10 Best San Diego City & Bus Tours

See San Diego in a new light when you book the best city and bus tours. Learn about local history and culture, and enjoy incredible views all around town.
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Travel San Diego in Style on an Incredible, Informative Bus Tour

Hop on Hop off Narrated Tour in the Gaslamp QuarterHotel Del Coronado in the Distance Over the Sand Dunes

There are hundreds of things to do and see throughout San Diego, and getting your bearings in the city can be a little intimidating, especially if it’s your first time visiting and vacationing in the area. Tours are a great way to learn about the city, complete with interesting trivia, historic sights, and amazing views.

Each neighborhood in the city has its own top sights and attractions, and you can see them all on various tours. Travel by bus, on foot, or via specially-designed vehicles. Some tours have live guides, while others have pre-recorded informative narrations, and still others allow you to explore areas at your own pace before returning to a tour bus.

Take in San Diego at your own pace, or enjoy a curated experience specially selected by local experts. No matter where you go in the city, you’re sure to have an unforgettable time. Remember that if you want to save on many top tours, as well as admission to local attractions, you can do so when you pre-purchase a Go City San Diego pass.

The Go City San Diego pass offers discounts on popular activities when you bundle them together, and you can get an additional discount when you use our exclusive discount code to buy the pass!

Top choices that are part of the all-inclusive pass include the San Diego Zoo, The New Children’s Museum, and the San Diego History Center, all wonderful options to make the most of your trip in conjunction with a city and bus tour.

Explore San Diego on the 10 Best San Diego City and Bus Tours

Some tours provide an overview of many landmarks throughout San Diego, while others are geared around a specific theme, like ghost stories or sunny beaches.

No matter what your preference, you’re sure to find something to match in this selection of tours. Plus, enjoy a bonus tour at the end of the list!

Hop on Hop off Narrated Tour in Front of the Horton Grand Hotel
Hop on Hop off Narrated Tour in Front of the Horton Grand Hotel

1) Old Town San Diego: Hop-on Hop-off Narrated Tour

Neighborhood: Old Town San Diego

As the site of some of San Diego's earliest European settlements, Old Town is brimming with history just waiting to be explored. Learn about notable historic landmarks and other locations with a cultural connection throughout the neighborhood on the Old Town San Diego: Hop-on Hop-off Narrated Tour.

Travel in style on a large tour bus as you visit a selection of locales from 100 different San Diego area points of interest over the course of either one or two days. See historic homesteads from Mexican settlements in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, walk through beautiful gardens in Balboa Park, and view examples of Victorian-era architecture carefully preserved in the modern day. Tours include narration by a live tour guide as well as shuttle service to and from major local hotels.

Old Town San Diego: Hop-on Hop-off Narrated Tour is one of the most popular tours in all of San Diego, this is a great family-friendly way to explore the city, and kids 12 and under ride for free during the month October.

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San Diego Seal Tour in the Embarcadero of San Diego
San Diego Seal Tour in the Embarcadero of San Diego

2) 90-Minute San Diego SEAL Tour

Neighborhood: San Diego Bay

Take one of the most unique tours in town when you ride in style on a 90-Minute San Diego SEAL Tour.

SEAL tours, short for "sea and land" tours, are given from Hydra-Terras. These vehicles combine tour buses and boats so you get the best of both worlds, allowing you to traverse San Diego streets and the harbor all without leaving your seat.

Family-friendly SEAL tours last for 1.5 hours, and they're led by a live tour guide who can provide informative insights into the many landmarks and other interesting sights you pass. Start on land with a tour through neighborhoods full of history and culture, then head into the sea as your vessel floats around the San Diego Bay.

Learn about the military history of San Diego as you pass by many ships that were used in real naval missions, including the USS Midway Museum. Look out over Seaport Village and other coastal attractions as you receive a rundown of the surrounding area from your guide.

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The Prado in Balboa Park
The Prado in Balboa Park

3) GPS Talking Tour Cars: Downtown & Balboa Park

Neighborhood: Balboa Park

Balboa Park’s beautiful greenery and museums meets Downtown’s hip and happening vibes on the GPS Talking Tour Cars: Downtown & Balboa Park.

Ride in a state of the art GoCar as you cruise through San Diego streets, all while listening to informative narration in the Storytelling Car, which has its own GPS to guide you to different locations throughout the city.

Talking Car Tours last for two hours and visit many popular stops all around the Downtown San Diego and Balboa Park area. These include the Maritime Museum, multiple vibrant flower gardens, examples of Spanish architecture, a wide range of local businesses, and plenty of museums. This is a great way to plan out your itinerary for the rest of your trip, or to just get an overview of the city while also taking in the sights and cultural diversity that makes San Diego so special.

GPS Talking Tour Cars brings you all the way to Hillcrest, where you’ll find plenty of restaurants and lots of entertainment. Bring the whole family along for the adventure!

