This is an easy trip to make. Valle de Guadalupe is located just 90 miles south of San Diego and around 70 miles south of Tijuana. It is connected by well-maintained highways. This guide explains how to travel from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe, step-by-step.
There are three ways you can make this trip. You can drive yourself, take a bus, or hire a driver and take a guided tour. Hopefully, this guide makes your trip to Valle de Guadalupe as smooth and worry-free as possible.
In the first section of this guide, I’ll explain how to drive from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe. This is the most convenient option for most visitors. I’ll cover routes, travel times, safety, document requirements, and more.
In the second section, I’ll outline some guided tour options including pricing, what’s included, tour options, and more. This is a great option for those who want an easy vacation that doesn’t require much planning. There are a wide range of wineries to visit and hotels and bed and breakfasts you can stay in.
Finally, I’ll outline how to take the bus from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe. I’ll cover how to buy bus tickets, pricing, bus station locations, travel times, and more. This is a great option if you want to visit Valle de Guadalupe independently without a tour but also don’t want to deal with the hassles of driving in a foreign country.
I have visited Valle de Guadalupe three times in the past couple of years. In this guide, I’ll share my experience.
Table of Contents
- Driving to Valle de Guadalupe
- Taking a Guided Tour of Valle de Guadalupe
- Taking the Bus to Valle de Guadalupe
- How to Cross the Border
- Points of Interest Between San Diego and Valle de Guadalupe
What is Valle de Guadalupe?
Valle de Guadalupe is Mexico’s premier wine region. It’s basically the Napa Valley of Mexico. In recent years, the region has greatly increased in popularity. It’s becoming a popular destination for wine lovers from around the world. It’s an easy day trip or weekend getaway from Southern California.
There are over 120 wineries operating in Valle de Guadalupe. The region is quickly growing and developing. More and more wineries, restaurants, and hotels are opening up every year. This is one of the world’s fastest-growing wine destinations.
Valle de Guadalupe is located in Ensenada Municipality. The valley is located just 12 miles (20 km) to the northeast of the city of Ensenada. From the border it’s about a 2 hour drive.
Valle de Guadalupe isn’t a town. It is the name of the entire region. There are a number of small cities and towns in Valle de Guadalupe. The largest is called Guadalupe. It has a population of about 6,000.
In addition to wine, Valle de Guadalupe is also famous for its food. Chefs in the region have developed a unique Baja-Mediterranean style of cooking. A number of breweries have also opened up in the region. Valle de Guadalupe is also a great destination for beer lovers. The valley also offers some stunning scenery. It’s a unique region.
A trip to Valle de Guadalupe makes for a great day trip or weekend getaway. You can also combine your visit with a trip to the nearby city of Ensenada. Here, you can enjoy some excellent seafood and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.
Now is a great time to visit Valle de Guadalupe. The area is well known but not yet packed with tourists. Its potential is still somewhat undiscovered. I imagine within the next decade Valle de Guadalupe will become one of Mexico’s top tourist destinations.
How to Drive from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe
You can easily drive your own vehicle from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe. Many travelers prefer this option because it allows for more freedom.
Having your own vehicle in Valle de Guadalupe is nice because the area is pretty spread out. It’s not a walkable area. There aren’t many public transportation options available.
When you have your own vehicle, you can explore the wineries and restaurants of the valley more easily. You can move at your own pace. You don’t have to rely on buses and taxis to get around. If you don’t have your own vehicle, consider renting a car.
Routes From San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe
There are a number of different routes you can take between San Diego and Valle de Guadalupe. You can take the inland route on Highway 3 (Ruta del Vino). This route takes you through the town of Tecate. This is the shortest and fastest option.
Alternatively, you can travel along the coast on Highway 1/1D through Ensenada then turn inland on Highway 3 toward Valle de Guadalupe. Some travelers prefer this route because it takes you along the beautiful Pacific coast. It’s a very scenic drive.
In the following sections, I’ll outline several route options. Whichever route you take, I highly recommend you use a GPS. On many of the roads in Mexico, signage is poor. It’s easy to take a wrong turn and get lost. Particularly while you’re driving through Tijuana. Once you’re on the highway, navigation is easy.
The Inland Route to Valle de Guadalupe (through Tecate)
For most travelers, this the best route because it bypasses Tijuana. Driving through Tijuana is a bit of a hassle. It’s a big city with lots of traffic. It’s also easy to get lost there.
To take the inland route through Tecate, take Highway 94 east from San Diego. This turns into Campo Road.
Continue on Campo Road then turn south on Tecate Road, just north of the border. This will take you across the border into Tecate, Mexico. You’ll use the Tecate crossing.
After crossing the border, take a left on Avenida Bonito Juárez. In one block, you’ll take a right on Blvd. Universidad. This road turns into Highway 3/Ruta del Vino.
You’ll follow Highway 3 all the way to Valle de Guadalupe.
Another option is to take Interstate 5 to San Ysidro then merge onto 905 East (Otay Mesa freeway) to Otay Mesa, California. From there, you can cross into Tijuana at the Otay Mesa crossing.
After crossing the border, follow Blvd Grita de Otay south then turn left on Blvd. Alberto Limón Padilla/ Blvd Industrial. This road intersects with Highway 2D to Mexicali.
Follow the highway to Tecate. Keep in mind, this is a toll road. From Tecate, you can merge south onto Highway 3/Ruta del Vino south to Valle de Guadalupe.
You can avoid the toll by taking Highway 2 from Tijuana to Tecate. In this case, you’ll turn right from Blvd. Alberto Limón Padilla onto Highway 201. Follow this road south then merge onto Highway 2 east. Follow this road to Tecate.
In Tecate, turn right on Blvd Universidad. This road turns into Highway 3 South, which takes you to Valle de Guadalupe.
The Coastal Route to Valle de Guadalupe (through Ensenada)
To take the coastal route to Valle de Guadalupe, you have two options: Highway 1 or Highway 1D.
