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The Best Way to Get from San Diego to LAX

Calling all SoCal travelers! 

Dreaming of an exciting adventure but dreading the thought of LA traffic? We know the feeling. Figuring out how to get from San Diego to LAX might be your idea of a nightmare (and you’re definitely not alone), but don’t go second-guessing your vacation plans just yet. 

San Diego does have its own airport (SAN), but with just one runway and fewer connections, you’ll likely fly into LAX on your way to or from America’s Finest City. So, cue the horror music and get ready to sit in hours of traffic. Just kidding! There are MUCH better ways to get from San Diego to LAX than driving, so leave your car at home and save yourself the gas money (and the headache). 

First things first: the distance between San Diego and LAX is approximately 120 miles. That’s a decently long distance, but it’s definitely doable with the right transportation options. While there are several ways to travel from San Diego to LAX, we recommend taking a bus from San Diego to Los Angeles, followed by a shuttle from downtown LA to LAX. It’s cheap, convenient and you won’t have to worry about navigating through congested roads or paying for expensive airport parking.

Still stressed about the journey? Fear not. Wanderu is here to help you every step of the way. As experts in all things ground travel, our platform provides adventurers with a large selection of bus and train options, and we pride ourselves on providing cheap, hassle-free transport solutions. 

So, if you’re ready to hit the road, let’s get started! We’ll take you through the process step by step, from booking your bus ticket to hopping on the shuttle. And who knows, you might even find some hidden gems along the way – we won’t tell anyone if you end up extending your trip!

How to Get from San Diego to LAX

One of the cheapest and most convenient ways to get from San Diego to LAX is to take a bus between the two cities, then transfer to an airport shuttle once you’re in LA. Before getting into the nitty gritty, let’s take a look at how long the journey from San Diego to LAX takes and how much it’ll cost you.

Step 1: Take the Bus from San Diego to Los Angeles

Total duration estimate: 2 – 4 hours
Total price estimate: About $33

There is no direct bus from San Diego to LAX, so you’ll need to hop off in downtown Los Angeles before getting on the shuttle to the airport. 

There are 67 bus trips available each day between the two cities, so no matter what time your flight departs, you should be able to avoid the headache of driving. Bus tickets start at $13, but the average price is around $23. 

Most bus trips arrive at or near Union Station in Los Angeles: the primary transport hub in LA and where you’ll take the shuttle to the airport. FlixBus pulls into the downtown Vignes Lot, and the Greyhound station is located at 800 N Alameda St. Both stops are within walking distance of Union Station, so aim to book a trip with either of these two carriers.

Booking your bus tickets with Wanderu allows you to compare options between carriers and secure the best deal. Remember, the earlier you book, the better your chances of snagging a cheap ticket!

Step 2: Take the Shuttle from Union Station (Los Angeles) to LAX

Once you arrive at Union Station, you can easily transfer to the LAX Flyaway shuttle to the airport. 

One-way tickets cost $9.75, and you can buy your fare at the Flyaway ticket kiosk near Bus Bay 1 on the south side of the plaza, or purchase tickets online in advance. 

Buses run every 2.5 hours, and the trip takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour. Make sure you leave plenty of time to check your bag, get through security, and find your gate once you arrive at the airport. Plan your arrival time at the airport to be at least 2 hours before your flight’s departure.

All in all, the bus from San Diego to LA plus the LAX shuttle takes between 2-4 hours, depending on the time of day and, of course, traffic. If you can’t avoid LA rush hour, at least you don’t have to be the one at the steering wheel, right?

Alternative Transportation Options from San Diego to LAX

If taking the bus isn’t your vibe, there are a few other ways to get from San Diego to LAX.

Train from San Diego to LAX

Total duration estimate: 3.5 – 5 hours
Total price estimate: $47 (average train ticket + shuttle price)

Trains depart from San Diego’s historic Santa Fe Depot and stop at LA’s Union Station. There are 28 trains daily along this route, with an average travel time of around 4 hours. Just like taking the bus, once you arrive at Union Station you’ll need to take the shuttle to LAX. Compare bus and train trips from San Diego to Los Angeles with a single search on Wanderu.

Flights from San Diego to LAX

Total duration estimate: 2.5 hours (including time spent in TSA + boarding)
Total price estimate: $120 – $210 (average price)

Flying might seem like the fastest way to get from San Diego to LAX, but once you consider the time spent at the airports, it’s really not much speedier than taking the bus. Factor in the heavy carbon footprint and the price, and you’ll probably agree that flying is not the best option.

Driving from San Diego to LAX

Total duration estimate: 2 – 4 hours (depending on traffic)
Total price estimate: Gas money, rental car, airport parking … 🤑

Did we mention that driving in LA can be stressful? The last thing you need on your way to the airport is the anxiety of being stuck in stop-and-go-traffic, so why not save yourself the hassle (and the money) and hop on the bus instead? It may not seem as convenient, but when you can simply ride and not worry about the road conditions, the bus can be downright luxurious! That said, if you prefer to be behind the wheel, we can find you the best deal on rental cars in San Diego.

Private Shuttle from San Diego to LAX

Total duration estimate: 2 – 4 hours
Total price estimate: $200 – $500+

If money is no object, a San Diego to LAX private shuttle is about as convenient as it gets. But it’s also the most expensive option, by far. Getting picked up from your home or hotel and transported straight to the airport is indeed convenient, but be ready to fork over a serious wad of cash for this luxury!

We hope this overview of how to get from San Diego to LAX has eased your travel planning anxiety. Of all the ways to travel between the two cities, taking the bus is one of the cheapest and quickest options. To keep costs low, be sure to book your bus and train travel with Wanderu. Safe travels!

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About the author
Abby Valinski

Abby Valinski

Abby is a traveler, writer, and lover of all things outdoors. When she's not traveling, you can find her devouring a fantasy novel, conquering a hiking trail, or researching her next destination.

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