By | 16th January 2018

Do you need a car in Orlando?

Do you need a car in Orlando > Should you rent a car in Orlando USA > Orlando ( MCO )
Do you need a car in 2? Is it worth hiring a car in 2? Should you rent a car in 2? Should you rent a car in 2?

Orlando Car hire summary

Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all factors, including driving roads, hire and fuel costs, road safety etc. [Full notes - drive rating]


Cheapest rate for one week

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



  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Orlando but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
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]




  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.
Free parking score Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking.Total 3570 - of which 1139 have free parking. [full notes - parking]




  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.

Orlando public transport quick facts

"Top trumps" train score

Higher scores go to the systems which take you to the most amazing places.



  • [full notes - top trumps trains]
  • A good rail system doesn't mean you shouldn't hire a car, but it often means you have a decent range of options.

Overall public transport score

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel.



  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Orlando good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Orlando



Take to the waters!

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


Need, worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Orlando", "is it worth hiring a car in Orlando", 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 Orlando?

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 Orlando?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares?

Should you rent a car in Orlando?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?

Orlando is one of those popular family holiday spots where car rent is a natural addition to the flight purchase. So, is it possible to enjoy a week or so in Orlando without renting a car?

Orlando Vroom?

Do you need a car in Orlando? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Orlando?", 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 Orlando? 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 Orlando as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Orlando?

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Why should you rent a car in Orlando?

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 Orlando?

Reasons why you need to rent a car in Orlando

  • Obvious isn’t it? This is the USA, and doesn’t everyone drive?
  • This isn’t just about Orlando. There are so many places that are within range of an easy day trip from Orlando, including Cape Canaveral, the Tampa Bay area, or even Miami at a push, although Miami is best done as an overnight trip at least.
  • Cost: Petrol is cheap, buses are nothing like as good as they are in Europe, and taxis can be expensive, especially as Orlando is a large sprawling city. Simples?
  • Competition: Orlando is one of the world’s largest car rent markets, so plenty of cheap car rental options are available – although prices go up a great deal in summer, it’s never difficult to get a rent car in Orlando, at either of the city’s main airports or near your resort.
  • Rail travel is virtually non-existent. For example, the train between Orlando and Miami is infrequent and takes forever. (Florida is one of the places in the USA which has been earmarked for high-speed rail. They are still talking. Chances are that by the time you return to Florida for the 10th time, they will still be talking).
  • Beaches – Orlando shares with Las Vegas the curious distinction of being one of the world’s major inland sunshine resort destinations. A car is best if you want to actually spend some time on a beach proper.

Why not? Visiting Orlando without a car

What is public transport like in Orlando? 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 Orlando?

Visiting Orlando without a car – and seeing more of Florida too!

  • Pointless parking: A car might be fine for travelling around different places, but if you’re planning on spending most of your time visiting theme parks, why bother? The car will just sit on tarmac all-day, and these days you’ll pay for that too. It would be much easier to use local shuttle buses to get to and from the major theme parks.
  • Hotels: For the full Disney experience, stay on-site at one of the Disney hotels — they might cost a little more, but not hiring a car would help make up part of the difference.
  • Selective Shopping: A rent car should be a natural advantage for getting the best out of the outlet mall bargains that are available in this part of the world, but the easy temptation is to end up buying far more than your suitcases can hold, and then having to pay extortionate excess luggage charges. Using the readily available buses that ply up-and-down International Drive to get to and from the main outlet malls will make it much easier to keep your holiday purchases in check.
  • Resorts: The large resort hotels offer numerous activities on-site, so you will never run out of things to do whether or not you have a car.
  • Boring driving: This part of the USA is relatively flat and quite densely populated, so it is crisscrossed with concrete freeways adorned with the usual suburban sprawl chain outlets and advertising boards. So whilst the roads will take you where you want to go to, the experience is not particularly pleasant, and unlike Miami, where we do recommend getting a rent car, there are no particularly outstanding driving routes.
  • Bus travel – 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.
  • What would Walt do? Remember that Disney himself envisaged futuristic cities where the car was relegated to the edges. Not only are Disney theme Parks traffic free, but part of the Disneyworld resort experience is the monorail that connects them all together.
  • Safety: Even for locals, road accident rates in the USA are at least twice that of the UK. Getting off a long haul flight and straight into a rent car where road conditions take some getting used to is an additional challenge. International drive (I192) has a particularly poor reputation for accidents, as it has a wide road with so many turnings on and off.

Verdict – do I need to rent a car in Orlando?

Most people visiting Orlando will pick up a rental car for their trip, and it will make life easier. Whether or not it is essential will depend on where you are staying  — rent a villa in suburban Kissimmee and you will be hard pushed to go anywhere without a car, whereas you are unlikely to miss having a car if you’re staying at one of the big resort hotels.

Do you need a car in Orlando? We’re not here to advise on whether or not a car is needed, as holidays are about dreams and desires, not need. The question is whether or not a car will significantly enhance your holiday? We think the answer to that question is no. If you beg to differ, comment below.



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.

Would you hire a car in Orlando?

Have you driven in Orlando? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Orlando?

Do you need a car in Orlando? For some or all of the time? 

Tell us what you think using the comments section below:

Category: USA

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