Traveling from Tijuana to Rosarito is pretty quick and easy. The cities sit just 14 miles (22 km) apart. Travel time averages around 35 minutes. This guide outlines, step-by-step, how to travel from Tijuana to Rosarito.
There are four ways to make this trip. You can drive, take a taxi, take public transportation, or take a bus. This guide covers routes, cost, travel time, how to book tickets, departure times, safety, and much more. Hopefully, this guide makes your trip from Tijuana Rosarito a bit smoother and easier.
About the Trip from Tijuana to Rosarito
Rosarito sits 14 miles (22 km) south of Tijuana and 32 miles (50 km) south of San Diego. The trip from Tijuana to Rosarito takes about 30-60 minutes depending on traffic and which mode of transport you use.
Tijuana and Rosarito are connected by 2 highways. Highway 1D is the toll road (cuota). Highway 1 is the free highway (via libre). Both roads are safe and well maintained. The toll to drive from Tijuana to Rosarito is 40 pesos or around $2.
Rosarito is the westernmost municipality in all of Mexico with a population of about 65,000. It is part of the Tijuana metropolitan area. The city is basically a suburb of Tijuana.
It is a popular destination for students. Especially during spring break. There are a number of resorts and high-rise hotels in the city. Rosarito also has a beautiful beach as well as plenty of bars, restaurants, and clubs to explore.
Table of Contents
This guide is divided into 4 sections. Each section outlines a different mode of transport from Tijuana to Rosarito.
How to Travel from Tijuana to Rosarito by Taxi de Ruta (Colectivo or Shared Minibus)
The most affordable way to travel from Tijuana to Rosarito is to take public transportation. In Tijuana, this means taking a colectivo shared minibus. These are called taxis de ruta in Tijuana (route taxis).
Taxis de ruta operate on a set route. The destination is usually printed on the window. These minibusses do not have a timetable. They leave when they’re full. You can hop on and hop off whenever you like along the route. There is a set price that you pay per ride. The price is usually printed on the window. There are multiple taxi services between Tijuana and Rosarito per day.
Where to Catch a Taxi de Ruta from Tijuana to Rosarito
To catch a taxi de ruta from Tijuana to Rosarito, head to the corner of Avenida Francisco I. Madero and Amando Nevo in downtown Tijuana (Zona Centro). Amando Nevo is a small street located between 3rd and 4th streets downtown. Here is the location on Google Maps.
If you walk down Madero avenue, you’ll see yellow and white taxis lined up on the street. One of these will take you to Rosarito. When you arrive, look around for a bus marked Rosarito. Usually, the minibusses have a sign with their destination posted in the window. If you can’t find it, just ask one of the attendants or drivers standing around next to one of the buses. They will point you in the right direction.
If you can’t find a minibus to Rosarito that’s leaving soon, head 2 blocks east to Avenida Constitución. Between 2nd and 5th streets (Calle Benito Juárez and Calle Emiliano Zapata), you’ll see minibusses lined up on the sides of the road. I believe minibusses to Rosarito depart from here as well. There are several bus companies that operate this route. Look around for a minibus marked Rosarito or ask one of the drivers or attendants.
There are no scheduled departure times. Taxis de ruta leave when they’re full. The minibusses to Rosarito usually depart every 1-2 hours. The departure frequency depends on demand. Sometimes they leave more frequently.
You might get lucky and catch a bus that’s just about to leave or you might have to wait for an hour or more for more passengers to arrive. This is the main drawback to taking a taxi de ruta to Rosarito. You never know when the minibus will leave. If you just missed one, you could be in for a long wait.
I believe the current minibus fare from Tijuana to Rosarito is 22.50 pesos (around $1) during the day and 30 pesos (around $1.40) at night. It may be slightly higher now. If you know the current cost, comment below!
You pay your fare directly to the driver in cash. Cards are not accepted. Try to pay with a small bill or exact change if possible. The drivers often can’t break large bills.
How Long is the Ride from Tijuana to Rosarito?
