About Tampa International Airport (TPA)
Address: 5405 Airport Service Rd, Tampa, 33607 1429, Fl, Fl
Tampa International Airport (TPA) is located 6 miles (9.7 km) west of downtown Tampa, Florida. The airport car rental counters for Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty are accessed from the terminal via the SkyConnect tram system. Note that car hire services are available daily from 5:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and customers returning vehicles must arrive at least 90 minutes prior to their departures.
For convenience and efficiency, visitors to Tampa will need to rent a car. The city is laid out on a simple grid and well connected by a series of major interstate highways. Tampa’s central business district is situated on the north shore of Hillsborough Bay, with Saint Petersburg 23 miles ( 36 km) to the west, and Bradenton (45 mi / 72 km) on the south shore of the bay. The primary routes in and around the city are I-4, 1-275, the Leroy Selmon Expressway (Toll Road 618), and the Veterans Expressway (Toll Route 589).
Generally speaking, there’s nothing exceptional about driving in Tampa. Rush hour traffic is unavoidable on weekdays, but otherwise, traffic around town is fairly free flowing. Construction delays are common near the airport and on all major roads. Outside Tampa city limits, suburban sprawl dominates the landscape, with wide roads and plenty of parking.
Choosing your car
Let’s have some fun for a moment. Florida is called the Sunshine State for a good reason, and Tampa is the perfect place to rent a Volkswagen Beetle convertible. Just watch out for thunderstorms that occur without warning. On the other hand, Nissan compact cars get you from Point A to B without the frills. Likewise, Mitsubishi economy and Toyota intermediate sedans do the job without a lot of fanfare. For road trips, the Audi standard 4-door sedan is seats five with room for gear. The Mercedes fullsize sedan earns points for style and function. Choose between Jeep intermediate and Chevrolet fullsize SUVs, or load the crew into a Chrysler 7-9 seater minivan / peoplemover.
Tips and advice for renting a car at Tampa Airport
Due to the number of water crossings in the region, GPS is highly recommended to avoid disorientation.
Making U-turns is likely to be a big part of your driving experience, due to the number of right-turn only lanes that seem to pop up out of nowhere.
Sudden bouts of torrential rainfall are common throughout Central Florida, but especially in the Tampa-St. Pete metropolitan area. Even locals are likely to pull over and wait for the rain to stop.
The most common gripe about congestion stems from the I-4 / I-275 interchange just north of central Tampa. Avoid it if possible.
Driving in major U.S. metropolitan areas isn’t as scary as the hype would lead you to believe. Roads are well marked, law enforcement is a constant presence, and aside from a few jokers who think the rules don’t apply to them, most drivers are courteous and conscientious.
Tampa Airport is a great jump-off for the warm waters and clean beaches of Clearwater (22 mi / 34 km) to the west, and Siesta Key (67 mi / 101 km) to the south.