A Travel Price Comparison for California Big Sur vs. San Diego for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Big Sur or San Diego?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Big Sur and San Diego can help you decide which place is right for you.

Where Should I go: Big Sur or San Diego?

Big Sur

Big Sur is the 90-mile stretch of the California Central Coast which runs from the Carmel River in Monterey County south to San Carpoforo Creek in San Luis Obispo County and 20 miles east into the Santa Lucius Foothills.

However you look at it, California's Central Coast is beautiful and undoubtedly a huge tourist trap. If you're not willing to fork over big bucks for overnight stays on coastal hotels, be prepared ahead of time with your camping gear and get ready to go off the beaten track to avoid crowds as best you can and save your wallet.

While the weather in Central Coast is overall, mild and temperate, between 50 and 70 degrees year-round. The highs and lows during the year are in August and January, respectively, with dry summers and wet winters, making April through October the best times to visit but be warned: there will be crowds.

San Diego

For many visitors and locals alike, San Diego is a paradise. Located in southern California, not far from Los Angeles, it has the perfect climate, wonderful beaches, and a culturally rich environment. It's surrounded by beautiful landscape and has a strong focus on wildlife conservation and eco-friendly living. Home to about 1.3 million residents, it is California's second largest city. It also has many universities, a large tech industry, and a thriving economy. Despite its size, many people perceive San Diego as a slower, more relaxed city with a pleasant vibe away from the chaos of a large city.

Which city is cheaper, San Diego or Big Sur?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Big Sur is $0.00, while the average daily cost in San Diego is $161. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Big Sur and San Diego in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Big Sur $132
    San Diego $91
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Big Sur $264
    San Diego $182
Compare Hotels in Big Sur and San Diego

Looking for a hotel in Big Sur or San Diego? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Big Sur


Hotels in San Diego


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Big Sur -
    San Diego $19

Hired Cars and Shuttles in San Diego

Also for San Diego, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private transfer: San Diego to San Diego Airport (SAN): $622
  • Private transfer: San Diego Airport (SAN) to San Diego: $622
  • San Diego Private Transfer To N. Hollywood/Burbank area.: $398
  • Tijuana Border Crossing Private Transfer To Los Angeles.: $398
  • San Diego Private Transfer To Palm Springs.: $398
  • Private Transfer from San Diego to Hollywood Burbank: $397
  • San Diego Private Transfer To Los Angeles.: $389
  • San Diego to Long Beach Airport (LGB) - Departure Private Transfer: $357
  • San Diego to Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR) - Departure Private Transfer: $342
  • Private Transfer From San Diego To Orange County.: $298
  • Private San Diego Transfer: Cruise Port to Airport or Hotel: $192
  • Private San Diego Transfer: Airport to Hotel or Cruise Port: $128

Is it cheaper to fly into Big Sur or San Diego?

Prices for flights to both San Diego and Big Sur change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Big Sur -
    San Diego $36

Typical Food prices in San Diego

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to San Diego:


  • Mexican Lunch for Two
    $27
  • Breakfast at Starbucks
    $20

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in San Diego

For San Diego, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • San Diego North Park Food Tour: $49
  • Liberty Station Food Tour: $49
  • Market and Guacamole Cooking Class in Tijuana Mexico: $89
  • Private Cooking Demonstration of Indian Fusion Cuisine in San Diego: $96
  • Farmers Market Tour & Social Cooking With A Chef: $100
  • San Diego Harbor Dinner Cruise: $111
  • Private Tour: Secret Food Tours San Diego: $129
  • Secret Food Tours San Diego w/ Private Tour Option: $277

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Big Sur -
    San Diego $38

Typical Entertainment prices in San Diego

For San Diego, here are some examples of average entertainment and activity prices from previous travelers:


  • San Diego Zoo
    $15
  • Sea World Parking
    $12

Tours and Activities in San Diego

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for San Diego.

  • 1-Hour Voodoo Escape Room Experience in San Diego: $35
  • 1Hr GPS Guided Scooter Tour: Harbor/Gaslamp Quarter: $63
  • 2 Hour Whale Watching Kayak Tour for Two: $77
  • 4 Hour Whale Watching/Eco Adventure: $163
  • Affordable, Luxury Sailing Tour of San Diego's Bay and Coastal Waterways: $112
  • All Day San Diego City and Shopping Tour: $95
  • All Inclusive Beer Tour-Party bus: $169
  • Behind-the-Scenes at Petco Park Tour: $23
  • Brothels, Bites and Booze: A Culinary Tour of San Diego's Questionable Past: $69
  • Catamaran Sailing Cruise on San Diego Bay for up to 12 Guests: $1,200
  • Catamaran Sailing Cruise on San Diego Bay for up to 6 Guests: $600
  • Coastal Beauty - Private Sunset & Night Photography Tour: $455

