Getting Around in San Diego - Your Guide to Public Transportation

Know how to get around a San Diego it is crucial, as it is a fairly large city and it is very important to know which are the best means of transport to use. In this section you will find all the information on public transport in San Diego, on private transport and on how to rent a car in San Diego.

Getting around in San Diego

What is the best way to get around the city? The answer depends on the attractions you want to visit. If you want to explore a large part of the region, a rental car is your best bet. But if you choose to stay in the city center or just relax along the coast, public transport may suffice. Here are some possible choices:

Moving to and from the International Airport

San Diego International Airport (also known as Lindbergh Airport) is a large airport located just minutes from downtown San Diego and twenty minutes from Tijuana, Mexico. It has three terminals: Terminal 1, Terminal 2 and the Terminal for short flights.

San Diego Airport offers a free shuttle service between the airport terminals, with its Red Bus, which runs every 10 minutes.

Airport shuttles

The Metropolitan Transit System bus, Flyer Route 992, makes trips between the airport and downtown San Diego for $ 2,25. You need to have the exact fare at hand (in coins or banknotes).

It departs the terminals every 10-15 minutes from 5am to 00pm and makes a round trip, often stopping within walking distance of many hotels. Of the various airport shuttles, only SuperShuttle has seats for wheelchairs.

Airport shuttles also connect with the San Diego Trolley (the tourist tram network) and the Amtrak (the rail network).

Information on Metropolitan Transit System shuttles and buses, the San Diego Trolley and the coastal commuter train is available at

Shuttles, buses and taxis depart from the Transportation Plaza, accessible via skybridges from Terminals 1 and 2.

If you are heading to North County, the Flyer can drop you off in front of the Santa Fe station, where you can take the train north to Oceanside for $ 5,50.

There is also a service shuttle between LAX and San Diego, but its price can be prohibitive, with fares for a two-hour trip starting at $ 296. So the cheapest option is to rent a car. Search for the best car rental deal.

Rental car

There are several car rental agencies with offices near the airport. Courtesy telephones are available, which you can use to request transportation from the airport to the car rental offices.

Rent a car in San Diego

Many private bus transport companies offer services from the airport to San Diego and surrounding areas. The average fare for a trip to downtown is $ 9.


Taxis departing from the airport are subject to regulated fares (starting fare of $ 2,80 plus $ 3 per mile). The cost of the taxi to get to most downtown hotels is about $ 20 plus tip. To get to Coronado, the taxi costs about $ 30 plus tip.

Getting around San Diego by tram and bus

San Diego Red Tram –

Under the abbreviation Metropolitan Transit System, there are two main transit agencies in the area: San Diego Transit e North County Transit District (NCTD). To use MTS you will need to purchase a $ 2 card, available when you first board, in which destinations are registered.

Getting around in Trolley 

One of the most practical ways to get around San Diego is via the trolley. The San Diego tram covers more or less the entire metropolitan area of ​​the city and has 3 main lines (blue, orange and green), plus one that only operates certain days of the week and one that only works for certain events.

Getting around by bus 

Getting around San Diego by bus is a great option for those who want to discover the city. There are several bus companies operating in San Diego. However, the bus can be a bit slow at rush hour, as there is a lot of traffic in the city and this makes circulation difficult.

Tram and bus tickets

Day tickets, available from 1 to 30 days and starting at $ 5, offer unlimited rides on non-premium regional buses and the trolley (trolleybus or tram) of San Diego. You can buy them at most vending machines at trolley stops, Downtown Transit Store, and Albertsons Markets.

A $ 14 Plus day pass also adds Coaster service (coastal trains) and premium bus lines. The tram system connects with the Transit San Diego bus lines: connections are written at each tram station.

San Diego Transit bus fares range from $ 2,25 to $ 5. Tickets for North Transit District buses are $ 4. You must have exact change in coins and / or bills. You pay when you get on the bus.

