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Car Rental in Tampa: driving to the best tourist attractions in Florida
Tampa was founded as a reservation for relocated members of the Seminole nation in 1824 and has since developed into a diverse metropolitan area offering visitors a variety of outdoor, shopping, and business opportunities. While the city has some good public transportation infrastructure, navigate the city by car for the most convenience and comfort by far. Make the most of your visit by booking your rental car today.
Late spring and summer are pretty muggy and hot in Tampa, so head to the city during the fall, from September to December to enjoy the best weather.
The de facto national language of the United States is English, which is also the native language of the vast majority of Floridians. However, 18% of Tampa locals speak Spanish as a native language. Mikasuki is still spoken by the Seminole people who continue to live on reservations throughout Florida.
The currency throughout the United States is the dollar. Currency exchange is available at airports and popular tourist destinations, and credit cards are accepted at the vast majority of businesses.
Miami is in the Eastern Time Zone, UTC-5.
Automobile hire is available in over 20 locations throughout Tampa, including the Tampa International Airport (TPA) and downtown.
Tampa is ideally located to take advantage of some the best tourist attractions in Florida, while avoiding huge tourist populations. Universal Studios and numerous other theme parks are just an hour northeast of Tampa. The Crystal River Wildlife Refuge and nearby Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park are an hour and a half due north. For a longer day- or weekend-trip, consider driving about 4 hours south to Everglades National Park outside Miami. The adventurous may want to continue on to Key West, another three and a half hours to the southernmost point of the continental US.
38 nationalities can enter the United States as tourists without applying for a visa, though if you are among these nationalities, you are still required to fill out the ESTA in advance. Visit esta.us for more information. Visitors to the United States will be fingerprinted and biometrically photographed upon entry. If your nationality is not included in the visa-waiver program, you will be required to apply for a B-1 or B-2 visa in advance of your arrival.
Driving in Tampa
The biggest worry about driving in Tampa is getting lost, which is easily resolved with a GPS or satnav. If you won’t be able to navigate with your phone, be sure to ask your rental agency if your car is fitted with a navigation system. Then just enjoy the scenery and the wide roads—and keep an eye out for the occasional aggressive driver.
- Traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road throughout the USA.
- In the city: 25 to 40 mph (40 to 64 km/h)
- On rural highways: 70 mph (circa 110 km/h)
- Roads will get quite congested during morning and evening rush hours, so make the most of your travel time by avoiding driving between 7:30 and 9:30 in the morning and 3:30 and 7:30 in the afternoon and evening.
- Parking is typically available in downtown Tampa, though it will cost. Street parking is often limited to 2 hours, so park in frequent garages or lots starting at around $1.20 per hour for longer visits to the city center.
- Your domestic driver’s license is valid for driving in Florida.
- There are numerous toll roads throughout Florida, including the Selman Expressway through Tampa. Ask your rental company if your car includes a SunPass transponder.
- While the minimum driving age in Florida is 16, you will have to be 21 years of age to rent a car. Drivers under 25 may be charged extra.
Cheap Car Rental in Tampa
Automobile hire in Tampa typically starts at around $30 a day. Here are some of the best deals in Tampa:
- Kia Rio or similar (economy class) – $30/day
- Nissan Note or similar (compact class) – $31/day
- Hyundai Elantra or similar (intermediate class) – $32/day
- Volkswagen Jetta or similar (standard class) – $34/day
- Ford Fusion or similar (fullsize class) – $35/day
Note that prices vary depending on the availability of each specific car and the season in which you rent. For the most accurate offers, use the search bar above.
Tips for Renting a Car Inexpensively in Tampa
There is no seasonal variation in price for car rentals in Tampa. In fact, your best option for saving $5 or more a day is by booking your rental car a full 12 months in advance of your arrival!
If booking so far ahead isn’t an option, make sure you shop around. While Dollar and Thrifty offer the lowest prices at the Tampa International Airport, Hertz’s downtown location can often beat these prices by $1 or $2.
Keep an eye out for occasional 17% discounts that make rentals in Tampa even more affordable.
Extend your rental period to over a week to drive your daily rental price down by over $15!