Highway 1 is a free road (Via libre in Spanish). Highway 1D is a toll road (cuota in Spanish).
The toll road is smooth, fast, and extremely well-maintained. If you prefer not to pay the toll, you can take Highway 1. This road is safe and generally maintained but a bit slower. It’s slower because it’s narrower and it passes through a few towns where you have to slow down. Most visitors choose to take the toll road.
To take the coastal route to Valle de Guadalupe, take I5 south from San Diego and cross the border into Tijuana at the main crossing.
When you cross the border, try to stay to the right and continue merging right. Take the exit marked Highway 1D/Rosarito Ensenada Cuota. This is also called the ‘scenic road.’
This will lead you to a Via Internacional. This road runs parallel to the US-Mexico border. Follow this road for a couple of miles then take the exit marked Rosarito/Ensenada Highway 1D.
Stay on 1D all the way to Ensenada. Between Tijuana and Ensenada, you’ll pass through 3 toll booths.
After passing through the final toll booth, you’ll enter El Sauzal, a northern suburb of Ensenada. Here, you’ll merge left onto Highway 3/Ruta del Vino. Follow this road for about 18 miles to Valle de Guadalupe.
How to Take the Free Road to Valle de Guadalupe (Via Libre)
If you prefer not to pay the tolls, you can take Highway 1 from Tijuana to Ensenada instead. To do this, continue driving straight after crossing the border. Follow the signs marked Highway 1.
You’ll merge right and cross a bridge over the Tijuana River. This leads you to Avenida Via Rápida. Continue driving straight with the river on your left.
In a couple of blocks, you’ll take a right onto Highway 1. This road leads you through Tijuana. You’ll pass through a roundabout and several large intersections. The road also curves around. It’s a surface street through the city.
After you leave the city, the road turns into a highway. Once you leave the city, continue on Highway 1. You’ll pass through several towns including Rosarito and Puerto Nuevo. The road follows the coast then veers inland for a while.
Highway 1 and 1D merge together just north of Ensenada. Shortly after, you’ll merge left onto Highway 3/Ruta del Vino. Follow this road to Valle de Guadalupe.
Driving in Valle de Guadalupe
Once you reach Valle de Guadalupe, you’ll be driving on some rough dirt roads. Many of the wineries aren’t on the main highway. Make sure you bring a vehicle that can handle the terrain.
You don’t need a 4×4 or anything like that. Just keep in mind that some of the roads aren’t in the best condition. You probably won’t want to drive a car with extremely low ground clearance here. If you own a pickup truck or an SUV, take it. It will make driving a bit easier.
Also, be extra cautious while driving over the speed bumps. There are quite a few of them and there are some tall ones. If your vehicle doesn’t have much ground clearance, you may have to drive over at an angle so you go over one wheel at a time.
How Long Does It Take to Drive from San Diego to Valle De Guadalupe?
The driving time from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe depends on the route you take and the time of day that you travel. If you take the inland route through Tecate, the drive takes about 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours. The fastest option is to cross the border at the Otay Mesa crossing then take Highway 2D to Tecate then head south on Highway 3.
If you take the coastal route down Highway 1D and pass through Ensenada, the trip will take about 2 hours 45 minutes to 3 hours. The trip takes longer if you take this route because the distance is significantly further. You can save a bit of time by taking the toll road. If you take the free road, the trip takes about 15-20 minutes longer.
These travel times are assuming traffic is light. If you’re making the trip during rush hour, you’ll probably hit traffic. This can add an extra 30-60 minutes to the drive.
What is the Driving Distance Between San Diego and Valle de Guadalupe?
Valle de Guadalupe sits about 70 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico Border. The driving distance between San Diego and Valle de Guadalupe depends on the route you take.
If you travel through Tecate then take Highway 3, the Distance from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe is 86 miles (138 km).
If you travel down Highway 1D to Ensenada, then take Highway 3 to Valle de Guadalupe, the distance is 116 miles (187 km).
From Tijuana, it’s about 68 miles (109 km) if you take the coastal route or about 71 miles (115 km) if you take the inland route through Tecate.
How Much is the Toll to Drive from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe
If you take Highway 2D from Tijuana to Tecate, the current toll is about 127 pesos ($6.40). You’ll pass through one toll booth on your way to Valle de Guadalupe.
If you take Highway 1D from Tijuana to Ensenada, the current toll is about 124 pesos ($6.25). You’ll pass through 3 toll booths. One in Playas de Tijuana (40 pesos or about $2), one in Rosarito (40 pesos or about $2), and one just before you arrive in Ensenada (44 pesos or about $2.25).
You don’t have to take any toll roads on the U.S. side of the border.
The above-listed toll prices are for a standard-sized car. If you’re riding a motorcycle or driving a motorhome, the price will be different. You pay the tolls in cash. Both pesos and US dollars are accepted. At each toll booth, you must pay in one currency. You can’t mix and match. Bring small bills and change if possible.
It is possible to avoid all tolls on this route. You can take Highway 2 from Tijuana to Tecate or you can take Highway 1 from Tijuana to Ensenada. These are both free highways (via libre). The highway that takes you to Valle de Guadalupe, Highway 3, is a free highway.
Returning To San Diego From Valle de Guadalupe
From Valle de Guadalupe, you can easily hop on Highway 3 and drive back to the border the way you came. If you go north, you’ll end up in Tecate. You can cross back into the U.S. there or you can take Highway 2 or 2D back to Tijuana and cross there.
If you take Highway 3 south, you’ll end up in Ensenada. From there, you can take Highway 1 or 1D back to Tijuana and cross back into the U.S. Remember, if you take the toll roads (Highway 1D or 2D), you’ll have to pay the tolls again on your way back.
The drive to the border will take about 1 hour 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on the route you take and traffic.
You’ll also have to wait at the border. Wait times can be long so plan ahead. During busy periods, you may have to wait for 2 hours or more. You can check border wait times here.
