida Keys. This isn’t just about driving around Miami, where alternative options are available, as mentioned below. A drive down through the Florida Keys is an absolute must, and you really need a car to have the flexibility to do this at your own pace. The numerous bridges that connect the islands that make up the Keys provide an endless rotation of natural and man-made wonders, with the world-famous 7 Mile Bridge being the highlight. For this reason alone, our recommendation is to rent a a car in Miami, even when we don’t think it’s an essential for Orlando.
  • Everglades: A car is a must to visit the Florida Everglades, unless you would rather go on a packaged tour.
  • Tampa and Orlando? There are no big theme parks in Miami, so a rental car is also good for heading north west to the Tampa Bay area (for Busch Gardens), or north to Orlando – but both of these are relatively long drives – 4 1/2 hours or 4 hours respectively. You might find it easier to catch a local flight to enjoy a multi-city stay including either of these two locations – see our Orlando page for more about car hire there.

Why not? Visiting Miami without a car

What is public transport like in Miami? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in Miami?


  • Elevation: Miami may have a terrible transport system, but the Metrorail is at least elevated. Better still, the MetroMover in the downtown area is one of the world’s few elevated city centre transport systems, and the skyscrapers in Miami are a wonderful mix of looking up to glass and concrete reflecting a clear blue sky, and looking down at verdant landscaping. However, this won’t take you anywhere near the hotel resorts on Miami beach!
  • Deco bikes – who could think of a cooler name for the community bikes program(me) which operates on Miami Beach. Unfortunately, the scheme hasn’t extended beyond this area, so you will still need either a hire car or to use public transit.
  • Who cares about the local attitude? You’re here to enjoy your Miami holiday on your terms.
  • Boats: To enjoy views of some of Miami’s most upmarket homes, you will need to take to the water. This is best done on a tour boat, and you will be picked up from your hotel anyway, so no car needed.
  • Be lazy: Miami is a city of lazing around cabanas and then going to sizzling late-night parties. We don’t all have to turn up like the celebrities in programmes like CSI Miami, a taxi will do perfectly well.
  • Fly or Drive? If you do intend to travel between Orlando and Miami, regular coach services are available, but you can also fly. Miami to Orlando flights are very frequent and incredibly cheap.
  • Everglades? Swamps? Doesn’t that mean alligators? Maybe somebody else can drive!
  • Crime: Much as though we prefer to think of ‘Miami Nice’, the city does still have a reputation for the vice, and this includes car crime.

Beyond Miami without a car

  • Coaches and Trains: You can, of course, visit the Florida Keys by coach, but bear in mind that scheduled bus services heading for Key West are there to provide transportation, so you will miss many of the best photo opportunities. Other bus and coach services are available to nearby cities, and Tri-rail provides service to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
  • Tours: Miami has a varied network of tour providers who will show you the best the city has to offer, without needing to use a rental car. Excursions are available to the Everglades, and even as far as the Disney resorts in Orlando.

James says - a few trip notes:


  • We know that the USA has a big car culture. On arriving at Miami airport, I asked about a bus into central Miami, and was told that they did not exist. This was not the case, but it does show the attitude people have here. Now some people don’t care what others think — and as it turned out, the bus appeared to be full of airport workers. There were also a couple of Scandinavians who couldn’t care less about how they got around. On its own, the attitude really isn’t an issue, but to actually get to South Beach, a transfer had to be made at a busy highway intersection, and this was certainly not pleasant.After a day of enjoying the Miami beach boardwalk at a leisurely pace, a car was hired to enjoy the Florida Keys, as mentioned above.

Do I need a car in Miami? – The Verdict:

There might not be a strict need to rent a car in Miami, if you just want to hang around Miami beach. There is no need for a car in Miami just for enjoying the lounge life. However, if you really want to see south Florida properly, then a visit to the Florida Keys  is well and truly essential. So is a trip into the Everglades National Park. On top of this, if you rent a car in Miami, you are also going to have much easier access to the wealth of diverse neighbourhoods that make up this city. 

VERDICT – YES (and a strong one!)

Ratings

Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Verdict

What is our final score for Miami on the Carornocar scale?

Remember, this isn't so much a rating of the road network, or a score for what we think of the buses or trains, but it's simply a scale showing the swing between whether or not we think a rental car is a good idea here.

10


Would you hire a car in Miami?

Have you driven in Miami? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Miami}? Do you need a car in Miami? For some or all of the time? Tell us what you think using the comments section below:

Category: USA

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