San Antonio is Texas’ number one tourist destination, and it’s not hard to see why. This charming, diverse, culturally vibrant city is home to two majorly iconic Texan tourism spots: the River Walk and the Alamo. But the city has much else to offer, apart from these—namely, a lively arts and food scene, excellent local shops, a close proximity to the Hill Country, and distinctive cultural attractions, like the centuries-old Spanish missions strung along the San Antonio River and a bevy of local museums. Luckily for Houstonians, San Antonio is located just 190 miles (305 kilometers) west of Houston, and there are several convenient ways to make the trip, either by driving, flying, or taking the bus or Amtrak.
Flying can be a relatively easy and quick way to make the trip if you’d prefer not to drive along the car-choked I-10. Several carriers offer nonstop flights from Houston to San Antonio; flight time is just over an hour and, depending on when you go, flights tend to range between $200 and $250. Or, for the most eco-friendly (albeit longer) transportation option, you can opt to take the bus or train: Greyhound, Turimex Internacional, FlixBus, Megabus, and Amtrak all offer routes between the two cities. Making this journey by car can be a real nightmare, even if you don’t get stuck in rush-hour traffic.
How to Get From Houston to San Antonio
|Train||5 hours, 10 minutes||from $35||Eco-friendly travel|
|Flight||1 hour, 4 minutes||from $220||Saving time|
|Bus||3 hours, 35 minutes (direct route)||from $15||Traveling on a budget|
|Car||3 hours||190 miles (305 kilometers)||Exploring the area on your own|
Flying to and from Houston and San Antonio takes just over an hour, not counting the time it takes to get to the airport, check bags, clear security, and then get from the airport to your destination in San Antonio. If you’d prefer the convenience of flying over driving, this can be a good option, although it’s much more expensive than other transportation options.
The San Antonio International Airport (SAT) has two terminals (Terminal A and Terminal B) and three runways, and there are 11 domestic and international airlines that provide regular commercial service here. Of these, United, American, Alaska, and Southwest offer nonstop and connecting flights to and from Houston. One-way fares start at around $110, while a round-trip ticket costs approximately $220 or more (although it’s certainly true that you might be able to find a cheaper fare, depending on the time of year).
If you’d prefer to kick back and relax while you travel between destinations, taking the bus can be a convenient, relatively affordable option. Not to mention, buses are an environmentally friendly travel option when compared to other modes of transit, in terms of fuel efficiency, energy usage, and reducing the number of vehicles on the road. Megabus, Greyhound, FlixBus, and Turimex Internacional all offer routes between Houston and San Antonio, and each of them have different frequencies, rates, and types of routes (direct or non-direct).
Greyhound buses depart from the Greyhound station at 2121 Main Street; there are four routes per day and a one-way ticket per person can cost anywhere between $20 to $30. There are a few different Megabus pick-up stations, when traveling from Houston to San Antonio: the parking lot of 815 Pierce Street, the Katy Mills Mall (Entrance 8), or the Select Shell Station at the intersection of 290 (13250 FM 1960 W). In terms of cost and frequency, Megabus operates eight buses a day, with one-way fares as low as $10 depending on how far in advance you book. FlixBus operates two buses per day, while Turimex operates four per day; rates vary, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $40 for a one-way ticket for both operators.
Although it’s usually the cheapest option, driving from Houston to San Antonio isn’t for the faint of heart. That’s because I-10 is notoriously clogged with traffic, especially around rush hour. The trip is just under 200 miles and usually takes around three hours, though this depends on stops and traffic. The most direct route is a straight-shot via I-10. Although, if you’re willing to make a road trip out of it, there are a couple stops worth considering: Schulenberg is a charming German and Czech town about an hour and a half from Houston, and Luling offers quaint shops and restaurants—the town is well-known for its authentic barbecue that’s routinely praised as some of the best in Texas.
Again, as with the bus, if you’re concerned about lowering your personal carbon footprint, taking the train is a much more eco-friendly alternative than going by car or plane, although it does take longer than most other forms of transportation. Amtrak operates a train from Houston to San Antonio three times per week, on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday. The journey takes approximately five hours, and the Houston station is located at 902 Washington Avenue. Tickets tend to range anywhere from $35 to $50 for a one-way ticket.
What to See in San Antonio
San Antonio boasts a broad spectrum of cultures, which is plainly evident in the city’s cuisine, artistic output, and historical sites. One of the coolest attractions in town is the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park (a National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site); the colonial-era missions span the length of the river and are best explored by bicycle.
Skip SeaWorld and, instead, soak up the dazzling collection at the San Antonio Museum of Art, stroll around La Villita Historic Arts Village, or enjoy the sights and sounds of the largest Mexican market in the country, Historic Market Square. For a unique treat, head to the San Fernando Cathedral at night to catch The Saga, a video art installation projected onto the cathedral walls.
The bustling Riverwalk and the Alamo are certainly worth a visit, of course, but be sure to tour around the Pearl District, as well—San Antonio’s trendiest neighborhood is home to a buzzing cultural scene that includes the historic Pearl Brewery, Hotel Emma, and a number of noteworthy restaurants, in addition to the Culinary Institute of America campus and the popular Pearl Weekend Market on Sundays.