Whether you’re visiting Orlando for a few days or hoping to spend a full month exploring, you’re going to need a car.
For anything more than a short stroll, the car is the preferred mode of transport in Florida. Sometimes, you may find that it’s actually impossible to reach shops, restaurants and other local services without a set of wheels.
But before hitting the road and beginning your adventures in Florida’s theme park capital, there are a couple of things you should know. We put together this simple guide to help you stay safe and get the best out of your time on the open road.
What to expect when driving in Orlando
Driving is a great way to get from A to B in Florida and, even in Downtown Orlando, it’s usually a fairly stress-free experience. Roads are wide and well-maintained, and traffic jams aren’t too bad, given the number of cars of the road.
However, the freeways can be very busy and if you’re visiting Orlando for the first time and have just stepped off a long flight, it can be difficult to find your way.
If you’re staying at one of the main resorts near Disney, the route from Orlando International is fairly simple, with highways most of the way. If the traffic is clear, it should only take you around 30 minutes to get from the airport to your villa.
Renting a car in Orlando
The easiest option for short-term visitors is to rent a car. Vehicles are available to rent from Orlando International and Orlando Sanford, the city’s second airport. You can check rates for rental cars here, or let our dedicated concierge team arrange everything for you.
To rent a car in Orlando you’ll need to be at least 21 years of age at the time of rental. You may be charged extra for your rental if you’re aged 25 or under.
You do not need an international driving permit to drive in Florida, even if you’re visiting from abroad – but you will need to carry your foreign-issued driving license with you at all times.
When parking on the street in Orlando, you should always park facing the same way as the flow of traffic. If you park facing the opposite way, you may end up getting a fine.
Parking is plentiful at the vacation rental communities near Disney, where you can pull up right outside your luxury villa. Guests can always park here for free.
At the theme parks in Orlando, parking is usually a paid-for extra. Numerous parking packages are available, with rates starting at around $20 per day at the main Disney parks. Other parts of Disney (such as Disney Springs and the water parks) offer free parking.
Speed limits in Orlando
Speeding is taken seriously and tickets are regularly issued to motorists who get caught breaking the limit.
The speed limits in and around Orlando vary according to local conditions, so the best advice is to pay attention to road signs and adjust your speed accordingly. To give you a very rough guide, these are the limits that are usually enforced in Florida:
Even if you’ve just arrived, don’t drive too slowly on freeways, as minimum speed limits are in place.
Tips for British drivers visiting Florida
If you’re visiting Orlando from the UK or another place outside the USA, there are a couple of important things to keep in mind.
Drive on the right
If you follow only one rule while driving in Florida, make it this one.
Undertaking is legal
When you’re on the highway in Florida, you may be surprised to see people driving past you in the ‘slow’ lane. Undertaking might be discouraged back home but it’s a part of everyday life in Florida. Keep your wits about you and use your mirrors to make sure the road is clear before attempting to change lanes.
You can turn right on red
If you reach an intersection and the lights are red, you should always come to a stop. But, if you’re planning to turn right, you can usually go ahead and make the turn, even when the light remains red. Always make sure it’s safe to turn before pulling out though, and look out for any road signs that specifically forbid turning right on a red light.
You can turn left on flashing amber
As long as it’s safe to do so, of course.
Always stop at ‘stop’ signs
Just like at home, you should always come to a complete stop at a red stop sign, even if the coast is clear and you’re the only vehicle near the junction.
You usually need to pay in advance for gas
When filling up, it’s usual to pay for your gas in advance. If you don’t use the full amount that you’ve paid, just head back into the kiosk to get your change. If you’re driving a medium-sized family car you can expect to pay around $35 for a full tank.