Skip to Navigation

Travel guide San Diego

Get to know San Diego

Population

1.3 million

Currency

US Dollar

Time in San Diego

Your essential guide to San Diego

When’s the best time to visit San Diego?

Average
20°C
68°F
Spring
Average
25°C
77°F
Summer
Average
20°C
68°F
Autumn
Average
18°C
64°F
Winter

Spring in San Diego

With average temperatures in spring reaching up to 20°C (69°F), now is a really great time for a San Diego holiday. There’s minimal rainfall and maximum hours of sunshine and the comfortable temperature makes this the ideal time to enjoy outdoor activities. Take a trip to Balboa Park, go whale watching (spring is their migration period) or enjoy the many beaches. You’ll get college students on Spring Break here but the city is still less busy than during summer.

Flights to San Diego

From
return

from Copenhagen, May 2020

Summer in San Diego

The weather in the summer months in San Diego is glorious – highs of up to 26°C (79°F), clear skies and little to no rain. Being near the water is a great idea during these hot summer months and beaches are at their best. People-watch at Coronado beach or take a surf lesson at Oceanside Beach, which also has a beautiful wooden pier. Why not enjoy views of the city with a boat trip around the harbour or hire a kayak and explore the coast?

Flights to San Diego

From
return

from Copenhagen, August 2019

Autumn in San Diego

Mild and with minimal rainfall, autumn in San Diego sees temperatures reach highs of 22°C (71°F), though the nights are a lot cooler. The city feels less busy as a lot of tourists have gone home and student are back at school, making it a great time to take in some arts and culture. Try the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, whose permanent collection includes pieces by Andy Warhol and Gilbert and George – there’s also a MCASD site in La Jolla.

Flights to San Diego

From
return

from Copenhagen, October 2019

Winter in San Diego

San Diego has a mild climate all year round and the average temperature even in February is 18°C (65°F), when there’s a maximum of two inches of rain. You’ll find fewer visitors over the winter months, which makes it a great time to enjoy everything it has to offer, with the added bonus of smaller queues at attractions such as museums and galleries. If you head out of the city to the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park you might even find snow.

Flights to San Diego

From
return

from Copenhagen, January 2020

San Diego visa and entry requirements

If you’re a citizen of a country covered by the Visa Waiver Programme (such as the UK), you will need to have a valid e-Passport along with an approved ESTA to enter the USA. You can identify an e-Passport by the ‘chip’ symbol on the front cover.

You can apply for an ESTA online, and should receive approval straight away, although we recommend applying at least 72 hours before departure, in case any travel authorisation is denied. An ESTA is valid for multiple journeys and lasts for two years, or until your passport expires.

You will no longer be able to enter the USA using an ESTA if you have dual nationality, with one passport being issued by a country eligible under the Visa Waiver Programme and the other issued by Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria.

UK citizens can also fast track US passport control by joining Global Entry, the US Customs and Border Protection programme. Membership lasts for five years and the application process includes background checks and a face-to-face interview at an official enrolment centre.

Remember, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you have the right documents to be allowed entry into the USA when flying into San Diego.

Getting around

San Diego International Airport (SAN)

When you land at San Diego International Airport (SAN) there are several ways to get from the airport into the city. You’ll find that many cab companies serve the airport, and taxis to downtown cost approximately $15-20 – don’t forget the $2 airport tax. Many hotels have their own shuttle bus services. Alternatively, why not prebook your airport transfer with us before you travel? Just add it to your flight or holiday booking. A hire car is very useful in San Diego for exploring the beaches, mountains and local area, prebook and pick your car up straight from the airport.

Taxis in San Diego

In San Diego you can hail a cab on the street or prebook with companies such as Yellow Cab and San Diego Taxi Company. You can also download taxi apps, including Uber, Lyft and Flywheel. Don’t forget your hotel concierge can always arrange a cab for you, too.

Trains and buses

San Diego has a trolley bus system in the downtown area, which runs between major locations and sights such as the Old Town, and Mission Beach. The Trolley runs at least every 15 minutes, and fares cost from just $2.50. Buy a Compass Card – a debit card that works on trolleys and buses – for ease. Buses are run by MTS, and fares cost from $2.25, with some routes running throughout the night. Local trains are operated by Coaster and Sprinter. Coaster will take you from Oceanside to the Santa Fe Depot for $11, and Sprinter tickets start from $5.

Walking and cycling

There are plenty of bicycle hire companies in San Diego, and you’ll find many cyclists on the city streets. Try the Bayshore Bikeway, or get out of the city with a cycle trail in Mission Trails Regional Park. Walking is easy in San Diego too – and you can always hop on a Trolley Bus if you get tired.

Tipping in San Diego

As in other parts of the USA, tipping in San Diego is part of the way of life. Service industries here, including restaurants, bars and hotels, rely on tips.

Tipping in restaurants and bars

For most restaurants in San Diego, is customary to leave a tip between 15 and 20 per cent on the pre-tax total. If you feel your service was exceptional, a tip of 22 per cent would be recommended. At a bar, $1-$2 per drink is typical for wine and beer, 50 cents for soft drinks, and $2-$3 for cocktails.

Tipping in taxis and hotels

It’s common to round up the fare in cabs, while the average tip for a longer journey should be around 15 per cent. Porters helping with your bags at a hotel, expect $1 or $2 per bag. If the doorman hails a cab for you, you should tip $1. And hotel maids will appreciate $1 or $2 for a few days of cleaning.

General guidance

Californians are pretty laid back and dress codes in the city are fairly informal – this is the land of Facebook and Google after all, although some restaurants will have dress codes especially for dinner. Remember, it’s strictly no smoking except in designated areas – the rule of thumb is to follow the locals’ lead for where to smoke.

Staying safe in San Diego

As in any busy city, it’s prudent to take care when travelling in San Diego. These simple tips will help you stay street smart:

  1. Plan travel routes ahead of time to get a sense of your bearings.
  2. Stick to busy, well-lit streets when walking after dark.
  3. Avoid flaunting valuables, including mobile phones, in public.
  4. Respect local alcohol laws. You must be 21 or over to drink.
  5. Cross the street at dedicated crossings; jaywalking is a fineable offence.

To better prepare for your holiday, read our additional travel advice and the government’s foreign travel advice.

Useful contacts

Emergency

911

Call 911 in an emergency for Fire, Police or Ambulance services

Consulate services

+1 310 789 0031

For British Nationals in need of urgent assiantance

Discover more of San Diego

Café culture, breweries, beaches, outdoor adventures. Every corner ofSan Diego has something to offer

Ellie Ross,  Travel writer and California enthusiast

Terms and Conditions

footer navigation links

British Airways logo.