You will find several Monterey transportation options to get you 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.
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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.
Below is the distance and estimated travel time between Monterey and the three largest international airports in the region.
Flying into the small regional Monterey Regional 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 Regional Airport.
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 cost a little more.
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.
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.
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.
Here are the best ways to get around Monterey once you arrive.
Here are a few additional Monterey transportation options for popular destinations around the Monterey Bay and beyond.
Monterey to/from San Jose: You will find an express bus between San Jose and Monterey. The 55 is run by Monterey-Salinas Transit. It picks up at the Diridon Station in San Jose and will take you all the way to the Monterey Transit Plaza in the downtown area. There are several stops along the way, so the entire ride takes over 2 hours. It runs only a few times a day. It's the main connection between San Jose and Monterey for the Amtrak train and those coming into San Jose on Caltrain. This line is currently suspended.
Monterey to/from Big Sur: You can also easily use Monterey transportation to get from Monterey to Big Sur. The 22 bus runs three times a day from Memorial Day through Labor Day and just twice daily the rest of the year. It offers a few stops in Big Sur, so you can select the one that is right for you. The final stop inside Big Sur is the Big Sur Nepenthe. The ride is about an hour. This line is not currently running.
Monterey to/from Carmel: The 5, Carmel Rancho via Carmel is your best bets for using Monterey transportation to get to and from Carmel. It runs a regular schedule, so you can easily plan out your visit to both locations. The ride takes about 16 minutes from the Monterey Transit Plaza - Gate 3.
Monterey to/from Pebble Beach: The easiest way to get from Monterey to Pebble Beach is on the 21 Express bus. It runs three times in the morning and three times in the afternoon daily. It takes about 40 minutes. This service is suspended until further notice.