Driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles is one of the best things to do in California. The views from Highway 1 are amazing, and the road is one of the most iconic in the USA.
There are two ways to drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles: Highway 1, which runs along the coast, and Highway 5, which runs inland. It’s important to know the difference, as they each offer a very different view of the state.
Here is an overview of your driving options.
California Highway 1
If you want the beautiful cliffs and coastal scenery that California is so famous for, take Highway 1 when driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
The drive on California Highway 1 offers stunning views of the sea and the cliffs as well as great stopping off points in places like Santa Cruz, Carmel, Big Sur, and Santa Barbara.
The total driving time from San Francisco to Los Angeles on Highway 1 is around 8 hours.
California Highway 5
If you want to get from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the shortest possible time, take Highway 5 when driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Highway 5 between San Francisco and Los Angeles is a rather mundane drive that goes through the central part of the state.
If you take Highway 5, make sure your car is up for driving through the “Grapevine”, the steep winding part of Highway 5 just north of Los Angeles.
The total driving time from San Francisco to Los Angeles on Highway 5 is around 6 hours.