The ride from Tijuana to Rosarito by taxi de ruta takes around 40-50 minutes. It takes a bit longer than other modes of transport because people hop on and off along the route. You also have to factor in the time you have to wait for the taxi to fill up.
If you have some time to kill, you can walk to a nearby restaurant or taco stand to grab a drink or a snack. You could also browse souvenirs. From Avenida Constitucion where you catch the taxi, you’re only a block away from Tijuana’s main tourist street, Avenida Revolucion.
When you board the bus, you can sit wherever you like. There is no assigned seating. I recommend you try to sit next to a window on the right side of the minibus. This way, you get to enjoy a view of the pacific ocean during part of the ride.
It’s important to note that these buses are usually packed full. There won’t be room to spread out. Keep this in mind when choosing your seat and getting settled on the bus.
There is limited space for luggage on taxis de ruta. Usually, there is a bit of room behind the seats at the back of the van. You can also store your luggage on your lap or on the floor between your legs.
If you have a lot of luggage, I imagine you could also pay for a second seat and store your luggage there. If you have oversized luggage, you’re better off using another mode of transport such as the bus or a private taxi.
Arriving in Rosarito by Taxi de Ruta
The taxi will drop you off in central Rosarito. There is really only 1 main street in Rosarito. That is Benito Juárez Boulevard or Highway 1.
If you’re staying in a hotel that is located on Highway 1, you can ask the driver to stop there. When you’re ready to get out just say ‘stop here, please’ or ‘pare aqui, por favor’ in Spanish.
If your hotel is not located along the main street, you may have to walk, transfer to a local taxi, or transfer to another taxi de ruta to reach your final destination. Rosarito is a small town. It won’t take you long to get to where you’re going.
Once you’re in Rosarito, you can easily get around by taxi de ruta. They travel up and down the main road all day long. You can just hop on one going in your direction and ride it as far as you need.
When you’re ready to return to Tijuana, you can hop on another taxi de ruta in Rosarito that’s returning to Tijuana. They’ll drop you off downtown, where you started your journey.
While riding in a taxi de ruta, secure all of your belongings. Pickpockets sometimes operate on these shared minibusses. The buses are often packed full. This makes it easy for someone to reach into your pocket without your noticing.
Pickpocketing isn’t common but it can happen. To avoid getting pickpocketed, store your passport, cash, and cards in a money belt. Store your phone in a pocket that zips or buttons. Lock your luggage if possible. These simple precautions can greatly reduce your chance of falling victim to a thief. For more info, check out my guide: How to avoid getting pickpocketed while traveling.
This is a safe route to travel. Many buses make this trip every day. The drivers are safe. The road is well-traveled, heavily policed, and in good condition.
How to Take a Taxi from Tijuana to Rosarito
From anywhere in Tijuana, you can catch a taxi to Rosarito. A taxi from Tijuana to Rosarito costs around 400-650 pesos ($20-$30). The exact fare depends on the driver, traffic, time of day, and your negotiation skills. If you’re a good negotiator, you might be able to get an even lower fare. The taxi ride from Tijuana to Rosarito takes around 30-40 minutes, depending on traffic and the route you take.
There are two types of taxis in Tijuana, white taxis (taxis libres) and yellow taxis (taxis económicos). White taxis offer the better service of the two. Try to take these if you have the option. The vehicles tend to be in better condition and they have meters. You can usually negotiate a lower fare in a white taxi libre. Some drivers will use the meter if you ask. Yellow taxis are often in worse condition and they don’t have meters. They have set prices. The prices are high.
Before getting in a taxi in Tijuana, ask the driver if they’ll use the meter. This will give you the lowest rate. If the taxi doesn’t have a meter or if the driver refuses to use it, negotiate the price before you accept a ride. Most drivers won’t use the meter. Ask the driver how much it will cost to take you to Rosarito and negotiate from there. Around $20-$30 is a reasonable fare. Anything more than that and the driver is trying to take advantage of you.
