Getting Around San Antonio
The best way to get around San Antonio is by car, especially if you need to reach sites like Brackenridge Park and SeaWorld. Driving through the narrow downtown streets can be difficult, however, so plan to park your car in a lot or garage and explore some of the downtown area on foot. The bus system is also a handy and relatively inexpensive way to navigate the city center. Many travelers arrive through San Antonio International Airport (SAT), about 10 miles north of the city center, where you can find a plethora of rental car agencies. There is an airport shuttle service ($15 per person for a one-way ticket; $28 for a round-trip) that takes visitors between the airport and downtown hotels; city bus route No. 5 also services the airport and downtown areas. Taxis from the airport to downtown San Antonio cost between $24 and $29. Using taxis downtown is unnecessary, and you'll probably have to wait for one to arrive.
Renting a car makes the most sense if you wish to sightsee beyond downtown, but the 18th-century city planners did not take that car into account when designing and constructing roads. Downtown streets are convoluted and confusing for visiting drivers. Twentieth-century architects did a much better job: The freeways effectively shuttle drivers around, and you'll want to hop on them as well. SeaWorld, the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park and the San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium are all easiest to reach with your own vehicle. Several reputable rental car companies can be found at the airport and various locations in the city center.
You'll first spot cabs at the airport. Running on the meter, a taxi ride into downtown should cost between $24 and $29. Once you're there, however, you won't see many cabs patrolling the streets. Ask your hotel to call a cab if you require one. Overall, taxis are an expensive alternative to the bus — the initial fare is $2.50, and each additional mile is $2.35. Ride-hailing services, such as Uber and Lyft are also an option.
Although having a car can be helpful for exploring San Antonio's outer limits, some recommend using public transportation instead since the city's streets are narrow and parking is limited. The VIA Metropolitan Transit offers bus routes that are both inexpensive (approximately $1.30 per ride or $2.75 for an unlimited one-day pass) and tourist-friendly. Plus, buses make stops at many of San Antonio's top attractions.
VIA also operates a separate bus service called VIVA, which covers three different routes through downtown and reaches top sites like the River Walk and the Alamo. The routes are named VIVA Culture, VIVA Missions and VIVA Centro, respectively. This is an efficient way to get from A to B, especially with the kids. VIVA tickets also include an assortment of discounts at each of their distinctive destinations. Getting around on the VIVA costs the same as the bus at $1.30 per ride; you can also purchase an unlimited one-day pass for $2.75.
San Antonio's downtown core is very walkable, especially the areas surrounding the River Walk. What's more, many of the best San Antonio tours are walking tours. However, if you're visiting during the summer, bring along plenty of water to cope with the heat.
Explore More of San Antonio
If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.