You can also make this trip into a loop and return in the opposite direction you came. For example, if you entered Mexico in Tijuana and traveled to Valle de Guadalupe through Ensenada, you can drive north on Highway 3 and exit Mexico at Tecate for the return trip. In other words, take the coastal route there and the inland route back, or vice versa.
This way, you’ll get to see some different scenery on the drive back home. This is a great option if you have 2-4 days for this trip. After spending a day or two in Valle de Guadalupe, you can explore some more of the region. For example, you could make a stop in Ensenada, Tecate, Rosarito, Puerto Nuevo, or Tijuana and do some sightseeing along the way. You’ll pass through all of these towns if you make a loop.
Is it Safe to Drive from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe?
Yes. The drive from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe is safe. All of the highways you’ll drive on are well-maintained and frequently traveled.
Highways 1, 2, and 3 are some of the main roads through Baja California. Highway 1 is the main road down the Baja peninsula. Highway 2 is the main road between the largest city in Baja California (Tijuana) and the capital (Mexicali). If you break down, you’re never far from services. This route is also regularly patrolled by police. You’re unlikely to encounter any crime if you stick to the highways.
It is best to avoid making this drive in the dark. There are a number of reasons for this. Parts of the road are not well-lit. Some stretches of the road are also pretty curvy. There are also some narrow sections. If you take the coastal route, you’ll be driving next to a cliff overlooking the ocean. It can get a bit treacherous in places.
There can also be obstacles on the road that are hard to see at night. Occasionally, pedestrians walk on the roads. In some sections, there can be livestock on the roads. You will pass through some agricultural land.
It is also easier to get lost at night. Particularly while driving through Tijuana. The signage isn’t great in some sections. Try to make this drive during the day if possible. If you must drive at night, be careful.
One risk to be aware of while driving to Valle de Guadalupe is police corruption. This is a problem all over Baja. Particularly in Tijuana. It is not uncommon for a corrupt officer to pull tourists over, accuse them of committing a crime or traffic violation, and then demand cash to settle the matter. In other words, they ask for a bribe.
For example, a police officer could pull you over and tell you that you were speeding or that you weren’t wearing your seatbelt then demand that you pay $100 in cash. They could accuse you of drunk driving and simply take everything in your wallet. Some officers will take you to an ATM to withdraw more cash.
It’s best to avoid paying bribes if at all possible. If you’re stopped by the police, insist that the officer give you a written citation. If they won’t tell them that you want to pay the fine at the police station in person.
In some situations, you may have no choice but to pay. Some officers are aggressive. In this case, you can usually negotiate the fine down to 500-1000 pesos ($25-$50). For more info, check out my guide to police corruption in Tijuana.
Insurance for Driving in Mexico
If you decide to make this drive, you’ll need to purchase temporary Mexican auto insurance so you’re covered in case you’re involved in an accident in Mexico. Your regular auto insurance probably won’t cover you in Mexico.
You can purchase temporary Mexican auto insurance either online before your trip or at a kiosk before you cross the border. Sometimes you can buy it from your regular auto insurance provider. On average, temporary Mexican auto insurance costs about $20-$30 per day depending on the type of vehicle you drive and how much coverage you want.
I recommend Baja Bound Mexican Insurance. They offer reasonable prices. It’s also convenient to buy insurance online. You can buy a policy in just a few minutes.
Toll Road Insurance
One major benefit to taking the toll roads (Highways 1D or 2D on this trip) is that insurance is included in the price of the toll. This gives you some extra coverage if you’re involved in an accident while driving on the toll road.
If you get into an accident while you’re on the toll road and you are at fault, this insurance covers damage to the other vehicle, damage to the road, and medical costs. It does not cover damage to your own vehicle.
If you are involved in an accident on the toll road and you’re not at fault, the toll road insurance covers damage to your vehicle and medical costs. Damage to glass and tires is only covered if it is caused by poor road maintenance.
Your toll receipt acts as proof of insurance. It proves that you paid to use the toll road. You will need the receipt in order to file an insurance claim. Be sure to keep it somewhere safe, such as in your pocket.
It’s important to note that you still need to buy temporary Mexican auto insurance, even if you’re taking the toll roads. Toll road insurance is limited in what it covers. It also only covers you while you’re actually driving on the toll roads.
A Note About the Temporary Vehicle Import Permit (TIP)
If you’re only driving from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe, you can skip this section. You don’t need a temporary vehicle import permit.
If you plan to drive outside of the Baja Peninsula or Sonora Free Zone, you will need a temporary import permit (TIP) for your vehicle before you cross the border into Mexico. For example, maybe you’re planning to take the ferry from Baja to mainland Mexico. You’ll need a TIP.
This document allows you to drive your foreign-plated vehicle anywhere in Mexico for up to 6 months. For more in-depth info, check out my guide to the temporary import permit.
Renting a Car and Driving from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe
If you don’t want to drive your own vehicle in Mexico, you can rent a car to drive to Valle de Guadalupe. This is a popular option.
The problem is that most rental agencies in the U.S. don’t allow you to drive their vehicles in Mexico. If you do, you’re violating the terms of the rental agreement. You may not be covered if you’re involved in an accident in Mexico.
Some companies allow you to drive the vehicle in Mexico if you pay an additional fee or pay an extra deposit. This option is rare.
In most cases, if you want to rent a car to drive to Valle de Guadalupe, you’ll have to cross into Tijuana on foot and then rent a car on the Mexico side of the border.
To do this, you can take the trolley to San Ysidro and then walk across to Tijuana. Alternatively, you can drive to San Ysidro, park in one of the border parking lots, and then walk across the border.
Once you’re in Tijuana, you can then take a taxi or Uber to the car rental agency to pick up your rental vehicle. When you’re ready to return the car, you can drop it off at the rental agency, take a cab to the border, and walk back across to the U.S.
All of the major car rental agencies have locations in Tijuana including g Enterprise, Hertz Budget, Dollar, Alamo, National, etc. There are some Mexican brands as well. Most have offices located near Tijuana airport. There are also rental locations throughout the city.
