Everything You Need to Know About Getting Around San Diego

March 21, 2018

San Diego is home to a whirlwind of fantastic attractions, sites, and excitement.

With a packed vacation itinerary, the last thing you want to worry about is getting around San Diego.

Luckily, the city of San Diego offers multiple transportation options for you to use throughout your trip.

San Diego Transportation Options

From visiting LEGOLAND® with the kids to strolling along Mission Beach, there’s so much to explore in San Diego. While planning your San Diego vacation, keep in mind that you’ll need a method of transportation to and from all of the fun.

San Diego visitors can take advantage of one or more of the following transportation options:

Rental Car

Travelers who prefer to have control over their transportation should rent a car. Getting around San Diego with a rental car is a viable option. However, those who choose this path should keep in mind that the area is infamous for traffic.


As with most cities, San Diego offers a metropolitan bus system. However, locals note that it isn’t the most reliable form of transportation. If you plan to take the bus, be prepared for delays and keep a flexible schedule. Also, it is in your favor to have a backup transportation plan, in the case that the bus doesn’t arrive on time.

On a positive note, the bus boasts an extensive amount of routes around the city. Meaning guests can get to almost every attraction, restaurant, and area of San Diego using the bus system.


san diego trolly going through downtown

San Diego Trolley

When you visit San Diego, you can’t miss the bright-red trolleys transporting people all over the city. This iconic vehicle should be your primary method of transportation for getting around San Diego.

The red trolleys offer 3 different lines (blue, green, and orange) that cover approximately 50+ miles of the city.

The trolley routes include stops at popular destinations such as:

  • Qualcomm Stadium
  • San Diego Convention Center
  • Santa Fe Depot
  • Gaslamp Quarter
  • County Center/Little Italy

If you have the opportunity, you have to hop a ride on the vintage trolley — even if just for the fun of it!


Old Town Trolley Tours

Who said getting around San Diego couldn’t be fun and educational at the same time? By riding this trolley route, guests can hop on and hop off at premier destinations around San Diego. If you elect to do the tour, the entire trolley experience is approximately 2 hours long and filled with outstanding sites.

Whether you use Old Town Trolley Tours as an activity or a means of transportation, you’re in for a phenomenal experience.

Passenger Ferry

Want to get across the bay? Your best bet is the passenger ferry operated by Flagship Cruises and Events that transports visitors between San Diego and the Coronado Ferry landing. You can choose to travel via the Broadway Pier or San Diego Convention Center ferry schedule. Ferries depart every half an hour.

One benefit to taking the ferry is seeing the natural beauty of the bay!


What city would complete without a taxi service? While taxis are one option for getting around San Diego, they can be quite expensive. With so much traffic and potentially long distances between attractions and activities, a taxi may be convenient but certainly not affordable.

To efficiently travel, use a taxi for short distances just outside of walking distance. This will minimize your fare and get you to your destination quickly.

Uber and Lyft

Ridesharing apps and services, Uber and Lyft, are also available in San Diego. Both services are affordable, reliable, and safe choices for getting around San Diego. Uber and Lyft are becoming popular transportation options for travelers around the world, especially in San Diego.

The apps allow you to hail a ride, rate your experience, and pay right from your credit card instead of fumbling around trying to find the right amount of cash.


Depending on the location of your hotel, you could easily walk to many of San Diego’s best attractions. Plus, getting around San Diego is a thrill when you immerse yourself in the city’s sights and sounds by walking to your destinations.

San Diego is also a bike-friendly city. You’ll see tourists and locals alike using bicycles to travel around the city. You can rent a bike or reserve your spot for a bike tour around San Diego’s hottest destinations and beaches.


Tips for Getting Around San Diego

Now that you know your options for getting around San Diego, these tips will help you have the greatest transportation experience possible.

Rush Hour can be Killer

As with any major city, traffic can put a major damper on your travel plans. Rush hour in San Diego can be horrific, so plan ahead! During the morning rush hour, south and west highways are packed while evening traffic heads to the north and east.

Not a Fast Driver? Move Over.

Driving in a new city can be a nerve-wracking experience. If you’re not a speedy driver, you should stick to the right lanes. Not only will this ensure that traffic continues to move and does not create delays, it will also help you drive safely on San Diego highways.

Know Your Route Ahead of Time

Whether you plan to walk to your destination, rent a bicycle, or drive across San Diego, knowing and reviewing your route ahead of time can be beneficial. This allows you to reduce the stress associated with traveling and get to your destination with ease.

Ride the Trolley as Much as Possible

The I-5 can be confusing to navigate, especially for those unfamiliar with San Diego’s roadways and city navigation. As a result, riding the trolleys are your best bet for getting around San Diego. With the regular and on-time schedules, affordable fare, and gorgeous views of San Diego, riding the trolley cannot be beat.

Reserve Your Trip to San Diego Today

Getting around San Diego is only part of your vacation. Do you have a hotel room reserved and activities planned out? Organize your San Diego vacation with Tripster for great savings and peace of mind.

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