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Transportation To and Around San Diego - Undercover Tourist Blog

by Leap on June 12, 2014

Planning transportation to and around the San Diego area isn't difficult thanks to a good freeway system.

San Diego transportation

Transportation to San Diego

Whether you drive or fly depends largely, of course, on where you're coming from and how many passengers you will have with you. Larger families may find it's more economical to drive, but you should always factor in the additional cost of gas and food while on the road.

If you do decide to drive, be sure to check out our helpful tips for a smooth car ride.

Airport

San Diego transportation

San Diego International Airport is ideally situated three miles northwest of downtown San Diego, roughly a 10-minute drive. It is served by many domestic carriers, although there are only a handful of international flights. Visitors from other countries are likely to be routed through the Los Angeles or San Francisco-area airports rather than direct.

A list of all airlines that fly into San Diego International Airport

PDF version of the terminal maps

List of rental car companies at San Diego International Airport

Transportation Around San Diego

Although not as large and sprawling as Los Angeles, San Diego is the second largest city in California that is best traversed by car. Popular tourist attractions are spread throughout the city, and visitors will likely find renting a car the easiest way to navigate. We have partnered with Alamo to bring you the very best rates on car rental + tickets. All of the car rental companies operate at the airport. None are directly in terminal and will require a shuttle ride to their locations behind the terminal and runway, so be sure to factor that into your travel time to and from the airport.

With three major interstate roadways, it's fairly easy to get around, although visitors should expect a fairly good amount of congestion if you are traveling during commuting times.

Shuttle service

We offer discounted tickets through Super Shuttle to get you to and from the San Diego International Airport from Downtown San Diego.

To find Super Shuttle at the airport:

Upon arrival, follow the signs to the baggage claim and collect your luggage.

Terminal 1 arrivals, proceed to Baggage Claim 3, take the escalators up to take the sky-bridge, then back down the other side to the Transportation Islands on your right.

Terminal 2 arrivals, exit the terminal near Baggage Claim 6, 7, 8.

For both Terminals 1 and 2, a uniformed Customer Service Representative in a blue shirt will be standing near the SuperShuttle sign. Present your confirmation number to the uniformed Customer Service Representative for further assistance. If you’re traveling from the Commuter Terminal, exit the baggage claim and cross the street at the crosswalk to reach a small transportation island. Request a SuperShuttle from one of the airport's representatives, who will contact us on your behalf.

Please note that vehicles do not wait curbside; they are standing by at other terminals ready to assist. If for any reason you have difficulty, please call 1 (619) 564-7998 for further assistance.

Bus Service

There is no central bus service, although there are several operators that offer different stops and stations around the city.

The only public transit available from the airport is the Flyer Route No. 992, a Metropolitan Transit System bus that travels between the airport and downtown. The bus service, which stops between Terminals 1 & 2 and the Commuter Terminal, connects downtown with Trolley, Coaster and Amtrak stations.

Car Rentals

The major car rental companies operate at the airport, although all will require a shuttle ride behind the terminal and runway, so be sure to factor that into your travel time to and from the airport.

Traveling between Los Angeles and San Diego

San Diego transportation -  Amtrak Station

For visitors planning to visit both San Diego and Los Angeles (about 120 miles away), it usually much cheaper to rent a car or take Amtrak rather than fly between the two cities. Amtrak operates from the historic Santa Fe Depot, and there is a city bus line to it from San Diego International Airport. Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner takes about two and a half hours to get to Los Angeles' Union Station, stopping in several Orange County cities, including Anaheim. There is an additional commuter rail service, COASTER, that runs to Oceanside and then could connect to Orange County's Metrolink if you are traveling during regular commuting hours; weekend service is limited.

Parking

In the downtown and beach areas, there is metered parking Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Meters accept coins and pre-paid parking meter cards, which can be found at a variety of locations.

Popular San Diego Transportation Addressses

Popular addresses are listed below if you would like to plug them into your favorite mapping system.

San Diego International Airport

3225 N Harbor Dr

San Diego CA 92101

Amtrak (Santa Fe Depot)

1050 Kettner Blvd

San Diego CA 92101

SeaWorld San Diego

500 Sea World Dr

San Diego, CA 92109

The San Diego Zoo

2920 Zoo Dr

San Diego, CA 92101

We hope you've found this overview of when to visit San Diego helpful in planning a visit to San Diego. You'll find more resources and tips inside our San Diego Planning Guide. 

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