Renting a car in Tijuana costs around $50 per day for a basic compact car. You can reserve a car online or call ahead to make a reservation.
There are several benefits to renting a car instead of driving your own car. You won’t have to deal with buying temporary auto insurance. You can buy insurance from the rental agency. In addition, you also don’t risk damaging your own vehicle by driving over potholes, speedbumps, and narrow roads. This is nice if you drive an expensive vehicle or a new vehicle. The vehicle you rent will also come with a Baja California license plate. Having local license plates reduces your likelihood of getting pulled over by a corrupt police officer.
Before you rent a vehicle in Mexico, it is important to have an idea of all of the costs involved. Ask to see the final price before signing the rental contract.
This is important because some rental agencies in Tijuana advertise an extremely low rate and then surprise you with a big bill with lots of additional charges when you return the vehicle. For example, you might see agencies advertising rentals for $10 per day. When they add on all of the required taxes, fees, and insurance, it’s $50 per day.
This is a common scam in Mexico. If you rent from a reputable international agency, you don’t have to worry too much about this. If the price is too good to be true, it is.
Take a Tour from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe
This is the easiest way to visit Valle de Guadalupe. In the past decade, Valle de Guadalupe has become an incredibly popular destination for American visitors. A number of tour companies have started operating in the region.
If you book a tour, the guide will pick you up and drop you off in San Diego, San Ysidro, Tijuana, or Ensenada. If your pick-up/drop-off point is on the U.S. side of the border, your guide will assist you with the border crossing. Most companies use the fast lanes so you don’t have to waste time waiting around the border. You’ll cross both ways in just a few minutes.
Some of the companies walk you across the border and then pick you up on the Mexico side. Some companies simply meet you on the Mexico side of the border.
After you cross the border, a professional driver will drive you and your group to Valle de Guadalupe. You won’t have to deal with Tijuana traffic, confusing roads, potholes, speedbumps, aggressive drivers, or the stress of driving in a foreign country. Your driver will handle it.
Most companies drive south along the coast to Ensenada, then turn inland toward the valley. You’ll enjoy beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean during this 3 hour drive.
Once you reach Valle de Guadalupe, your tour guide will show you around the region. If you’ve booked a multi-day tour, you can check into your hotel.
If you wish, you can book a private tour and specify exactly which wineries, breweries, and restaurants you wish to visit. Alternatively, you can let the guide show you around. Private tours and group tours are available. The driver will safely drive you from place to place.
Most of the Valle de Guadalupe tours are day trips. At the end of the day, your driver will take you back to your starting point and drop you off.
One of the biggest benefits of these tours is that you don’t have to worry about having a designated driver. You never drive intoxicated. You have a driver.
Most tour companies will also arrange multi-day tours. They can book you a hotel or B&B stay for you if you plan to spend the night in Valle de Guadalupe. They can also take you sightseeing in nearby Ensenada.
The Best Valle de Guadalupe Tours
- Baja Winery Tours- This company offers a wide range of public and private tours. The tour typically lasts 8-10 hours. The price includes a guide, driver, vehicle, tolls, wine tastings, and lunch. They can pick you up in San Ysidro, Rosarito, Ensenada, or Valle de Guadalupe. For more info, check out the Baja Winery Tours website here.
- Premium Valle de Guadalupe Wine & Food Tour- This tour takes you to three of the most popular wineries in the region. It includes transportation from San Ysidro Boulevard or Tijuana. This is an 11.5 hour all-inclusive tour. You can read more about this tour here.
- Baja Wine Tours from San Diego- This full-day tour starts at 9 am and ends at 8 pm. You’ll visit three of the most well-known wineries in Valle de Guadalupe. A few of the wineries you may visit include El Cielo, Adobe Guadalupe, Baron Blanche, and Hacienda Guadalupe. You’ll also have a chance to sample some local cuisine. A wine expert will accompany the group. Round-trip transportation is included. For more information, check out their website here.
How Much Do Valle de Guadalupe Tours Cost?
Group tours from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe cost around $250-$270 per person. This usually includes:
- All transportation in a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle
- A visit to 3 wineries
- Wine tasting
- Lunch in a fine Valle de Guadalupe restaurant
Private tours are also available. You can also design a custom tour.
How to Take the Bus from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe
If you’re not comfortable driving in Mexico and you don’t want to shell out for an expensive tour, taking the bus is a convenient and affordable alternative.
There is no direct bus from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe. You’ll have to first travel to the border. From Tijuana or Tecate, you can easily travel to Valle de Guadalupe by bus.
San Diego to the Border
You can travel from San Diego to the border by car or public transport. Probably the most convenient option is to drive to the border, park in a border parking lot on the U.S. side, and then walk across. There are a number of parking lots located within walking distance of the border.
The drive from San Diego to the border is about 17 miles. Parking is fairly expensive. Expect to spend $25-$40 per day, depending on the day of the week. For more info, check out my guide to Tijuana border parking.
You can also take the San Diego trolley to the border. The Blue Line trolley takes you from downtown San Diego to San Ysidro Station. The station is located about a block from the border. Stops in San Diego include American Plaza, Civic Center, City College, and 12th & Imperial.
If you’re not near a blue line trolley station, you can catch a San Diego public bus or another trolley and transfer. The bus and trolley system are integrated.
The ride from downtown to the border takes about 45 minutes depending on where you board. Trolleys leave every 15 minutes or so during the day and less frequently at night. A one-way ticket costs $2.50. Bus and trolley transfers are included. For help mapping out your route, you can use the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System’s website.
If you’re traveling from further away, you can also take a Greyhound bus to the border. The bus drops you off near the trolley station, steps from the PedEast crossing. This is a great option if you’re traveling from further away, such as Los Angeles or Phoenix.
Once you’re at the border, you can cross into Tijuana on foot. You can then walk or take a taxi to the bus station.
Tijuana to Valle de Guadalupe By Bus
To travel from Tijuana to Valle de Guadalupe, you’ll have to take two buses. One from Tijuana to Ensenada. Then another from Ensenada to Valle de Guadalupe. Alternatively, you could catch a bus from Tijuana to Tecate and then another from Tecate to Valle de Guadalupe.
