6 Best Airports in Orlando

by Global Viewpoint
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The city of Orlando is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world, and for good reason. It’s a land of enchanting theme parks and natural beauty, and a hub for business and leisure. As a gateway to Florida’s most visited attractions, the Orlando airport sees millions of travelers each year. Want to start your vacation out on the right foot? Here are seven of the best airports in Orlando to choose from!

Whether you’re traveling with friends or by yourself, choosing the right arrival airport is just as important as choosing a unique vacation rental or the best airline. In addition to providing your first impression of your chosen destination, a good airport can help you save money, lower your stress, and maximize your fun.

Of course, every airport has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Some have higher fees but are closer to key attractions. Others offer more affordable flights but require longer drives to and from. If you’re planning to visit Orlando or one of Florida’s hidden gems nearby, it helps to know what every airport has to offer. Without further ado, here are my picks for the six best airports in Orlando!

Orlando airports for all types of travelers
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What to consider when choosing the best airport in Orlando

When choosing from the best airports in Orlando, consider your own specific travel needs and preferences. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

Proximity: If you’re planning to visit popular Orlando attractions such as Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, or SeaWorld, the Orlando International Airport (MCO) is conveniently located and provides the quickest access. However, if your destination lies elsewhere, you might consider other airports closer to your final destination.

Flight availability and prices: Your choice might be influenced by the airlines operating from each airport, the availability of direct flights to your destination, and ticket prices. Some airports host low-cost carriers offering more affordable options.

Size and traffic: Larger airports like MCO and Miami International Airport (MIA) often provide more amenities and flights. But they can also be busier and more challenging to navigate. Smaller airports like Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) and Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB) can offer a more relaxed, less crowded experience.

Transportation options: Consider the availability and cost of transportation to and from the airport. This includes car rentals, shuttle services, taxis, and public transportation. 

Facilities and services: Look at the amenities provided by each airport. This includes dining and shopping options, lounges, children’s areas, and services like free Wi-Fi. 

Customer service: Reviews and rankings can give you an idea of the level of customer service to expect at each airport. A well-managed airport can make your travel experience more pleasant and less stressful.

On-time performance: Some airports have better records than others for getting flights out on time. If your schedule is tight, this could be a critical factor.

Taking the time to consider these factors in light of your specific travel needs can significantly enhance your travel experience, ensuring that your journey is as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

Best airports in Orlando: 6 places to fly to into Florida

The first step to ensuring a thrilling Florida vacation is booking a flight into an awesome airport. Here are six of the very best airports in Orlando. Happy travels!

1. Orlando International Airport (MCO)

The atrium at Orlando International Airport, one of the best airlines in Orlando
Orlando International is the main gateway to Florida for millions of travelers each year. | Credit: Larry D. Moore

The primary gateway to Central Florida is Orlando International Airport (MCO). It stands out as one of the best airports in Orlando for multiple reasons. Strategically located just six miles southeast of Downtown Orlando, MCO is the busiest airport in Florida, serving over 50 million passengers annually. A myriad of airlines operate from MCO, providing both domestic and international connectivity that is hard to beat.

At MCO, the emphasis is on the passenger experience. With a plethora of amenities, including world-class dining options, retail stores, lounges, and even a hotel, MCO ensures your waiting time feels less like a delay and more like an extension of your vacation. The airport’s robust transportation options – rental cars, taxis, shuttles, buses, and even a direct link to SunRail – further enhance its appeal, ensuring you’re always well-connected to the city and beyond.

Moreover, MCO’s close proximity to major attractions like Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld is a clear advantage. In less than 30 minutes, you could find yourself stepping into a world of magic and excitement. With its unbeatable location, extensive connectivity, and exceptional passenger amenities, Orlando International Airport is a compelling option for any traveler seeking both comfort and convenience.

2. Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB)

The main sign for Orlando Sanford International Airport in Florida
Orlando Sanford International is one of the best airports in Orland for budget-conscious travelers. | Credit: Valder137

A little further away from other airports, yet worth considering, is the Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB). Situated 18 miles northeast of Orlando, SFB offers a quieter, less crowded alternative to MCO. It’s particularly loved by budget-conscious travelers, thanks to its operation of several low-cost airlines.

