How to Travel from ​San Diego to ​Los Angeles​ by Train, Bus, Car, and Plane

San Diego and Los Angeles are about 120 miles apart, city center to city center.

If you need to get from San Diego to Los Angeles, you can drive there, take a bus, an airplane or a train. This guide can help you pick the best way to make the trip.

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How to Get from San Diego to Los Angeles

TripSavvy / Adrian Mangel
  • Train: 3 hours, from $35
  • Flight: 1 hour, from $125
  • Bus: 2 hours, from $12
  • Car: 2 to 2.5 hours, 120 to 140 miles

The best way to get from San Digo to LA is by car or bus. Choose the bus if you don't have a car to use, or if LA traffic scares the bejeezus out of you, For a relaxing ride with nice scenery, try the train.

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By Plane

Coming in for a Landing at the San Diego Airport
Marin Wichary/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Flight time between San Diego and Los Angeles is less than 50 minutes. If you could hop on and hop off the plane with no waiting, it would be the fastest way to go. But getting to the airport early to check in and collecting your bags on arrival makes the journey last closer to 2.5 hours.

You'll get the cheapest tickets - no matter which airline you choose for a flight from San Diego to Los Angeles - by planning at least two weeks in advance and you might save more if you do that a month ahead of time.

When looking for a flight, if the time seems too long, you're likely to take a scenic tour of more than one airport along the way (otherwise known as a multi-stop flight). And oddly, the airlines tend to charge more for taking twice as long to get you to your destination.

The three-letter code for the San Diego airport is SAN. Los Angeles is LAX, Long Beach is LGB, Orange County is SNA and Burbank is BUR.

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By Train

Amtrak Surfliner Train Passes Through San Clemente, California
Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

The Amtrak Pacific Surfliner takes about three hours to travel from San Diego's Santa Fe Depot to Union Station in Los Angeles, stopping in several Orange County cities (including Anaheim) on the way to downtown Los Angeles. From there, it goes on to Glendale, Burbank and the San Fernando Valley.

If you choose to travel by Amtrak, they have two stations in San Diego: Old Town and downtown, which their website lists as "SAN" (which could be easily confused to mean the San Diego Airport, which uses the same initials).

Once you reach Orange County on Amtrak, you can transfer to Metrolink which runs several lines throughout the Los Angeles area. From Union Station, the LA Metro system trains go to many locations as well.

Here's a fun fact: Los Angeles' Union Station is known as the "Last of the Great Railway Stations" and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. If you enjoy watching movies or TV shows, chances are you will recognize the place from one of its' many appearances on the screen.

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By Bus

Greyhound runs from San Diego to Los Angeles several times a day. The fastest trip is a little more than 2 hours and fares are lower than flying.

Flixbus also offers bus service between San Diego and Los Angeles. They have multiple stops in each city. The trip will take two to three hours, depending on where you get on and off.

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By Car

Before you set out for LA, it helps to know the local lingo. Use the Los Angeles driving guide to find out what a SigAlert is, rules for Los Angeles carpool lanes and to see an LA freeway map.

Driving from San Diego to Los Angeles on I-5

I-5 north is the most common way to get from San Diego to Los Angeles. It passes along the coast with brief glimpses of the Pacific Ocean, through Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base and north through Orange County. It will take you 2. to 2.5 hours in good traffic.

The directions are simple: just get onto I-5 in San Diego and drive north. Get onto I-405 if you're headed toward Irvine, Long Beach, the South Bay beach cities or LAX. Stay on I-5 to get to downtown LA and Hollywood.

Driving from San Diego to Los Angeles on I-15

I-15 north is the alternative route for your drive from San Diego to Los Angeles. It adds 20 minutes to the trip if there are no traffic jams, but it may have lighter traffic than I-5 on a busy day.

Check the traffic before you set out to determine the best route.

Leave San Diego on I-15 north, then follow CA Hwy 60 west. From there, you'll need a map or online directions to find how to reach your destination.

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