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    California flights: where is it convenient to land to start a tour?

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    Lluis Enric Mayans

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    There are many things that must be taken into account when organizing a fly and drive in California, but one of the most urgent is undoubtedly common to all and concerns the choice of flights to California: where to land to better organize the itinerary you have in mind? Where to start the tour we have planned? Better San Francisco or Los Angeles? Or are there alternative options?

    By size, the California it is certainly not a statelet and decide to land at Los Angeles or San Francisco it is not at all the same. Furthermore, it is not just a question of distances: there are many factors that affect the choice, not least the days available and the costs of the flight (and the rental car, as we will see). Clearly, the choice of the West Coast itineraries that you want to carry out also affects: it must be taken into account that it is really difficult that the tour does not extend to the neighboring states (Arizona, Utah, Nevada etc.).

    We have already begun to talk about all this in various articles, not least the one dedicated to the organization of tours in California, but today we want to shed some light on this topic, listing pros and cons of the two choices: in this way you will have a few more elements to choose the city where to land.


    • Voli California: San Francisco o Los Angeles?
      • San Francisco option
      • Los Angeles option
    • A valid alternative: Las Vegas
    • How to find a cheap flight to California?

    Voli California: San Francisco o Los Angeles?

    Here are some tips and considerations on advantages and disadvantages of the choice between the airport of the two major Californian cities.

    San Francisco option

    San Francisco is a unique city of its kind, and you understand it as soon as you see the first glimpse, despite being stunned by jet lag: it is the first city I visited on the West Coast, and my memory of California is linked to it in a way indissoluble. Here is an article on what there is to see in San Francisco: if you would not miss it for any reason in the world, you already know which airport to choose: the San Francisco International Airport.


    Among the advantages the voice certainly finds its place in this choice car rent: as we wrote in our article on how to get around San Francisco, you will not need to take a car on the days you are in the city, which involves a important economic savings. San Francisco can be easily explored on foot or by public transport: it is better to take your rental car in San Francisco when leaving the city, otherwise you risk keeping it in the hotel parking lot (often very expensive) for the whole length of stay in the city. We usually recommend staying in the city at least 3 days, so you can safely cancel 3 days of car rental from your budget: it's not cheap!


    Among disadvantages we could include the flight price: there is no fixed rule or law that helps us to determine exactly how the flight market works, but it happened to me that on the same dates (and especially in high season), the prices for flights from 'Spain at San Francisco airport were slightly higher compared to those in Los Angeles. However, I would like to reiterate that this is not a law, which is why I invite you to do careful research with the price comparators you find in our article on US flights. Remember, by the way, they don't exist direct flights to California en route to San Francisco from Spain.

    At the same time, if we intend to save as much as possible, we must take into account that - compared to Los Angeles - also the convenient option flight + hotel it can be a bit disadvantageous. Also in this case I can make a speech based on my experience: as we have already said in our article on flight + hotel in New York, the convenience of this package is interesting, because it allows you to save a lot on combined flight and accommodation booking (under certain conditions that I recommend that you study in the article that I linked to you). Here, in the case of San Francisco, Due to the high average of hotel prices, I still found myself spending more money than in Los Angeles which, due to its extension, offers a lot of choice in various areas of the city at much lower prices.

    In caso di round trip…


    If you are putting into account about fifteen days for your trip and you plan to do a roundtrip - that is to land and leave from San Francisco - know that you can easily see two symbolic destinations of the West Coast: the national park of Yosemite and the ghost town of bodie, as well as natural beauties such as Mono Lake and Lake Tahoe (the latter actually a bit off the beaten path). Otherwise, landing in Los Angeles and having a limited number of days available, you may have to exclude these stops due to excessive distances, even more so if your return flight takes off again from Los Angeles.