What SFB lacks in size, it makes up for in ease of use and convenience. The airport’s layout is simple and straightforward, making navigation a breeze even for first-time visitors. Check-in and security processes are typically quicker due to lower passenger volumes, which translates to less stress and more leisure time for you.

SFB is home to a selection of dining and shopping options, allowing travelers to grab a bite or pick up last-minute essentials. The airport also boasts impressive transportation links, with rental cars, taxis, and shuttle services readily available for passengers.

Another nice feature of SFB is the less intense traffic around the airport. It can often result in faster, more predictable travel times, making SFB an attractive option for those seeking a smoother travel experience. Although a smaller airport, the Orlando Sanford International Airport’s convenience, ease of use, and cost-effective flights make it a strong contender for the best airports in Orlando today.

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3. Tampa International Airport (TPA)

A passenger jet docking at Tampa International
One of the best airports in Orlando driving distance, Tampa International offers exceptional service. | Credit: S340

On the west coast of Florida, just over a 90-minute drive from Orlando, lies Tampa International Airport (TPA). Its slightly farther distance from Orlando is more than compensated for by the quality of service and extensive range of flight options available. Serving more than 22 million passengers annually, TPA is recognized as one of the best and cheapest airports in Florida.

TPA houses over 20 airlines, including major and budget carriers, thereby offering a broad spectrum of flight choices. Its unique, user-friendly design – the ‘landside/airside’ concept – minimizes walking distances and makes navigation effortless. TPA also boasts an array of amenities that rival the best airports around the globe. From high-end retail shops to a diverse selection of dining options, TPA guarantees a quality passenger experience.

Ground transportation is a breeze with a variety of options such as taxis, ride-sharing services, bus transit, and rental cars. The airport’s monorail system swiftly transports passengers between the main terminal and the airsides. Furthermore, TPA’s commitment to customer service is evident in its friendly staff, clean facilities, and efficient operations. When considering the overall passenger experience, Tampa International Airport is undoubtedly one of the best airports in Orlando driving distance.

4. Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB)

An aerial view of Daytona Beach International Airport from under the wing of a small commuter plane
Daytona Beach International Airport offers direct flights to and from many major US cities. | Credit: Enrique Galeano Morales

One small yet efficient airport located approximately 56 miles northeast of Orlando is Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB). It offers a distinctively relaxed and stress-free travel experience. Its smaller size means fewer crowds and less hassle, an appealing perk for travelers who prefer a more peaceful environment.

Don’t be fooled by its size. DAB is served by major airlines, offering direct flights to and from several key US cities. The airport layout is simple, making the entire process from check-in to boarding straightforward and swift. This can significantly reduce travel-related stress and contribute to a more enjoyable journey.

Despite its smaller footprint, DAB offers all the essential amenities, including dining options, shopping outlets, and car rental services. The airport is also a stone’s throw away from the famous Daytona Beach, one of the best and cheapest beaches to fly to. That makes it an excellent option for those planning a beach holiday. With its easy-going atmosphere, uncomplicated design, and proximity to east coast beaches, Daytona Beach International Airport is a worthy contender on our list of top airports.

5. Jacksonville International Airport (JAX)

A long hallway inside Jacksonville International Airport lined with shops and spas
Though further from Orlando, Jacksonville International makes up for that with superior comfort. | Credit: qwesy qwesy

Venturing a bit further north to Jacksonville, we find the Jacksonville International Airport (JAX). Although a two-hour drive from Orlando, JAX is an excellent option for travelers prioritizing comfort and excellent customer service over proximity.

JAX offers non-stop flights to major domestic destinations, which can be a significant advantage for travelers looking to bypass layovers. It’s a friendly and welcoming airport, where southern hospitality shines through, making passengers feel at home. Despite being an international airport, JAX maintains a personal feel that is often missing in larger airports.

