We’ve had the pleasure of visiting Universal Studios Orlando multiple times over the past decade. However, being that we’re from the UK we’ve never hired a car and drove during our visits.
Driving a car during your visit to Orlando can provide you with a lot of freedom and flexibility. However, personally, I’ve yet to pluck up the courage to do so.
This combined with the fact that hiring a car and parking at both a hotel and at the Universal Studios Resort is increasing in cost year on year means that we often look for alternative accommodation options.
The accommodation options that support us not driving to Universal Studios include finding hotels with shuttle buses or transport to the parks, taking an Uber or a Lyft or my personal favourite, walking.
While Orlando itself isn’t a very walkable city, you’ll be pleased to know that there are a number of hotels within a 30-minute walk of Universal CityWalk – the entrance to Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
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We’ve sadly not had the opportunity to stay in all of these hotels during our many visits to Universal Studios.
However, I have gone ahead and walked from all of these hotels directly to the entrance of Universal Studios Orlando to ensure that the times and directions specified in this post are as accurate as possible.
As such this list is listed in order with the closest hotel to the Universal Studios Resort at the top and that furthest away but still within the 30-minute time limit at the bottom.
Note that there are other hotels that are within walking distance of the Universal Studios theme park that is not included on this list. This is as a result of them being more than a 30-minute walk away.
While walking this distance is possible, it’s incredibly hard in the heat and humidity Florida can experience – especially in the peak summer months.
1. Universal Studio’s Hard Rock Hotel
One of the best hotels to stay at when visiting Universal Studios Orlando is the four-star Universal Studio’s Hard Rock Hotel.
This is an on-site resort property and is the closest hotel within walking distance to Universal Studios situated just to the right of the Universal Studios Florida park entrance.
Walking from Universal Studio’s Hard Rock Hotel entrance to CityWalk (the entrance to Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure) takes just 8 minutes.
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The walk is incredibly well signposted and very scenic taking you along one of the many garden walks across the resort alongside the river before arriving at the security checkpoint with Universal Studios Florida on your right.
Being an on-site property a stay here comes with many perks including complimentary shuttle buses to Universal’s water park, Volcano Bay and a scenic river boat to the landing dock at CityWalk.
Given its close proximity to the parks and the complimentary Express Passes that come with this premier hotel, it’s no surprise that this is one of the most expensive hotels on this list.
That being said, for music fanatics and those wanting to be footsteps from the action, the cost is likely very much worthwhile!
2. Universal’s Loews Royal Pacific Resort
Situated on the other side of Universal’s CityWalk towards the entrance of Universal’s Islands of Adventure you’ll find Loews Royal Pacific Resort.
Walking from the pool entrance of Loews Royal Pacific Resort to the entrance of Universal’s Islands of Adventure at CityWalk takes just 8 minutes along the river under a number of bridges.
The route is on Universal’s Garden Walk and as such is incredibly scenic and well sign-posted.
Just before you arrive at CityWalk you’ll get to security and from there you can turn left towards Universal’s Islands of Adventure or right to CityWalk and Universal Studios Florida.
Being an on-site hotel there’s also a complimentary shuttle to Universal’s Volcano Bay
(although you can walk to Sapphire Falls and across to Cabana Bay to get here too which takes roughly 20 minutes) and a water taxi to the landing dock at CityWalk.
Much like the Hard Rock Hotel, Universal’s Loews Royal Pacific Resort is a premium on-site hotel.
As such alongside the standard benefits of staying on-site, you’ll also be given a complimentary Universal Express Pass for each hotel guest to use throughout your stay.
While this alongside the close proximity to the parks makes this hotel expensive compared to some alternatives on this list.
It also makes it fantastic value for money for those looking to skip the regular lines on rides and maximise their time in the park.
3. Universal’s Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
Loews Portofino Bay is one of the best Universal Orlando hotels you can stay at during your trip to the resort.
