The United States is a country that spans several time zones. Miami is 5 hours behind GMT. Florida is known as The Sunshine State, and rightly so: the climate is one of its main attractions, with sunshine and high temperatures nearly all year round – so don’t forget to take your sun cream. However, the heat can sometimes be alleviated by a cool ocean breeze.
Peak season falls in winter in Europe and in the rest of the United States, so it is a good idea to visit Miami between April and October when accommodation is cheaper and there are more rooms available.
The average temperature in August, the muggiest month of all, ranges from 26oC to 31oC. During the other months, there is no great variation in temperature but it can be far less humid. This humidity heats up the surrounding waters and generates storms, which can be common on summer afternoons.
The wettest month is June. Hurricanes, which are very prevalent in the gulf of Mexico, occur mainly between July and October. You should consult the weather forecast daily to check for any incoming weather fronts, as it can sometimes be necessary to evacuate the area.
Public transport is efficient, offering the Tri-Rail, Metrobus, Metrorail, and Metromover to get around. Some tourists prefer to hire a car, although they come up against many obstacles such as traffic, lack of parking spaces, and a maze of neighborhoods that merge into one. In almost all cases, public transport has facilities for disabled travelers.
Timetables vary between weekdays and weekends.
The Tri-Rail is most commonly used for long-distance journeys, connecting Miami with Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach. The 22-mile Metrorail line connects 22 stations each spread about one mile apart. The lines run between Kendall Drive and Palmetto and across South Miami, Coral Gables, and the center, and the service includes transfers to Tri-rail and Metrobus.
The whole journey takes 42 minutes and trains run between 5:00 am and midnight. Trains pass every 10 to 20 minutes, every 6 minutes during rush hour, and every half hour after 8:00 pm. The fare increases by $1.25 per zone. The Metrobus has 107 lines that cover the whole region, from Miami Beach to West Miami-Dade and from the Middle Keys to the southern tip of Broward County. The blue and green bus stops display lists of routes and destinations.
The fare is $1.25 per journey. Some lines operate 24 hours a day, and all lines connect with the Metrorail and the Metromover. Finally, the latest and most futuristic means of transport – the monorail – runs automatically (without a driver), shuttling passengers around the city center. It is made up of three routes that link up with the other public transport services and runs daily from 5:00 am until midnight, every three minutes, or every 90 seconds during rush hour. And what’s more – it’s free, it’s got air conditioning, and it gives passengers some great views into the heart of Miami.
The city has a lot of taxis, but they don’t usually stop in the street. They can be picked up at taxi ranks, although it’s more common to order taxis by phone. A daily ferry service runs from 10:00 am to 11:00 pm. It costs $7 per single trip, $12 for a return, and $15 for a one-day travel pass.
In terms of safety, Miami has now shaken off the bad reputation it earned in the eighties.
Today, its image as the crime and drug capital of America, propagated through millions of homes by the Miami Vice television series, is no more than a false misconception.
If you know which areas to avoid and are willing to follow advice, you can be sure to have a safe visit. That said, it’s advisable to avoid the districts of Overtown and Liberty City, which lie between the airport and the center.
At night, it’s best to avoid quieter areas, including the center, and to head into more lively areas such as Coconut Grove and South Beach where you can find a lot of Restaurants, a Shopping Center and Boutique, Clubs, and a Lounge Bar. Please follow seriously this suggestion for your safe.
Most businesses open from 9.00 am until 5.00 pm on weekdays, although, being a popular tourist hangout, there are places open 24 hours. It’s not compulsory to leave a tip, although in restaurants it’s fairly common to leave around 15% of the total bill, and the same goes for taxis.
Porters and bellboys usually expect a dollar in exchange for their services.
Read also the Important Visitor Information and Tips for your safety.