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Monterey Transportation

Tips to Get To & Around this Cute Bayside Town in CA

You will find several Monterey transportation options to get your to and around Monterey, CA. This small, bayside town features shopping, entertainment and one of the best aquariums in the world, the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Many people choose to visit on a day trip from either San Francisco or the surrounding communities. Others spend up to a week here relaxing on the beach or sampling wines from the nearby up-and-coming wine region.

It's easy to get to Monterey from the local airports or other nearby cities if you know where to look. Here are just a few of my recommendations on how to get here and how to get around after you arrive.

Flying In: Choosing the Right Airport

For many of you, the first decision is on which airport to use. You have the choice of flying into one of the larger international airports including Oakland International, Mineta San Jose International or San Francisco International. You can also fly into the small Monterey Peninsula Airport.

Flying into one of the three international airports offers you a larger selection of airlines. However, it will take longer to arrive at your destination.

This table shows you the distance and estimated travel time between Monterey and the three largest international airports in the region.

San Francisco International
Airport (SFO)
Oakland International
Airport (OAK)
Mineta San Jose International
Airport (SJC)
107 mi/120 mins
106 mi/120 mins
75 mi/90 mins

Monterey Peninsula Airport (MRY)

Flying into the small regional Monterey Peninsula Airport offers fewer hassles since this airport is only about 15 minutes from Monterey CA. However, flying into this airport might cost you a little more up front.

The following airlines service Monterey Peninsula Airport.

Departure/Arrival Cities
Alaska Airlines
  • Non-stop service from San Diego
American Airlines/American Eagle
  • Non-stop service to Los Angeles
Allegiant Travel Company
  • Non-stop service to Las Vegas
United Airlines
  • Non-stop service to Los Angeles, San Francisco & Denver
US Airways
  • Non-stop service to Phoenix

Use the form below to find the best flight deals to Monterey or one of the international airports mentioned above. You might even be able to save money by booking your flight and hotel room at the same time.

Airport Transit: Shuttle, Car Rentals & Other Options

Before you book your flight, I recommend checking out these details on getting to Monterey from each airport. This will help you understand what your overall cost might be to fly into each one. At times, your flight might be a little less, but the Monterey transportation might there might cost a little more.

From SFO

  • Monterey Airbus: This bus takes you directly from SFO to the Monterey Airbus Station at 438 Calle Principal (this is near the Marriott and the Portola Hotel & Spa in downtown Monterey); the cost is $45 when you book online in advance

  • Car Rental: You can also rent a car at SFO and drive down to Monterey. This takes around two hours.

From OAK

  • Car Rentals: The only option from Oakland International Airport is to rent a car. This drive also takes around two hours.

From SJC

  • Monterey Airbus: This airbus also runs between SJC and downtown Monterey. The cost from San Jose International Airport to Monterey is $35 when you book online in advance.

  • Car Rental: Driving from SJC to Monterey takes about an hour to an hour and a half.

From MRY

  • Car Rental: This is your best option when arriving at Monterey Peninsula Airport. You can either book before or after you arrive. The car rental lot is next to and slightly uphill from the terminal.

  • Taxi: A taxi from the airport to downtown or Cannery Row costs about $20 to $25. There is also a $3 airport service charge that the driver adds to the fare when you arrive at your destination.

  • Monterey Salinas Transit: The walk to the bus stop from the terminal is just over a mile and a half. If you are traveling light and don't mind walking, then this is a cheap alternative. After you land and pick up your luggage, walk out to Fremont Boulevard to pick up the bus.
    • To Downtown Monterey: If you are heading downtown, pick up either the A or B bus at the airport. It takes around 45 minutes and costs $2.50 per person.
    • To Cannery Row: If you are heading to Cannery Row, you will also pick up either the A or B bus. Both take about an hour to reach Cannery Row.

Do you still need to book all or part of your trip? Find cheap airfare, hotels, car rentals, vacations and more at!

How to Get Here from San Francisco

In addition to arriving directly from the airport, many people choose to visit the area on a day trip from San Francisco. You have two options: go on your own or with a group.

pacific ocean hwy 1

Views of the Pacific Ocean from Hwy 1, this is just one of the stops
you can make on your way down the coast. I took this during a stop on
a group tour from San Francisco to Monterey.

Driving: The drive down to Monterey is easy. It will take you anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours. If you aren't in any hurry, you can also take the slower Hwy 1 route that runs along the Pacific Ocean. It's a beautiful ride and takes about three hours. I often take this on the way down and take the faster Hwy 101 route on the way back to SF.

Tours: If you prefer to gaze out the window during the ride or let someone else drive, you can also take an organized tour. The best tours offer a ride down Hwy 1 where you get beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean. They also allow you to visit both Monterey and Carmel. Here is the tour I took recently and recommend it for those looking to explore the area with a guide.

Tips to Get Around Monterey

Here are the best ways to get around Monterey once you arrive.

monterey free trolley
The free trolley sitting at the stop near the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

  • Free Trolley: If you visit between Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day Weekend, you can take advantage of this free trolley. It has stops in downtown, at Fisherman's Wharf, along Cannery Row and the Aquarium of the Bay. The trolley runs from 10am and 7pm every day during these months.

  • Driving: Traffic is light in much of Monterey. You will find plenty of garage parking in the main areas such as Cannery Row and in the downtown area. During the slow season, you might even be lucky enough to find a great spot on the street.

  • Walking: Once you get to Cannery Row or Fisherman's Wharf, walking around is easy. Both are only a few blocks long. If you love walking, you can also walk between these two attractions.

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