Getting around San Diego

Public transport

San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (tel: +1 619 557 4555; operates the city's buses and trolley system. You need exact change on buses. A trolley ticket is valid for two hours in one direction. Passes are available for one, two, three or four days. You can load passes onto a Compass Card smartcard. 

The Coaster train service (tel: +1 760 966 6500; provides increased transport to outlying areas, linking coastal communities as far north as Oceanside. 

The San Diego-Coronado Ferry (tel: +1 619 234 4111; shuttles commuters and visitors between the Broadway Pier at the intersection of Broadway and Harbor Streets and the Ferry Landing shopping and dining centre on Coronado. 


Yellow Cab (tel: +1 619 444 4444; operates throughout San Diego County. It is best for visitors to request a taxi by telephone, although it is possible to hail them in the street in Downtown. A 10-15% tip is appropriate for good service.


San Diego is well laid out with several well-maintained highways that serve as major arteries to outlying districts. Highways are generally easy to follow, although California's Interstate highways maintain high speeds and can be unnerving for first-time visitors.

As in most Southern California cities, early morning (0630-0900) and late afternoon (1500-1900) are peak rush-hour times and driving during these periods should be avoided. Areas such as Downtown, Mission Bay, Coronado Bridge and the major beach areas are high congestion areas during rush hour. 

The high occupant vehicle lanes (HOV) are designed for vehicles carrying two to three passengers or more (highways differ in their minimum limit of passengers). There are stiff fines for vehicles carrying less than the stated minimum number of passengers. Left lanes that are not HOV lanes are reserved for passing vehicles.

Public parking in the Mission Beach and Pacific Beach areas is usually at a premium on weekends and holidays. A few residential areas have signage indicating the days and hours that visitors are allowed to park on the street. Vehicles that do not obey the regulations may be towed away. Most hotels provide parking to guests for a fee.

If you have abundant free time, it is best to use the bus, trolley or train to reach most areas. Public transport doesn't reach some popular attractions however. If time and efficiency are issues, driving is the best way to get around.

Car hire

Car hire agencies in the USA require a credit card or cash deposit when hiring out a car. The minimum age to hire a car is usually 25 years and you must be in possession of a valid national driving licence. Insurance is mandatory when driving and car hire companies normally carry their own optional insurance. Customers who have their own US car insurance are normally covered while driving a hired vehicle.

There are several major agencies located in the city. These include Avis (tel: +1 619 688 5000;, Budget (tel: +1 619 542 8001; and Hertz (tel: +1 619 767 5700;

Bicycle hire

Cycling is a popular pastime in San Diego and the city has no shortage of bicycle shops to accommodate this.

Cheap Rentals, at 3689 and 3715 Mission Boulevard (tel: +1 858 488 9070;, has all kinds of bikes (as well as skating and surfing equipment) for hire from their shops in Mission Beach, close to the boardwalk and parks.

DecoBike San Diego (tel: +1 619 297 0433 is the city's bikeshare scheme. Short-term memberships are available, and there are more than 1,800 bikes across the city.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.