Crossing the U. S.-Mexico Border into Tijuana

Street Market on Revolution Avenue
••• Veronica Garbutt / Getty Images
  • 01 of 07

    How to Get into Tijuana from San Diego

    If you're thinking about visiting Tijuana, Mexico, it's close to San Diego - and easy to get to.

    You can drive there - or take a bus, but the San Diego Trolley is easier. Check out the step by step directions to find out how simple it is.

    These step-by-step directions show you how to cross the US/Mexico border at San Ysidro once you get to it. There is another crossing at Otay Mesa, but it's not close to the places you will want to go as a visitor.

    If you decide to drive yourself, pay close attention as you approach the border to be sure you don't end up in the line for automobile crossing instead of the parking lot.

    Before you take off toward the border, be sure you have identification with you. Until this year, you could enter Mexico without documentation, but at this time, Mexico requires a passport book (not a passport card) and charges for an entry visa. U.S. citizens have always needed a passport (driver's license won't do) to reenter the U.S. Check the...MORE current requirements at the State Department travel website.

    Continue to 2 of 7 below.
  • 02 of 07

    Arriving at the Border

    Walk This Way to the Tijuana Border
    ••• Walk This Way to the Tijuana Border. Betsy Malloy Photography

    This picture shows the arrival location of the San Diego Trolley. The border is straight ahead, but you'll go slightly left to get to it.

    Next to the trolley stop are a few shops and a McDonald's restaurant - which is a good place for a quick toilet stop before crossing. They charge a small fee to use their facilities.

    When you're ready to go to Tijuana, walk toward the blue building shown in this photo. If you're as thorough about being prepared as I am, this is the time to check once more that you have your documentation with you. See the previous page for more about that.

    Just past the blue building, you'll see a sign pointing toward the border. Follow the sign and walk up the ramp.

    Continue to 3 of 7 below.
  • 03 of 07

    Pass Through the Gate

    The US-Mexico Border at Tijuana from the US Side
    ••• The US-Mexico Border at Tijuana from the US Side. Betsy Malloy Photography

    After you pass under the sign that says "Mexico," it's super easy. Just keep walking. It's nearly impossible to get lost.

    You'll go through the building and walk under a covered walkway. The Mexican Immigration Department has set up a checkpoint inside the building where they will check your passport and charge for a visa depending on the length of your visit. Eventually, you will exit onto the street. That's where things get a little trickier, but don't worry. Just keep reading, we've got you covered.

    Continue to 4 of 7 below.
  • 04 of 07

    Walking Route

    Walking Route from San Ysidro to Revolucion Avenue
    ••• Walking Route from San Ysidro to Revolucion Avenue.

    If you're going to downtown Tijuana, the map above shows the route. It's not quite detailed enough to be helpful in that size, but you can view the larger one here.

    In words, here's what you do:

    • After you get past the covered walkway and outside, look for an elevated crosswalk over the highway. It's very close and will be on your right.
    • Use the crosswalk to get to the other side. At the bottom of the crosswalk ramp, keep walking straight across Avenida de la Amistad.
    • If you want to get a taxi, ignore the yellow ones you see first. Instead, keep going to find taxis with regulated fare whose drivers won't try to cheat you. Walk to Avenida de la Amistad and look for a white-and-orange Taxi Libre.
    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Walk Toward the Tijuana River Bridge

    Tijuana Bridge and Arch
    ••• Tijuana Bridge and Arch. Betsy Malloy Photography

    If you're walking, keep going straight ahead across Avenida de la Amistad and look for the arch in the distance of this photo. It's the easiest-to-find landmark in Tijuana.

    Walk toward the arch, cross Tijuana River bridge, and you'll be almost there.

    Continue to 6 of 7 below.
  • 06 of 07

    Cross Avenida Negrete

    Crossing Avenida Negrete
    ••• Crossing Avenida Negrete. Betsy Malloy Photography

    From Avenida Negrete, it's only two blocks to Avenida Revolucion. Go straight ahead through the arch to get there.

    Continue to 7 of 7 below.
  • 07 of 07

    Tijuana Arch Landmark

    The Tijuana Arch
    ••• The Tijuana Arch. Dan Cipolla/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Turn left at the big arch in this photo, and you'll be on Avenida Revolucion, the city's main street. You can see the arch from almost anywhere in town, and it's the landmark to head back to if you get lost, or when you're ready to go home.

    To find out more about what you can do in Tijuana - and why a do-it-yourself tour may not be the best way to see it, check the Tijuana Visitor Guide.