Taxis are common in Tijuana. If you’re in a touristy area like downtown, Zona Rio, Zona Norte, or Playas de Tijuana, you’ll see taxis pass by regularly. When you’re ready to travel to Rosarito, simply flag one down.
Taxis are also plentiful around the border area. After crossing, walk to the road and you’ll see taxis drive by regularly looking for passengers. You’ll also find taxi stands located throughout the city.
Taking a taxi is probably the most convenient transportation option between Tijuana and Rosarito because you can stay in the same vehicle all the way to your destination. The driver will drop you off right outside your hotel. You don’t have to make transfers or walk. You also don’t have to deal with the hassles of driving yourself.
Taking a taxi is particularly convenient if you’re walking across the border. You can catch a cab directly from the border in Tijuana to Rosarito. After crossing, continue walking down the path until you reach the first street with traffic.
If you cross at PedEast, this will be Frontera Street. If you cross at PedWest, this will be José María Larroque. From these streets, you’ll see taxis pass by regularly. Just flag one down and negotiate a price.
For more info, check out my guide to taking taxis in Tijuana.
A Note About Taking Uber from Tijuana to Rosarito
Currently, Uber is not permitted to operate in Rosarito. It was banned in 2019. Uber is legal in Tijuana.
Even though it’s illegal, it is possible to order an Uber from Tijuana to Rosarito. Some drivers will take the risk and drive you and others will refuse. The Uber fare from Tijuana to Rosarito is around 350-450 pesos ($16-$20).
In the past, Uber was the most convenient way to travel from Tijuana to Rosarito. Because it’s illegal, I do not recommend attempting to take an Uber from Tijuana to Rosarito at this time. Hopefully, it will be legalized again in the near future.
If an Uber driver is caught driving in Rosarito, their car will get towed and they will have to pay a fine to get it back. The fine is significant. I believe it’s around $500. This fine is issued to the driver, not the passenger. I did read one story about a group of tourists who took an Uber to Rosarito. The car got towed with their luggage inside. For this reason, many Tijuana Uber drivers won’t take you to Rosarito.
Supposedly, this ban was put in place by corrupt government officials who work in the Rosarito transportation department. These corrupt officials are also involved in the taxi business. They put the ban in place to protect their business. I don’t know whether or not this is true. An Uber driver in Tijuana told me this.
Once you’re in Rosarito, you will not be able to order an Uber. You’ll have to rely on regular taxis or taxis de ruta to get around. You’ll also have to find an alternative way to get back to Tijuana.
How to Drive from Tijuana to Rosarito
You can easily drive your own vehicle from Tijuana to Rosarito. Many travelers prefer this option because it allows for more freedom. You’ll have your own transportation in Mexico. You won’t have to rely on taking taxis every time you want to go somewhere. With a car, you can explore on your own time.
Two highways connect Tijuana to Rosarito: Highway 1D and Highway 1. Highway 1D is the toll road (cuota in Spanish). This highway is smooth, fast, and extremely well maintained. Traffic is usually light.
If you want to avoid paying the toll, you can take highway 1. This is the free highway (via libre). This road is safe and well maintained. It is a bit more narrow. There may be some potholes here and there. Traffic also tends to be heavier on this highway.
How Much is the Toll to Drive from Tijuana to Rosarito?
The current toll to drive from Tijuana to Rosarito on highway 1D is 40 pesos (around $2). You can pay the toll in either pesos or US dollars. The toll booth is located in Playas de Tijuana. You will only encounter one toll booth while driving between Tijuana and Rosarito. If you get to the second toll booth, you’ve driven too far.
How to Take the Toll Road (Highway 1D) from Tijuana to Rosarito
To get on the toll road from the border, stay in the far right lane while crossing into Mexico. Continue merging right after you exit the border area. Look for signs marked Highway 1D Rosarito/Ensenada cuota. This is the exit you want to take. It comes up quickly after you cross the border so keep an eye out. This exit leads you to a road that runs along the US-Mexico border. This road is called Vía Internacional.
