Published: Feb 01, 2018, Updated: Nov 09, 2019
This guide provides travel information on Orlando and information on travel authorizations and visas for Orlando; you will need one or the other for your visit. Orlando is nicknamed the City Beautiful, and a look around the downtown areas helps appreciate why. Thornton Park is one of the more historic parts of town, and has the relaxed feel you would expect from a Southern State. Head towards Central Boulevard for a range of European eateries. The city is home to many museums, including the Mennello Museum of American Art. These offer an insight into the culture of the region.
Before booking an Orlando holiday, understand the difference between a U.S. ESTA and a U.S. visa
If you are travelling to Orlando, you are probably wondering what is the difference between ESTA and visa. Although the ESTA is often referred to as a visa, in fact it is a travel authorisation. In this section, we examine the difference between ESTA and visa and what that means for people who are hoping to enter Orlando for business or tourism.
What is an ESTA?
The term ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization under the Visa Waiver program. People who are from one of the 40 countries which are part of this program are entitled to apply for the ESTA when travelling to the USA instead of applying for a US visa. Applicants use an online system to apply for the ESTA and usually an authorisation is granted within minutes. When compared to the application process for a US visa, this is a much quicker and simpler procedure. When an applicant is granted an ESTA, they are permitted to travel to the United States as many times as they like within a 2-year period if each stay lasts no longer than 90 days.
What is a U.S. visa?
A visa is a permit which entitles the holder to legally enter the USA, and any citizen of a country that is not part of the Visa Waiver Program must apply for one before they travel to America. Holidaymakers who wish to visit the USA must apply for a B2 tourist visa which may last up to 6 months, however it may not be valid for multiple visits to the USA so a new application must be submitted for each visit. The process is also longer and more complex, requiring extra documentation and a face to face interview at a US consulate or embassy. Once you have your ESTA or visa for Orlando, you can focus on planning your visit.
When should you visit Orlando?
Unsurprisingly for the Sunshine State, Orlando is mild and temperate all year round, with daytime temperatures rarely dipping below 21 degrees Celsius. It has a humid sub-tropical climate that enjoys two seasons: from May-September it is hot and rainy whilst from October through to April it is warm and dry.
It is sensible to plan your trip according to the weather, especially in the hot season- being undercover during the peak hours of the day and keeping yourself well hydrated are key to getting the best out of your visit during these times.
Orlando's reputation as a hub for tourism means it boasts there are excellent transport links. There are buses to Kissimee and International Drive, although a fun way to get around is via the trolley. This is more laid back, with two different routes taking visitors to all the main tourist destinations.
To get the most from your stay and to really appreciate the beauty outside of the metropolis it is well worth considering car hire. This gives the chance to swap excitement and energy for an altogether more peaceful time, leaving the city behind in order to adventure through the wetlands and swamps nearby.
Old school thrills and spills
Orlando's theme parks are world famous, and in truth although families tend to visit 'for the children' the reality is that Kissimmee and International Drive have something for everyone, with adults enjoying the enchantment and excitement at least as much as younger visitors. The hardest choice will be deciding what to miss- a lifetime is not long enough to see everything. SeaWorld boasts the tallest, fastest and longest roller coaster of the city in the Mako, but there is always the draw of magic brought to life either in Disney's Kingdom or at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
If you hold a passport from a visa waiver country such as the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or other Western European Country, you may be eligible to obtain an ESTA for tourist, business, medical or transit purposes. Get started on your application, otherwise, visit the FAQ to learn more about the ESTA