From Tijuana, you can easily catch a bus to Ensenada or Tecate. They depart regularly all day long. You’ll have to time your arrival because there are only 4 busses from Ensenada or Tecate to Valle de Guadalupe every day.
Multiple bus companies offer service between Tijuana and Ensenada including ABC, Aguacaliente, Autobuses Elite, and ACN. For most visitors, ABC Bus (Autobuses de Baja California) is the most convenient option because the station is located near the border and downtown. It’s close enough to walk to from the border. The station is called Terminal La Linea.
Tijuana also has a large central bus station where you can catch buses to Ensenada and Tecate. The station is called Central de Autobuses de Tijuana. It is located south of the airport in the eastern part of the city. You’ll have to take a taxi, an Uber, or public transport to get here. It’s not walkable from the border.
Once you reach Ensenada or Tecate, you’ll catch another bus to Valle de Guadalupe. The Valle de Guadalupe bus departs from the central bus station in both cities. Chances are, this is where your bus from Tijuana will drop you off. The Valle de Guadalupe bus will drop you off in the town of Guadalupe.
Tijuana to Valle de Guadalupe Bus Departure Times
From Tijuana Linea Terminal, ABC Bus offers service to Ensenada every hour between 8:05 AM and 9:05 PM. There are also Ensenada-bound buses departing regularly throughout the day from Tijuana central bus station. Busses leave every 45 minutes or so for most of the day.
If you want to make the trip early in the day, Aguacaliente offers a 5:00 AM bus. Elite Bus offers 5:50 AM and 6:50 AM services. There are regular return buses as well.
Ensenada to Valle de Guadalupe Bus Times
From Ensenada, there are 4 buses per day to Valle de Guadalupe. Departure times include 8:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 4:00 PM, and 8:00 PM. For the return trip, the bus departs Valle de Guadalupe at 11:28 AM, 3:28 PM, 7:28 PM, and 11: 28 PM.
Tecate to Valle de Guadalupe Bus Times
You can also take the bus from Tecate to Valle de Guadalupe. Tecate bound busses depart from Tijuana every couple of hours.
There are 4 departure times from Tecate to Valle de Guadalupe including 10:08 AM, 2:08 PM, 6:08 PM, and 10:08 PM. For the return trip, the bus departs at 8:45 AM, 12:45 PM, 4:45 PM, and 8:45 PM.
If you miss the last bus to or from Valle de Guadalupe, you’ll have to wait until the following morning. Alternatively, you could take a taxi.
The departure times and frequency can change without notice. For example, ABC bus used to offer service from Tijuana to Ensenada every 45 minutes, now it’s every hour. Consider checking the schedule online before heading to the station.
You can check the ABC bus schedule here. When inputting your origin, use the Tijuana Linea station. You can check the Elite and Aguacaliente bus schedules here.
Tijuana to Valle de Guadalupe Bus Ticket Prices
The bus ticket from Tijuana to Ensenada costs 225 pesos (about $11.22). The bus ticket from Ensenada to Valle de Guadalupe costs 546 pesos (about $27.25). Both tickets together cost 771 pesos (about $38.46).
For some reason, the return trip is significantly cheaper. A bus ticket from Valle de Guadalupe to Ensenada costs 52 pesos (about $2.60). A ticket from Ensenada to Tijuana costs 225 pesos ($11.22). In total, the return trip costs 277 pesos (about $13.80).
The round-trip bus ticket cost to travel from Tijuana to Valle de Guadalupe is about 1048 pesos or $52.40. This is the current price if you take ABC bus. You might be able to save a few pesos by shopping around. Sometimes the bus companies offer discounts.
Another option is to take the bus from Tecate to Valle de Guadalupe. A one-way ticket from Tecate to Valle de Guadalupe costs 116 pesos ($5.80). A round trip ticket costs 216 pesos ($10.78).
Bus ticket prices can change at any time. You can check the ticket prices online on the bus companies’ websites.
You may also want to factor in the cost of travel from San Diego to the border. A one-way trolley ticket costs $2.50. Round trip will cost you $5.
If you’re driving and parking your vehicle at the border, you’ll have to pay for border parking. This can cost $20-$40 per day depending on the lot you use and the day of the week that you’re traveling.
How to Buy Bus Tickets from Tijuana to Valle de Guadalupe
You must buy your ticket before you board the bus. You can buy your bus ticket either in person at the station or online in advance. At the station, you can pay with cash or a card. You can pay with a card online.
For this trip, you usually don’t need to book your ticket in advance. You can simply show up at the station 20-30 minutes before a scheduled departure and buy a ticket for the next bus. There are usually seats available.
The only exception is if you plan to travel during a holiday. Some buses can fill up during these times. It’s a good idea to check availability before you head to the station.
Most bus companies tell you how many seats are available on their website. If you see that there are only a few seats left, consider booking in advance.
If you book online, you can pay with a credit card or debit card. You can also go to the station and book in advance in person.
In my experience, some Mexican bus companies don’t accept foreign credit cards. Some companies also require that you print your ticket out before you board. You can’t just show your ticket on your phone. If you don’t have access to a printer, this can be a hassle. For these reasons, I usually book in person.
San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe Travel Time by Bus
Traveling from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe by bus will take about half a day. The bus from Tijuana to Ensenada takes about 1 hour and 50 minutes. The bus from Ensenada to Valle de Guadalupe takes about 45 minutes.
Generally, the buses run on time. They can run a bit late if traffic is heavy. You should give yourself at least an hour to transfer buses in case your first bus arrives late.
You’ll also want to factor in the travel time from San Diego to Tijuana. The trolley ride from downtown San Diego to the border takes about 45 minutes. If you drive to the border, the trip takes about 25 minutes when traffic is light.
Next, you’ll have to walk to the border and cross. This takes about 10-20 minutes depending on the time of day that you cross. Usually, there is just a short line.
