Miami ( MIA )
Based on a weighted score across all factors, including driving roads, hire and fuel costs, road safety etc. [Full notes - drive rating] Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs] #159/300 142/300 223/300 #4/300 #---/300 #---/300 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:
Miami Car hire summary
Overall drive rating
Cheapest rate for one week
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]
Free parking score Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking.Total 979 - of which 258 have free parking. [full notes - parking]
Miami public transport quick facts
"Top trumps" train score
Higher scores go to the systems which take you to the most amazing places.
Overall public transport score
This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel.
Walking and Cycling Overview
Active travel score
This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Miami
Take to the waters!
This is a general rating for all types of water travel, including scheduled ferries, sea / rivers cruises and excursions in Miami
Need, worth & should!
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.
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?
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?
Based on a weighted score across all factors, including driving roads, hire and fuel costs, road safety etc. [Full notes - drive rating]
Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]
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:
Do you need a car in [table “1” does not have that cell /]
When someone asks "Do you need a car in [table “1” does not have that cell /]
?", this often breaks down to two key questions:
- Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
- Is it worth hiring a car in [table “1” does not have that cell /]
? 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 [table “1” does not have that cell /]
as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in [table “1” does not have that cell /]
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?
- 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:
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!)
RatingsOur 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.
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: