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The Perfect 2 Day Miami Itinerary For First-Timers

Welcome to my 2 day Miami itinerary! I recently spent a fantastic 2 days in Miami and it exceeded all my expectations.I didn’t really know much about Miami before my visit to the US. I’d heard of South Beach and seen the glamorous side of Miami portrayed on TV but that was about it. I had no idea that most of the city is Hispanic and there’s plenty of fantastic Mexican and Cuban cuisine to try and culture to be experienced.
From vibrant street art to communities from all around the world, there’s more to Miami than just the beach. In this guide, I’ll share my 2 day Miami itinerary including my favourite places, eats, quirky corners and nightlife. Enjoy!

the usa, the perfect 2 day miami itinerary for first-timers

Little Havana, Miami

2 DAY MIAMI ITINERARY ESSENTIALSMiami Pocket Lonely PlanetHotels: Booking.com / Hostelworld
Activities: GetYourGuide / Viator

How many days are enough for Miami?

Two days is a great amount of time for your first trip to Miami whether you’re visiting for a weekend trip or as part of a larger Florida road trip. You’ll have time to explore a few of the highlights and also relax on the beach, have a few drinks and sink your teeth into the local cuisine.Granted, you could stay much longer in Miami, especially since there are several day trips you can take, but 2 days in Miami is enough for a nice introduction.
For me, a budget traveller, I found Miami very expensive and wouldn’t have been able to stay much longer!

Where to stay during 2 days in Miami

I stayed in Miami Beach and would really recommend it. This island city is one of the few places I discovered in Miami that was walkable and easy to get around without a car. The other perk is having the beach right on your doorstep!

the usa, the perfect 2 day miami itinerary for first-timers

The best place to stay during your Miami itinerary

Miami Beach’s Art Deco Historic District is another reason to stay nearby. Even if you don’t stay in an Art Deco building, you can wander and admire the largest collection in the world.From the beach to the architecture, there’s nowhere in the world quite like Miami Beach!This neighbourhood has plenty of hotels, apartments and hostels.Apartments in Miami Beach:

Hotels in Miami Beach:

Hostels in Miami Beach: I stayed at Beds ‘N’ Drinks and would recommend it to other budget travellers. The rooms were comfy (they have dorms and privates), there are several comfy social areas and breakfast was decent with coffee included. Despite the name, it was easy to get a good night’s sleep if you didn’t want to party. It was also a 5-minute walk to the beach. Book here from $15

How to get around Miami

With the exception of a few areas, Miami is not a pedestrian-friendly city. Most people drive everywhere which for me (an Oxford/Londoner) is bizarre. I managed to travel spend 2 days in Miami without getting in a car which must be rare – my tour guide in Little Havana said she’d lived in Miami 30 years without ever taking a bus!Here’s how to get around Miami:Car hire: This is an option if you’d rather have your own set of wheels. Use Rentalcars.com to compare prices and hire a car during your 2 days in Miami.Uber: It’s easy to get around using taxi apps in Miami. The prices were high so I would suggest budget travellers take UberPool. Calculate fares on Taxi Fare.Public transport: The Metrobus and Metrorail are easy to navigate. Most journeys cost $2.25.I took a Metrobus from the airport to Miami Beach, a bus from Miami Beach to Little Havana (changing somewhere in the centre) and another bus from Wynwood Walls to Miami Beach (changing in the centre). I didn’t have mobile data so tried my best to load journeys on public Wi-Fi. It was a faff and the buses didn’t always come when Google Maps said… but I made it!
Tip – buy an EASY ticket. Locals use EASY Cards but visitors should get EASY Tickets instead which are free and can be loaded with credit, or you can purchase a 1-day or 7-day pass. You can use these on the Metrobus and Metrorail. I bought mine at the airport Metrorail Station and topped it up.

How to get from Miami airport

I caught public transport from Miami Airport to Miami Beach. First, I had to board the MIAmover (which is a free train) from my gate to Miami International Airport Metrorail station.
From there, I purchased an EASY Ticket and I caught the Miami Beach Airport Flyer Bus (number 150) all the way to Miami Beach, just a block from my hostel. The Airport Flyer Bus runs every 30 minutes from 6am to 11:40pm, seven days a week.

Miami itinerary for 2 days

Quick overview:

  • Day 1 – Little Havana, Wynwood Walls
  • Day 2 – Miami Beach: South Beach, Española Way, Collins Ave, Art Deco tour, Ocean Drive, Lincoln Road.

Let’s get stuck into my tried & tested Miami 2 day itinerary…

Miami itinerary – day 1

I chose to have a busy first day in Miami then spend my second day relaxing in Miami Beach. I began my Miami itinerary by exploring two of the coolest neighbourhoods, Little Havana and Wynwood Walls. These areas are just a 10-minute drive apart but they’re totally different. By visiting both, you’ll see two totally contrasting sides to Miami…

Morning – Little Havana

the usa, the perfect 2 day miami itinerary for first-timers

Street art 2 days in Miami

I was excited to explore Little Havana partly because I knew I’d be heading to the real Cuba in a few month’s time and wanted to see how they compared. I was visiting Miami as a stopover en route to Mexico so I also couldn’t wait to practice my Spanish. But the main reason?
FOOD. I was headed on a Little Havana food tour with the promise of 5+ meals. If you’ve ever read my food blogs before, you’ll know how happy this makes me!

Want to find the best food in Little Havana and explore the area with a local? The walking food tour I took with Miami Culinary Tours is a fantastic option supporting females in the hospitality business. Book on GetYourGuide for $25.

Regardless of whether you’re a foodie or Spanish speaker, Little Havana is a fantastic addition to your Miami itinerary. It’s a chance to explore a unique culture, get to know Miami’s history and meet the Hispanic residents who make up 70% of the Miami population.

Quick background of Little Havana

If you don’t know about Cuban history, you may not understand why there’s a Little Havana in Miami or why over 50% of Miami’s overall population have Cuban origins. The reason relates to the ex Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro, who ruled Cuba mercilessly, inflicting a controlling Communist regime on the country.
Understandably, thousands of Cubans were keen to flee. The US Wet Foot Dry Foot policy allowed Cubans to earn US citizenship if they could get a foot on US soil. Some drowned or were captured on the crossing but many made it to Miami where their ancestors still reside today, many within the neighbourhood of Little Havana.

Things to do in Little Havana

– Visit galleries and performance venues: to learn about Cuba and Little Havana via music and art, visit CubaOcho Museum & Performing Arts Center. We watched a musician perform at midday and browsed some impressive pieces of artwork, one of which was apparently worth $35,000! The well-stocked bar and enormous rum collection is another reason to visit.– Shop: there are plenty of places to buy Cuban-style jewellery, art and trinkets. I chatted to the owner of Agustin Gainza Arts and Tavern who told me that the beautiful jewellery is made by his daughter.
– Eat Cuban food! Check out my guide to where to eat in Little Havana, Miami. From super strong Cuban coffee to empanadas, Cuban sandwiches, fresh fruit and gelato, there’s so much amazing food in Little Havana.

the usa, the perfect 2 day miami itinerary for first-timers

Thimbles of strong Cuban coffee

– Drink. Don’t leave Little Havana without a mojito at famous Ball & Chain, a bar that was closed for years after the owners were arrested for rum smuggling during the prohibition era. If you stay into the evening, explore the Little Havana nightlife.

the usa, the perfect 2 day miami itinerary for first-timers

The pineapple stage at Ball & Chain

Where to stay in Little Havana: Selina Miami River (hotel; $100pn); Habitación Céntrica calle 8 Miami (apartment, $60pn); Hostel Brazilian (hostel, $20).

Afternoon – Wynwood Walls

Little Havana was exciting but Wynwood Walls was the reason I was in the US. I’m a huge fan of street art so when I discovered that it was the same price to fly from London – Mexico City with 2 days in Miami, I decided to tag on a visit to the US to see Wynwood Walls, somewhere I’d seen countless times on social media. It didn’t disappoint!

Read next: A complete guide to visiting Wynwood Walls

the usa, the perfect 2 day miami itinerary for first-timers

Wynwood Walls street art

Wynwood has an interesting history similar to other areas around the world with lots of street art. It was once an industrial part of Miami that received a facelift in the form of street art to repurpose the area.

Want to find the best street art in Wynwood with a guide? Check out this Wynwood Walking Tour with a local expert for $25.

The late Tony Goldman owned much of the area and decided in 2009 that the many large warehouses with no windows would make impressive canvases for urban art. The rest is history and nowadays, Wynwood Walls is a ‘Museum of the Streets’ displaying work from countless international artists.

the usa, the perfect 2 day miami itinerary for first-timers

Where to find street art in Wynwood

Where can’t you find street art? What I like about Wynwood is how walkable it’s become thanks to the street art.
I imagine this was once an area where it would be rare to see pedestrians. Nowadays, there are murals dotted all around the neighbourhood which gives people a reason to wander.

the usa, the perfect 2 day miami itinerary for first-timers

Wynwood is a must for 2 days in Miami

Although the joy of Wynwood is exploring aimlessly, if you’re an avid street art fan, you may want to look for murals completed by your favourite artists. In that case, use this official Wynwood map to find specific murals and read about the artists. Don’t forget to tag them on social media if you post photos!
Make sure to head to the GGA GALLERY which is central to Wynwood Walls and hosts permanent and temporary exhibitions. I was lucky enough to catch one from Kobra, one of my favourite street artists.

the usa, the perfect 2 day miami itinerary for first-timers

Street art by KOBRA

Where to eat and drink in Wynwood

World Famous House of Mac – this restaurant needs no frills. They serve all kinds of mac and cheese dishes like jerk chicken mac and cheese and lobster mac and cheese. Prices start at $14 for huge portions.Zak the Baker – you can’t miss the rainbow-coloured bakery which blends into the backdrop of Wynwood Walls. But it’s more than a colour pop: there are croissants, salads, pasta dishes, deli foods and coffee. Everything is kosher. Order the chocolate croissant!
La Tiendita Taqueria – this is the place to eat tacos, quesadillas, chilaquiles and flautas washed down with frozen margs made with tequila or mezcal. Prices are high but worth it.

Where to stay in Wynwood: Stylish studio apartments with cooking facilities – book from $120 a night.
Browse all apartments in Wynwood.

If you have extra time

If you manage to visit Little Havana and Wynwood Walls during the morning/early afternoon, there are a couple of other places in the downtown area that you could add to your Miami itinerary. These are:

  • Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) – this 3-level gallery is impressive from the offset with hanging gardens and Biscayne Bay views. The modern and contemporary art celebrates Miami’s diversity and Hispanic communities. Entrance is €16 or free on the first Thursday and second Saturday of the month.
  • Miami Children’s Museum – these interactive exhibits (available in different languages) allow children to learn about the world around them in fun ways. Entry costs $22.

Miami itinerary – day 2

If you have a second day in Miami, there are plenty of things to do. Personally, I was feeling burnt out from all the long journeys I’d taken on public transport the day before (as I mentioned, the bus system in Miami isn’t the best) and was glad to stay near my accommodation and relax around Miami Beach.If you fancy something a bit more active, a few things you could do during the second day of your Miami itinerary include:– Vizcaya Museum and Gardens: this is one of Miami’s most beautiful buildings located in Coconut Grove and built in Renaissance style. Wander the 43 acres, snap photos and escape the busy city.– Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden: another ideal place for some fresh air is this 83-acre estate a 30-minute drive from central Miami. There’s a rainforest, running water and plenty of events that can be researched on the website.
– Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park: jutting down below Miami is Key Biscayne, an island connected to the mainland by road. At the tip of the island is this state park, measuring 400 acres and filled with picnic areas and biking trails. You can enjoy the beach and practise water sports.

Miami Beach

the usa, the perfect 2 day miami itinerary for first-timers

If you’re like me and want to relax, finish your 2 day Miami itinerary by exploring the beach and its surrounds. ‘Miami Beach’ refers to the island connected to mainland Miami by a set of bridges and there are several beaches to explore: North Beach, Mid-Beach and South Beach.

After you’ve been swimming and had a chance to relax on the sand, there are some worthwhile places to check out in the neighbourhood which I’ll mention as we continue this Miami itinerary.Nearest to my hostel was South Beach and I’d recommend this section of Miami Beach as a safe, friendly place to relax. You can spend the whole day relaxing and soaking up the Miami vibes. You can’t visit the city and not come here!Spot the Art Deco lifeguard stands (where else but Miami?) and stay for sunset.
Getting around Miami Beach: You don’t need a car here as things are pedestrianised. However, you may end up walking a lot – why not hire a CitiBike to get about?

