Officially, Miami-Dade County has opted for a "unified, multimodal transportation network," which basically means you can get around the city by train, bus, and taxi. However, in practice, the network doesn't work very well. 

Things have improved somewhat thanks to Brightline, the privately owned and operated high speed rail system that opened a station in downtown Miami and goes all the way to Orlando now, but unless you are going from downtown Miami to a not-too-distant spot, you are better off in a rental car, ride share, or taxi.

With the exception of downtown Coconut Grove and South Beach, Miami is not a walker's city. Because it is so spread out, most attractions are too far apart to make walking between them feasible. In fact, most Miamians are so used to driving that they do so even when going just a few blocks.

By Public Transportation

By Rail -- Two rail lines, operated by the Metro-Dade Transit Agency (tel. 305/770-3131 for information), run in concert with each other.

Metrorail, the city's modern high-speed commuter train, is a 25-mile elevated line that travels north-south, between downtown Miami and the southern suburbs. Locals like to refer to this semiuseless rail system as Metrofail, but, it isn’t an epic fail anymore, as it’s been upgraded a bit and its coverage area is wider than it used to be, providing service to Miami International Airport, and running from Kendall through South Miami, Coral Gables, and downtown Miami; to the Civic Center/Jackson Memorial Hospital area; and to Brownsville, Liberty City, Hialeah, and Medley in northwest Miami-Dade, with connections to Broward and Palm Beach counties at three locations. There’s also a transfer to the Brightline station.

If you are staying in Coral Gables or Coconut Grove, you can park your car at a nearby station and ride the rails downtown. Metrorail operates daily from about 6am to midnight. The fare is $2.25.

Metromover, a 4 1/2-mile elevated line, circles the downtown area and connects with Metrorail at the Government Center stop. Riding on rubber tires, the single-car train is like an old school Weebles toy, an amusing contrast to the rest of the ultra-modern city, winding past many of the area’s most important attractions and its shopping and business districts. But give them a minute or ten. The city is working to upgrade it. Currently it runs seven days a week in the downtown Miami and Brickell areas. Major destinations include the arena where the Heat play, Bayside Marketplace, Miami Dade College, and the Miami-Dade County School Board. That’s about it.

You may not go very far on the Metromover, but it’s free and you will get a beautiful perspective from the towering height of the suspended rails. System hours are daily from about 6am to midnight, and did we mention the ride is free?

Brightline, an inter-city rail route that runs between Miami and Orlando, is a $5 billion high speed train that’s a convenient way to travel if you have the cash. The brand-spanking new system features clean, comfy seats with phone chargers and leg room as well as a premium ticket that includes beer, wine and cocktails on your journey. Each station—downtown Miami, Aventura, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, and Orlando—have different amenities for passengers, but the best stations are by far the Miami and Orlando ones because of their sheer size and restaurants. While the trip from Miami to Orlando is pretty much the same three and a half hours it takes to drive, the other stops are obviously shorter and less expensive making it a fun way to explore another city for a day or night. Rates range from $10 to $150 each way, and there are often specials and passes on their website. While you can buy tickets at the station, it’s often cheaper to buy them directly on their website.

Before Brightline, there was Tri-Rail, a commuter rail line linking Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach—hence the word ‘tri’. With 18 stations throughout South Florida, it connects directly to Amtrak, Metrorail, and the Miami International Airport Intermodal Center. Fares range from $2.50 to $8.75. While a far cry from the fancy Brightline, it’s a favored mode of transport for students, commuters and those not on expense accounts. It’s reliable enough and often gets a bad rap for no reason. Complimentary shuttles from the major airports to Tri-Rail stations are conveniences, but there are no bathrooms or major amenities at the stations. That being said, it’s a lot better being on here than sitting in 1-95 traffic.