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Big Sur -
    San Diego $17

Sample the Local Flavors in San Diego

Also in San Diego, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • San Diego Bar Hunt: Slammin' San Diego Bar Crawl: $12
  • Wine Tasting Or Beer Tasting: $15
  • San Diego Brewery Tour: $85
  • San Diego Micro Brewery Tour: $91
  • The San Diego Downtown Craft Brewery Tour: $95
  • The San Diego Downtown Craft Brewery Tour: $101
  • Private San Diego Brewery Tour: $107
  • All inclusive brewery tour-Fire Truck: $189
  • Luxury Private Wine Tasting Tour to Guadalupe Valley from San Diego.: $249
  • Private Wine Tour of Temecula from San Diego: $475


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Big Sur and San Diego, we can see that San Diego is more expensive. And not only is Big Sur much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Big Sur would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Big Sur and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in San Diego would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in San Diego than you might in Big Sur.


When is the best time to visit Big Sur or San Diego?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Big Sur or San Diego in the Summer?

Both San Diego and Big Sur are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. Also, most visitors come to San Diego for the beaches, snorkeling, the hiking, the city activities, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences during these months.

In July, Big Sur is generally cooler than San Diego. Temperatures in Big Sur average around 63°F (17°C), and San Diego stays around 71°F (22°C).

In July, Big Sur usually receives more rain than San Diego. At this time of the year, Big Sur gets 0 inches (1 mm) of rain, while San Diego receives 0 inches (1 mm) of rain.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Big Sur 63°F (17°C) 
    San Diego 71°F (22°C)

Should I visit Big Sur or San Diego in the Autumn?

Both San Diego and Big Sur during the autumn are popular places to visit. Also, the autumn months attract visitors to San Diego because of the hiking trails, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

Big Sur is cooler than San Diego in the autumn. The temperature in Big Sur is usually 62°F (17°C) in October, and San Diego stays around 68°F (20°C).

Big Sur usually gets more rain in October than San Diego. Big Sur gets 0.6 inches (14 mm) of rain, while San Diego receives 0.4 inches (9 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Big Sur 62°F (17°C) 
    San Diego 68°F (20°C)

Should I visit Big Sur or San Diego in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Big Sur and San Diego. Also, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to San Diego this time of year.

In the winter, Big Sur is cooler than San Diego. Typically, the winter temperatures in Big Sur in January are around 51°F (11°C), and San Diego is about 57°F (14°C).

In January, Big Sur usually receives more rain than San Diego. At this time of the year, Big Sur gets 2.3 inches (58 mm) of rain, while San Diego receives 1.8 inches (46 mm) of rain.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Big Sur 51°F (11°C) 
    San Diego 57°F (14°C)

Should I visit Big Sur or San Diego in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Big Sur as well as San Diego. Also, many travelers come to San Diego for the beaches, the activities around the city, and the natural beauty.

In April, Big Sur is generally cooler than San Diego. Temperatures in Big Sur average around 56°F (13°C), and San Diego stays around 62°F (17°C).

Big Sur usually gets more rain in April than San Diego. Big Sur gets 1.1 inches (29 mm) of rain, while San Diego receives 0.8 inches (20 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Big Sur 56°F (13°C) 
    San Diego 62°F (17°C)

Typical Weather for San Diego and Big Sur

Big Sur San Diego
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 51°F (11°C) 2.3 inches (58 mm) 57°F (14°C) 1.8 inches (46 mm)
Feb 53°F (12°C) 1.8 inches (47 mm) 59°F (15°C) 1.5 inches (39 mm)
Mar 54°F (12°C) 2.1 inches (55 mm) 59°F (15°C) 1.8 inches (45 mm)
Apr 56°F (13°C) 1.1 inches (29 mm) 62°F (17°C) 0.8 inches (20 mm)
May 59°F (15°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm) 64°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (5 mm)
Jun 62°F (16°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 67°F (19°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm)
Jul 63°F (17°C) 0 inches (1 mm) 71°F (22°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Aug 64°F (18°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 73°F (23°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm)
Sep 64°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (6 mm) 71°F (22°C) 0.2 inches (6 mm)
Oct 62°F (17°C) 0.6 inches (14 mm) 68°F (20°C) 0.4 inches (9 mm)
Nov 56°F (13°C) 1.8 inches (45 mm) 62°F (17°C) 1.5 inches (37 mm)
Dec 51°F (10°C) 2 inches (51 mm) 57°F (14°C) 1.6 inches (40 mm)


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Big Sur vs. San Diego Travel Comparison

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