Tickets for the San Diego Trolley (streetcar line) cost $ 2,50 each way and are valid for two hours. Tickets are dispensed from self-service machines at each stop. We accept $ 1, $ 5, $ 10, and $ 20 bills and credit cards. Ticket vending machines will return up to $ 10 of change.

For travel on multiple buses and trams it is best to purchase a day pass that is valid for unlimited use throughout the day (valid until the end of the service day - 2:00 am).

1 day pass - $ 5
2 days - $ 9
3 days - $ 12
4 days - $ 15
14 days - $ 43

Traveling by train

Train Usa California San Diego Del Mar -

Amtrak daily trains connect Santa Fe station in downtown San Diego with Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. If you want to travel further to Oakland, Seattle, Chicago, Texas, Florida… you have to use the connecting trains available in Los Angeles.

Amtrak train stops in North San Diego County are at Solana Beach e Oceanside. You can get all Amtrak timetables at any Amtrak station or by visiting their website.

Coastal Trains - Coaster

Every day, the coastal trains of the North Transit District they connect downtown San Diego with coastal communities across the county, including Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad, and Oceanside.

These trains offer visitors car-free access to some of the region's most charming beach locations, as well as a relaxing ride through stunning coastal scenery. The frequency is approximately every half hour during rush hour on weekdays, with four trains on Saturdays.

One-way fares are $ 4 to $ 5,50, depending on the distance traveled, and children up to age 5 travel for free. Oceanside, Carlsbad, and Solana Beach stations have beach access. The entire journey from Oceanside to downtown Santa Fe Depot takes about an hour.

Getting around San Diego by car

Exploring San Diego by car is the most convenient way to get around the city. The motorway system is easy to navigate and traffic is manageable at times other than normal morning and evening rush hours on the working day.

Driving in San Diego County is pretty straightforward - most of the major attractions are within a few miles of the Pacific Ocean.

  • L’Interstate 5 (I-5), which stretches north to south from Oregon to the Mexican border, divides San Diego.
  • L’Interstate 8 (I-8) provides access from Yuma, Arizona and points to the east.
  • Drivers from the Los Angeles area and Nevada can travel to San Diego on the I-15.

Travel with your driver's license and passport always with you if you are an international traveler as there are a few border inspection stations along major highways in San Diego County. For roadside assistance, dial 511 from a cell phone.

Parking in San Diego

Parking laws are strictly enforced in San Diego. Downtown parking usually costs $ 1 to $ 2,50 per hour from 10 am-20pm, every day except Sundays. If you park at Horton Plaza, the mall validates your parking ticket for one hour, even if you don't shop.

In the evenings and during downtown events, parking spaces are hard to find. The Convention Center has nearly 2.000 spaces for cars and parking costs $ 15 to $ 35 during events, while in Downtown, parking costs $ 10- $ 45 per day. Most of the hotels in the center instead offer a valet parking service.

To find free parking, head to Balboa Park and Mission Bay where it is rare not to find a free space.

How to rent a car in San Diego

In California, you must be 21 to rent a car, and the rates may be higher if you are under 25. Some agencies do not rent to anyone under 25; check the rental conditions. Children up to 8 years of age must be safely accommodated in child seats.

Rent a car in San Diego

Rates fluctuate based on seasons and demand, but generally start at $ 39 per day and $ 250 per week for an economy car with climate control, automatic transmission, and unlimited mileage.

Getting around by taxi

Rates vary between companies. If you are heading to the airport from a hotel, ask about the flat rate, which varies by destination; otherwise you will be charged based on the number of miles (which costs approximately $ 20 from any Downtown location).

Taxi stops are located near shopping centers and hotels; otherwise you need to call and book a taxi. As for private on-demand transportation, you can use Uber, available throughout San Diego County for competitive rates up to 40% cheaper than a taxi.

Could it be interesting for you:

  • Where to sleep in San Diego
  • San Giego Go Cart: the best pass to visit the city
  • SeaWorld, the most famous marine park in California
  • Like visiting the San Diego Zoo


add a comment of Getting Around in San Diego - Your Guide to Public Transportation
Comment sent successfully! We will review it in the next few hours.