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Tampa has modern museums, gourmet restaurants, green parks and vibrant nightlife, all within striking distance of the beautiful white sands and turquoise waters that Florida postcards are made of.
Direct flights to Tampa from the UK depart from London Gatwick, where the likes of British Airways, American Airlines, Finnair and Iberia all offer non-stop routes to Tampa International Airport.
You can usually expect to be in the air for around nine and a half hours on a direct flight to Tampa. And although this is usually the priciest option, it is by far the quickest and most straightforward. If you want to fly from elsewhere in the UK, or save some cash on the price of the flights, airports all over the UK operate flights to Tampa with a stopover along the way. Usually the break is for a few hours and gives you a chance to stretch your legs in an airport in one of the states along the east coast of the US.
Famously the birthplace of commercial airline service, Tampa hosted the first ever scheduled commercial airline flight in the world when pioneer aviator Tony Jannus flew the St Petersburg to Tampa Airboat Line on New Year’s Day in 1914. Today, Tampa International is a modern airport with an average of 18 million annual passengers from all over the world.
Tampa International is regularly name-checked as a favourite among frequent fliers. Across its terminals, there are more than 30 bars and places to eat, including bakeries, fast-food joints and a mix of restaurants serving the likes of American grills, Mexican and seafood.
There are also several dozen shops selling everything from books to sports gear. It’s also famous for its clever use of people movers, which ferry passengers to satellite terminals and gates. The concept does away with racing long distances for gates and was ground-breaking when first introduced in the 1960s.
At just a couple of dollars, rides on the local bus number 30 are the cheapest transfers from Tampa International, with daytime services running every 15 minutes Monday to Friday and half hourly on weekends.
Alternatively, the United and Yellow taxi firms both operate from the rank outside baggage claim for a fixed rate to downtown. If you’re hiring a car, there are at least half a dozen car rental firms operating from the airport and the same number again at an off-site location that you can reach using a courtesy shuttle service.
Although Tampa International is the go-to airport for direct flights from the UK, there are several alternatives if you are travelling via elsewhere in the States. St Petersburg-Clearwater International is one of the biggies, and is just a 25-minute drive from Tampa. If you fly here and drive to Tampa from St Petersburg, take route I-175 across Old Tampa Bay and you will end up in the west end of downtown.