With a sprawling metropolis, Orlando offers various public transportation options to make exploring its vibrant neighborhoods and suburbs easy. Although the city doesn’t have a subway network like other large tourism hubs around the country, it does offer some great above-ground alternatives that will get you to your final destination in a matter of minutes.
How to Ride the LYNX
LYNX, the largest public transit provider in Orlando, moves passengers around more than 2,500 square miles throughout Orange, Seminole, and Osceola counties. The regularly scheduled bus services 84 routes and is equipped with bike racks. While the most spread out of the city’s systems, it’s not necessarily built for speed. So if you’re in a hurry, take advantage of the FastLink commuter service the bus offers, which is designed to provide quicker connections by reducing stops along specific corridors on weekday mornings and afternoons. LYNX can take you all across town, from the Orlando International Airport to Winter Park, Downtown, and Disney World.
How to Pay
A single-ride fare is $2 for both regular LYNX and FastLYNX buses, while an all-day pass is $4.50. The discounted Youth and AdvantAge single-ride fare is $1 for eligible passengers with a LYNX issued ID. Bus passes are available for purchase on the official LYNX website, with a smartphone via the LYNX PawPass app, or various retail locations around the city.
How to Ride the LYMMO
LYMMO Downtown Circulator is an excellent option if you’re staying within the bustling Downtown district. The on-the-ground bus system operates along four citrus-themed routes: the Grapefruit Line, Lime Line, Orange Line, and Orange Line North Quarter Extension. Its 42 stops grant easy access to Downtown’s many landmarks and attractions, including the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Amway Center, Creative Village, Lake Eola, and even connects with the LYNX Central Station. Depending on the line you choose, buses arrive every 10-20 minutes, with shorter wait times on weekdays.
How to Pay
No need; it’s free!
How to Ride the SunRail
This north- and south-bound train boasts several stops in Orlando, easily connecting the city to the farther-reaching suburbs and towns like Debary, Altamonte Springs, and Kissimmee. The SunRail trains are ADA compliant and bicycle-friendly and include restrooms, power outlets, and free Wi-Fi, promising a comfortable ride.
How to Pay
One-way and round-trip tickets are valid for travel the day of purchase only and are priced starting at $2, though fares depend on how many zones you will be traveling through. You can buy your ticket at the vending machines located on all SunRail station platforms. Just remember you must "tap-on" by scanning it at any Ticket Validator on the station platform before departing, and tap off when you arrive at your destination station.
How to Ride the Amtrak
Housed in a historic 1920s style building, Orlando’s Amtrak station serves as a primary point along the national railroad route that whisks passengers up and down the East Coast. Those planning a trip to Florida from the Northeast can opt for a scenic multi-day trip down the coastline aboard the train, which drops off at the Sanford stop and connects with the inter-city SunRail.
How to Pay
One-way and round-trip tickets are available for purchase online at Amtrak's website.
Brightline, which launched in South Florida in 2018 and connected Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach more than ever before, is expanding northward with a train stop planned to open in Orlando’s Downtown in 2021. The new line will allow travelers to go between Miami and Orlando in just three comfortable hours.
Other Transit Options
- Trolleys and Shuttles: Many of Orlando’s neighborhoods, like Winter Park and Downtown, offer free trolleys that circulate within a small area. Orlando’s high-traffic district straddling International Boulevard and Universal Boulevard is serviced by the I-Ride Trolley, an easy and affordable $2 single fare trolley with stops at many of the area’s resorts and attractions, including Seaworld and Icon Park. The Lake Nona ‘burb uses a fleet of small self-driving shuttles.
- Bikes and Electric Scooters: One of Orlando’s most innovative ways of getting around is the newly adopted bike and electric scooter sharing system scattered throughout the city. With brands including Bird, Lime, HOPR, and new-kid-on-the-block Lynx City, the pick-up/drop-off sharing system offers a gas-free alternative to getting around the city on a sunny day. All you need to do is download the respective application on your smartphone, find the closest bike or scooter to you, and pay for your trip through your phone. Each company has its own designated limits, so ensure you leave your ride within the allocated drop off zones to avoid an unwanted charge on your account.
- Car Rentals: Orlando was built with far-reaching highways cutting through the center of town, so renting a car is undoubtedly the best option if you’re looking for unhindered mobility around the city. You can pick up a car at several points throughout the city, most notably being at Orlando International Airport and all along International Drive if you’re already near the theme parks. Drop it off there again before your departure. Parking in Orlando is amusingly easy compared to other large cities with few parallel parking encounters and ample free lots. Most hotels offer free parking or well-priced valet service, but it never hurts to call ahead for more information. If you plan to visit the city’s theme parks, their respective parking fees are listed on their websites. Be aware that during the summer seasons, the Disney World and Universal Studios lots fill up fast, so try to arrive early.
- Rideshares: If you prefer the freedom of a car, but don’t want to navigate the city and parking on your own, there’s always the rideshare route that is increasingly popular in Orlando with locals and visitors alike. Companies like Uber, Lyft, and traditional taxi cabs, or the upscale Blacklane, are aplenty and ideal options if you’re planning on bar hopping through Downtown or wine tasting in Winter Park.
Tips for Getting Around Orlando
- If you’re renting a car, don’t assume the parking is free. Do your due diligence to look for signage or a nearby meter. Some parts of the city, like Winter Park and Downtown, have more metered parking than others, so it’s always best to lean on the safe side to avoid a steep ticket.
- If the majority of your trip will be spent in the center of Orlando, try to stick to the LYMMO or trolleys, which will save you money, are better for the environment, and avoid the hassle of maneuvering through heavy weekday traffic compared to rental cars and rideshares.
- If you’re renting a bike or electric scooter, check the forecast before you venture off. Weather in Florida is notorious for changing suddenly, so while you may have set out into the sunshine, 30 minutes can usher in a tropical storm. It’s best to check with a meteorology app beforehand to avoid an unwanted soak.