After you’re in Tijuana, you’ll have to travel to the bus station. From the border, it’s just a short walk to Tijuana Linea Station. You could also take a taxi or Uber to the station. The ride takes about 5 minutes.
All in, if you’re starting in San Diego and you time your bus transfer well, you can make it to Valle de Guadalupe in around 5-6 hours.
Because the bus takes so much more time than driving, it really only makes sense to take the bus if you’re spending a night or two in Valle de Guadalupe. Taking the bus doesn’t really work for a day trip. You won’t have enough time to enjoy yourself when you arrive. You’ll just spend all day on the bus.
How to Get to the Bus Station in Tijuana
There are two bus stations in Tijuana where you can catch buses to Ensenada. The ABC bus departs from Terminal La Linea. Estrella Blanca busses depart from El Central de Autobuses de Tijuana. In this section, I’ll cover how to get to both stations from the border.
For most visitors, taking the ABC bus from La Linea terminal is most convenient because the station is located between the border and downtown. This station is located in Plaza Viva on Frontera Street. Here is the location on Google Maps.
How to Get to the Bust Station from the Border
The easiest way to get to La Linea Station from the border is to simply walk. From PedEast or PedWest border crossing, it’s about a 5-8 minute walk. From downtown, it’s about a 15 minute walk. If you have lots of luggage, you can also take a taxi or Uber. Every driver knows where this station is.
To walk to the station from the main crossing (PedEast), continue down the footpath after exiting the immigration building. You’ll reach a street called Frontera. This is the first street with traffic that you’ll come to.
Take a right on this street and walk for about 2 blocks. You’ll cross a bridge that passes over cars lined up for the border and then walk down an incline next to a parking garage. Continue walking until you reach a big intersection with a roundabout.
This is the intersection of Frontera and Avenida de la Amistad. Cross Avenida de la Amistad and continue walking down Frontera Street. You should see a large sign that reads “Ensenada” in red letters. This is the Terminal La Linea station.
How to Get to the Bust Station from Downtown
From downtown, start walking down Calle Primera (first street). You’ll reach a bridge that goes over the Tijuana River. Cross the bridge and continue walking straight. This leads you to Plaza Viva.
Continue walking straight through the plaza and you’ll reach a street called Avenida de la Amistad. Take a right here then walk straight until you reach a large intersection of Frontera and Avenida de la Amistad. Take a right on Frontera and you’ll see the ABC bus station just down the street.
Terminal La Linea Station
Terminal La Linea is pretty small and basic. Inside, there are a few seats and a restroom that you must pay to use. There is a shop where you can buy snacks and drinks. If you walk outside to Plaza Rio, you’ll find a number of shops and restaurants.
Note: You should only make the walk from the border to the bus station during the day. At night, it’s not safe.
How to Get to El Central de Autobuses de Tijuana (Tijuana Central Bus Station)
This is where you’ll catch Elite, Aguacaliente, and ACN buses to Ensenada or Tecate. From the border, you’ll need to take a taxi, Uber, or public transit to the central bus station. Here is the location of Tijuana Central Bus Station on Google Maps.
If you take a taxi, tell the driver that you want to go to ‘el central de autobuses.’ All of the drivers know where it is. Be sure to negotiate the fare first. The taxi ride will cost around 200-250 pesos ($10-$12). If you’re taking an Uber, input ‘central de autobuses’ as your destination. The ride will cost around 200 pesos ($10).
If you’re on a budget, you can also take public transit to the bus station. You can catch a minibus from downtown on the corner of 2nd or 3rd street and Avenida Constitución. I believe the fare is about 20 pesos (around $1).
Tijuana central bus station is organized, safe, and clean. There is plenty of seating inside. Restrooms are available for a fee of around 6 pesos. There are a couple of shops where you can buy snacks and drinks.
Luggage on the Bus
Most bus companies in Mexico allow you to bring one carry-on bag one personal item, and one larger bat that is stored under the bus. This is included in the price of the ticket. The carry-on bag can weigh up to 5 kg (about 11 lbs.) The bag that you store under the bus can weigh up to 25 kg (around 55 lbs.)
If you’re traveling with a large piece of luggage that you need to check, the driver or attendant will give you a luggage tag when they load your luggage onto the bus. Be sure to keep the tag. You may need it when you collect your luggage.
In my experience, the bus companies aren’t too strict about luggage weight or size. The bags are usually not weighed. If your bag is particularly large or heavy, an attendant could weigh it. If it is overweight, you may have to pay an oversized luggage fee. The fee is charged per kilo. If you want to bring additional luggage, you’ll have to pay a separate fee.
Seating on the Bus
When you purchase your ticket, you will be assigned a seat. You can request a specific seat. The bus companies aren’t strict about seating. If there is a vacant seat that you prefer, you can move. You may get a full row to yourself. Oftentimes, these buses aren’t full.
If you’re taking the bus to Ensenada, try to get a window seat on the right side of the bus. You’ll enjoy some spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean during the trip. The highway follows the coast for most of the way. It’s very scenic.
About the Busses
The buses that Operate between Tijuana and Valle de Guadalupe are modern and well-maintained. They offer a number of amenities including reclining seats, restrooms, power outlets, window curtains, and reading lights. There are two seats on either side of the aisle.
The buses are air-conditioned. Oftentimes, the driver keeps the bus a bit chilly. Consider bringing a sweatshirt for the bus ride.
Arriving in Ensenada or Tecate
The bus may make a couple of stops in each city. You’ll want to get off at the central bus station. In Ensenada, this is at 6th Street in central Ensenada. Here is the location on Google Maps.
In Tecate, the central bus station is located on Avenida Benito Juárez. Here is the location on Google Maps.
Once you arrive in Ensenada or Tecate, you can catch a bus on to Valle de Guadalupe.
Arriving in Valle de Guadalupe
The bus will drop you off in the town of Guadalupe. This is the largest town in the valley. It has a population of around 6,000. Here, you’ll find some hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, tourist agencies, and a rental car agency.
