Hostelworld Guide for Orlando

By Colm Hanratty


Located in America's Sunshine State and unquestionably the theme-park capital of the world, Orlando is an enormous playground for, well, everybody. Thrill seekers can get their hearts racing on rollercoasters, those who like the water and the creatures that live in it will also be in their element, while those who want to spend their fortunes on shopping rather than sensational rides will feel right at home too. Orlando can suit every taste. But, as with most cities, look past what it is famous for and you'll discover it has lots more to offer. There's a thriving arts scene, numerous art galleries and museums, and (contrary to what you might think) it can also be a good place to take it easy. With a kicking nightlife to boot, this is one city that more and more backpackers are pencilling into their diaries. Those of you who haven't - what are you waiting for?



In this Guide...      

Useful Information
After Dark
Places to Eat
Top Attractions
Budget Tips
Where to Shop

 The Essentials


Getting There

By plane: Orlando International Airport can be found 15 miles from the city's main attractions. One of the country's busier airports, the easiest way to get to your accommodation is by shuttle bus. Taxis are expensive, and the cheapest option to International Drive/Downtown Orlando is by local bus which will cost $2.

By train: Orlando's train station is at 1400 Sligh Blvd. near Downtown Orlando. Amtrak serves Orlando with two daily trains. These originate from New York and Miami and have stops in multiple destinations along the way.

By bus: There are many different bus companies that travel to Orlando. The best-known is Greyhound whose station can be found at 555 N. John Young Parkway.

Getting Around

On foot: Areas such as International Drive and Downtown Orlando can be explored on foot. But you will need to use public transport to get to one from the other, or to get to the theme parks.

By train: Orlando doesn't have a metro or train network operating in the city centre.

By bus: There are three main bus services in Orlando - there's the 'Lymmo' which best serves Downtown Orlando. Then there is the 'Lynx' which covers the city and surrounding areas. Finally, the 'I-Ride' is a bus service in operation on International Drive (see 'Budget Tips' below).

By taxi: Taxis can be picked up along International Drive, in Downtown Orlando and other areas. Most run off fixed fares rather than metres so see what the fare will be before travelling.

Considering Florida's nickname as the 'Sunshine State', it will come as no surprise to read that Orlando enjoys a warm climate all-year round. Summers can be extremely hot and humid, with temperatures regularly climbing past 30°C/100°F. Thunderstorms are also common in summer. Winters are dry and extremely mild, meaning December and January is high season here.

 Good to know...

Language: English
Currency: US Dollar
Electricity: 220 volts, 50 cycles
Telephone Code: +1 (USA), 0407(Orlando)
Emergency Code: 911 (Police / Fire / Ambulance)
Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time
Central Post Office: 51 East Jefferson Street, Dowtown Orlando
Main Tourist Office: 8723 International Drive

Embassies *

UK: +1 202 588 6500
Canada: +1 202 682 1740
Australia: +1 202 797 3000
South Africa: +1 202 232 4400
Ireland: +1 202 462 3939
Germany: +1 202 298 4000
Spain: +1 202 728 2371
Italy: +1 202 612 4400
New Zealand: +1 202 328 4800
France: +1 202 232 6854

* Embassies in Washington DC

Hostelworld Guide for Orlando

 Cheap Eats

 After Dark

Kobe, 8350 International Drive Thanks to its daily happy hour (which is most of the day), Kobe ensures those on the tightest budgets can enjoy a nice evening meal in pleasant surroundings. This is due to entrees from $3 along with a host of cheap cocktails too. Open daily 5pm-11pm.

Hamburger Mary's, 110 West Church Street, Downtown Orlando This burger joint has been a favourite among the city's locals for years. Appetisers include wings and tenders, but you have to try the burgers. If you're hungry, save yourself for the 'Proud Mary Burger' packed with a full pound of beef. Open Sun-Wed 11am-11pm, Thurs-Sat 11am-midnight.

Bahama Breeze, 8849 International Drive If your budget won't stretch to a trip to the nearby Bahamas when in Florida, you may as well treat yourself to the food you'd enjoy there. Here you'll enjoy 'jerk chicken pasta' or 'West Indies Ribs' among other dishes. Their wings are particularly good. Open daily 11am-midnight.

 Rock on!

Hard Rock Café, 6050 Universal Boulevard, Universal Studios While you may be able to visit a Hard Rock Café in many destinations, this is the world's largest. Like the others, the walls are covered with rock'n'roll memorabilia and the waiters are energetic. The menu is what you'd expect - burgers, salads, sandwiches and more. Open daily 11am-midnight.