Follow this road along the border. You’ll see the border wall to your right. The road will take you uphill then slope downhill and curve to the left. Near the end of the curve, you’ll see an exit to highway 1D toward Rosarito/Ensenada. Take this exit.
The road will take you up another hill then you’ll drop back down. You’ll come to an intersection at Playas de Tijuana. Stay in the left lane on highway 1D. Don’t exit. You’ll curve left away from the border. Shortly after the curve, you’ll come to the toll booth. After paying the toll, stay on the highway all the way to Rosarito. It’s about a 12 mile drive. The road follows the coast most of the way.
There are four exits in Rosarito. The first exit takes you to the main road. This is Benito Juárez Boulevard or Highway 1. This road takes you through the entire city and downtown. From the exit, it’s about 2 miles to downtown.
If you want to travel directly to downtown, stay on the toll road and get off at the 4th exit. You’ll pass under an arch that says “Bienvenidos a Rosarito” and drive 2 blocks right into the center of Rosarito on Benito Juárez Boulevard.
Once you arrive in Rosarito, it’s easy to get around. The whole town is around 2 miles long. Most of the hotels, restaurants, shops and clubs are located on Benito Juárez Boulevard. The beach is nearby.
How to Take the Free Road from Tijuana to Rosarito
If you want to take Highway 1 from Tijuana to Rosarito, continue driving straight after crossing the border. Follow the signs for Highway 1. You’ll merge right and cross a bridge over the Tijuana River. This road will take you to Avenida Vía Rápida.
From there, continue flowing the signs to Highway 1. From Via Rapida, you’ll take a right turn onto the highway. Follow this road all the way to Rosarito.
In Tijuana, you will pass through several intersections, roundabouts, and curves. It’s a bit confusing. Much of this route isn’t a highway. It’s just a road that takes you through Tijuana. The signage is not very good. Keep an eye out for Highway 1 sighs.
Once you make it out of the city, continue on Highway 1 all the way to Rosarito. Highway 1 turns into Benito Juárez Boulevard. This is Rosarito’s main street.
How Long Does it Take to Drive from Tijuana to Rosarito?
It takes 30-40 minutes to drive from Tijuana to Rosarito depending on traffic. Travel times on highway 1 and 1D are about the same. Highway 1 takes a more direct route to Rosarito. The road cuts directly through Tijuana. Highway 1D takes you west to Playas de Tijuana then turns south and follows the coast to Rosarito. It is a faster road with wider lanes and less traffic.
How Far is the Drive from Tijuana to Rosarito?
The driving distance from the border crossing in Tijuana to Rosarito is 20.9 miles (34 km) if you take the toll highway 1D. If you take highway 1, the distance is 15.6 miles (25 km). It’s a short drive either way.
Is it Safe to Drive from Tijuana to Rosarito?
Yes. This is a safe drive to make. Both highway 1D and 1 are frequently traveled and well-maintained. This is the main route down the Baja Peninsula. Most of the land alongside these roads is developed. Rosarito is basically a suburb of Tijuana. If you happen to break down, you won’t be far from services.
This route is heavily policed as well. You’re unlikely to encounter any crime while driving from Tijuana to Rosarito.
If possible, try to avoid driving from Tijuana to Rosarito at night. There are a number of reasons for this. Parts of the road are not well-lit. There are also some narrow and curvy sections of highway 1. Occasionally, pedestrians walk on the road. It’s hard to see them at night. It’s also easier to get lost at night. Signage isn’t very good in Tijuana. Once you’re on the highway, navigation isn’t an issue. If you’re making this drive for the first time, try to go during the day. If you’re driving at night, be extra careful.
One risk to be aware of while driving in this region is police corruption. It is not uncommon for tourists to get pulled over by a corrupt police officer who tries to solicit a bribe. When this happens, the officer will accuse you of committing a traffic violation then offer to settle the matter there and then in cash. For example, they may tell you that you were speeding or that you weren’t wearing your seat belt then ask for $100 to settle the matter.
