How far is San Diego from San Francisco? Here's the quick answer if you are able to make this entire trip by car without stopping.
Nonstop drive: 501 miles or 806 km
Driving time: 7 hours, 42 minutes
Realistically, you'll probably want to add a buffer for rest stops, gas, or food along the way. To get a better idea of how long this trip would really be, scroll down to calculate how many hours it would take if you drive with stops.
Now let's assume you have a private jet and you can fly in the fastest possible straight line between San Francisco, California and San Diego, California. Because of the curvature of the Earth, the shortest distance is actually the "great circle" distance, or "as the crow flies" which is calculated using an iterative Vincenty formula.
Flight distance: 458 miles or 738 km
Flight time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
The straight line flight distance is 43 miles less than driving on roads, which means the driving distance is roughly 1.1x of the flight distance.
Your plane flies much faster than a car, so the flight time is about 1/5th of the time it would take to drive.
This is a relatively short flight in a private plane, but you might be planning to book a commercial flight. In that case, your travel time would really need to include how many minutes to get to your local airport, wait for security, board and taxi on the runway, land at the other airport, and get to your destination. Scroll down to see a more realistic calculation that takes into account all these factors to get a more accurate estimate of your actual flight time.
Let's say you're actually planning a road trip to San Diego, and you want to stop along the way to rest. If it's a real road trip, you might want to check out interesting stops along the way, eat at great restaurants, and maybe even find a hotel to stay overnight. That's what Trippy is perfect for, helping you figure out travel plans in detail.
Based on the length of this trip, we think you could spread out this fun road trip over more than one day.
Road trip: 2 days of driving
With the full itinerary planned out, we can estimate your total travel time for this trip.
Travel time: 10.5 hours on the road with 1 overnight
Start in San Francisco.
Drive for about 2 hours, then stop in Monterey and stay for about 2 hours.
Next, drive for another 10 minutes then stop in Carmel and stay for 1.5 hours.
Drive for 2.5 hours then stop in San Luis Obispo. Stay overnight.
The next day, drive for about 1.5 hours, then stop in Santa Barbara and stay for about 4 hours. Next, drive for another 1 hour then stop in Malibu and stay for 1 hour. Drive for 40 minutes then stop at Universal Studios Hollywood and stay for 1 hour. Drive for 17 minutes then stop in Los Angeles and stay for 2 hours. Drive for 1 hour then stop in Laguna Beach and stay for 1 hour.
Finally, drive for about 1.5 hours and arrive in San Diego.
To see all the details on this itinerary, including recommended restaurants, hotels, and things to do along the way, check out the full road trip planner:
In the quick calculation above, we assumed you had a private plane and just wanted to know the time in the air from city to city. But for most of us, we're going to be flying on a commercial airline (whether it's first class or coach). So that means we really need to account for all the extra travel time getting to the airport, waiting for our flight, and making it to the destination.
To give you a better estimate of real-life travel, we've put together a flight itinerary with actual airports. Eventually you'll be able to customize this plan, choosing your own airports and flights. But for now, here's an example we've selected to give you an idea of how traveling might work between airports.
Departure airport: San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Arrival airport: San Diego International Airport (SAN)
With the airports selected, we can estimate the travel time to and from the airport, based on how far the airport is from downtown.
Getting to the airport: 33 minutes
Getting to your destination: 7 minutes
Now finally, let's look at an actual flight from SFO to SAN on United Airlines and figure out how long it would take to fly including take-off and landing, and time to taxi on the runway.
Commercial flight time: 1 hour, 29 minutes
So now we can finally get an idea of the total travel time from San Francisco to San Diego including time spent getting to/from the airports, an estimated wait time of 2 hours at the airport for TSA security lines and waiting at the gate, and the actual flight itself.
Total travel time: 4 hours
To see the details on this flight plan, including recommended airports, airline, and route, check out the flight planner:
Trippy has a ton of information that can help you plan your trip to San Diego, California. Start by reading the Trippy page on where to stay in San Diego. Trippy has an entire Q&A community where you can post questions and get answers from expert travelers or locals who know the area. For instance, you might be interested in the answers to this question: Must sees. If you're looking for a place to stay, you might want to check out Hotel Del Coronado. A great place to eat might be The Prado at Balboa Park. Trippy members can suggest things to do in San Diego like Balboa Park. Check out some of the questions people have asked about San Diego like Fun for a family with small children (NOT Disneyland!). Click the button below to explore San Diego in detail.
The distance is the same either way if you're flying a straight line (or driving the same roads back and forth). But for a real trip, there can be plenty of differences so go ahead and check the reverse directions to get the distance from San Diego to San Francisco, or go to the main page to calculate the distance between cities.
If you happen to know San Francisco, don't forget to help other travelers and answer some questions about San Francisco!