Española Way 

the usa, the perfect 2 day miami itinerary for first-timers

Another place to explore during 2 days in Miami is Española Way, originally built in the 1920s to resemble charming Mediterranean villages in Europe. While it was frequented with artists then, it’s now popular with locals and tourists especially as it had a multi-million dollar facelift a few years back.
As well as being incredibly picturesque, Española Way is full of cute shops and restaurants including Italian, Japanese and Mexican. It comes to life in the evenings when tables spill out into the street. Consider visiting in the evening for an atmospheric dinner, and finish with drinks at Española Cigars Craft Bar & Lounge.

Miami Beach Botanical Garden

Another option between South Beach and Mid Beach is Miami Beach Botanical Garden, a 4-acre site with flora and fauna native to Miami as well as a peaceful Japanese Garden. Wander the Garden Center and pick up gifts at the Botanical Boutique.
Open from 9am-5pm, Tues-Fri (closed Monday). See if your visit coincides with an event like yoga or coffee in the gardens.

Lummus Park

Lodged between South Beach and Ocean Drive is another beautiful destination for your Miami itinerary. Lummus Park is a large green space with beach access, a playground for kids and fitness equipment for those who ate one too many Cubano in Little Havana the day before…

Art Deco buildings

the usa, the perfect 2 day miami itinerary for first-timers

I knew nothing about Art Deco before my trip to Miami but I was blown away by these colourful, quirky buildings. Little did I know I would see even more in Condesa, Mexico City during the following months.
Even if you’re not into architecture, you’ll love wandering around Miami Beach and spotting these vibrant and unusual-looking buildings.

Art Deco Welcome Center

If, like me, you know little about Art Deco, this is a great starting point. The Art Deco Welcome Center (1001 Ocean Drive) in Lummus Park houses the Art Deco Museum and offers visitors advice about what to do in the area.

Some of the must-see Art Deco buildings in Miami Beach include:– Colony Theatre, Lincoln Road – this perfectly maintained retro theatre is still open as a performing arts venue.
– Cavalier Hotel, Ocean Drive – this pretty blue hotel has gorgeous coloured detailing under the windows that looks almost Aztec, probably because the architect, Roy France, was fascinated by ancient civilisations.

the usa, the perfect 2 day miami itinerary for first-timers

Related activity: Art Deco bike tour in Miami

– Park Central Hotel, Ocean Drive – this bright blue building has circular windows (that remind me of portholes) all built in observance of the ‘Rule of Three’ which is at the heart of Art Deco style.– Senor Frogs, Collins Avenue – once an elaborate 1940s cafeteria, this is now Miami Beach’s most infamous bar. Whether you go inside for drinks or snap a few photos from the outside, it’s worth it.– The McAlpin, Ocean Drive – this iconic hotel is painted white with pastel pink and pale green colour pops. Like the others, it’s perfectly symmetrical.
– The Breakwater, Ocean Drive – possibly my favourite Art Deco building in Miami, this hotel has a purple facade with a neon-studded tower at its centre. Apparently inside there are 99 boutique rooms.

the usa, the perfect 2 day miami itinerary for first-timers

Ocean Drive

You can’t miss it, especially if you’ve already explored the Art Deco buildings, but it’s worth adding Ocean Drive to your Miami bucket list. Here there are boutique beach shops, coffee shops and many stylish bars serving margaritas! Like much of the area, it’s busy 24-7 but really comes to life as a party destination at night.

Lincoln Road

If Ocean Drive is the place to sightsee and promenade, then Lincoln Road is a place to relax and socialise after a hard day’s exploring.
This wide, pedestrianised street is overflowing with cafes and all kinds of restaurants from Latin American to European and Middle Eastern. There are more global chains on Lincoln than independent boutiques so I preferred it for people-watching than shopping.

South Pointe Park

If you follow Ocean Drive the whole way, you’ll eventually reach South Pointe Park at the tip of the island. Enjoy South Pointe Beach and grab coffee or shakes at South Pointe Cafe or – better yet – finish your Miami itinerary in style with cocktails on Smith & Wollensky’s outdoor terrace.

