Tijuana Day Trip from San Diego

Your Guide to Tours or Walking Across the Border

Taking a Tijuana day trip from San Diego can be a fun adventure. Crossing the Tijuana border should be simple, but it can take time. Tijuana itself is a completely different culture than anything in the States. If you are traveling with your family, you may want to sign up for one of the daytime Tijuana tours.


Best Tourist Spots in TJ

The classic tourist destination in Tijuana is Revolution street. Here you will find all the shops, bars, and taco shops that you could ever visit in a day. This is an easy walk from the border, but you can also take a taxi for a cheap fare (no more than $5.00!). This is the easiest way to do a Tijuana day trip yourself.

If You are going to plan your own vacation, consider using our Printable Mexico Travel Guide to Northern Baja to make it a smooth experience.

Remember that all of Tijuana, including the tourist areas, are significantly more dangerous at night. However, if you stay on Revolution street, you might as well be in downtown Disneyland. If you do stray off the main path, "Calle 2" is probably the best. It also has plenty of great stores and panderias (highly recommended Mexican sweet bread).

You may be encouraged to check out many of the bars and clubs. I would advise against visiting the popular Mexican clubs (i would tell you the names but they are always changing) and bars. These are hangouts for the people you want to avoid. If you want a drink and music, you can find that anywhere. Stick with tourist spots, like what you will find on Revolution or in the Playas.

The Tijuana Playas is also a popular spot to go, and my personal favorite to relax. You can catch a cab from the border for less than $15.00. Overall, it is not as nice as Rosarito or one of the beaches further south, but the Playas are still a great place to enjoy a drink on the beach. My favorite spot is cafe latitude 33. They have the best cafe mocha I have ever had. The Tijuana playas is also famous for its huge Bull Ring, as well as its casino "Calliente." There is a really nice board walk that runs along the ocean that pairs itself quite nicely with the Mexican paletas (ice cream). This trip may not be for everyone traveling to Tijuana for a day, but is worth considering, especially for your second or third trip.

The last noteworthy destinations are Plaza Rio and the Mercado. Plaza Rio is a very nice outdoor mall in Tijuana. You will find places like Starbucks and Mcdonalds here, as well as a GIANT movie theatre. Seeing a movie is not a bad idea since they run around $1.50 a person and are usually in English with subtitles. The Mercado is an outdoor market that is held daily in a plaza in el centro. This is a great place to buy Mexican fruits, vegetables, and authentic local fare. Both of these destinations would likely require a cab, unless you are very comfortable in the city of Tijuana.


Is Tijuana Safe?

The classic tourist destination in Tijuana is Revolution street. Here you will find all the shops, bars, and taco shops that you could ever visit in a day. This is an easy walk from the border, but you can also take a taxi for a cheap fare (no more than $5.00!). Remember that all of Tijuana, including the tourist areas, are significantly more dangerous at night. However, if you stay on Revolution street, you might as well be in downtown Disneyland. If you do stray off the main path, "Calle 2" is probably the best. It also has plenty of great stores and panderias (highly recommended Mexican sweet bread).

The Tijuana Playas is also a popular spot to go, and my personal favorite to relax. You can catch a cab from the border for less than $15.00. Overall, it is not as nice as Rosarito or one of the beaches further south, but the Playas are still a great place to enjoy a drink on the beach. My favorite spot is cafe latitude 33. They have the best cafe mocha I have ever had. The Tijuana playas is also famous for its huge Bull Ring as well as its casino "Calliente." There is a really nice board walk that runs along the ocean that pairs itself quite nicely with the Mexican paletas (ice cream). This trip may not be for everyone traveling to Tijuana for a day, but is worth considering, especially for your second or third trip.

Thousands of people walk across the border safely for work and for play. However, it is important to note that Mexico is at war with the cartels, and the official embassy report advises avoiding all travel to the border cities. That being said, I personally travel to Tijuana almost every week. For the most part, if you are going to shop on Revolution street, get taco's, and other tourist activities, then you should not be at risk of much more than pickpockets. Do not go to the NorthWest of Revolution, this is called "Zona Norte," and is not safe for tourists or the general public. However, if you go wandering into the seedier bars or are looking for trouble... that's what you will find.


Tours of Tijuana

I recommend checking your options thoroughly based on what you want. There is probably not a safer way to visit Tijuana than to follow all the instructions outlined here and in our Printable Mexico Travel Guide to Northern Baja.

Crossing the Border

The Tijuana day trip is safe and easy. But easy does not mean it won't take the WHOLE day. It will. The border line on the way back can take up to 2-3 hours. Sometimes you can get lucky and cross in 20 minutes, but don't count on it. Whether you are walking or driving, you will be approached by about 300 people asking for money in various ways. If you don't plan on buying anything, take a strong stance early on and you will discourage further approaches.


Driving in to Tijuana

I do not recommend driving for a Tijuana day trip. If you are planning on visiting Rosarito or Ensenada, then this may be a better option. Parking is significantly easier and safer on the American side of the border, and it is easy to walk. It's also cheap to take a cab to your destinations. Driving directions in Tijuana are not always easy. Also, the border line can often be much shorter walking. Once you drive south, past Tijuana, driving becomes a much better option. However, for your Tijuana day trip, stick to walking, cabs, or tours.

Parking at the Mexican Border

Parking is easy. Exit at the last U.S. exit and find one of the parking lots that range from $5-10. Don't leave valuables in plain sight, and overall your car should be fine. If you are driving in from America, try to find a paid parking lot on Revolution, or park on main streets. If you park in Tijuana on surface streets, you stand a good chance of Theft.


the Tijuana Day Trip is just one way to visit Mexico from San Diego... see others here

Mexico Travel Guide


Printable Baja Guide

Mexico ebook for Tijuana

InTheCity Printable Mexico Guide