It’s best to avoid paying bribes if at all possible. Request a written citation or ask the officer to take you to the police station to pay the fine in person. If you have to pay, 500-1000 pesos ($25-$50) is usually sufficient. For info, check out my guide to police corruption in Tijuana.
For more in-depth safety info, check out my guide: Is Tijuana Safe?
A Note About Temporary Mexican Auto Insurance
If you decide to make this drive from the U.S, you’ll want to buy temporary Mexican auto insurance before you cross the border. This can cover you in the event of an accident.
You can buy Mexican auto insurance online or at a kiosk in San Ysidro. You may be able to buy it from your auto insurance provider as well. Geico offers it.
On average, temporary insurance to drive in Mexico costs around $20 per day. For more info, check out this guide to temporary Mexican auto insurance.
One major benefit of taking the toll road is that insurance is included in the price of the toll. This can cover you if you’re involved in an accident while driving on the toll road.
This insurance can cover damage to your vehicle and your medical bills if you’re not at fault. If you are at fault, this insurance covers damage to the road, other vehicles, and medical bills of injured parties. To use this insurance, you’ll need your toll receipt. Be sure to keep it somewhere safe.
You still need to buy temporary Mexican auto insurance if you’re taking the toll road because the toll road insurance only insures you while you’re driving on the toll road.
The Temporary Import Permit (TIP)
If you’re only driving to Rosarito, you can skip this section. You do not need a TIP.
If you plan to drive further into Mexico and leave the Baja California Peninsula or the Sonora free zone, you’ll also need to obtain a temporary import permit (TIP) for your vehicle before you cross the border. This document allows you to drive a foreign plated vehicle anywhere in Mexico. For more info, check out my complete guide to the TIP.
Renting a Car and Driving From Tijuana to Rosarito
If you don’t want to drive your own vehicle across the border, you can also rent a car in Tijuana and drive to Rosarito. All of the major rental agencies have locations in Tijuana including Enterprise, Hertz Budget, Dollar, and Alamo. There are also some smaller independent rental car agencies. Renting a car in Tijuana costs around $50 per day.
There are several benefits to renting a car. First, you won’t have to deal with buying Mexican auto insurance. You can buy insurance from the rental agency when you rent the car. You don’t risk damaging your own vehicle by driving over potholes or speed bumps. The vehicle you drive will also have Mexican license plates. Police may be less likely to pull you over when you drive a vehicle with local plates.
When renting a car in Mexico, make sure you understand all costs involved. Ask to see the final price before you sign the rental contract. Some car rental agencies in Mexico like to advertise extremely low rates then surprise you with a big bill at the end. This is a common travel scam in Mexico. If you rent from a large reputable agency, you usually don’t have to worry about this.
If you want to rent a car to drive to Rosarito, you’ll have to rent it in Mexico. Most U.S. rental agencies do no allow you to drive their cars across the border.
How to Take the Bus from Tijuana to Rosarito
If you don’t want to drive, deal with public transport, or pay for a taxi, you can take the bus from Tijuana to Rosarito. The most convenient option for most travelers is the ABC bus (Autobuses de Baja California). The Tijuana Linea station is conveniently located near the border and downtown. You’ll ride in a comfortable coach-style bus.
Tijuana to Rosarito Bus Departure Times
From the Tijuana Linea station, buses to Rosarito depart every hour from 7:05 AM to 9:05 PM. The bus you are catching is headed to Ensenada. It makes a short stop in Rosarito. These buses usually leave on time.
Departure times and bus frequency can change without notice. For example, ABC used to offer this service every 45 minutes, now it’s every hour. You can check the schedule online here before you go to the bus station.
When imputing your origin, use the Tijuana Linea station. This is where the Rosarito-bound buses depart from. The destination should be Playas de Rosarito.
Tijuana to Rosarito Bus Ticket Price
The current ticket price for a one way ticket from Tijuana to Rosarito is 65 pesos (about $3). Ticket prices can change at any time. You can check the price online the ABC bus website before heading to the station using the link above.
