North America > United States > San Diego
See: Why rent a car in San Diego ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments
(All of these pages will look a lot nicer when they are tidied up later in the spring)
Your key questions for any destination:
Do I need a car in San Diego?
Strictly speaking, there are very few travel destinations anywhere in the world where it's absolutely essential to rent a car in order to see the main points of interest.
That's why we give you loads of ratings scales from 1 to 10, rather than just yes or no answers!
- The need question is generally answered by looking at public transport (transit) options. Is it good enough for visitors who are happy to consider using it?
- How many public transport routes are there, and are they mainly rail or road (bus) based?
- Is public transport fast, frequent, safe, reliable and cheap?
- Does public transport actually take you to the places you'll probably want to see?
Is it worth hiring a car in San Diego?
This question is usually more about value for money. For this, we look at San Diego car hire options, and consider how rental costs compare with using transit.
How far are you likely to drive anyway, and how much might you expect to spend on fuel, road tolls, parking and any other charges. We compare San Diego with other destinations locally and around the world.
This is obviously much more of an issue if you are planning a longer road trip than it is on a small island.
Should I rent a car in San Diego?
This is basically a merging of the two questions. Everything else might be about giving certain facts about the costs of car rental or using public transport in San Diego, but answering this question is very much a matter of opinion.
Please note that Carornocar.com is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2022 (northern hemisphere) tourist season.
We do not intent to include detailed covid information, nor do we intend to suggest hiring a car, just because public transport might still have a mask requirement. Our advice will be based on the same criteria we've always used, ie whether or not you can get a better travel experience, or at least a better value one, by choosing not to hire a car.
San Diego is in car rental price band: 4/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)
General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in San Diego?
Sometimes. Car rental is slightly cheaper than global averages.
Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in San Diego between the peak and the off peak season?
5/10 (0 = stable prices)
Driving score: 4/10
Non car score:2/10
(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)
General comment -
Why? Visiting San Diego using a hire car
Why do you need a car in San Diego ?
Why not? Visiting San Diego without a car
Why don't you need a car in San Diego ?
Just because there’s a token trolley and one particularly scenic coastal route heading north towards Los Angeles, San Diego is the sort of place that you want to visit with a rental car, unless you really are just sticking to Seaworld and staying in the downtown area.
Do you need a car in San Diego? Yes!
Ratings: How does San Diego compare?
Is it worth hiring a car in San Diego? TBC
This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in San Diego, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.
How does this compare if:
You are travelling:
Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc
Does car rental make sense on different budgets?
Do you need to hire a car in San Diego? TBC
This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit San Diego (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".
Should you rent a car in San Diego? TBC
This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good.
See global comparisons
Hiring | Driving | Parking
Trains | Buses | Local travel
Car hire basics:
Public transportation basics:
Regular bus services: YES
Coach (inter-city): YES
High Speed Rail:
Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):
As you start ....
Does San Diego airport have a direct rail link?
(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No
Has our advice for San Diego car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?
2017 - 9
2019 - 9
2021 - 9
Average score - 9
Do you or don't you need a car in San Diego ?