Orlando to Tampa Drive: 2024 Guide

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Orlando and Tampa are two of the most popular places to visit in Florida and the whole of the US.

This means that an Orlando to Tampa Drive is pretty common during a trip to the Sunshine State.

There are some questions you may have before beginning the drive, and luckily for you, I’m here to answer all of them.

I’m a full-time traveller and I’ve spent a few months staying in Florida, so I’ve taken this drive many times.

So let’s get right into it!

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✈️ Flights: Skyscanner
🏨 Hotels: Booking.com
πŸ’΅ Hostels: Hostelworld
πŸ—Ί Tours & Activities: Viator and GetYourGuide
πŸš— Car Rental: Discover Cars
🚌 Transport: Flixbus
πŸ₯ Travel Insurance: Safetywing
πŸ“±E-SIM: Airalo
πŸ’» VPN: Surfshark

Orlando to Tampa Drive Distance

Let’s start with the distance between Orlando and Tampa. Assuming you take the most direct route, it’s about 84.2 miles or 135.5 kilometers to get between the two cities.

It’s a lot closer than people imagine as the two look relatively far apart when you look on a map of Florida.

The drive is a pretty easy and straightforward one, and it’s more or less all highway to get to Tampa.

Renting a car for the drive?

I highly recommend using Discover Cars. They combine all the best car rental companies into one, allowing you to get the best price possible.

Orlando to Tampa Drive Time

Whether you’re heading to Tampa to catch a game of baseball, or maybe even take a Tampa dolphin tour, you’ll want to get there as quickly as possible, right?

Obviously, the length of time it takes to drive from Orlando to Tampa depends on traffic, time of day, etc., etc., but generally speaking, it usually takes around 1 hour and a half to do the drive.

Or 1 hour 30 minutes, or 90 minutes if you prefer to measure it that way. That’s just the length of a soccer game to do the Orlando to Tampa drive.

A picture of a truck and a car driving past the Tampa skyline, taken during one of the times I did the Orlando to Tampa drive.

Orlando to Tampa Drive Route

The most direct route for driving between Orlando and Tampa is the I-4, which is an interstate highway. By the way, Florida isn’t a country, it’s a state. So many people get that wrong believe it or not.

Highways tend to have a reputation for being quite boring, but as you get close to Tampa, you begin to get amazing views over the city’s skyline like you can see at the top of this post, and also some pretty cool views over the iconic Tampa Bay.

In today’s world, it’s pretty easy to just get directions from Google Maps for the drive, but if you prefer to be old school, here’s the route in writing.

  • Get on the I-4 express
  • Take the I-4 W towards Tampa
  • Take exist 8 towards FL-60 / Kennedy Boulevard / Downtown East
  • Yay! You’ve arrived in Tampa
A picture of the Tampa Bay which you can see during an Orlando to Tampa Drive.

Orlando to Tampa Drive Stops

There are lots of places to stop throughout the Orlando to Tampa drive, ranging from cities to small towns and just a simple stop for a bite to eat.

Personally, every time I drive from Orlando to Tampa, we stop at a Bob Evans for a tasty breakfast – we normally drive in the morning time. There are lots of great places to get pancakes for breakfast but I have to say, Bob Evans is up there with iHop!

Of course, there are plenty of McDonalds, steakhouses, bars and other food options to stop at. It’s an 80+ mile drive so your options are more or less endless.

A picture of pancakes with whipped cream on top from Bob Evans.

If you want to be smart about it, Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios and Wild Florida are between Orlando and Tampa, meaning you can have a normal day at the parks but simply head to Tampa instead of Orlando at the end of the day.

Otherwise, some of the most popular places to stop off include Lakeland, Winterhaven and Polk City, which is almost directly in the middle. Each of these places offer unique things to do, and are somewhere nice to visit off-the-beaten track in Florida.

Orlando to Tampa Drive Tips

As with any drive of decent length, there are some things worth knowing before setting out and driving for yourself. So here are my 5 top tips for an Orlando to Tampa drive.

  • Avoid rush hour: Because the drive mainly involves being on the interstate highway, it can get pretty busy during rush hour. Avoid driving early in the morning or in the late afternoon to early evening so you don’t get stuck in traffic. It can make the journey take well over 2 hours.
  • There’s tolls: When you drive from Orlando to Tampa, you will pass through a few toll roads, so make sure you have cash or another way of paying.
  • Head to your destination: If you use Google Maps, put in your final destination rather than simply heading to Tampa. You might need to take a different interstate exit depending on where you are going.
  • Don’t drive too slow: On the parts where the speed limit on the I-4 is 70mph, if you drive under 50mph, you can get a traffic ticket. Just like how you can for speeding too.
  • Check the conditions in advance: As you may know, Florida can experience some pretty extreme weather, so make sure you check the conditions of the journey on an app like the Florida 511 Mobile App, to find the current status of the roads.

Orlando to Tampa Drive: FAQ

Below are some questions related to the Orlando to Tampa drive along with my answers.

Where is Tampa in relation to Orlando?

Tampa is southwest of Orlando. Tampa is on the west coast of Florida, looking out into the Gulf of Mexico. Whereas Orlando is in central Florida, slightly closer to the east coast of the Atlantic. The distance between the two cities is roughly 84 miles.

How to get from Orlando to Tampa without a car?

There is a bus which departs Orlando Bus Station and arrives at Tampa Bus Station approximately 1 hour 40 minutes later. It leaves 4 times a day and costs between $10 and $30 depending on peak times and dates. If you can’t drive, taking the bus is the next best thing.

What is halfway between Orlando and Tampa

The midpoint of the 84 miles between Orlando and Tampa is Polk City, a nice place to stop off during the drive. There are lots of nice parks and gardens where you can stretch your legs while taking a break from driving.

Is it safe to drive from Orlando to Tampa?

Yes, it’s safe to drive from Orlando to Tampa. The drive is 84 miles and takes about 90 minutes to complete, and it’s mostly highway, so it’s a very safe and easy drive. There are also plenty of places where you can stop along the way if you need a break, such as Polk City.

Final Thoughts: Orlando to Tampa Drive

And there you have it, a complete guide to the Orlando to Tampa Drive.

It’s a beautiful drive and you get stunning views of Tampa before arriving.

Remember, it’s 84 miles, takes about 90 minutes and is mostly highway.

Easy, right?

Enjoy your Orlando to Tampa drive, and have fun in Tampa! It’s amazing πŸ™‚