The return ticket is more expensive at 210 pesos (around $10). I’m not sure why it costs so much more.
How to Buy a Bus Ticket from Tijuana to Rosarito
You must buy your ticket before you board the bus. You can buy a ticket either in person at the station or online. It is possible to pay with cash or card at the station or with a card online.
For this trip, you don’t need to go to the station to buy your ticket in advance. You can just show up at the station 15-20 minutes before your desired departure time and buy a ticket for the next bus. Buses on this route rarely fill up. There are almost always seats available.
The only exception is during major holidays. Some buses may fill up during these times. If you’re traveling during a busy time of year, you may want to check availability online.
You can check availability on the ABC website. They show the number of seats available next to the ticket price. If you see that there are only a few seats left, consider buying your ticket in advance.
You can also buy your ticket online in advance. I have never had much luck buying bus tickets online in Mexico. Many companies do not accept foreign cards. If you buy your ticket online, share your experience in the comments!
How to Get to the ABC Bus Station
The station is called ABC Tijuana Line Terminal (terminal linea in Spanish). It’s located on in Plaza Viva. Here is the location on Google Maps.
The Linea station is very basic. There are a few seats inside and there’s a paid restroom. You’ll also find some small shops where you can buy snacks.
From the border, it’s about a 5-10 minute walk to the ABC station. From downtown, it’s about a 12-15 minute walk to the station. You can also take a taxi or Uber to the Linea bus station from anywhere in Tijuana. Every driver knows where it is.
To walk to the ABC bus station from the PedEast border crossing, exit Mexican immigration then continue walking down the path until you reach the first street with traffic. This is Frontera street.
Take a right on this street and walk about 2 blocks. You’ll cross a bridge over the cars waiting to enter the U.S. Next, you’ll walk down an incline next to a parking garage.
After walking about 2 blocks, you’ll reach a large intersection with a roundabout. This is the intersection of Frontera and Avenida de la Amistad. Cross Avenida de la Amistad and continue walking straight. On your right, you’ll see a big sign that says “Ensenada” in red letters. This is the ABC Terminal La Linea station.
From the PedWest crossing, it’s even easier to get to the station. After exiting immigration, continue walking down the footpath until you reach the street with traffic. This is José María Larroque.
Cross at the crosswalk under the highway and enter the Plaza across the street. This is Plaza Viva. At the far side of the plaza, you’ll find the station. You have to walk all the way across the plaza to Frontera street to get to the station.
From downtown, walk down Calle Primera and cross El Chaparral bridge. This will lead you to Plaza Viva. Walk to the end of the plaza and take a right. You’ll see the station on the corner of Frontera and Avenida de la Amistad.
If you’re having trouble finding the station, simply ask someone and they will point you in the right direction. Pretty much everyone will know where this station is located. The station is in Plaza Viva.
Note: You should only walk to the bus station during the day. It’s not safe to make this walk at night. Particularly if you’re walking from downtown. If you’re arriving after dark, just take a taxi or Uber to the bus station.
Tijuana to Rosarito Bus Travel Time
According to the ABC bus website, the trip from Tijuana to Rosarito takes 30 minutes. ABC buses operate on time, in my experience.
You are permitted to bring one carry-on bag and one checked bag. This is included in the price of the ticket. Your luggage can weigh up to 25 kg (around 55 lbs).
If you’re traveling with a large piece of luggage that you need to store under the bus, the driver or bus attendant will hand you a luggage tag when they take your bag and load it. Keep the tag. You may need it to collect your luggage. You can tip the luggage handler if you like.
In my experience, they aren’t too strict about luggage weight or size. If your bag is particularly big or heavy, they may weigh it. When it’s overweight, you’ll be charged per kilo. If you want to bring additional luggage such as a second suitcase or a big piece of sporting equipment like a surfboard or fishing gear, you’ll have to pay an additional fee.