    Find a flight to San Francisco

    Find a San Francisco flight + hotel package

    Los Angeles option

    Los Angeles it is more a "region" than a city: the vast dimensions of the Los Angeles metropolitan area offer an enormous number of places of interest to visit, from Hollywood to Santa Monica, from Beverly Hills to Malibu, from Pasadena to Long Beach and so on. The common imagination portrays it as the paradise of American cinema, but also as the homeland of the fashionable and unruly seaside life: the beaches of Los Angeles offer a spectacle that at least once in our life we ​​should see, both for the oceanic panorama, and for the "human types" who frequent them. And then in Los Angeles - more precisely in Santa Monica - the legendary Route 66 begins (or ends)… If these few ideas already seem sufficient for you to choose, book your flight to California with destination Los Angeles International Airport. Below you will find our advice on how to book i he loves Los Angeles at an attractive price.

    Advice on how to find cheap flights to Los Angeles

    The main advantages and disadvantages of choosing Los Angeles are basically opposite and against San Francisco, let's see them in detail.


    The first advantage is the price of flights to California with destination Los Angeles: as I said, I have personally experienced that from Spain they can be slightly cheaper than in San Francisco. I repeat it but without going too far, because the flight market is decidedly variable. The flight + hotel to Los Angeles, in this sense, is definitely advantageous, due to the large availability of accommodations in the many towns of Los Angeles: there is also the advantageous solution motel. In San Francisco, they are rare to find, and rooms are often priced out of the market. Check out our article on where to sleep in Los Angeles.

    Finally, a big plus for Los Angeles is that it is the only airport where i direct flights from Spain (Rome): on closer inspection, it is theonly way to arrive with a direct flight to California.

    A tip for booking trains and buses in Spain If you want to land in California on a direct flight and you are not from Rome or do not want to pay for parking for the duration of your holiday, you will therefore have to reach Fiumicino by train.

    To verify timetables and prices di trains and buses I use Omio, a comparison site that allows you to compare the prices of trains (both Italo and Trenitalia) with those of bus (Marino bus, Buscenter, Marozzi, Flixbus, Miccolis, Autostradale etc.).

    The site, completely in Spanish, also allows you to buy tickets (both buses and high-speed trains and airport transfer trains such as Leonardo Express, all in a single solution) without additional commissions.

    Compare prices on Omio


    The main disadvantage is dictated by the need to rent a car in Los Angeles. That's right: if your flight lands here, I highly recommend taking immediately the rental car and to keep it for the duration of your stay in the city, resulting in it increase in the cost estimate for car rental. Are you wondering why? Read the article on how to get around Los Angeles and you will understand that this city was designed to be filmed by car.

    In caso di round trip…

    San Diego

    As you may know (if you do not know or have not understood it, read here again) to take advantage of the flight + hotel option you will have to plan a trip round-trip su Los Angeles. In this case, as anticipated, if you have the classic 15 days, you may not be able to see Yosemite, Bodie, Mono Lake and Lake Tahoe, but you can privilege the southern Californian area: I'm talking about the unmissable Joshua Tree National Park, the ghost town Pioneertown and the lively spirit of a border city like San Diego (but there's so much more!). In the event of a round trip to San Francisco, you will hardly be able to reach these destinations with so little time available.

    Find a flight to Los Angeles

    Find a Los Angeles flight + hotel package

    A valid alternative: Las Vegas

    Okay, Las Vegas is not in California but in Nevada, but it remains a valid alternative as a starting point for a tour of California or, more frequently, for a tour of the parks of Arizona (Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, Antelope, etc.) or the Utah Might Five. From Las Vegas you can reach the California parks (Death Valley, Yosemite, Joshua Tree) or the cities mentioned above: to get to Los Angeles it takes 4 hours, while San Francisco is more than 8 hours.

    We could summarize the pros and cons of this choice as follows:

    • Advantages: the possibility to immediately start the tour of the Great Parks of Arizona and Utah and at the same time reach the Californian ones. In this regard, I also point out our article on tours from Las Vegas to the parks.
    • disadvantages: there are no direct flights from Spain to Las Vegas. This means that at least one change will have to be made; furthermore, flight and flight + hotel prices may be less affordable.

    Find a flight to Las Vegas

    Find a Las Vegas flight + hotel package

    How to find a cheap flight to California?

    If you have decided which airport to land at or if, on the contrary, you want to clarify the prices and things to know to book a plane, do not forget to read our article on how to find a low cost flight to USA.

    Tips on how to find cheap flights to the USA

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