Whether you’re visiting Orlando for a few days or hoping to spend a full month exploring, using a car means you can get from A to B as quickly and as easily as possible. While public transport is available in Orlando, it is never as reliable as using your own vehicle, and gives you the flexibility and freedom you deserve whilst on vacation.
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 if you are hoping to explore all the sights the city has to offer, including the world-famous theme parks, then hopping into a car is a great idea.
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. Find out all you need to know about driving in Orlando.
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 around. So before you set off on your journey, make sure you have either had a good look at the route before hand, have a family or friend able to give you directions, or have a sat nav set up for the route. But otherwise, once you know where you are going and you know the way, typically you can expect your journey to be easy and straightforward, as the infrastructure of the roads is very-well laid out.
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. The airport is located to the Southeast of the city, with many of the resorts located in the Southwest. You’ll typically use the highways that run around the outskirts of Orlando.
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. Our dedicate guest experience team will be happy to help you sort out your car hire once your villa is booked, as a range of travel extras can be added on to ensure your vacation runs as smoothly as possible.
To rent a car in Orlando you’ll need to be at least 21 years of age at the time of rental. You may also be charged extra for your rental if you’re aged 25 or under, known as a young renter fee, so be prepared to pay an extra fee on top if you are between the ages of 21 and 24. This fee can be around $10-$30 dollars a day on top of the hire charge.
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. It is unlawful to drive without it on your person if you are in charge of a vehicle, so take extra care to ensure you have it before you set off on your drive.
Parking in Orlando
There are some car parks available in Orlando, as well as an abundance of street parking. You will need to pay your fee at the parking meter, with the fee typically available on Monday through to Saturday, from 8am to 6pm. In the Creative Village in Orlando, however, the charges apply up until 9pm. Most of these metered parking areas are free on Sundays, so this is a great time to pay a visit to the city. Also, 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 also plentiful at the vacation rental communities near Disney, where you can pull up right outside your luxury villa, or book into one of the stunning properties that come with their own driveways. Guests can always park on the driveway of and around their vacation home 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 $25 per day for standard parking at the main Disney parks. So make sure you check these out when you book your tickets to Disney World. Other parts of Disney (such as Disney Springs and the water parks) offer free parking, so make sure you don’t miss out on a visit to these iconic destinations in the city.
Speed limits in Orlando
Speeding is taken seriously in Orlando and tickets are regularly issued to motorists who get caught breaking the limit. Officials will be present in spots around the city, checking the speed of passing vehicles with a radar. If you are caught speeding, you will be pulled over and a fine will be issued.
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:
|If the speed limit is not posted||55mph|
Also very good to remember, is that you shouldn’t drive too slowly on freeways, as minimum speed limits are in place as well as speed limits. If you are picked up as driving beneath the speed limit, you could be pulled over and given a fine, just as you would if you were going over the limit. The minimum speed limit is 40mph, or if the speed limit of a road is 70mph, then the minimum speed is 50mph.
Tips for driving in 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, as the driving laws and regulations may be quite noticeably different. Here are the most important tips to remember when you are driving in Florida.
Drive on the right
In Florida, you must drive on the right-hand side of the road, with traffic passing you on your left. This is true of the United States as a whole, so if you go anywhere outside of Florida, you must remain driving on the right.
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 if you’re from somewhere like the UK, but it’s a part of everyday life in Florida. Keep your wits about you, use your mirrors, and check your blind spots 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. As always, check your mirrors, your blind spots, and stay aware of the traffic and pedestrians around you at all times.
Always stop at ‘stop’ signs
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. It is a legal requirement to stop at a stop sign before continuing on with your journey, so make sure you heed this essential requirement.
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 $50 for a full tank.
Heading to Orlando on vacation?
If you’re planning on paying a visit to the theme park capital of the world on your next vacation, then why not really make the most of your time away by booking into one of our extraordinary luxury villas? These properties truly do go above and beyond to provide you with absolutely everything you need for a perfect stay, including fully-equipped kitchens, plenty of room for every member of the family, tasteful and sumptuous décor, as well as top-notch entertainment facilities such as private pools, home movie theaters, gyms, games rooms, and even in-house spas.
Whether traveling with your family or in a group of friends, these hand-picked properties will ensure the laughter doesn’t end once you come in from a day of exploring, and that you will all build memories to last a lifetime. Interested? Click the button below to browse all of our Orlando vacation villas.