There isn’t much in town so you’ll want to have a plan as to where you’re going when you arrive. The vineyards and tasting rooms are located outside of the town in all directions.
Getting Around Valle de Guadalupe
Getting around Valle de Guadalupe without a car can be a bit of a challenge. There isn’t really any public transportation available here.
To reach the vineyards in Valle de Guadalupe, you could join a group tour of the valley. Several companies offer tours starting in Guadalupe.
There are some taxis based in the larger towns. You could also hire a taxi to take you to your desired destination in the valley.
There are also some shuttle services operating. If you don’t want to take a tour, you can hire a van and driver to take you wherever you want to go.
You need to have a plan about how you’re going to get around once you get here if you’re not driving yourself or taking a tour.
If you decide that you want to rent a car, the nearest rental offices are located in Ensenada.
Returning to San Diego from Valle de Guadalupe
You can catch the bus back to Tecate or Ensenada from where it dropped you off. Once you arrive in Tecate or Ensenada, you can buy another ticket back to Tijuana.
Alternatively, you could cross the border at Tecate if you parked your car there. It is also possible to catch a bus in Tecate, California back to the San Diego area. Bus 894 travels from Tecate, California to El Cajon, California. From there, you can catch a bus or trolley to anywhere in San Diego.
From the bus station in Tijuana, you can take a taxi or Uber back to the border and cross on foot. Once you’re back in San Ysidro, you can take the Blue Line trolley back to downtown San Diego.
Is it Safe to Travel to Valle de Guadalupe by Bus?
Yes. This is a perfectly safe trip to make. The bus companies are professionally operated. The drivers are well trained. All of the buses are in good mechanical condition. The roads on this route are also in good condition. Security isn’t an issue. Multiple buses make this trip each day without any issues.
If you’re traveling after dark, you should not walk to or from the bus station. Particularly in Tijuana. At night, there is a risk of robbery when you’re out walking around. Instead, take a taxi or Uber or public transport.
Crossing the Border to Mexico
The border crossing process is a bit different for those who are walking across and those who are driving across.
If you’re taking public transport or parking at the border and walking across, follow the signs to Mexican immigration. There is a clearly marked path to Mexico There is no exit procedure for the U.S. Proceed straight to the Mexican immigration building.
When you reach immigration, you’ll see two lines. One for Mexican citizens and residents and one for foreign visitors. Wait in the appropriate line.
When you reach the front of the line, a Mexican immigration official will check your passport. Both book and card-style passports are accepted. These days, you do need a passport to travel to Valle de Guadalupe.
The FMM Visitor’s Permit
The immigration official will hand you a document to fill out. In some cases, they’ll fill it out for you.
This document is called the Forma Migratoria Múltiple (FMM). The FMM is a visitor’s permit. This document allows visitors from most countries to enter Mexico without a visa for up to 180 days for tourism purposes. For more info on eligibility, check out my guide to the FMM visitor’s permit.
You have to stop at the border to get an FMM even if you’re only visiting Valle de Guadalupe for the day. If you’re staying in Mexico for less than a week, there is no charge for the FMM. When you stay for more than a week and up to 180 days, you have to pay an FMM fee of 687 pesos (around $38).
If you’re driving to Valle de Guadalupe, you’ll have to stop at the border, park your car, and walk in the immigration building to get an FMM. Follow the signs to the ‘something to declare’ area. You’ll find parking here. You can walk to immigration and get your FMM from here.
It is also possible to get an FMM online before your trip. If you do this, you’ll still have to stop at immigration and get it stamped when you cross into Mexico.
Note: The FMM is currently being phased out in Mexico. In the future, you will no longer have to fill out a physical FMM document. You’ll simply receive a passport stamp. The fee and all of the rules regarding entry and duration of stay are still the same.
Crossing Back into the United States After Visiting Valle de Guadalupe
When returning to San Diego from Valle de Guadalupe, you’ll have to plan for a wait at the border. Before your trip back, it’s a good idea to check the border wait times on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website here.
You can check both pedestrian and vehicle wait times at each of the border crossings including San Ysidro, Otay Mesa, and Tecate. Sometimes you can save time by driving to another crossing.
On average, the wait is around 1-1.5 hours. During busy times like weekends and holidays, the wait can exceed 2 hours. To avoid having to wait so long, you can cross at an odd hour such as late at night or early in the morning. During these times the wait is often less than 15 minutes. You can also try crossing at a smaller crossing.
When you cross the border, you’ll be asked if you have anything to declare. Tell the immigration official if you’re bringing anything back with you, such as some wine. They may search you and you don’t want to get caught in a lie.
You are only allowed to bring a specific amount of items with you duty-free. If you bring more than the limit, you’ll need to pay taxes on it.
When you visit Valle de Guadalupe, you may want to bring some wine back home with you. For alcoholic beverages, the duty-free allowance is only one liter per person. You can bring more than one liter but you will have to pay tax on it.
Money Tip: While visiting Valle de Guadalupe, it’s best to pay for everything in pesos, even though US dollars are accepted pretty much everywhere. You’ll get a much better rate when you pay with pesos. If you pay in dollars, you’ll end up overpaying for everything because you’ll get a poor exchange rate.
Before crossing the border, you may want to convert some dollars to pesos. You’ll find a number of currency conversion kiosks near the border on the U.S. side in both San Ysidro and Tecate. You can also convert your money at a currency exchange in Tijuana, Tecate, or Ensenada.
You can also withdraw pesos from an ATM in Mexico with your debit card. It is also possible to pay for some things with your credit card. Before your trip, remember to call your bank to let them know that you’re going to be using your card in Mexico so they don’t suspect fraud and shut it off.
The Best Wineries to Visit in Valle de Guadalupe
- Vena Cava Winery: Dubbed the “hippest winery” in the region, Vena Cava is an architectural masterpiece with its salvaged boat hull ceilings. Here, you can experience artisanal wines and eat at an onsite food truck.
