Published on: May 01, 2018, Last Edited: Nov 09, 2019
The Magic of Miami
Visiting Miami, you'll enjoy a timeless holiday destination, probably best known for its South Beach. Miami is a dazzling resort with Art Deco hotels, top restaurants and a vibrant nightlife - a true cosmopolitan city that combines a chic beach culture with true beauty. Travelers planning on visiting can learn more about the destination as well as information on if they will need an ESTA or a visa for Miami.
What is the difference between a U.S. ESTA and a U.S. visa?
If you're planning to visit Miami, you will need the correct authorisation. In addition to a valid passport, you'll need one of two other documents, an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) or a full visa. Although a visa and an ESTA two documents are often lumped together under the name "visa", this is not accurate. In fact, an ESTA is what is known as a "visa waiver", meaning that you can hold it instead of a visa and still be eligible to enter the U.S. A big difference between ESTA and visa travel is that if you are granted an ESTA, you can use this to travel to the U.S. legally for a period of two years. You do not have to re-apply each time you visit within this period. However, you can only stay in the United States for a maximum of 90 days on each trip – this should be no problem for tourists.
Who is eligible for an ESTA?
The U.S. State Department's official guidance states that citizens of 39 countries covered by the Visa Waiver Program can apply for an ESTA. There are some other restrictions, for example that you're not allowed to work while in the U.S. It's very important that you don't overstay the 90-day maximum, as doing so will make it harder to gain admission to the U.S. in the future. If you live in a country not covered by the Visa Waiver Program, you will have to apply for a full visa. A notable difference between ESTA and visa applications is that applying for visas is more complex. They usually require a personal interview, and they are normally granted only for a single visit of a specific duration. When your ESTA has been authorized, or your visa has been issued, you can start planning your trip to Miami.
About Miami and its cultural scene
Miami was formed from a swamp around 1900 and has grown into a new and exciting place. Many visitors enjoy the subtropical high season (November to April) with temperatures consistently above 20 degrees centigrade. Outside of these months, bargains are abound as the visitor numbers are fewer and hotel prices lower.
Miami is Florida's second largest city with a deep-rooted Latin American culture. It's famous for a rich heritage and is sometimes called the "Capital of Latin America" since so many residents speak Spanish, being exiles from Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua. Since the city has such a unique population with different languages and cultures, it's an extremely diverse and multicultural place.
Miami is a magic place, enjoying a cultural renaissance with a vibrant contemporary arts scene that boasts interesting galleries including the newly-opened Pérez Art Museum. Up and coming neighbourhoods like Wynwood and the Design District are must-see places to visit as well as the Cuban Little Havana. There are major events to enjoy including the Art Basel Miami Beach in December, the largest modern art fair in North America. Also, check out November’s Miami Book Fair International, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, the Miami International Boat Show in the spring and the March Ultra Music Festival.
Getting around Miami
Public transport provides a great solution for visitors with an over-ground rail system: Metrorail (pay) and Metromover (free).
Metrorail covers greater distances, including the airport. Tickets are cheap and you can also get unlimited daily, weekly and monthly passes. As well as being free, Metromover takes you on shorter journeys and connects the Metrorail and Metrobus services. Also, there are many shops and restaurants to enjoy along the Metromover.
Metrobus operates nearly 100 routes and covers practically every area of the city including Miami Beach, Homestead Key Biscayne and right out to Florida Keys and Fort Lauderdale, with some buses running 24/7. Alternatively check out the city’s trolley buses, which are a free and fun way to explore.
The regional food
People claim that Miami has world’s best and most authentic Cuban food. Miamians really love deep-fried plantains stuffed with cheese, meat and lettuce. Delicious! Order an arepa, which is a flat pancake-style grilled cheese made with a maize dough that turns a lovely shade of golden brown when cooked. Coffee and snack lovers can enjoy a cafe-con-leche with grilled bread. This is a little like a latte but made with strong Cuban espresso and lots of sugar. The grilled Cuban bread is buttered and is the ideal indulgent energy-boost when eaten along with the coffee.
Ceviche is an originally Peruvian dish made from fish and spices that’s become a staple part of every menu and is now a Miami classic. The Argentinian Churrasco is a marinated grilled steak served with spicy chimichurri sauce. Miami's top croquetas are finished off with cheese, ham, chorizo, and chicken. In fact, anything crushed or minced into something small and round, coated in breadcrumbs and fried is a croqueta. Enjoy these in restaurants, bakeries or from street sellers.
Miami enjoys a cosmopolitan reputation and certainly won't disappoint many who visit. Its vibrancy and diversity of activities, interests, and offerings guarantee that there's something for everyone in and around this amazing place. So, make sure that when visiting Miami you plan your travel itinerary or bucket list of places to visit. Before booking your holiday, learn more about if you will an ESTA or a visa for Miami.
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