This Italian-themed hotel is a great option for couples or those looking for a luxurious hotel stay that features all the facilities including; an extensive fitness center, a large outdoor pool as well as a highly entertaining game room.
Located just a 10-minute walk from Universal Studios Florida entrance at CityWalk with a well-signposted pathway along the river past the Hard Rock Hotel.
To join the Garden Walk path to Universal Studios simply head out to the back of the hotel as if you’re going to take the complimentary water taxi to the landing dock at CityWalk, then instead of turning left to the queue carry on past the hotel rooms on your right along the pathway.
Given that this hotel is at the Universal Studios Resort, guests staying here benefit from complimentary transport to Universal’s Volcano Bay and CityWalk (the entrance to both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure) and early access to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
However, that’s not all as since this hotel is a premier hotel guests staying here also receive complimentary Express Passes to use inside the Universal theme parks throughout their stay.
4. Universal’s Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is also located at the Universal’s Islands of Adventure entrance of CityWalk and is just past Universal’s Loews Royal Pacific Resort.
Walking from Loews Sapphire Falls Resort to the entrance of CityWalk takes just 14 minutes along the Garden Walk and is both clear and well signposted.
The path to the hotel brings you out at the back of the hotel by the water taxi and the Amatista Cookhouse from which you’ll need to take the stairs or elevator up to the hotel’s reception from where you’ll be able to head to your room.
Unlike the Hard Rock Hotel or Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is a preferred hotel and as such no complimentary Express Passes are included for guests staying here.
However, you still get all the perks of staying on-site at Universal Studios including early park admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter as well as a free shuttle bus service to both Universal Studios and Volcano Bay.
5. Universal’s Aventura Hotel
Universal’s Aventura Hotel is the latest on-site hotel addition to the Universal Studios Resort and is in our opinion the best Universal Orlando hotel for those looking to stay on-site without blowing the budget.
Aventura is located just off Universal Blvd, opposite the entrance to both Loews Sapphire Falls Resort and Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort.
As such this hotel from being walking distance from both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure but also Universal’s premier waterpark Volcano Bay.
Walking from Universal’s Aventura Hotel to CityWalk (the entrance to Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure) takes just 18 minutes.
Exiting the hotel to walk to Universal Studios you can cross over the road using the crosswalk and head over to Loews Sapphire Falls, go down the stairs at the far-hand side towards the water taxi and walk along the Garden Walk path that way past Universal’s Loews Royal Pacific Resort.
Alternatively, you can cross over the road towards Loews Sapphire Falls at the roadside and follow the signposts along the Garden Walk path that way along the roadside (which is well covered by trees).
To walk from Universal’s Aventura Hotel to Universal’s Volcano Bay you’ll want to cross over the road towards Loews Sapphire Falls and then walk alongside the road before reaching the bridge that takes you over Aventure Way to Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort.
From there you’ll want to walk across the front of the hotel, past reception and then follow the signs for Volcano Bay.
6. Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is a 40s and 50s-inspired Universal hotel with views out onto the resort’s premier waterpark, Volcano Bay.
Despite being a prime value hotel, guests staying here still benefit from a complimentary shuttle service to Universal Studios CityWalk and are just footsteps from Volcano Bay.
Walking from Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort to Universal Studios CityWalk takes just 20 minutes. However, unlike some of the other on-site hotels at Universal Studios, this walk is not initially as well signposted.
Coming out of reception you’ll want to turn left and walk to the far end of the hotel. As you walk you’ll see a bridge on your right heading over Adventure Way towards Loews Sapphire Falls Resort.
There is a gate towards the back corner of the hotel that provides you with access to this bridge, walk over it and over Adventure Way before heading down and joining the Universal Garden Walk.
From here there are significantly better signposts towards the resort which will bring you out at the entrance to Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is a great choice for budget travellers who still want the benefit of staying on-site.
Rooms here are designed for families with standard rooms featuring queen beds and kitchenettes – ideal if you’re looking to store snacks and have breakfast in your room!
7. DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel At The Entrance To Universal Orlando
Located north-east of the Universal Studios Orlando Resort you’ll find the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the entrance to Universal Studios Orlando.
This is not an on-site, Universal Studios property unlike the previous six hotels featured on this list.
Yet, walking from the DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel at the entrance to Universal Studios to CityWalk (the entrance to Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure) takes just 20 minutes.
To walk from this hotel to Universal Studios simply head out of the front entrance and towards the bridge you see in front of you.
This bridge takes you over S Kirkman Road and out onto Tom Williams Way. As you come down the bridge you’ll begin to see the Universal Studios Resort entrance sign and the theme park parking lot.
Carry along Tom Williams Way, noting Loews Portofino Bay through the trees on your right until you come to the crossroads.
Cross the crossroad onto Universal Blvd, and turn left. When you turn left you’ll note the Universal Studios parking lot on your left and the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando across the river through the trees on your right.
Continue walking along the pathway until you come to the valet parking entrance. Cross this road and walk a little further along until you see a sign and a small pathway on your right.
Walk through this pathway and you’ll come out at the entrance to the valet parking for Universal Studios Orlando.
From here you can pass through security and head up the escalators which will bring you out with the entrance to CityWalk and Bubba Gump Shrimp on your right.
Given that DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the entrance to Universal Studios Orlando is not a Universal-owned property there are limited signs and directions.
However, there are no forks on the pathway so you should find navigating to the park entrance relatively straightforward.
If you don’t fancy walking, yet would still like to stay at this hotel then you’ll be pleased to know that DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the entrance to Universal Studios Orlando also offers a shuttle service to Universal Studios alongside SeaWorld, Wet ‘n Wild and Aquatica.
8. Holiday Inn Opposite Universal Orlando
The Holiday Inn opposite Universal Orlando is located just around the corner from the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the entrance to Universal Studios Orlando on Caravan Ct. This is one of several hotels near Universal Studios Orlando with a shuttle and within walking distance of the theme park.
As such it’s just a short walk from this hotel, past the TGI Fridays restaurant on the corner to the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the entrance to Universal Studios Orlando.
From there you can pick up the directions from that hotel to the Universal Studios Orlando park.
Given this, walking from the Holiday Inn opposite Universal Orlando to the Universal Studios Orlando parks takes just 22 minutes.
This hotel is a favourite among budget-conscious families looking for an affordable Universal Orlando vacation thanks to discounted rooms and promotional offers available throughout the year.
9. Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn & Suites
Universal’s Endless Summer Resort is made up of two value hotels; Surfside Inn & Suite and Dockside Inn & Suites.
Both of the hotels are relatively similar in their pricing, facilities and amenities.
However, Surfside is located on the corner of International Drive and Universal Blvd opposite Walgreens and as such is ever so slightly closer to the Universal Studios Orlando Resort than its Dockside counterpart.
While this hotel is a Universal Studios-owned property it is not on the Universal Studios Resort.
However, guests staying here still benefit from all the basic on-site perks including complimentary transport to Universal Studios and Volcano Bay and early park admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Given this, walking to the entrance of Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure from Universal’s Endless Summer – Surfside Inn & Suites takes approximately 22 minutes.
To walk from Universal’s Endless Summer – Surfside to Universal Studios CityWalk simply head out of the main entrance onto International Drive using the gate across the pathway at reception.
This will bring you out onto the main road with Walgreens across from you. Turn right and walk to the corner where International Drive meets Universal Blvd.
From there you’ll need to cross the road twice. The order in which you do this will likely depend on the lights.
You can either cross International Drive and then Universal Blvd, or Universal Blvd and then International Drive.
Once you’re on Universal Blvd heading north you’ll want to walk along the pathway which takes you to the bridge crossing the I4.
Given that you’re crossing a highway it can be incredibly loud here, however, the sound and wind barriers make it safer.
Once you get across the bridge continue along Universal Blvd, upon which you’ll see a small lake on your right-hand side.
