San Francisco Airport (SFO) is located 33 miles north of San Jose Airport (SJC). There are no flights between SFO airport and San Jose Airport, so you’ll need to use ground transportation to make a transfer from one to the other. There are several ways that you can accomplish this, depending upon how much time and/or money you have to spend. This guide will take you through four ways that we recommend getting from SFO and SJC (and one way that we don’t recommend).
If you are looking to do the reverse scenario, check out our guide for getting from San Jose airport to SFO. It has similar advice, but the on-site airport logistics are very different.
Where to Catch Ground Transportation at SFO
San Francisco Airport is very large, it has a Byzantine ground transportation system and their interactive map doesn’t help much. So it’s best to decide in advance what sort of ground transportation you want to take from San Francisco airport to San Jose Airport. Then, pay careful attention to the signage when you exit the arrivals area.
Here’s a cheat sheet for you:
- For Terminals 2 & 3: In the center island on the arrivals/baggage claim level.
- For International Terminal: On the lower level 1 at Courtyard A or G. This is below the arrivals level.
These stops will include the “Route SFO” bus which goes to the Millbrae train station — more on that below.
There is one BART station. It’s located at the International Terminal. You can access it from any terminal by taking the free SFO AirTrain, which goes between the terminals. There is a Red Line and a Blue Line and either will work.
Rental Car Center
SFO has an offsite rental car center. You can get to it by taking the free SFO AirTrain. Be sure to take the Blue Line.
Shared Shuttle Services
Shared shuttle services pick up and drop off at the center island of arrivals for all terminals.
Pre-booked van service (more on that below), pick up in Courtyards 1 & 4 for Terminals 1 & 3, and at Courtyards A & G for the International Terminal.
You can catch a taxi in the “taxi zone” in the center island of the arrivals area at all terminals.
Uber & Lyft
Here’s where it gets really weird.
SFO does not allow a curbside pick-up from the arrivals area at Terminals 2 and 3. You’ll need to follow the signs that say “Ride App Pick-up” (not “Shared Ride Van”, that’s something different). These signs will direct you to the top deck of the short term parking garage, because of course, that’s the most sensible place to catch an Uber.
The international terminal has a more logical pick-up and drop-off in the center island of the upstairs departures area.
What is the Fastest Way to Get from SFO to SJC?
The fastest way to get from San Francisco Airport to San Jose Airport is using a taxi, Uber or Lyft. The route runs 33 miles down Highway 101 and takes 35-50 minutes, depending upon the time of day.
Here are the rough costs for each:
- To SFO using Uber: $49-58, according to their estimator. However, their pricing is notoriously fickle and you may want to check the pricing before committing, because you don’t want to get nailed by surge pricing.
- To SJC using Lyft: $60-54. Here’s their estimator.
- To SFO by taxi: ~$115.
Don’t rule out using a taxi to get to San Jose. If you’re stressed about a tight connection, minutes matter. The taxi stand is located right outside of the baggage claim and there are nearly always taxis lurking around. For the ride apps, you need to hump over to the parking garage, request and then wait for a ride.
Pros: Pretty expensive.
Cons: Fastest and best if you have a lot of luggage.
What is the Cheapest Way to get from SFO Airport to San Jose?
The cheapest way to get between SFO and SJC requires a combination of city bus and Caltrain.
Here’s how it works:
- Find the “Samtrans” bus stop for your terminal. Take the “Route SFO” Samtrans bus to the Millbrae Caltrain station. It costs $2.25 and stops at all of the SFO terminals. The bus runs once an hour from 8:20am-11:45pm and takes ~15 minutes.
- At the train station, purchase a 1-way ticket to zone 4, Santa Clara station. It will cost $8.25. The trains run once an hour from 4:30am to 11:00pm. Not all of the Millbrae trains stop at Santa Clara, so check the schedule or ask the conductor before getting on. The train will take ~50 minutes to get there.
- Get off the train and take the #60 bus to the San Jose airport. The bus costs $2.50, it runs every 20 minutes from 6am-11:30pm, and it takes just 7 minutes. The bus stops at both terminals.
Your total cost would be $13.00.
The total time will range from 1:10 (if you are lucky with the timing of the train and buses) to 3.5 hours (if you have no luck at all).
Not to overwhelm you with choices, but you can also take the train to the Diridon Caltrain station. This is the main train station for San Jose and as such, they have more frequent train service on weekdays and all Millbrae trains go there. Then take a taxi/Uber to the airport, which will cost $11-18.
Should you take BART from SFO to the Millbrae train station? No. It does go there, but the circuitous routing requires you to go out of your way one stop and then change trains. It makes no sense and you’ll waste time trying to figure it out.
Cons: 3 separate transfers. Not great if you have a lot of luggage. Highly dependent upon train schedules.
Can I take a Public Bus from SFO Airport to San Jose Airport?
Yes, but we don’t recommend it. It requires two separate transfers, via two different bus systems. So it’s not any less complicated that the Caltrain option. It costs $13 and it’s more prone to traffic delays.
Cons: Time consuming and convoluted.
Is There an SFO to San Jose Airport Shuttle?
Yes. You can pre-schedule the ABC Shuttle service. They offer a point-to-point service from SFO to SJC. At $129, it’s certainly not the cheapest option. And while you will likely have the van to yourself, it’s possible that you will need to share it with strangers. One benefit of the shuttle service is that they start as early at 3am, which is well outside of the hours for public transportation.
Pros: Expanded hours of operation.
Cons: Most expensive option. May not be private.
An Alternative Way to Get Between the Two Airports
How about renting a car and driving yourself between the two airports? Whacky, right?
This can work particularly well if you have a really long layover. Renting a car gives you control over your transfer and you can spend your layover doing something fun (like going over to the beach in Half Moon Bay).
We spot-checked cost and availability for weekday and weekend rentals in different months. Prices ranged from $69-120.
Renting a car does take more time to sort out paperwork at the rental counter. But if you are in a preferred customer program like Budget Fastbreak or Avis Preferred, you can breeze through. Dropping off is also easy because the San Jose rental car center is conveniently located across from the Terminal B.
Pros: Can be cheaper than the Uber/taxi option. Private option. Ultimate flexibility.
Cons: Requires advance planning. Doesn’t work well if you are under 25.
Overnight Options for SFO and SJC
Here are some hotel options for each airport in case you have to spend the night.
- SFO Grand Hyatt: Nice lux hotel literally located at the airport with access to the terminals via Airtrain.
- SFO Hampton Inn: Well-rated and serviceable 3-star hotel with free breakfast and free shuttle service.
- SJC Sonesta Select: Nice 3-star hotel with a pool, airport shuttle and restaurant.
- SJC Westin San Jose: No airport shuttle, but it’s a quick 15 cab ride. Nice 4-star hotel right in downtown San Jose and near lots of restaurants.
More Info on Airport Logistics
Some Fun Things to do in San Francisco
- Our full FAQ of travel tips for San Francisco.
- Where to stay in San Francisco.
- How to visit the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Local’s only guide to San Francisco.
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