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El Campo Santo Cemetary in Old Town San Diego
El Campo Santo Cemetary in Old Town San Diego

4) San Diego: Ghosts & Gravestones Trolley Tour

Take a spooky tour through one of the country’s most haunted neighborhoods via trolley bus on the San Diego: Ghosts & Gravestones Trolley Tour. This evening tour immerses you in the spooky side of San Diego, complete with ghost tales from famously haunted locations and tour guides dressed in costume.

During this 1.5-hour ghost tour, you’ll visit ghostly spots in the Gaslamp Quarter, Pioneer Park in Mission Hills, and Old Town San Diego, including two different cemeteries and the historic Whaley House. The Whaley House has been the site of many accounts of paranormal activity in the past. Many visitors claim to have spotted the ghosts of the Whaley family that supposedly still haunt its halls, especially once the sun goes down.

Tales from the past include supernatural stories of ominous, unexplained events and mysterious deaths. You’ll also learn about the historic figures that once resided in Old Town, whose restless spirits may still be walking near their graves to this day!

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Salt and Whisky Bar at the Horton Grand Hotel in the Gaslamp Quater
Salt and Whisky Bar at the Horton Grand Hotel in the Gaslamp Quater

5) San Diego: City Lights Night Tour

Neighborhood: Gaslamp Quarter

Downtown San Diego offers incredible sights and lots of fast-paced fun during the day, but the city completely transforms to a shimmering beacon of nightlife after the sun sets, offering a completely different look at familiar locations.

On the San Diego: City Lights Night Tour, you’ll get to see the city after dark in all its glory, which includes local businesses like bars, restaurants, and breweries as well as more historic locales and landmarks.

Take a trolley through the city and enjoy the view in comfort. See renovated buildings sporting Victorian architecture nestled among more modern constructions.

The real showstopper on this 90-minute City Lights Tour is the view of the city at night, as the lit up skyline reflects on the waters of the San Diego Bay to create a truly gorgeous backdrop and a great photo opportunity. Explore the Victorian architecture of the Gaslamp Quarter and Seaport Village, and see the way Balboa Park transforms at night with colorful lighting.

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Tony Gwynn Statue at Petco Park in East Village
Tony Gwynn Statue at Petco Park in East Village

6) GPS Talking Tour Cars: Downtown & Old Town

Neighborhood: Old Town San Diego

Traverse the city in a GPS-guided cart that seats two on the GPS Talking Tour Cars: Downtown & Old Town. You’ll have the freedom to visit multiple stops in the historic neighborhood of Old Town and the ever-busy, bustling metro of Downtown from your very own GoCar. You’ll also get the benefit of pre-recorded narration, making these Storytelling Cars an excellent resource for learning about San Diego’s secrets, inner workings, and unique history.

Discover interesting locales, beautiful scenery, and plenty of the local culture which helps make San Diego so special. Look out on the city as you pass by buildings that date back to the early 1800s or even older, which have been restored to best showcase their Victorian-era architecture.

Talking Car Tours last two hours and cover a variety of stops throughout multiple neighborhoods. Attractions highlighted on the tour include Hillcrest Village, the Florida Canyon Nature Reserve, Balboa Park, Bankers Hill, the San Diego Zoo, and PETCO Park.

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Passenger Ferry Crossing San Diego Bay from Coronado Island
Passenger Ferry Crossing San Diego Bay from Coronado Island

7) Coronado: GPS-Guided Scooter Tour & Round-Trip Ferry

Neighborhood: Coronado Island

Explore the city of Coronado via both land and sea on the Coronado: GPS-Guided Scooter Tour & Round-Trip Ferry.

This Scooter Tour includes an informative recorded narration and lasts a total of three hours, and in that time you’ll get to explore a number of landmarks and other sights in Little Italy, the famous Hotel Del Coronado, and more. Groups are limited to 10 participants at a time, so you’ll have the benefit of being able to take the tour with your friend group or family.

Begin your tour by scooter as you travel through Little Italy, which is a hub for Italian restaurants and plenty of local culture. Next, proceed to the ferry, where you’ll get to take in the harbor and Coronado Bay Bridge. Finally, return to your scooter to drive through Downtown Coronado and its beaches, and return to your starting point.

All participants are provided with talking fat tire scooters, helmets, and round-trip tickets for the ferry. Children must be 12 years of age or older to participate.

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San Diego Segway Tour
San Diego Segway Tour

8) The San Diego Segway Tour

Neighborhood: Embarcadero San Diego

Cruise in comfort from atop a Segway on a beginner-friendly route through the city on The San Diego Segway Tour. This 90-minute tour will take you through the Embarcadero and Gaslamp Quarter, and you’ll get to see top attractions like PETCO Park and the USS Midway, all while enjoying waterfront views.

You don’t need any experience riding a Segway to enjoy this tour, as it begins with a quick lesson on how to ride safely, and the path is both flat and easy to navigate. Take a relaxing ride around the city as you learn about the unique history of early San Diego, all while seeing buildings that harken back to the city’s early days.

Enjoy the benefits of an experienced, live tour guide who will provide interesting facts and humorous trivia about local landmarks. This is a great way to explore the city on a typical sunny San Diego day!