Tip: When packing your bags for the bus trip, try to pack all of your fragile and valuable gear in your carry-on bag. Leave your clothing and bulky items in your checked bag. Luggage handlers sometimes toss or stack bags. You don’t want anything to get broken. Theft is unlikely but is a possibility. It is not unheard of for items to be stolen from under busses. Keep your valuables next to you on the bus, just in case. Also, keep an eye on your bag while you’re on the bus so someone doesn’t walk off with it.
Seating on the bus
A seat will be assigned to you when you purchase your ticket. You can request a specific seating location if you like. You can also choose your own seat if you book online.
I recommend you try to choose a seat next to the window on the right side of the bus. This way, you’ll get to enjoy some nice views of the Pacific ocean as you ride south.
The bus companies are not strict about assigned seating. If there is a vacant seat that you prefer, you can move. Oftentimes these buses are only half full. You’ll have the row to yourself.
About the Bus
The buses that operate between Tijuana and Rosarito are modern coaches. They have restrooms, reclining seats, and electrical outlets. Some even have an entertainment system. There is also heating and air conditioning.
How to Return from Rosarito to Tijuana
You can return to Tijuana using the same mode of travel that you used to get to Rosarito. Multiple taxis de ruta make the trip every day. They leave every couple of hours from the main road in Rosarito (Benito Juárez Boulevard or Highway 1).
From anywhere in the city, you can catch a taxi back to Tijuana. Simply flag down a cab and negotiate a price back to Tijuana. The ride should cost $20-$30.
If you drove, you can hop back on highway 1 or 1D and easily drive back to Tijuana. Remember, there is a toll if you take highway 1D.
You can also take an ABC bus back to Tijuana. Buses leave from the Playas de Rosarito bus station every hour from 6:50 AM to 8:50 PM. The ride takes about 30 minutes and costs 210 pesos (around $10). I don’t know why the return ticket costs more.
You cannot return from Rosarito to Tijuana by Uber or rideshare because these apps are banned in the city. If you open the app, you won’t find any drivers available.
How to Travel from San Diego to Rosarito
If you’re starting your trip in San Diego, first you’ll need to make your way to the border and cross into Tijuana. From there, you can travel to Rosarito using one of the methods outlined above. A few ways to travel from San Diego to the border include:
- Drive to the border and park- Probably the most convenient option for most travelers is to drive to San Ysidro and park on the U.S. side of the border in one of the border parking lots. From there, you can walk to the border and cross at one of the pedestrian crossings. The drive from San Diego to the border is around 17 miles. There are a number of parking lots within walking distance of the border. After crossing, you can easily travel to Rosarito by colectivo, bus, or taxi. The drawback to parking at the border is the cost. Expect to spend $25-$40 per day. For more info, check out my guide to Tijuana border parking.
- Take the San Diego trolley- Take the Blue Line trolley to the end of the line in San Ysidro. From the San Ysidro trolley station, you’re around a block away from the PedEast crossing. You can catch the Blue Line trolley in downtown San Diego. The ride from downtown San Diego to San Ysidro takes around 45 minutes. A one-way ticket costs $2.50. The trolley leaves every 15 minutes during the day and less frequently at night. If you’re not staying near downtown, you can catch a city bus or another trolley line and transfer to the blue line in Downtown. San Diego’s public transit network is all connected. The ticket includes a transfer. You can view San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit System map here to help you plan your route. For more info, check out my guide to taking the San Diego trolley to Tijuana.
- Take the Greyhound Bus- This is a great option if you’re traveling from outside of the San Diego area. The bus drops you off at the San Ysidro trolley station, near the PedEast crossing. From there, you can walk across the border then take a colectivo, bus, or taxi to Rosarito. You can catch a return bus just a block away from where the bus drops you off. There is also a Greyhound station near the trolley station, where you can book tickets. For more info, check out my guide to taking the Greyhound bus from Los Angeles to Tijuana.