During this time the road will be on your left, and there are no barriers or coverage between the road and the pathway.
Signposts will cover the road with directions as to the different on-site hotels, park entrance and parking lot.
Continue walking along the pathway towards the parking lot which you should begin to see across the lake to your right.
When you reach the crosswalk you have to cross the road as there is no pathway to your right towards the parking lot. This will take you directly past the Universal Orlando Resort entrance sign.
This will bring you to another crosswalk where Hollywood Way and Universal Blvd meet. Again you are unable to turn right and instead want to cross the crosswalk in front of you towards the CityWalk bridge that you should begin to see in front.
The pathway becomes slightly more covered here as you go alongside the Universal Studios bus drop-off and pick-up area on your right, keeping Univeral Blvd on your left.
There is a gap in the buses where you are able to cross over into the bus depot and up the escalators into CityWalk. However, this doesn’t save you anytime and can be dangerous.
Instead, I recommend you continue walking along the path until you’ve gone under the CityWalk bridge. Just after the bridge, you’ll notice the path turns under the bridge on your right.
From there you can cross over the road using the crosswalk into the bus depot and take either the escalator or the elevator up to security and the walkway into Universal Studios CityWalk.
10. Four Points By Sheraton
Four Points By Sheraton can be seen for miles around thanks to its unique design of a tall sphere with a globe on top.
Located on International Drive next to IHOP. This hotel is a fantastic choice for those who want to not only be within close proximity of Universal Studios but also some of Orlando’s other popular attractions including FunSpot, Congo River Golf & the Orlando International Drive Outlet.
Walking from the Four Points by Sheraton on International Drive to Universal Studios takes 22 minutes.
The walking route to the theme parks is relatively similar to Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn & Suites given the hotel’s location.
Simply exit the hotel and turn right onto International Drive past IHOP. Then once you get to the crossroads of International Drive and Universal Blvd turn right up along Universal Blvd and over the I4.
Again, following the detailed instructions as highlighted above in the Surfside Inn & Suites directions over into Universal Studios resort and then up the escalator or elevator into the security area for CityWalk.
Unlike on-site hotels at Universal Studios, Four Points by Sheraton offers free parking for all guests.
This combined with the free wi-fi, large outdoor swimming pool and prime location makes it ideal for those looking to both explore Orlando and Universal Studios during their trip.
11. Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn & Suites
The counterpart to Surfside Inn & Suites at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort is the Dockside Inn & Suites.
Again, this is a Universal property, however, it is not located on-site at Universal Studios and instead is located between Universal Blvd and International Drive providing easy access to both the Universal Resort and other food, drink and entertainment options in Orlando.
Walking from Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn & Suites to the Universal Studios parks takes 23 minutes.
Coming out of the hotel you’ll want to head to the bus drop-off and pick-up area and then cross the crosswalk to the exit out onto Universal Blvd.
From there you’ll want to turn right and walk up along the side of the hotel until you reach International Drive.
Cross International Drive using the crosswalk and then follow the pathway along Universal Blvd to the theme park using the instructions as specified under Surfside Inn & Suites.
We personally chose to stay at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn & Suites on our most recent visit to Universal Studios and found it to be a great place if you’re looking for extra space.
This was our first trip to Universal Studios with our baby Oliver and as such, we opted for a two-bedroom suite with a kitchenette that provided us with enough room for a cot, the pushchair and meal times during our two-week vacation.
Of course, despite not being on-site, Dockside Inn & Suites is still a Universal property and as such, we had all the standard benefits offered to resort guests including early entry into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
12. Hyatt House Across From Universal Orlando Resort
Located just to the right of Holiday Inn & Suites Across from Universal Orlando you’ll find Hyatt House.
This hotel boasts an extensive range of room options including standard hotel rooms, accessible rooms, family rooms and suites that include a full kitchen and separate living room – ideal for those spending a week or more in Orlando.
The Hyatt House across from Universal Orlando Resort is a short 24-minute walk from the Universal Studios parks.