- Monte Xanic: This is one of the oldest wineries in Valle de Guadalupe. They make some of the finest wines in the region.
- Casa de Piedra: Founded by a pioneer of the Mexican wine movement, Hugo D’Acosta, Casa de Piedra is a testament to passion and craftsmanship. Be sure to try the sparkling wines here. They also have a great on-site restaurant.
- Xecue Vineyard: This unique vineyard is dedicated to celebrating the local communities of Baja California by naming their wines after family members in local native languages. They also have an excellent on-site restaurant.
- Domecq: This place actually started as a brandy distillery then later expanded to wines. It’s one of the oldest wineries in the valley. They also have an interesting on-site museum.
A Few Points of Interest Between San Diego and Valle de Guadalupe
While traveling to and from Valle de Guadalupe, you’ll pass by a number of interesting cities and attractions. A few places to check out on your drive to Valle de Guadalupe include:
Most travelers pass through Tijuana on their way to Valle de Guadalupe. Chances are, this is where you’ll cross the border into Mexico. Most visitors just pass through Tijuana but it is worth spending a day here if you have the time.
Tijuana offers some phenomenal restaurants and great nightlife. There are also a couple of interesting museums and cultural sights to visit.
If you take the inland route to Valle de Guadalupe down Highway 3, you’ll pass through Tecate. Some visitors choose to cross the border at Tecate because it’s smaller and less crowded than the main Tijuana crossing.
It’s worth spending a day or so here if you have the time. Tecate is a small city that sits right on the US-Mexico border. It is most famous for being the home of Tecate beer.
Tecate is also one of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos. The city has a charming downtown area with a beautiful plaza. It’s a great place to walk around.
Rosarito is a small beach town located about 12 miles (20 km) south of Tijuana. This is a great place to stay in a resort-style hotel, party, or just relax on the beach. The area offers a range of bars, restaurants, and clubs. Rosarito is a party destination for American tourists. It’s famous for its spring break parties.
You’ll pass through Rosarito on your way to Valle de Guadalupe if you take Highway 1/1D. If you’re driving, you can exit the highway at Rosarito. There are 4 exits from Highway 1D. You can also follow Highway 1 straight through the center of Rosarito. It’s the main road going through town.
Most buses to Ensenada also stop here. If you want to make a stop in Rosarito, you’ll need to buy a separate ticket. One from Tijuana to Rosarito, then another from Rosarito to Ensenada, then another from Ensenada to Valle de Guadalupe. You can also take public transport from Tijuana to Rosarito.
If you’re passing through Ensenada, it’s worth taking a day to explore the city. This port city offers a pleasant waterfront and downtown area to go for a stroll. There are plenty of shops, taco stands, bars, and restaurants, to enjoy.
Ensenada also has incredible seafood. Be sure to try the fish tacos. Supposedly, they were invented here. Ensenada is also a great place to go for sportfishing and whale watching. Boats leave from the main harbor area every day.
La Bufadora is a natural blowhole where you can watch water spout up 100 feet into the air out of a cliff along the coast. This phenomenon occurs when waves force air into an underground cave. This pressurizes the air. When the waves recede, water spouts up. You’ll see the water spray and hear a thundering sound every 15-20 seconds.
There is also a small tourist town built around the blowhole. A visit here makes for a great day trip from Ensenada or Valle de Guadalupe.
La Bufadora is located on the Punta Banda Peninsula, 24 miles (38 km) south of Ensenada. You can drive, take a taxi, or take a tourist bus there. This route is not served by public transport, as far as I know.
This coastal village is located just south of Rosarito off Highway 1. Since the 1950s, this town has been famous for its lobster. Puerto Nuevo is sometimes referred to as the ‘lobster village.’ Over 100,000 lobsters are eaten here every year in restaurants in and around the town. There is a lobster festival held here every year in October.
One of the most popular dishes is lobster tacos. they’re served on flour tortillas with refried beans. Of course, you can also get a traditional boiled lobster tail with melted butter. You can pair your lobster with a local wine from Valle de Guadalupe.
Final Thoughts About Traveling from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe
This is an easy trip to make. You can easily travel from San Diego to the border by car or public transport.
The drive from Tijuana to Valle de Guadalupe only takes a couple of hours. From Tijuana, you can easily hop on Highway 1D or 2D. It’s a beautiful drive. Once you get out of Tijuana, the roads are fast and smooth.
The most convenient way to visit Valle de Guadalupe is to take a group tour from San Ysidro or Tijuana. Most tours last one day and are all-inclusive. Prices are pretty reasonable.
The bus trip is a bit more complicated because you have to transfer in either Ensenada or Tecate. I wouldn’t really recommend traveling here by bus. It’s a hassle. You’ll also struggle to get around without a vehicle.
A visit to Valle de Guadalupe makes for a great weekend trip from anywhere in Southern California. The region offers the best wine in Mexico, excellent Baja Mediterranean-style food, and some stunning scenery. There are also some interesting places to stop along the way including Tijuana, Ensenada, Tecate, and Rosarito.
Have you traveled from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe lately? Share your experience in the comments below!
More from Where The Road Forks
- Do You Need a Passport to Go to Mexico?
- How to Travel From San Diego to Ensenada
- How to Travel From San Diego to Tecate
- Traveling to Mexico With a Dog or Cat
- Is Mexico Safe? Avoiding Crime and Scams
- Can You Drink the Tap Water in Mexico?
- Living in Mexico as an Expat: Pros and Cons
Zachary Friedman is an accomplished travel writer and professional blogger. Since 2011, he has traveled to 66 countries and 6 continents. He founded ‘Where The Road Forks’ in 2017 to provide readers with information and incites based on his travel and outdoor recreation experience and expertise. Zachary is also an avid cyclist and hiker. Living as a digital nomad, Zachary balances his professional life with his passions for hiking, camping, cycling, and worldwide exploration. For a deeper dive into his journey and background, visit the About page. For inquiries and collaborations, please reach out through the Contact page. You can also follow him on Facebook.