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Do You Need a Car in Orlando? 8 Tips for Getting Around

Aerial view of Downtown Orlando, Florida

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not afraid to drive down to Orlando for my annual expedition to Walt Disney World. My poor Toyota Yaris knows this all too well.

Though, I’d be lying if I said the 20+ hour drive was fun. That’s why this journey now mainly includes the Orlando International Airport instead. But, do you need a car in Orlando? I don’t think so. There are a lot of other ways to get around if you’re planning on visiting primarily for the theme parks.

When you have a city like Orlando, whose population is just over 300,000 but receives a mindboggling 70+ million visitors annually, having a car or not is an important decision. If you are trying to get around Orlando with a degree of independence (especially with luggage), you will need a car.

This is not a city with a massive public transportation infrastructure like Chicago or New York City. It’s simply not built that way.

It’s not really built for walking, either. That’s because most folks visiting Orlando stay near theme parks or in massive resorts that don’t necessarily call for leaving the bubble.

The good news is, that driving around the city is pretty easy and fairly pleasant. Orlando is a good-looking city, and the traffic isn’t terrible, which is a nice change of pace for drivers who are used to bumper-to-bumper traffic patterns.

So, as someone who spends too much time in Orlando (Disney World mostly), here are some key takeaways you should know. Suffice it to say that yours truly learned some of these tips the hard way.

Getting Around Orlando, Florida With or Without A Car

1. Renting A Car In Orlando

Aerial view of Downtown Orlando, Florida
Kevin Ruck / Adobe Stock

The first thing I need you to know about car rentals, in general, is that you may not get the kind of rental you’re asking for. For example, we rented a car in Orlando a few years back and specifically booked a sedan.

A sedan is a car my partner and I are comfortable driving. Our choice was confirmed, but they didn’t have that kind of vehicle when we showed up at the lot.

In fact, they never had that kind of vehicle in the first place. They literally only rented out Jeep Wranglers. So, while the car rental company told us it was an upgrade, we didn’t view it as such.

Just know that while the rental cars are a bit cheaper here than elsewhere in the country, you may not end up in a vehicle you’re comfortable driving — without any option to change because of non-refundable deposits.

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