San Diego International Airport (SAN), also known as Lindbergh Field, is only 3 miles (5 km) northwest of downtown San Diego. Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and Southwest Airlines operate from Terminal 1, with all other airlines at Terminal 2. The free Airport Loop shuttle bus connects the two terminals. The only non-stop international flights are to and from Canada, Mexico, Japan, and the UK.
Taxis and door-to-door shuttles may be found at the Transportation Plaza, accessible to Terminal 1 via a skybridge and to Terminal 2 directly across the street by exiting baggage claim. Just outside baggage claim, bus route 992 takes approximately 10 minutes to downtown San Diego. It stops at the corner of W. Broadway and Kettner, which is directly across the street from the Santa Fe Depot (Amtrak and the Coaster) and America Plaza (trolley). Buses run every 15 minutes from 5am to 11:30pm on weekdays and every 30 minutes on weekends.
Tijuana International Airport is located 5 miles (8 km) east of downtown Tijuana, with frequent flights to the rest of Mexico, as well as direct flights to and from China and Japan. Domestic flights within Mexico are often cheaper than flying internationally from California. If you are a ticketed passenger, a fee-based pedestrian bridge to the border is a 5-minute walk from baggage claim. After immigration, shuttles are available to San Ysidro (every 30 minutes from 5am to 2am) or the Santa Fe Depot (every 2 hours from 5:30am to 1:30am). Check SuperShuttle’s website for more information.
Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliners arrive at the historic Santa Fe Depot, as does Coaster. About 11 trains travel daily to and from Orange County and Los Angeles, and several continue on to Santa Barbara.
Greyhound buses cover the entire US and most of Canada. There are direct connections from Los Angeles, with many continuing to the border and Tijuana’s central bus terminal. A few daily buses go directly to Phoenix.
By car from Los Angeles, I-5 passes along coastal towns, heads into downtown, and continues to the international border at San Ysidro. Shortly before La Jolla, I-5 splits with I-805, reconnecting at the border. If driving from the east, I-8 passes through Mission Valley and ends just past SeaWorld. I-15 from Las Vegas serves inland San Diego County.
All cruise ships moor at B Street Terminal along the Embarcadero on N. Harbor Drive within easy walking distance of downtown. Popular sailings include the Mexican Riviera or mini-cruises to Ensenada and Catalina. A number of ships sail to and from Canada and Alaska, Hawaii, and Panama.
A regional commuter rail service runs daily between the Santa Fe Depot and Oceanside. You can buy tickets at vending machines at stations and use them for 2 hours after purchase.
Public transport will take you just about anywhere in the city. The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System runs buses and trams. City buses connect with the North County Transit District, which serves coastal and inland San Diego County. Inexpensive and fun, the red trolley is a light-rail system with three lines. The Blue line travels between the America Plaza downtown and the Mexican border at San Ysidro. The Green line is handy for the Gaslamp Quarter, the Convention Center, and Seaport Village. The Orange line crosses downtown and continues out to El Cajon. Buses and trolleys operate from 4:30am until midnight.
You can only buy tickets on the bus with exact change. Single adult fares are $2.25, except for express buses. Single adult trolley tickets are $2.50, valid for 2 hours. Vending machines sell trolley tickets at each stop. No transfers are allowed between buses and trolleys. If you plan to hop on and off buses and trolleys, 1- to 4-day, and 14-day passes are available but only with a Compass Card. Reloadable Compass Cards may be purchased for $2 at The Transit Store and Albertson’s and Vons supermarkets throughout San Diego.
You won’t need a car in downtown San Diego, but it’s essential to get around the rest of the city or region. A few car-rental agencies also have cars you can drive into Mexico, but you will need to agree this with your agent before traveling and buy additional insurance at the border. These include Budget and California Baja Rent-a-Car.
Taxis don’t cruise for fares. You can usually find a stand in front of large hotels, the airport, and some shopping centers. Rates are posted on the taxi door; distances can make some trips expensive. You can also call San Diego Taxi Company for a ride. Uber services are very popular and arguably more affordable.
On-call San Diego Water Taxis will transport you to locations around the harbor. They run from Friday to Sunday, noon to 10pm.
Flagship Cruises operates a service between San Diego and Coronado. Ferries depart from Broadway Pier at 990 N. Harbor Drive and the Convention Center Marina. From Coronado, ferries leave from the Coronado Ferry Landing, 1201 First Street. Ferries leave hourly from 9am to 9pm (to 10pm on Friday and Saturday). One-way fares are $4.75.
The greater San Diego region has over 1,300 miles (2,090 km) of bikeways. Public bicycles may be rented on an hourly basis or unlimited usage with a monthly membership. The Bike Revolution, Deco Bike and Stay Classy Bike Rentals all offer good deals.
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