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World Travel Guide > Guides > North America > United States of America > Florida > Miami

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Getting around Miami

Public transport

Getting around Greater Miami can be difficult due to the size of the city. Nevertheless, Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) (tel: +1 305 891 3131; www.miamidade.gov/transit) provides a variety of useful public transport options, including Metrorail, Metrobus and Metromover.

The Metrorail is a 40km (25-mile) elevated rapid transit system. It runs from Kendall northwards through South Miami, Coral Gables, downtown Miami and then northwest to the Hialeah district. Trains run approximately every 10-20 minutes and more frequently at peak hours. The trains connect to the Metrobus and Tri-Rail.

Metrobus operates a comprehensive bus service with more than 95 routes, some running 24 hours. Blue and green bus-stop signs list the routes and destinations. 

To pay your Metrorail or Metrobus fare, you need an EASY Card reloadable smartcard or EASY Ticket. These are sold at all Metrorail stations and various sales outlets across the city. One-day and seven-day passes are available. Cash isn't accepted on Metrorail, although buses still accept coin fares.

Downtown Miami is served by the driverless Metromover, an elevated, three-loop, fully automated monorail. It operates daily from about 0500 to midnight. The Metromover is free to all travellers. It is safe, air-conditioned and it also provides unparalleled views.

The South Beach Local makes getting around South Beach a breeze. The bus runs every 10-15 minutes and is very cheap.

Taxis

Taxis are plentiful but it is not the norm to hail one in the street. They are easily available from taxi stands outside most hotels and shopping malls, although it is more common to telephone for one.

Firms include Yellow Cab Taxi (tel: +1 786 899 3393) and Super e-Z Taxi (tel: +1 305 885 5555). A 15-20% tip is expected.

Driving

Greater Miami comprises 30 municipalities but Miami is divided into quadrants. Flagler Street runs east-west, thus dividing the city into north and south sections, while Miami Avenue runs north-south, splitting the city into east and west sections. Most Miami addresses refer to these quadrants.

Greater Miami traffic can be terrible; cars can come to an absolute standstill along Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue in South Beach during weekday rush hour and weekend nights.

There is plenty of metered parking available in Miami but not elsewhere. You should check displayed information for rates and hours of operation. Most meters accept Visa and Mastercard as well as cash. On weekends, parking garages fill up with shoppers during the day and clubbers during the night. Further information on locations of car parks, hours and rates is available from the Miami Parking Authority (tel: +1 305 373 6789; www.miamiparking.com).

Car hire

Hiring a car is relatively straightforward. Drivers must be over 25 years old, possess a valid national driving licence and a credit card. When arranging car hire, you should enquire about an all-inclusive rate and ask how this compares to the regular daily rate. An all-inclusive rate should include all taxes, airport fees and car-handling fees.

CWD (also known as LDW), which makes the hire company, rather than the driver, responsible for damage to the car, and SLI (supplementary liability insurance), also sometimes called top-up liability insurance or EP (extended protection), increases third-party liability coverage. All-inclusive rates may also include a tank of petrol and additional drivers. There is usually an extra charge for child seats.

Major providers include Alamo (tel: +1 888 826 6893; www.alamo.com), Avis (tel: +1 305 379 1317; www.avis.com), Budget (tel: +1 305 876 1820; www.budget.com) and Hertz (tel: +1 305 695 4183; www.hertz.com).

Bicycle hire

Most hire outlets are in bike-friendly Miami Beach. They include the Miami Beach Bicycle Center, 601 Fifth Street (tel: +1 305 674 0150; www.bikemiamibeach.com) and Mangrove Cycles, 260 Crandon Boulevard, Key Biscayne (tel: +1 305 361 5555; www.mangrovecycles.com).

Citi Bike (tel: +1 305 532 9494; www.citibikemiami.com) is Miami's bikeshare scheme. Although membership is better suited to residents, visitors can buy 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.

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Hotel Shelley

Occupying one of South Beach's charming art deco buildings, the pistachio and cream Hotel Shelley is within striking distance of the beach and close to most major amenities. Rooms are cosy and comfortable, and all are decked out in soothing neutral hues. Popular with younger travellers, it doesn't compromise on style.

Freehand Miami

A bright and cheerful hostel that's a short walk from the Bass Museum, the Freehand Miami is a good choice for those on a budget and who don't mind sharing their sleeping quarters. The brightly coloured rooms sleep up to eight people in bunks and are both mixed and gender-specific if you prefer. The beach is a short walk away.

Whitelaw Hotel

Housed in a quaint art deco building in South Beach, the Whitelaw Hotel has become a favourite of hipster travellers who don't want to spend the earth on accommodation. Conveniently close to all of Miami Beach's major attractions, it boasts clean, spacious rooms and a friendly atmosphere.

Dream South Beach

Once you've seen the Dream South Beach's beautifully decorated rooms, all of which come complete with iPod docks, you'll begin to realise what a bargain this is. Housed inside a beautiful art deco building, the boutique hotel is small but highly stylish. A swimming pool and lounge occupy the roof.

The Tides

As the tallest and most elegant art deco hotel on Ocean Drive, The Tides offers genuine style for the incurably hip, with a minimalist interior that is sophisticated, spacious and sumptuous, decorated in soft tones of white, taupe and sand. The 45 suites all have incredible views of the beach.

The Shore Club

It comes as no surprise that Miami's ultimate urban design hotel is located at South Beach. Stark modernism and the white-on-white décor of the 325 rooms and suites is softened by lush Moroccan-inspired tropical gardens. The Nobu restaurant and the Sky Bar are hugely popular with the city's cool crowd.