The airport offers a good variety of shopping and dining options. The ARTport Gallery showcases local artists, providing a unique entertainment option for passengers. The airport also boasts convenient ground transportation, making it easy for passengers to travel to their final destination.

When it comes to customer service, JAX always ranks high. The staff’s commitment to providing a smooth travel experience is evident in their efficient handling of check-in and security procedures, and their readiness to assist passengers. This dedication to service makes Jacksonville International Airport a standout choice on our list of the best airports in Orlando and surrounding areas.

6. Miami International Airport (MIA)

The interior of Miami International Airport, one of the best airports in Orlando driving distance
Miami International is a gateway to Latin America, as well as one of the best airports near Orlando. | Credit: Jenstew2012

Located 235 miles south of Orlando, Miami International Airport (MIA) is the primary gateway to Latin America from the US. Though it might be a longer drive from Orlando, it is a viable option for travelers due to its sheer scale, the volume of flights, and international connectivity.

As one of the busiest airports for international passengers in the US, MIA hosts over 80 airlines. It also links more than 150 domestic and international destinations. Its status as a hub for flights to Latin America and the Caribbean Islands makes it a particularly attractive choice for travelers heading to these regions. 

More than just one of the best airports in Orlando driving distance, MIA is a veritable city itself. It offers a wealth of amenities that cater to all kinds of travelers. These include an wide range of dining options, duty-free shopping, art exhibitions, and even a yoga room for relaxation. MIA also offers multiple ground transportation options, including rental cars, taxis, buses, and the Metrorail, ensuring a smooth onward journey.

In a nutshell, the appeal of Miami International Airport lies in its international connectivity, range of airlines, and impressive amenities. If your journey requires broad international flight options or simply if you relish an airport that buzzes with activity, MIA stands as a robust choice.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about best airports in Orlando

Before you depart on your trip to Florida, let’s look at some of the frequently asked questions about the best airports in Orlando. Hopefully my answers will help ensure a fun and memorable vacation.

What are the two major airports in Orlando?

The two major airports in the Orlando area are Orlando International Airport (MCO) and Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB). 

Orlando International Airport (MCO), located just six miles from Downtown Orlando, is the busiest airport in Central Florida. With its extensive flight connectivity, MCO serves as a major gateway for travelers visiting Orlando’s many world-renowned attractions.

The airport hosts numerous domestic and international airlines, providing a wide range of flight options to accommodate various travel needs. MCO offers exceptional passenger amenities. These include dining options, shopping outlets, lounges, and convenient ground transportation services. Altogether, it’s a comprehensive and convenient travel hub.

Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB), situated approximately 18 miles northeast of Orlando, is the second major airport in the area. While smaller in size compared to MCO, SFB is notable for its operation of several low-cost carriers.

These airlines specialize in offering affordable flights, making SFB an appealing choice for budget-conscious travelers. Despite its smaller scale, SFB still provides essential services and facilities, including dining options, shops, and transportation services.

Both airports play a significant role in serving the Orlando area, offering distinct advantages for travelers. MCO stands as the larger and more well-known airport, with broad flight connectivity and proximity to major attractions. On the other hand, SFB appeals to budget travelers seeking cost-effective flights. Consider your specific travel needs, flight options, and preferences when selecting between the best airports in Orlando.

What is the best airport to fly into Orlando?

When it comes to determining the best airport to fly into Orlando, the answer depends on various factors that align with your specific needs and preferences. Orlando International Airport (MCO) is often regarded as the top choice for many travelers. Here’s why:

Proximity to Major Attractions: Orlando International Airport (MCO) is located just six miles southeast of Downtown Orlando. This makes it the closest airport to the city’s major attractions, including Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld. This proximity translates into less travel time. It allows you to quickly immerse yourself in the magic and excitement of these renowned destinations.

Extensive Flight Connectivity: MCO serves as a major transportation hub, offering a wide range of domestic and international flights. With over 50 million passengers passing through its gates annually, MCO hosts numerous airlines. As such, it ensures a comprehensive selection of flight options to suit every traveler’s needs.

