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Miami International Airport 101: The best ways to get to MIA

Miami International Airport 101: The best ways to get to MIA

Miami International Airport (code: MIA) is among the busiest airports in the world, accommodating over 100 airlines to more than 150 destinations around the globe. As the gateway to the Americas, MIA offers more flights to Latin America and the Caribbean than any other U.S. airport and is America’s third-busiest airport overall for international travel. So it comes as no surprise that with all that sunshine and palm trees also comes notoriously bad traffic congestion.

Thankfully, Miami’s International Airport (MIA) is centrally positioned in the city of Miami and only a short distance away from sandy beaches and Miami’s Downtown urban core. Whether you want to take public transportation, rent your own car or book an airport shuttle, there are plenty of options to get you from Miami International Airport quickly over to all the action.

Public transportation

Miami-Dade Public Transit has come a long way in recent years at working to make the airport more accessible with buses and trains available at almost all hours. With that said, Miami lacks a citywide connected public transportation system and therefore, we would only recommend a few viable public transportation options from MIA.

By far the easiest and most affordable transportation option is to catch the MIA Mover, an automated train system, from the airport to the Miami Intermodal Center. The MIA Mover train station at the airport is located on the third level between the Dolphin and Flamingo parking garages. Use the third level Skyride (moving walkways) to access the MIA Mover station. Then it’s about a four-minute ride to the Miami Intermodal Center.

Once you get to the Miami Intermodal Center (also known as the airport’s transportation hub), passengers can take the Metrorail Orange Line ($2.25 per person each way) to the Government Center stop in Downtown and jump on the free people mover tram that loops around the popular Downtown Miami areas.

MIA Mover, an automated people mover system that transports passengers at Miami International Airport. (Photo by Debbie Ann Powerll/Getty Images)

If your final destination is Miami Beach, Miami-Dade Transit’s Airport Flyer or as it’s commonly referred “The Miami Beach Bus” – offers daily express bus service between MIA and Miami Beach. Buses run approximately every 30 minutes, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. Passengers ride aboard a 40-foot buses with air-conditioning, equipped with comfortable seating and luggage racks at a cost of $2.65 each way. The trip takes about one hour since it incorporates stops along the way yet it is the most cost-effective choice for reaching South Beach using public transportation.

Transit time: 60-90 minutes

Cost: $2.65 each way

Related: The best credit cards for commuting

Ride-share

The determining factor of ride-share versus other modes of transportation truly depends on what your plans are while in Miami. If you are coming to Miami for a weekend simply to be a beach bum or want to experience the exciting Downtown neighborhoods, using ride-share services like Uber and Lyft are plentiful and usually more economical than renting a car due to expensive parking costs and high gas prices in popular neighborhoods like South Beach and Brickell.

(Photo by asiandelight/Getty Images)

Ride-share services at Miami International Airport such as Uber and Lyft can drop you off at the departure level, in the terminal where your airline is located. For pickups, there is no designated assigned space so once passengers land at MIA, they can pick up their luggage at baggage claim and step outside to request an Uber or Lyft. All airport pickups are subject to a $2 surcharge fee yet ride-sharing at MIA remains a more comfortable and affordable option than hailing a cab.

Commute time: 15-30 minutes, depending on traffic and outside of rush hour times.

Cost: $20 to $30 to Downtown Miami and Miami Beach.

Related: The best credit cards for Uber and Lyft

Taxi

Taxi rates in Miami are notoriously expensive. However, if you are adamant about taking one or in town for work and your employer requires it for reimbursement, taxis charge a flat rate of $35 to South Beach and $21.70 to Downtown Miami hotels from MIA. Designated Taxi and Shuttle stands are located on the ground (arrivals) level, outside of the baggage claim area. There is no fee for sharing a taxi so you can always split the cost with another person or three. Many taxicabs now accept credit cards but check with the taxi operator before starting your ride.

(Photo by wellesenterprises/Getty Images)

Commute time: 20-30 minutes, depending on traffic and outside of rush hour times.

Cost: $21 to $90. The flat rate to South Beach is $35 and Downtown Miami is $21.70. Taxis have flat rates to certain zones in the urban metro-area. Outside of these zones, metered fares are charged at $4.50 for the first 1/6 mile and $.40 each additional 1/6 mile, which equals to $6.90 for the first mile and $2.40 for each additional mile.

Hotel Shuttle Service

With dozens of airport hotels surrounding MIA and the busy tourists areas not too far away, many hotels in the area offer complimentary or low-cost shuttle service to and from the airport for guests staying with them. Check with your hotel to see if this option is available to you. Effective December 11, 2019, hotel shuttle buses pick up/drop off at MIA on the ground level (Arrivals) at designated zones outside of baggage claim. Across from doors 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 15, 20 23, passengers can be picked up and led to their hotel with no stops in between.

(Photo by ablokhin/Getty Images)

Commute time: 5 – 35 minutes, depending on hotel distance.

Cost: Complimentary or at a reduced rate for hotel guests.

Related: Best ways to use your hotel points in Miami

Rental Car

If you want to explore the sprawling city and its surrounding areas, your best mode of transportation is most certainly renting a vehicle at MIA. Upon arrival, passengers can connect to the MIA Rental Car Center using the MIA Mover, located on the 3rd level between the Dolphin and Flamingo garages. The Rental Car Center provides direct access to and from the airport via the MIA Mover, an automated elevated train that runs between the center and the airport terminals.

The Rental Car Center is located next to the Miami Intermodal Center. All you need to do after picking up your bags is take the MIA Mover, from the airport to the Miami Intermodal Center and you have arrived at your rental pickup location.

(Photo by GoodLifeStudio/Getty Images)

You will find many popular rental car companies at this location who can get you set up with a car and behind the wheel in no time. If your car rental agency is not at the Miami Intermodal Center, check the operating rental car agency’s website or call them as pick up service for passengers is readily available and done as a courtesy just outside the lobby of the Rental Car Center.

Commute time: 15 – 30 minutes, depending on traffic and outside of rush hour times.

Cost: $15 – $125 per day, depending on vehicle type.

Related: Credit cards that offer elite status for car rentals

Bottom line

There are numerous ways to get to and from Miami International Airport, but your plans while in town will determine what is the best method of transportation for you. If you plan on exploring Miami and its surrounding cities or venturing to Fort Lauderdale, a rental car is an absolute must. If plans are to stay put on the beach or enjoy the downtown urban core of Brickell, Port of Miami and Design District, booking ride-sharing services will make more sense and are plentiful at MIA and all throughout the city.

Further Reading: 

Miami Airport 101: A guide to the lounges at MIA
The best ways to use your hotel points in Miami

Featured Image by GgWink/Getty Images.