To walk from Hyatt House to Universal Studios simply exit the hotel using the main entrance and then turn right.
Walking along Caravan Ct, you’ll pass Holiday Inn & Suites and then TGI Fridays on the corner. Here you want to turn left along Major Blvd towards the crosswalk.
Cross the crosswalk over towards the Doubletree by Hilton and then up over the bridge crossing S Kirkman Road.
From here you’ll want to follow the instructions as specified above under the Doubletree by Hilton along Tom Wiliams Way arriving at the valet parking drop-off and pick-up area at Universal Studios.
13. Home2 Suites By Hilton
Located on American Way just behind Four Points by Sheraton Orlando, off International Drive is the Home2 Suites by Hilton.
This 2-star hotel is a Universal partner hotel with basic facilities including free wifi, a free hot breakfast, free parking and free transportation to / from the parks that operates three times daily.
Walking from Home2 Suites By Hilton to Universal Studios takes just 24 minutes.
Exiting the hotel you’ll want to turn left down American Way towards International Drive. When you come to International Drive you’ll turn right and walk past IHOP until you reach Universal Blvd.
From here you’ll be able to follow the directions as discussed above for Universal’s Endless Summer – Surfside Inn & Suites.
14. Motel 6
Just across from Home2 Suites by Hilton, you’ll find the Model 6, International Drive.
This is a 2-star budget option, ideal for those that need nothing more than a bed for the night when visiting the Universal Studios theme parks.
Walking from Motel 6 to Universal Studios Orlando takes 24 minutes. Simply head out of the hotel entrance and turn right along American Way until you reach International Drive. Then turn right past IHOP until you reach Universal Blvd.
From here you’ll follow the same directions as the Home2 Suites by Hilton and Universal’s Endless Summer – Surfside Inn & Suites as discussed above.
15. Hilton Homewood Suites
Further round American Way you’ll find two additional Hilton properties, the first of which is the Hilton Homewood Suites.
The three-star Hilton Homewood Suites is a 25-minute walk from Universal Studios Orlando.
Again you’ll follow the directions for both Motel 6, Home2 Suites by Hilton, Four Points by Sheraton & Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn & Suites as discussed above since all these hotels are on the same road in the same area.
This hotel is an ideal option if you’re looking for a basic suite with close proximity to the Universal parks and other entertainment and attractions in Orlando.
All guests are provided with free breakfast, while the extensive pool area features a hot tub, grill and tennis courts.
16. Hilton Garden Inn
Just next door to the Hilton Homewood Suites you’ll find the Hilton Garden Inn.
This is the ideal choice if you’re looking for a hotel room instead of a suite in the International Drive location within walking distance to Universal Studios.
Walking from the three-star Hilton Garden Inn Orlando International Drive North to Universal Studios takes 25 minutes.
Again, you’ll follow the directions of Hilton Homewood Suites, Motel 6, Home2 Suites by Hilton, Four Points by Sheraton and Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn & Suites as discussed above since all these hotels are on the same road in the same area.
While the Hilton Garden Inn and the Hilton Homewood Suites are the same brand, in the same location with the same star rating we’ve often found that the Garden Inn is around 30% cheaper with it being a room instead of a kitchen.
This saving may be better suited to those who don’t need a kitchen and instead are happy eating out at restaurants during a trip to Orlando.
17. SureStay Plus By Best Western
SureStay Plus by Best Western is a budget option for those looking to stay within close proximity of International Drive and Universal Studios Orlando.
Walking from SureStay Plus by Best Western to Universal Studios Orlando takes 26 minutes.
This sees you take the same route as outlined in Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn & Suites above since this hotel is also located in the same area similar to Hilton Homewood Suites, Motel 6 and Home2 Suites by Hilton.
Despite being a one-star hotel, the SureStay Plus Best Western offers guests a complimentary breakfast and complimentary shuttle to both Universal Studios and EPCOT at Walt Disney World from which guests can navigate to other Walt Disney World parks.