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The Iconic Hotel Del Coronado on Coronado Island
The Iconic Hotel Del Coronado on Coronado Island

9) The San Diego Highlights Tour

See the very best the city has to offer across the most popular neighborhoods for tourism and staycations on The San Diego Highlights Tour.

On this tour, you’ll get to check out great sights on a comprehensive tour of all of San Diego, from the beautiful shores of La Jolla, to the stunning harbor views of the Embarcadero, and so much more. Other neighborhoods and city areas included in the tour are Balboa Park, Coronado Island, and the Gaslamp Quarter.

Witness some sights from the comfort of the tour vehicle while getting information from your guide, and get out and explore at other locations. There are plenty of opportunities for taking in the city’s beautiful natural landscapes, such as cliffs along the shore, beachside coves, and Mt. Soledad.

You’ll also get opportunities for shopping in commercial districts, dining at local haunts, and spotting wildlife in the harbor. The tour lasts 3 hours, making it an ideal afternoon trip that’s fun for the whole family!

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Sunset Cliffs in Point Loma, San Diego
Sunset Cliffs in Point Loma, San Diego

10) GPS Talking Tour Cars: Point Loma & Beaches Loop

Neighborhood: Point Loma

Spend 3 hours exploring top sights in San Diego from the comfort of a GoCar on the GPS Talking Tour Cars: Point Loma & Beaches Loop.

While other tours in talking cars focus on more in-land locations, this tour is focused on the beautiful shoreline of Point Loma and the best local beaches. Better yet, you’ll get to learn interesting trivia and stories about the area from the Storytelling Car, a pre-recorded narration about each landmark you pass.

Let the GPS-guided tour bring you to various points along the shore, including Point Loma Lighthouse on Cabrillo National Monument, Sunset Cliffs, the sands of Pacific Beach, and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center. Look out over the ocean and catch a glimpse of the northern tip of Mexico in the distance. You can also traverse Little Italy, San Diego Bay, and Old Town.

Each GoCar seats two people at a time, and at least one adult must be in the car to drive. This is a great tour choice for parents and children on a family vacation in San Diego.

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Petco Park Home of the San Diego Padres
Petco Park Home of the San Diego Padres

11) Bonus: San Diego: Petco Park Stadium Tour - Home of the Padres

Neighborhood: Gaslamp Quarter

If you’re looking for a more in-depth look at a single attraction instead of an overview of multiple sites in the city, you can’t miss the San Diego: PETCO Park Stadium Tour - Home of the Padres, especially if you’re a baseball fan!

This is an unbelievable opportunity to go behind the scenes and tour the park for sports enthusiasts, but even if you’re not big on baseball, there’s still lots to enjoy about this San Diego landmark.

Enjoy the stunning panorama from the very top of the bleachers, where you can look out over the city and get a birds-eye view of all the people and buildings below. Alternatively, walk down to the large grassy park area, and enjoy a picnic lunch from one of the local restaurants.

On a tour of PETCO Park, you’ll get to learn interesting trivia and see the park the way that only insiders do. Check out the Major League Dugout, Padres and Breitbard Hall of Fames, Press Box, Field Warning Track, and other iconic sights.

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Trolly Ride with Go Pass!
2-Day Hop-on Hop-off San Diego
Hop-on Hop-off San Diego Trolley
Using your Go Pass, grab a 2 day Hop-on Hop-off San Diego Trolley. The trolley tour takes you through all the most popular areas of San Diego. It's a great way to start your trip and you'll learn where everything around the city is located.
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Local Tips
How much can you save by using the Go City Pass?

The Go City San Diego pass is the perfect way to explore more attractions and activities that the area has to offer, all while being cost-efficient.

With the Go City San Diego pass, you can save up to 55% off admission fees at some of the area’s most popular attractions.

Want to save more? Use our exclusive discount code GVSD5OFF to save an extra 5%!

The Most Optimal Tips for Touring San Diego

San Diego tours can be a great way to get a quick guide to everything the city has to offer, or to explore individual attractions in greater depth.

With these tips, you can be absolutely sure you’re booking the tours that make the most sense for you and your family and getting the best possible experience.

Check Age Requirements

Some tours that involve driving vehicles have a minimum age limit for all participants, while others have requirements that all children are paired with adults during the tour. If you’re traveling with the family, make sure any tour you book is suitable for your child’s age.

Stock Up On Supplies

It’s important to come prepared for tours, especially for longer excursions or those that require a lot of walking. You’ll want to bring comfortable walking shoes, a sun hat, sunscreen, and a few bottles of water.

Some tours may include stops for refreshments like drinks and snacks, while others will not. Check with the specific tour you’re interested in for the latest details or play it safe and bring your own!

Tour Group Sizes

Certain tours can easily accommodate many participants at a time, such as those given from a large tour bus. Others may be limited to smaller groups, or even just pairs.

Be sure to double check the maximum group size allowed before you book any tour to make sure there is enough room and availability for your party.

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