How to get from LA to San Francisco
California is a gorgeous state full of sun, sand, and more breathtaking regions than you'll ever be able to explore properly but luckily for you, there are a few options when it comes to travelling between the state's two biggest and most popular cities. Getting from LA to San Francisco is relatively easy, and while you can sidestep the hassle of organizing transportation by embarking on an epic adventure through California on our Real LA to San Francisco tour, there are other ways you can travel between the two iconic destinations such as self-driving, flying, and catching a bus.
Driving from LA to San Francisco
There are so many beautiful and charming towns scattered along the coast from LA to San Francisco so driving between the two destinations makes sense if you want to see as much of California as you can. As the distance between the cities is only around 5 hours (depending on the time of day you're driving), your road trip won't be a long one, but it can still be epic.
There are a few different routes you can take with each one differing in total travel time and total kilometres driven. Deciding which route you want to drive also depends on the kind of road trip you want to have and the stops you want to make along the way. These routes are below:
- You can travel from LA to San Francisco via the I-5 N, I-580 W.
- You can travel from LA to San Franciso via the I-5 N, CA-152.
- You can travel from LA to San Francisco via the I-5 N, CA-99 N.
- You can travel from LA to San Francisco via the US-101 N, CA-154.
All the highways listed above are in fairly good condition and are well maintained so you shouldn't come to any major disruptions but be mindful when driving at night or during potentially hazardous weather conditions as visibility could be low. Having said that, each highway features frequent and bold signage for easy navigation.
Some of the routes listed above do contain tolls, and while the United States is in the process of transitioning to a digital system, you may still have to pay the tolls with coins at some locations.
Flying from LA to San Francisco
Flying from LA to San Francisco is a great option if you're short on time as it's the quickest way to travel between the two cities. The total flight time is only around 1 hour and a half and there are eleven airlines in total including United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and American Airlines that offer multiple direct flights throughout the day.
If you're just after a one-way fare, expect to pay around USD$30 with a return trip costing around USD$124. These prices are subject to change and can be affected depending on the season you're travelling in and how far in advance you book your tickets.
Once you've landed, you can always arrange a hire car from one of the nine car rental companies located at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) so you have an easy transportation option if you wanted to explore the city's surrounding regions.
Catching public transport from LA to San Francisco
Catching a bus from LA to San Francisco is a great and comfortable way to travel between the two destinations if you're on a budget, however, it is the longest form of transportation, taking around 6 and a half hours, although this time can be drawn out to 8 hours and 20 minutes depending on which bus company you travel with. Operated by both Flixbus and Greyhound, there are roughly 15 services departing from downtown LA daily with the first bus leaving at 5:55 am and the last one leaving at 11:59 pm at night so you should be able to find a time that suits you.
Tickets start at USD$35 and can go as high as USD$109 but both of these prices can go up or down depending on demand and the season of travel so make sure you book your tickets well in advance to avoid any disruptions or delays.