Getting Around Miami

Miami International Airport (MIA) is located just west of the city in an unincorporated, suburban area. It is an important hub for traffic between North America and Latin America. The predominant carrier at MIA is American Airlines, which has direct flights to most major cities in the Americas and several European cities as well. European and Latin carriers are well-represented at MIA, although the airport has no direct service to Asia, Africa or Oceania. Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) is 25-40 minutes north of Miami proper, depending on traffic, and does not have nearly as many international routes. However, it is smaller and less trafficked than MIA, making customs, immigration and security much easier. Southwest Airlines, JetBlue and other low-cost carriers generally use FLL instead of MIA, making FLL a cheaper alternative in many cases as well.

If you're flying into Miami International Airport, several transportation options make it fairly easy to get from the airport into the city. Mass transit bus service, metro-rail service, commuter train service, and a "downtown-specific" fixed-rail service connect the airport to locations throughout the metropolitan area. Taxis and shuttles, obviously, provide door-to-door service. Of course, you can also rent a car.

Amtrak's Silver Service operates two trains daily to Miami from New York, Washington and other eastern seaboard cities. The ride from New York is about 24 hours but is often subject to delays, as Amtrak uses poorer-quality freight lines south of Washington and must cope with slow freight trains along the way.

There are three main highways coming into Miami. I-95 runs along the Atlantic coast of the United States and terminates in Miami. I-75 comes in from the midwestern US and runs through Atlanta and Tampa before terminating in Miami. Florida's Turnpike is a toll road mainly useful for those driving in from Orlando. The only southbound route from Miami is US 1, which runs through the Florida Keys all the way to Key West.

Whether you rent a car from the airport or drive into Miami on your own, buy a map. That's the best advice you'll get before venturing onto Miami's web of highways and causeways that crisscross between the mainland and the surrounding string of islands.

Miami has a large and elaborate public bus system which covers the entire county and connects, at northern points, to the bus system in Greater Fort Lauderdale. The bus system was, for a long time, notorious for being unreliable, though recent developments have changed this. Despite these changes, and due to high local traffic, buses tend to have a harder time remaining on schedule, though buses run often enough through each route so as not to be a nuisance. Schedules and routes are available from the Miami-Dade Transit website or by calling (305) 770-3131.

Metrorail is a single-line elevated rail system serving Miami and surrounding areas. Due to low funding, Metrorail has not been greatly expanded since its opening in 1984, and only serves two areas of tourist interest: downtown Miami and the area around Dadeland Mall. Coconut Grove and downtown Coral Gables can be reached via short shuttle bus from various stations. Metrorail operates between roughly 5AM and midnight, with a bus serving all Metrorail stations operating in the overnight hours, effectively providing 24-hour service.

Downtown Miami is served by an elevated people mover system known as Metromover, which connects to Metrorail at two stations. Metromover is free of charge and is the most efficient way to move around Downtown Miami.