The City of Miami lies on the shores of Biscayne Bay, which comprises several hundred natural and artificial barrier islands, including Miami Beach and South Beach.
Hiring a car is the best way to get around greater Miami. Taxis and ride-sharing services such as Lyft or Uber are also great for getting around if you don't want to drive.
The Metrorail, a high-speed commuter train operates between downtown Miami and the southern suburbs. Buses are also available, although slow for long journeys.
Bike-sharing networks in both Miami and Miami Beach are a good alternative to walking or taking a taxi.
Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) (www.miamidade.gov) provides useful public transport options, including Metrorail, Metrobus and Metromover.
Miami city is divided into quadrants: Flagler Street runs east-west splitting the city into north and south sections, while Miami Avenue runs north-south, dividing the city into east and west sections.
Miami Beach is linked to the mainland by four causeways built across Biscayne Bay: from south to north, the MacArthur Causeway (extension of US Hwy 41 and Hwy A1A), the Venetian Causeway (15th St) (US$1.75 toll), the Julia Tuttle Causeway (36th St), and the Broad Causeway (123rd St).
NE 79th St crosses North Bay Island and Normandy Islands before reaching Atlantic Heights and North Beach.
There's also a US$1.75 toll over the Rickenbacker Causeway to Key Biscayne. The tolls are automated, so ask about hiring a Sunpass if you're renting a vehicle.
The most important north–south highway is I-95, which ends at US Hwy 1 south of Downtown Miami. US Hwy 1, which runs from Key West all the way north to Maine, hugs the coastline. It’s called Dixie Hwy south of Downtown Miami and Biscayne Blvd north of Downtown Miami.
Car hire: Car hire is available at the airport and Downtown Miami, with major providers including Alamo (www.alamo.com), Avis (www.avis.com), Budget (www.budget.com) and Hertz (www.hertz.com) among others.
Drivers must have a major credit card, be at least 25 years old and hold a valid driver’s license (your home license will do but an International Drivers Permit is recommended).
Some national companies may rent to drivers between the ages of 21 and 24 for an additional charge. Traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road.
A Collision Damage Waiver (CWD), also known as Loss Damage Waiver (LDW), limits how much a car hire company can charge for repairs. Supplementary Liability Insurance (SLI), sometimes called top-up liability insurance or Extended Protection (EP), increases third-party liability coverage.
Ask about all-inclusive rates, which may also include a tank of petrol and additional drivers. There is usually an extra charge for child seats.
Car rental is useful if you want to explore beyond South Beach and Downtown, such as places like Coral Gables and North Miami Beach.
In most places, street parking is free only between 3am and 9am. At all other times, you have to pay. Most on-street parking is now done by smartphone app or pay-by-phone (though there are still some pay-and-display ticket machines at some locations).
In Miami, you use the Pay By Phone (www.paybyphone.com) app; and in Miami Beach, the Park Mobile (www.parkmobile.com) app. Most meters accept Visa and Mastercard.
On South Beach there’s metered street parking along most streets (except Lincoln Rd and residential areas). Most allow you to pay for up to three hours, after which you can pay again for more time. Parking rates vary, but typically range between US$1.50 and US$3 per hour.
If you are remiss in paying for parking, you will be towed and have to pay upwards of US$200 plus all the associated headaches to retrieve your vehicle.
There are also several municipal parking garages, which are usually a cheaper option – look for giant blue ‘P’ signs. You’ll find several located along Collins Ave and Washington Ave.
For more information on locations of car parks, hours and rates visit the website of the Miami Parking Authority (www.miamiparking.com).
Taxi: Taxis are easily available from taxi stands outside most hotels and shopping malls, and can also be booked by telephone. Taxis are difficult to hail on the street.
Firms include Yellow Cab Taxi (www.yellowtaximiami.com) and Super Yellow Taxi (superyellowtaxi.com). A 15-20% tip is expected.
Taxi fares are US$2.95 for the first 1/6 of a mile, then 85 cents for each addition 1/6 of a mile up to a mile. It's then 40 cents each 1/6 of a mile thereafter. For a 20-minute trip (Lincoln Rd to Brickell City Center for instance), the fare is upwards of US$30.
Ride-sharing services such as Lyft or Uber are also popular.
Bus: Metrobus offers an extensive bus network around Miami, with more than 95 routes. Blue and green bus-stop signs list the routes and destinations. The South Beach bus runs every 10-15 minutes.
Buses generally run from about 5:30am to 11pm, and some operate 24/7. Rides cost US$2.25 and must be paid in exact change (coins or a combination of bills and coins) or with an Easy Card (available for purchase from Metrorail stations and some shops and pharmacies). One-day and seven-day passes are available.
An easy-to-read route map is available online. Note that if you have to transfer buses, you'll have to pay the fare each time if paying in cash. With an Easy Card, transfers are free.
Trolley: The Trolley (www.miamigov.com/trolley) is a hybrid-electric bus that provides numerous routes, including Miami, Miami Beach, Coconut Grove, Little Havana and Coral Gables. The Trolley is useful for getting around neighborhoods rather than between them.
Miami Beach has four trolleys operating along different routes, with arrivals every 10 to 15 minutes from 8am to midnight (from 6am Monday to Saturday on some routes).
Rail: The Metrorail is a 40km (25mi) rapid transit system running from Kendall northwards through South Miami, Coral Gables, Downtown Miami and then northwest to the Hialeah district. Trains run every five to 15 minutes from 6am to midnight on weekdays and less frequently during the weekend. Trains connect to the Metrobus and Tri-Rail.
The one-way fare is US$2.25. Pay with either the reloadable Easy Card or single-use Easy Ticket, which are sold from vending machines at Metrorail stations.
The Metromover – equal parts bus, monorail and train – is useful for getting around Downtown Miami.
It operates daily from about 5am to midnight. It's safe, air-conditioned and free to all travellers. The Metromover offers visitors a great perspective on the city and a free orientation tour of the area.
Regional Tri-Rail double-decker commuter trains service the 115km (71mi) route between Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Fares are calculated on a zone basis: the shortest distance traveled costs US$4.40 round-trip; the most you’ll ever pay is for the ride between MIA and West Palm Beach (US$11.55 round-trip).
No tickets are sold on the train, so allow time to make your purchase before boarding. For a list of stations, check out the Tri-Rail website (www.tri-rail.com). All trains and stations are accessible to riders with disabilities.
Bicycle: Miami is a bike-friendly city and has numerous hire outlets, including the Miami Beach Bicycle Center (www.bikemiamibeach.com) and Bike and Roll (www.bikeandroll.com).
Citi Bike (www.citibikemiami.com) – Miami's bike share scheme – lets you borrow a bike from scores of kiosks spread around Miami and Miami Beach. You can buy a membership (better suited to residents) or access for anything from 30 minutes to a full day.
Miami occasionally holds car-free, bike-and-stroll days in and around downtown Miami, Brickell and the Miami River. Look out for details in the local press.
Note: Miami is flat, but traffic can be heavy and fast-moving. Maps of the bike network are available at some kiosks and online. There's also a handy smartphone app that shows the bike stations.
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Latest update: How to get around Miami: 14 July, 2020
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