Where to eat during 2 days in Miami

Miami Beach has a reputation for being expensive and I can confirm that to be true! I can’t tell you much about upmarket restaurants in Miami Beach but I can tell you about some affordable, casual eateries to visit during your 2 day Miami itinerary.

Budget eats in Miami Beach

Sriracha House – I loved this healthy Asian cafe on Washington Avenue. You can choose from noodles (egg, rice, glass, udon or wholewheat) or rice (jasmine or brown), then top with a protein (meat, shrimp or vegan), veggies and a sauce.
I went with Vietnamese green coconut milk curry but there are other inventive choices like Mongolian tamarind and Taiwanese oyster sauce. I paid $11 for lunch which is cheap for Miami!

the usa, the perfect 2 day miami itinerary for first-timers

The best noodles in town

Hiro’s Sushi Express (South Beach) – I ended up eating here twice in two days which is high praise. The sushi is tasty and affordable. You can eat in, takeaway or order via UberEats.

Upscale eats in Miami Beach

If you have 2 days in Miami and fancy treating yourself, go for it! While I didn’t dine here myself, I heard great things about The Local House which does all kinds of fancy brunch dishes like caramelised banana pancakes and eggs benedict, washed down with cocktails.
To try Cuban food in fun and authentic surrounds, head to one of the branches of Havana 1957 and order the ropa veija and a mojito!

Nightlife in Miami Beach

There are so many bars and clubs in Miami Beach. For a proper night out, head to Twist South Beach, one of Miami Beach’s megaclubs and a popular LBGT+ venue with 7 different bars, drag acts and DJs from around the world. For a lively Latin-inspired evening, visit Mango’s Tropical Cafe which has been a Miami favourite for the last 30 years.

Miami itinerary – additional day trips

I only had 2 days in Miami but if I’d had an extra day, I would have taken one of the many popular day trips from Miami. These include:Key West archipelago – this set of tiny islands connected by road can easily be visited from Miami. As the southernmost point of the USA (only 90 miles north of Cuba), it’s a favourite with cruise ships but you can also self-drive or take a day tour. Browse GetYourGuide tours to Key West from Miami some including dolphin watching, snorkelling, sailing and more.Everglades National Park – this is one of the most famous regions of Miami and now a World Heritage Site known for its swamps and marshlands home to all kinds of important habitats. Turtles, panthers, alligators and manatees live in this protected reserve measuring 1.5 million acres. Browse Everglades tours with GetYourGuide.Biscayne National Park – another natural wonderland south of Miami is Biscayne. This national park is almost entirely underwater, boasting incredible coral reefs and mangrove forest. If you’re lucky, you might glimpse turtles and dolphins. Take a Biscayne boat cruise with GetYourGuide.
Boat trips from Bayside Marketplace – this waterside shopping centre is worth a visit in its own right with a huge collection of shops and eateries. It’s also the location that boat rides depart for as little as $20 around Millionaire’s Row and the Venetian Islands. Browse boat trips here.

When is the best time of year to visit Miami?

Miami is warm and sunny year-round. Peak season is November-April so you can expect things to be busy especially during the Christmas holidays.
June-October is rainy season. During my October visit, it was glorious sunshine aside from some crazy showers when I got stranded in a fancy cafe and couldn’t afford to eat anything. Fail!

How expensive is Miami?

I won’t lie, it’s not a cheap destination!Hotels cost on average $160 per night, while a meal in a mid-range restaurant will probably cost you €20 not including drinks or tips. I managed to travel on a budget by staying in hotels, taking public transport and eating takeout food. I spent $200 during 2 days in Miami.
If you’re not from the US, remember to factor in tips! As a Brit, I would never consider tipping 10-20% but this is the norm in Miami.

Final tips for visiting Miami

  • In certain neighbourhoods like Little Havana, Spanish is more common than English. Download Google Translate or pack a Spanish Phrasebook.
  • If you need Wi-Fi, nip into Mcdonalds or Starbucks as it’s usually available for free.
  • For safety reasons, avoid walking on the beach at night. I would also advise avoiding areas you don’t know in the downtown area after dusk.
  • If you’ll visit a lot of attractions in a short space of time, pick up a 1, 2 ,3 or 5-day Miami Card before you travel.