From Miami to Key West: 5 Best Ways to Get There

Written by Bryan Dearsley
Mar 18, 2020

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Located 160 miles southwest of Miami, Key West has the distinction of being the southernmost city in the United States. It's also the most Caribbean-like travel destination in Florida, and it has something of an "anything goes" reputation for its laid-back attitude to, well, pretty much everything.

For these and so many other reasons - a lovely climate for most of the year, plenty of attractions and fun things to do, along with a great food scene - Key West is very much the kind of place you'll want to visit time and time again.

Getting here can be part of the fun, too. While it's accessible via a variety of means of transport, you should certainly take the dramatic US1 Highway at least once. Also known as the Overseas Highway, this spectacularly scenic route offers no end of stunning vistas.

For more on this and other best ways to get to Key West from Miami, read our guide.

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1. From Miami to Key West by Tour

Sign on the beach in Key West
Sign on the beach in Key West

For those vacationing in Miami but wanting to get a taste for the Keys, a Miami to Key West day trip may be just the ticket. Departures are early - around 7am, with pickups available from hotels and other locations - but you can expect a very full day (approximately 13 hours). A definite highlight is the three-plus-hour drive along the overseas Highway, taking in landmarks along the way such as Seven Mile Bridge (all told, you'll cross some 42 bridges and 34 islands along the way), along with commentary from a qualified guide.

Once in Key West, you'll have six hours to explore this amazing Caribbean city at your own pace (though additional tour options, such as jet skiing and cruises, can be added to your itinerary when booking). The drop-off/pickup location in Key West is the Flagler Museum.

2. From Miami to Key West by Plane

Aerial view of Key West
Aerial view of Key West

By far the fastest means of getting to Key West from Miami is by flying. Taking just under an hour for a direct flight from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Key West International Airport (EYW), the route is served by a number of airlines, including American Airlines. Although a short flight, be sure to factor in additional time at the airports; while there are no customs or border facilities to navigate for internal flights like this, security checks can take some time, especially in the busier travel seasons. Fares cost upwards of $200 depending on the time of year.

For those for whom money isn't an issue (or who can share the expense among friends or family), private charters also operate along this route. Reputable charter companies worth considering include evoJets and Air Key West.

A more affordable option than a private jet, Keys Seaplanes offer floatplane services that can get you to pretty much any point around Key West - even directly to your resort. They also offer a variety of fun sightseeing flights.

While not an issue in Key West given the airport's proximity to the downtown core around Duval Street - it's only a short ride away - getting in and out of Miami's much larger facility can be more challenging. Since a taxi or Uber ride in Miami can be costly for those traveling in and out of the city, and traffic can be heavy, consider using public transit, such as the efficient Metrorail and Tri-Rail services (buses are available but subject to congestion during rush hour).

3. From Miami to Key West by Car

Road from Miami to Key West
Road from Miami to Key West

The scenery along the Overseas Highway (US1) is simply stunning, with a great deal of this iconic 113-mile-long route (170 if you count the stretch from Miami to the start of the Overseas Highway) being above water. While the journey takes an average of just over three-and-a-half hours without a break (longer if it's a weekend or rush hour), you'll want to add at least an hour or so extra for photo stops. (Be sure to set your satellite navigation just for the thrill of seeing yourself surrounded on all sides by ocean on your digital map.)

If you have even more time to spend along this iconic route, consider a stop at one or more of the larger communities along the Florida Keys, some of which offer a variety of great tourist attractions. Bahia Honda State Park in Big Pine Key, for example, boasts two great beaches and the National Key Deer Refuge Nature Center. Marathon is home to the Dolphin Research Center, which offers a variety of unique feeding and swim experiences, as well as the fascinating Turtle Hospital.

If you're not driving your own vehicle, you'd do well to consider picking up a car rental at either Miami or Key West and do at least one one-way journey by road. The bragging rights alone are worth it.

Finally, a word about parking in Key West: it's difficult! A good alternative is to make use of the first-rate Key West Park N' Ride service, located out of the Old Town Garage on Grinnell and Caroline Streets. You can leave your vehicle here for the full day and enjoy all-day shuttle rides around town.

4. From Miami to Key West by Boat

Boats near Key West
Boats near Key West

While there is no regular ferry service between Miami and Key West, there are only one or two options for those determined to arrive by water. Your best bet is to look into a charter boat. Miami Charters offers a variety of options, from high-speed boats to laid-back sailing yachts, as well as fishing charters.

Worth mentioning for those traveling from the Gulf coast of Florida, the Key West Express offers a daily service to Key West from Fort Myers and Marco Island. Departures are early morning, with return voyages taking place late afternoon.

5. From Miami to Key West by Bus

Southernmost point in the continental USA in Key West
Southernmost point in the continental USA in Key West

For those on a tight budget - and who aren't in a hurry (it can take up to five hours) - the regular bus service between Miami and Key West is certainly a good option. Greyhound Lines offer frequent daily departures, including pickups and drop-offs at Miami International Airport and, of course, Key West, for as little as $20 each way.

A smaller bus experience can be enjoyed via Keys Shuttle, which offers frequent daily service between Miami and Key West - as well as regional airports - and most destinations in between.

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