How to Travel from Austin to San Antonio by Train, Bus, Car, and Plane

 TripSavvy / Julie Bang

One of the most-visited cities in Texas, San Antonio has a certain reputation for coolness. There’s simply nowhere else like it in the state (or the country, for that matter), with iconic attractions like the Alamo and the River Walk, and a plethora of cutting-edge restaurants, museums, galleries, and shops. And, best of all, if you’re in Austin, San Antonio makes for the perfect quick weekend getaway spot: It’s just under 80 miles away.

There are a few different ways you can opt to make the trip. Although you can fly, since the journey is so short by car or bus—and there are no direct flights between the two cities—you’re probably better off traveling on the road. That being said, there are a few carriers that offer connecting flights (usually through Houston) if you’re set on flying. Flight time ranges from three to four hours, and depending on when you book, round-trip tickets tend to cost anywhere from $250 to $400 or more. 

If, on the other hand, you’d prefer to take a bus or train, Greyhound and Megabus both offer several routes per day, and round-trip tickets are generally inexpensive. Alternatively, Amtrak services a route from Austin to San Antonio via The Texas Eagle, though the journey takes a little longer than the bus (3.5 hours), and a one-way ticket costs between $27 and $30. 

How to Get From Austin to San Antonio
  Time Cost Best For
Train 3 hours, 30 minutes from $27 Slow travel
Plane 3 hours from $150 Using your frequent flyer miles
Bus 1 hour, 30 minutes from $15 Convenient, eco-conscious travel
Car 1 hour, 20 minutes 80 miles (129 kilometers) Exploring the local area; getting there in a time crunch

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Austin to San Antonio?

Going from Austin to San Antonio by car is usually the cheapest, most convenient way to travel. However, if you don’t like sitting in traffic, you may find this route to be tiresome—traffic can be chaotic when leaving Austin, especially if you’re traveling during rush hour in the morning or evening. Regardless, the journey is relatively short, at 80 miles (or 129 kilometers); it usually takes around an hour and twenty minutes, depending on where you’re coming from in Austin, traffic, and stops.

If time isn’t an issue, you could opt to drive the scenic route by taking 290 West through the quaint town of Dripping Springs, then 281 South to San Antonio. Conversely, if you’re traveling along I-35, Gruene, New Braunfels, and San Marcos are all worth a visit—particularly Gruene, a postcard-cute town that’s home to the oldest continuously running dance hall in Texas.   

How Long Is the Flight?

Flying to and from Austin to San Antonio generally takes longer than being in the car or bus, and tickets don’t exactly come cheap. Flight time runs from around three to four hours, although this doesn’t account for the time it takes to get to and from the airport, check your bags, and clear security. However, if you have miles to use or you simply prefer to fly, there are a few carriers that offer connecting flights between the cities (though note that nonstop flights are currently unavailable). 

With two runways and two terminals, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport services more than 20 airlines. Of these airline carriers, American, United, and Southwest offer connecting flights to and from San Antonio. One-way fares start at around $150, while a round-trip ticket costs approximately $250 or more. Depending on the time of year, you might be able to find a cheaper fare, but it’s more likely that you'll pay $300 or more. 

How Long Is the Train Ride?

Traveling via train from Austin to San Antonio will take about twice as long as going via car or bus—but the point is the journey, and it’s not every day that you get to ride a train from city to city in the U.S. Amtrak operates a train from Austin to San Antonio once per day; the journey takes approximately 3.5 hours. Tickets tend to range from $27 to $40.

Is There a Bus That Goes From Austin to San Antonio?

Taking the bus from Austin to San Antonio can be a wholly pleasurable experience since you don’t have to drive on the crowded interstate, you can sit back and relax, and you’ll get there in just about the same amount of time that it takes to drive this distance (give or take 20 minutes). Taking public transportation is also the more eco-friendly option when compared to driving or flying, so if you’re concerned about lowering your personal carbon footprint, the bus is an excellent option.

From Austin, the Greyhound buses depart from 916 E. Koenig Lane. Buses depart every hour, and a one-way ticket costs between $15 and $22 (keep in mind that it’s recommended that you purchase tickets in advance). The main Megabus station in Austin can be found at 1500 San Jacinto Blvd. When going from Austin to San Antonio, your bus will depart from 815 Pierce Street, 5000 Katy Mills Circle, or the Select Shell Station at 13250 FM 1960 W, at the 290 intersection. Megabus operates five buses per day, with one-way fares starting as low as $9, depending on when you book. 

Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport?

The VIA Metropolitan Transit services the San Antonio International Airport. The VIA bus stop is at the west end of Terminal B; to get there, head to the Lower Roadway (Arrivals/Baggage Level in Terminal A and B), and take the crosswalk to the outer curb. Route 5 will get you downtown in about 30 minutes; a single ride costs $1.50.

What Is There to Do in San Antonio?

With so many things to do in San Antonio, you’ll need at least two full days to experience it all (and even this will probably be just scratching the surface). It’s certainly worth it to visit the Alamo, but add to your itinerary the Mission Reach Trail; strung along the river, the Mission Reach Trail connects all five of the colonial-era Spanish missions, and you can hike or bike the entire trail. Make ample time to wander around the River Walk and the revitalized Pearl District, pop into museums (the collection at the McNay is outstanding), and check out the largest Mexican market in the U.S. at Historic Market Square. And, eat out for every meal if you can—the food scene in San Antonio is out-of-this-world good.