Mucho Tequila and Tacos, 101 S. Eola, Downtown Orlando This Mexican bar/restaurant can get the heart racing in two ways. First of all with its food - if you have a penchant for hot things in your mouth, you'll find them here. Second is the tequila - they've got over 130 different types to choose from. Open daily 4pm-close.

Rising Star, City Walk, Universal Studios Ever see one of the omnipresent talent shows on TV and think "I could do that". Here you can give yourself a test run. Not only is it very stylish, when on stage you get to sing with a live band and backing singers. A (possible) once in a lifetime chance. Open nightly 8pm-2am.

 Walk on by

City Walk, Universal Studios Not content with amusement parks, Universal Studios has a theme park for adults too, known as 'City Walk'. Attracting thousands nightly, here you will encounter a spate of bars, clubs and places to eat. When you don't feel like partying hard, it has a cinema along with shops galore to indulge in some retail therapy.

The Groove, City Walk, Universal Studios This club has two floors and a dancefloor that's constantly heaving. DJs work the turntables nightly, playing everything from house to techno and 70s to 80s. When you need a break from the dancefloor, check out themed rooms such as the cool Blue Room or the romantic Red Room. Open nightly 9pm-2am.

Wall Street Plaza, 19 N Orange Ave, Downtown Orlando Similar to City Walk, the Wall Street Plaza is home to multiple venues (eight to be exact) in the one area. These range from the relaxed 'Loaded Hog' which is the perfect place to relax over a few beers to 'Slingapours' and 'Monkey Bar', two of the more stylish, yet still unpretentious places.

Pat O'Brien's, City Walk, Universal Studios Orlando's token Irish bar is a bit different to its counterparts as it models itself on one of New Orleans' best-known bars, more so than one in Ireland. Either way, you're always guaranteed a good night here. Open daily 4pm-2am.

 Don't Miss

 Budget Tips

Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Arguably the most famous theme park in the world, the Magic Kingdom is the one you've seen in the posters - the one with the fairytale castle. It's not all fairytales though as it has its fair share of thrill rides. Make sure to catch the breathtaking nightly parade. Open daily 9am-7pm, admission begins at $82 + tax.

Wet'n'Wild, 6200 International Dr, International Drive If you consider yourself to be a bit of an amphibian and one that likes the more exciting things in life, Wet'n'Wild is just the ticket. Here you'll find signature thrill rides such as 'Brain Wash' along with places to relax such as 'Lazy River'. Open daily 10am-5pm; admission $48 + tax.

 For the big kids

Universal Studios / Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios These parks are great for children but better for older kids. This is due to their exhilarating roller coasters and motion simulator rides. These are found in different worlds, including one very popular one - The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Opening hours vary; admission begins at $82+tax.

Sea World, 5800 Water Play Way Comprising three different worlds (Sea World, Discovery Cove and Aquatica), you could spend a couple of days exploring this aquatic wonderland. Here you can enjoy dolphin and sea lion shows, swimming in tranquil pools and floating down rivers. Opening hours and admission prices vary.

Epcot Centre, Walt Disney World One of Orlando's more educational theme parks, the Epcot Centre is broken into two distinct sections. First of all you've got 'Future World' which is jam packed with sensational attractions. Second is 'World Showcase' - a series of country-themed pavilions. Open daily 9am-9pm; admission begins at $82+tax.

Invest in a City Walk Pass City Walk isn't just home to one venue - it's home to many. And entrance into each venue is $7. But rather than paying in everywhere separately, invest in a 'City Walk Pass' for $12 which will grant you access everywhere. Then you can try karaoke singing in one bar, and relaxing over a quite beer in the next.

Check out multi-ticket prices As there are so many theme parks to visit, chances are you'll want to visit more than one. As a lot of the parks are connected, it pays to buy 'multi tickets'. Do your homework before buying and you'll easily get value for hard earned dosh.

 Get on the bus

Use the I-Ride Trolley Coasting up and down Orlando's International Drive day and night is the I-Ride Trolley. There are two routes in operation which have over 40 stops between them. There's lots to see on 'I-Drive' making these worth investing in. Trolleys operate between 8am-10.30pm daily; day pass costs $5.

Check out the free galleries and museums There's lots of culture to absorb in Orlando in the shape of art galleries and museums. Thankfully many of them are free. These include the 'City Arts Factory' which incorporates four separate galleries and the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts which showcases the works of artists of African descent.

Relax in Lake Eola Park If theme parks, International Drive, shopping, or anything else gets a bit much, and you're looking to chill out for a few hours, this park in the heart of Downtown Orlando is the perfect place to do it. Covering 43 acres, once inside you can feed the swans, enjoy a concert at the amphitheatre, or witness a Farmer's Market if you visit on a Sunday.

Hostelworld Guide for Orlando