By Bus -- Ack, no. Just no. A bus ride in Miami is grueling. Miami’s suburban layout is not conducive to getting around by bus; instead of getting to know the city, relying on bus transportation will acquaint you only with how it feels to wait at bus stops. The fare is $2.25 or $2.65 for an allegedly “express” bus, which may save you two minutes. When on South Beach, however, consider the free Miami Beach Trolley, operating 15 hours a day, from 8am to 11 pm 7 days a week at approximately 20-minute average service frequency along each route. For specifics on where and when, go to

By Car

Tales circulate about vacationers who have visited Miami without a car, but they are very few indeed. If you are counting on exploring the city, even to a modest degree, a car is essential. Miami's restaurants, hotels, and attractions are far from one another, so any other form of transportation is relatively impractical. You won't need a car, however, if you are spending your entire vacation at a resort, are traveling directly to the Port of Miami for a cruise, or are here for a short stay centered on one area of the city, such as South Beach, where everything is within walking distance and parking is a costly nightmare.

When driving across a causeway or through downtown, allow extra time to reach your destination because of frequent drawbridge openings. Some bridges open about every half-hour for large sailing vessels to make their way through the wide bays and canals that crisscross the city, stalling traffic.

Rentals -- Expect to pay about $205 per week in Miami for economy cars. You should also check with your airline: There are often special discounts when you book a flight and reserve your rental car simultaneously. A minimum age, generally 25, is usually required of renters; some rental agencies have also set maximum ages! 

National car-rental companies include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National, and Thrifty and Enterprise. Comparison shop before you make any decisions—car-rental prices can fluctuate more than airfares.

Finally, think about splurging on a convertible. Not only are convertibles one of the best ways to see the beautiful surroundings, but they're also an ideal way to perfect a tan!

Parking -- Just in case, keep a couple of quarters on hand to feed hungry meters, though most have been removed in favor of those pesky parking payment stations where you feed a machine and get a printed receipt to display on your dash or even peskier ones for those who don’t live by their mobile phones in which you pay by app. Be careful, there are tons of those.

In addition to parking garages, whose flat rates are sometimes better bargains than the inevitable ticket you may get from an expired meter, valet services are commonplace and often used. It may be worth investing in valet if available because it will be cheaper than retrieving your car from a tow lot. Valet prices range from $40-$60.

Because parking is such a premium in bustling South Beach, downtown and Coconut Grove, prices tend to be jacked up—especially at night and when there are special events (day or night).  Again, Uber and Lyft are your friends.

Local Driving Rules -- Florida law allows drivers to make a right turn on a red light after a complete stop, unless otherwise indicated. In addition, all passengers are required to wear seat belts, and children 3 and under must be securely fastened in government-approved car seats.

By Taxi

If you're not planning on traveling much within the city (and especially if you plan on spending your vacation within the confines of South Beach's Art Deco District), an occasional taxi is a good alternative to renting a car and dealing with the parking hassles that come with renting your own car. Taxi meters start at about $2.95 at flag fall. You can blame the rate hikes on the gas crunch. There are standard flat-rate charges for frequently traveled routes -- for example, Miami Beach's Convention Center to Coconut Grove will cost about $25. During 2008's roller coaster year of insane oil prices, many cabs instituted a fuel surcharge costing $1 extra per person. Despite the improvement in gas prices, may cabs kept the surcharge. For specifics on rate increases and surcharges, go to

Major cab companies include Yellow Cab (tel. 305/444-4444) and, on Miami Beach, Central (tel. 305/532-5555).

By Bike

Miami is a biker’s paradise, especially on Miami Beach, where the hard-packed sand and boardwalks make it an easy and scenic route. However, unless you are a former New York City bike messenger, you won’t want to use a bicycle as your main means of transportation. Miami’s Citibike, a public bike-sharing and rental program including 1,000 custom program bikes at solar-powered, automated rental stations located at all major attractions, shops, hotels, condos, beaches, and civic centers throughout the city with rates beginning at $7.49 for an hourly pass to $24 for a day pass.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.