Efficient Transportation Options: MCO offers a multitude of transportation options to facilitate seamless connectivity. From rental cars and taxis to shuttles and buses, the airport provides convenient access to the city and beyond. The airport’s direct link to SunRail, Orlando’s commuter rail system, further enhances accessibility for passengers.

While MCO is the primary choice for most travelers, it’s important to consider other airports within driving distance of Orlando. Depending on your specific requirements, factors such as flight availability, cost, and convenience may lead you to consider another one of the best airports in Orlanda as an alternative.

Flying to Orlando is worth it alone to see Universal Studios
Flying to Orlando is worth it alone to see Universal Studios

Which of the best airports in Orlando is cheapest to fly into?

When it comes to determining the more cost-effective airport to fly into in the Orlando area, Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) often stands out as a favorable option.

Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) is frequently associated with more affordable flights due to its operation of several low-cost carriers. These airlines specialize in offering competitive fares and can provide budget-friendly options for travelers. By focusing on cost-conscious travelers, SFB presents an opportunity to find cheaper flights and potentially save money on airfare.

On the other hand, while Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the primary gateway to the region, it typically accommodates a broader range of airlines, including major carriers. This can result in a wider spectrum of flight options. However, it may also be accompanied by higher ticket prices compared to SFB.

However, it’s important to note that flight prices can vary based on several factors. This includes the specific airlines serving each airport, seasonal demand, time of booking, and the destination. It is advisable to compare prices from different airports and airlines using online travel booking platforms or by directly visiting the airlines’ official websites. By conducting thorough research and being flexible with travel dates, it’s possible to secure cost-effective flights regardless of the airport.

It’s worth considering that while SFB may offer cheaper flights, it is located further from the main attractions in Orlando compared to MCO. As such, always weigh the potential savings against factors such as transportation costs and travel time to their desired destinations.

What is the cheapest day of the week to fly to Orlando?

Flying to Orlando tends to be most cost-effective on Wednesdays. Choosing this mid-week day for travel can not only offer monetary savings on airfare but also has the added benefit of potentially shorter wait times at local attractions due to fewer crowds.

Which of the best airports in Orlando is closest to Disney World?

When it comes to proximity to Walt Disney World, Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the closest airport. Situated just six miles southeast of Downtown Orlando, MCO offers the shortest travel distance to the Walt Disney World Resort.

The convenience of MCO’s location cannot be overstated. Upon landing, travelers can quickly proceed to ground transportation options, including rental cars, taxis, shuttles, and even the direct link to SunRail. These services efficiently connect passengers to the Walt Disney World Resort, located in Lake Buena Vista, within a short drive.

By choosing MCO as your arrival airport, you minimize travel time and maximize your enjoyment at Walt Disney World. Whether you’re embarking on a magical adventure at the Magic Kingdom, exploring the futuristic world of Epcot, venturing into the wild at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, or immersing yourself in cinematic experiences at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, MCO’s close proximity ensures that the enchantment begins soon after you touch down.

It’s important to note that other airports in the area, such as Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB), Tampa International Airport (TPA), and Miami International Airport (MIA), also offer access to Walt Disney World. However, they involve longer travel distances, which can impact your overall travel experience and may result in additional travel time.

To start to your Disney adventure, choose Orlando International Airport (MCO) as your arrival point. It positions you just a short drive away from the magic and wonder of Walt Disney World. This makes MCO the clear choice for travelers seeking the closest airport to this beloved attraction.

What is the difference between MCO and SFB?

MCO (Orlando International Airport) and SFB (Orlando Sanford International Airport) are both airports serving the Orlando area in Florida. The primary difference is their size and location. MCO is the larger and busier of the two, located closer to downtown Orlando and major attractions like Walt Disney World. SFB, on the other hand, is smaller and situated farther north, often serving charter flights and some budget airlines. MCO typically offers a broader range of international and domestic flights, while SFB might offer more limited options but potentially cheaper fares.

Flying into Florida is always a good idea for travel
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