Miami Airport Layover Sightseeing

miami airport layover sightseeing

Miami International Airport (MIA) is an enormous hub for American and international travel, with a particular emphasis on connections into Latin America. Layovers in Miami are increasingly common, and completely manageable with a bit of pre-planning. If you’re looking at more than five hours, consider dropping your bags at a storage space and setting out to explore ‘The Magic City’ – also known as the informal ‘Capital of Latin America’. The airport itself is located quite close to many of the area’s main attractions, making quick city-adventures very accessible. Details on what to do and how to do it follow in the guide below.

Airport Overview

If you find yourself with a layover in Miami of less than five hours, you are likely best sticking around the airport terminals. International connections are often required to re-check their baggage – which can be time consuming in and of itself. With whatever remains, spend some time poking around the terminals, exploring the shops, looking for therapy dogs and checking out the art galleries. For more information on the airport itself, check out our Miami Airport Guide.

Sightseeing Options

Below are a few essential sights.

South Beach

miami south beach

South Beach – or ‘SoBe’ – is the epitome of Miami and is likely essential to any quick visit of the city. Restaurants, clubs, bars and countless shops are all housed in a series of Art Deco buildings that have come to characterize the city’s unique style. Pulsing at any time of day, the challenge with a visit to South Beach is deciding what to do – and how much to take on.

Time Required: A visit to South Beach can last anywhere from an hour onwards. With countless eating, drinking, shopping, sightseeing and people-watching opportunities, this destination has something for everyone and every period of time.

How to Get There: Check out this Google Map for details on public and private transit options, and the associated time required.

Ocean Drive

miami ocean drive

Take a stroll down Ocean Drive to stretch your legs as you wander past the art deco buildings that symbolize Miami’s heyday. The Park Central Hotel and the Imperial are among the most impressive remnants of this 1920s style – though you will easily wander past 800+ buildings from this time period during an afternoon here. Whether you prefer to wander, embark on a self-guided audio tour, or follow guided walking tour, it is recommended that you begin at the Art Deco District Welcome Center.

Time Required: Like South Beach, this walking tour can take as little or as much time as you have. The guided tours take approximately 90 minutes and begins daily at 10:30AM.

How to Get There: Check out this Google Map for details on public and private transit options, and the associated time required.

Little Havana

Get even more out of your layover as you step out of America and into Cuba on a visit through Little Havana. As the hub for all this Cuban in this fantastically multicultural city, a few hours strolling through the neighbourhoods is sure to add extra flavour to your layover. Top sights include the main street – Calle Ocho – and the Walkway of Stars, which celebrates Latin American celebrities. An extra benefit of Little Havana is that of all the sights listed, this one is closest to the airport.

Time Required: Like other sights in Miami, Little Havana is a place you can walk and wander through for as long as you would like/are able to. Banking on an hour or two as a minimum would likely be safe.

How to Get There: Check out this Google Map for details on public and private transit options, and the associated time required.

Transportation

MIA is connected to the city of Miami through a number of different public and private transit options. Upon landing at one of the (many) terminals, it is likely you will need to hop on to the MIA Mover, an electric-train, that connects the terminals with the airport’s Central Station.

Public transit options include:

  • Metrorail (Central Station): A two-line rail line that connects major areas of Miami’s city center and surroundings with the airport
  • Metrobus (Central Station): Intersects the Metrorail to provide broader coverage of destinations within the city.

Private transit options:

  • Taxis and SuperShuttles (Ground Level, Baggage Claim): Cars and vans provide custom connections into the city center and elsewhere
  • Car Rental Services (Central Station, after MIA Mover): A number of companies offer car rentals to travellers.

Before You Go: Layover Tips

Now that you are motivated and excited for your mini layover vacation, just make sure to check a few final logistical concerns off your list before you fully commit.

  • Do you need to organize a visa to leave the airport? Requirements change frequently and for each nationality, so be sure to seek out current details on the availability, cost and procedures of obtaining a transit visa.
  • When is your next flight’s check-in time? Make sure you double check with your airline exactly when you need to be at the airport – and plan your layover accordingly.
  • What are security wait times like at the airport? Some airports are notorious for long security wait-times, so be sure to do a bit of research in advance and factor that into your overall time-budget.
  • What’s happening with your luggage? When you check in to your first flight, be sure to confirm whether your luggage is checked through or needs to be picked up between your connecting flights. Visit our Miami Airport Guide for information about Luggage Storage.

Other Useful Resources

Finally, here are a few handy resources to help you plan your layover even more thoroughly:

buy a lounge pass