- Drive from San Diego to Rosarito- You can drive across the border and continue to Rosarito. It’s about a 32 mile (51 km) drive from San Diego to Rosarito if you take I5 to the border then continue south on highway 1 after you cross. If you take highway 1D, it’s a 37 mile drive (60 km) from San Diego to Rosarito. The drive takes around 1 hour when traffic is light. You will have to stop and park at the border and go into the immigration building to get an FMM visitors permit when you enter Mexico. Follow the ‘something to declare’ signs to the parking area. You can walk to immigration from there. With traffic and the stop at the border, this trip can take about 2 hours. For more info, check out my guide to driving to Tijuana.
Crossing the Border from San Ysidro to Tijuana
After arriving at the border, follow the signs to Mexican immigration. You’ll walk down a path and into the immigration building. There is no exit procedure for the U.S. Just proceed straight to Mexican immigration.
There are two lines at immigration. One is for Mexican citizens and residents and the other is for foreign visitors. If you don’t have Mexican citizenship or residency, wait in the visitor’s line.
A Mexican immigration official will check your passport. You do need a passport to travel from the U.S. to Rosarito. Book and card style passports are accepted.
At immigration, you’ll also have to fill out an FMM visitor’s permit form. In most cases, the immigration official will fill out the FMM form for you. They will ask where you’re going, the purpose of your trip, and how long you’re staying in Mexico.
The FMM is a travel document that allows most travelers to enter Mexico without a tourist visa. It is available to passport holders from the US, Canada, UK, European Schengen Area countries, Australia, and a number of other countries.
If you are not eligible for an FMM visitor’s permit, you’ll have to apply for a Mexican visa in advance from your nearest Mexican consulate or embassy. For more info, check out my complete guide to the FMM visitor’s permit.
You have to get an FMM permit even if you’re only visiting Rosarito for the day. If you’re staying in Mexico for more than a week, you’ll have to pay an FMM fee. The current fee is 595 pesos (around $30). If you’re staying less than 7 days, there is no fee.
If you’re driving across the border to Rosarito, you’ll have to stop and park at the border to get an FMM. When driving across, follow the signs to the declaration area. You’ll find a parking lot there. You can walk to immigration to get an FMM here. If you applied for your FMM and paid online, you still have to stop to get your passport stamped.
For more info, check out my guide: How to Walk Across the Border to Tijuana.
Crossing Back into the United States After Visiting Rosarito
When returning to San Diego from Rosarito, it’s important to remember that there will often be a long wait at the border. Before your trip, check the border wait time 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 and Otay Mesa.
On average, the wait is around 1 hour and a half. During busy periods such as holidays, the wait can be well over 2 hours. Generally, the wait to drive across is slightly longer than the wait to cross on foot. To avoid having to wait so long, try to cross late at night or early in the morning. During these times, the wait is often less than 15 minutes.
Tip: During your trip to Rosarito, try to pay for everything with pesos, even though US dollars are accepted pretty much everywhere. The reason is that you get a much better exchange rate when you pay in pesos. If you pay in dollars, you’ll overpay for everything.
Before you cross the border, consider converting some dollars into pesos. You’ll find a number of currency conversion kiosks in San Ysidro including one next to the trolley station. You can also convert money in Tijuana or Rosarito.
You can also withdraw pesos from an ATM with your debit card. It is also possible to pay for some things with your credit card. Before your trip, call your bank to tell them that you’ll be using your card in Mexico so they don’t shut it off. Be sure to use a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.
Final Thoughts About Traveling from Tijuana to Rosarito
This is an easy trip to make. You have several transportation options. After crossing into Tijuana, you can easily catch a taxi directly to Rosarito. If you head downtown, you can catch a colectivo minibus for just over a dollar. The bus is also a great option. From the Tijuana Line Terminal, a bus to Rosarito leaves every hour throughout most of the day. You can also easily drive to Rosarito from Tijuana. You can hop on Highway 1 or 1D after crossing the border and drive directly to Rosarito in around half an hour. A visit to Rosarito makes an excellent weekend trip from Southern California.
Have you made the trip from Tijuana to Rosarito lately? Share your experience in the comments below!
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