18. Super 8
Super 8 is similar to Motel 6 in that it is an incredibly budget motel situated on American Way within walking distance of Universal Studios Orlando.
The facilities and amenities here are both limited and outdated. However, if all you’re looking for is a budget place to sleep on an evening footsteps from the Universal resort then this may be a worthwhile option.
Walking from Super 8 to Universal Studios Orlando takes 26 minutes and see’s you head out of American Way and down onto International Drive to the crossroads where the road meets Universal Blvd.
From here you’ll follow the same directions as listed above under Universal’s Endless Summer – Surfside Inn & Suites to arrive at CityWalk, the entrance to Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
While the hotel itself is limited, there’s no doubt that the location is fantastic with a number of dining options available along International Drive including Denny’s and IHOP.
19. Wyndham Garden
Wyndham Garden is located at the far side of American Way on the corner of International Drive.
This three-star, modern hotel offers a range of facilities including complimentary parking, a large bar, Wi-Fi, a restaurant and an outdoor pool.
Better still Wyndham Garden Orlando Universal / I Drive is just a 27 minute walk from Universal’s CityWalk (the entrance to Universal Studios Florida & Universal’s Islands of Adventure).
Walking to Universal Studios Resort in Orlando from Wyndham Garden sees you exit the hotel and turn left until you reach International Drive.
From there you’ll want to cross the road and head towards Four Points by Sheraton (the large sphere building with a globe on top) from there you’ll be able to follow the directions from Universal Studios Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn & Suites as outlined above along Universal Blvd and into CityWalk.
Universal Orlando Travel Planning Guide
🎟️ Where To Buy Tickets for Universal Orlando?
If you’re based in the US or Canada, I recommend Klook for your Universal Orlando tickets. Klook consistently has the most competitive prices. There’s also a range of different ticket options to suit all budgets and requirements.
Meanwhile, if you’re based in the United Kingdom. Then I recommend buying your Universal Orlando theme park tickets from AttractionTix. I personally use AttractionTix when purchasing Orlando theme park tickets. That’s because AttractionTix consistently has the most competitive prices and incredible customer service.
🏥 Should I Buy Travel Insurance for a Visit to Universal Orlando?
If you’re travelling to Universal Orlando for vacation, then travel insurance is recommended. Basic travel insurance coverage with Safety Wing averages between $5 – $10 per day and offers peace of mind.
However, if a trip to Universal Orlando isn’t part of a vacation. For example, you live locally. Then travel insurance isn’t likely to be necessary.
🚘 Do I Need to Rent a Car for a Visit to Universal Orlando?
You don’t need to rent a car to visit Universal Orlando, as the resort has Uber / Lyft pick-up and drop-off points. However, if Universal Orlando makes up the majority of your vacation, then you may want to stay on-site.
Staying onsite at the Universal Orlando Resort comes with several perks. Including complimentary transport from the hotel to the Universal Orlando theme parks. In some cases, you can even walk from your hotel straight to the theme park gates.
However, if a trip to Universal Orlando only makes up a portion of your vacation, then you may want to rent a car. I personally use Discover Cars to find the best car rental for all of my trips to Orlando.
🏨 Where to Stay When Visiting Universal Orlando?
If you’re spending the majority of your vacation at Universal Orlando, it’s a good idea to stay at a Universal Orlando hotel. Staying onsite at Universal Orlando comes with several perks, including;
- Early park admission
- Complimentary transport
- Complimentary Universal Express Passes (selected hotels only)
- Walking distance of the Universal theme parks (selected hotels only)
While staying onsite at Universal Orlando is great value for money, it can still be out of budget for many. Thankfully, there are several budget-friendly hotels close to Universal Orlando to choose from.
Meanwhile, if Universal Orlando only makes up part of your Orlando vacation, then you may want to stay elsewhere. Kissimmee, International Drive and Lake Buena Vista are all within a 40-minute drive of Universal Orlando.