Tampa and Orlando aren't far apart in distance (only 78 miles), but very different in what they offer the modern traveler. Home to more than 390,000 people and the third-largest city in Florida, Tampa is home to Busch Gardens and the historic Ybor City neighborhood, which was developed by Cuban and Spanish cigar-factory workers in the early 1900s. Also known for its theme parks, Orlando is a Central Florida city you won’t want to miss. Driving is the quickest option to get from Tampa to Orlando, but the bus and the train offer great, budget-friendly trips between the two cities, as well. Gas will probably cost you more than a bus ticket, not to mention parking fees if you plan to stay in an Orlando hotel.
How to Get From Tampa to Orlando
|Train||1 hour, 49 minutes||from $14||Relaxing on the Trip|
|Bus||1 hour, 49 minutes||from $12||Saving Money|
|Car||1 hour, 17 minutes||84 miles (135 kilometers)||Arriving on a time crunch|
Getting to and from Tampa and Orlando via train is pretty easy and fairly inexpensive. You'll start at Tampa Union Station and arrive at the Orlando Amtrak Station less than two hours later. The waiting room at the Tampa station is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. and you must check in 30 to 45 minutes before the train is scheduled to depart, depending on whether your tickets or you have luggage to check. This is one of the more inexpensive options with one-way tickets starting around $14 and the ride especially enjoyable if you don’t feel like driving. We don't recommend an upgrade since the trip is so short, but if you’d like to change your ticket's fare class you can; a Coach reserved seat in the Viewliner Roomette costs $170 and a reserved Coach seat in a bedroom costs $273.
The cheapest way to get between the two cities might be by bus. Hop on the Greyhound USA for a nonstop ride from Tampa to Orlando that’s just under two hours. Buses leave from Tampa Bus Station at 610 E Polk St and some buses will make a stop in Lakeland, making the trip around two hours and 10 minutes. Get an economy ticket (starting at $12 for a one-way ticket) or, if you must, Economy Extra (starting at $17), which allows for one free checked bag (max of 50 pounds) and a free carry-on (max of 25 pounds).
You can easily drive from Tampa to Orlando. The fastest route is via I-4 E. Get on I-275 N for three minutes and follow signs for I-4 E to W South St. in Orlando. Approximately 83 miles later (a little over an hour), you’ll take exit 82A and arrive near your destination. If you have a little extra time to spare, make a pit stop at Gatorland, the alligator capital of the world. Since 1949, this place has been at the helm of alligator safety and education. Immerse yourself in the swamp and check out the baby gators, the big gators and the largest group of extremely rare white leucistic alligators. Don’t miss the free-flight aviary, animal shows, a zip line, and the petting zoo.
What to See in Orlando
There are theme parks galore in Orlando. From Walt Disney World to Universal Studios you can spend the day exploring a theme park, guaranteeing a good night’s rest after. On hot days, there are water parks for your amusement, too. Hit up Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach, Aquatica or Universal’s Volcano Bay. Whether you feel like lounging and sunbathing in a lazy river or careening down a high-speed water slide, there’s something for everyone.
If you’re not interested in theme parks, the city has plenty to keep you occupied, no matter how long you plan to stay. Catch a movie at Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas Hamlin, where the seats fully recline, or at AMC Dine-In Disney Springs 24, where you can order a meal and dine while you watch. Or visit a museum like the Orlando Museum of Art, where you can check out their African, ancient American, and contemporary art collections. If shopping is more your speed, get your steps in at the Florida Mall or the Mall at Millenia. For a thrill, head to K1 Speed Orlando for some race car driving. Once you’ve hit all the theme parks, museums, and malls, you may want to try a new kind of workout with some indoor rock climbing at Aiguille Rock Climbing Center.