Deciding where to stay in Tijuana can be overwhelming when there’s so much life to be discovered in this city! Tourists have several vibrant, popular neighborhoods to choose from when searching for Tijuana accommodations that put them within walking distance of Tijuana’s cultural bright spots.
Tijuana is a festival of shops, vendors, splashy architecture, colorful street art and bottomless cantinas. Just the thought of Tijuana draws up imagery of a kaleidoscope of colors, sights, sounds and sizzling scents.
More than 50 million people visit this border city every year. What’s more, roughly 300,000 cross in by foot, car or trolley from San Diego daily.
Something that many visitors who simply pop in for a “day visit” don’t realize is that Tijuana actually has its own beautiful beach.
There’s even an amazing boardwalk called the Playas de Tijuana that begins at the border before taking you through several miles of pedestrian bridges that weave near the shore.
Where to Stay in Tijuana: Best Areas
1. Downtown, where to stay in Tijuana in the heart of the city
Located immediately southwest of the San Ysidro Port of Entry that is used by people crossing in from San Diego, this “heart” of the city opens up access to museums, cultural attractions and prime shopping.
While hotels here are slightly pricier, the cost is worth it for many tourists looking for the easiest way to see everything.
The most notable attraction in the neighborhood is Avenida Revolución. Famed Avenida Revolución is considered to be the main tourist thoroughfare of Tijuana.
While it houses tons of traditional cantinas, it’s also known as a place for “creature comforts” for American visitors due to the fact that it has many familiar fast-food chains.
In addition to offering foods of all kinds, Avenida Revolución is also known for its art galleries, dance clubs and leather shops. Tourists exploring the area also love the tradition of posing for photos with donkeys.
Be sure to follow Avenida Revolución to Avenida Constitución for even better shopping at specialty retailers.
The crown of Tijuana’s center is Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral. Famed for the beautiful image of Our Lady of Guadalupe suspended over the entrance, the church was the first Catholic parish built in the city.
The city’s center is also where you’ll find the Monumental Arch that has come to be the symbol of Tijuana. The famed arch is located in very plain sight on Avenida Revolución. In fact, many people who walk in from San Diego simply use it as a guidepost!
Tijuana City Centre is a great place to stay if you really want to hit the beach in Tijuana without staying on the water.
This portion of the city offers direct access to Playas de Tijuana. Following the border wall to the beach is a great way to escape the shimmer and noise of vibrant Tijuana for a little bit.
Expect to find some great restaurants serving up sizzling fish tacos with wine right off the boardwalk.
While this neighborhood’s proximity to San Diego makes it possible to cross the border with your luggage to get to your hotel, you should consider using the San Diego Trolley that connects to Tijuana for just a few dollars per ride to make the ride in easier.
If you’re coming from downtown San Diego, hop on the blue line going south toward the San Ysidro Port of Entry. While the ride takes 45 minutes, it will save you the cost of hiring a car or shuttle to take you to the border.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN TIJUANA CITY CENTRE
2. Rio Tijuana, where to stay in Tijuana for museums and culture
The modern business district of the city, Rio Tijuana is known for its skyscrapers. This neighborhood is also home to headquarters belonging to major financial and commercial companies.
Most of the activity that happens in Rio Tijuana takes place on Paseo de los Héroes. This is where you’ll find numerous office buildings, shops, malls and restaurants.
It’s easy to dip into Plaza Río Tijuana to shop inside the biggest mall in Tijuana when you’re staying in Rio Tijuana.
Of course, the highlight of Paseo de los Héroes is the Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT).
Welcoming more than a million visitors each year, CECUT houses an architecturally spectacular OMNIMAX cinema, an enormous esplanade capable of accommodating up to 6,000 people, a 200-piece gallery called Museo de las Californias and the Jardin Caracol (Snail Garden) housing sculptures from Mesoamerican cultures.
Rio Tijuana is an incredible place to stay in Tijuana when planning to see all of the exhibits and attractions housed within CECUT.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN RIO TIJUANA
3. Tijuana Beach, the best place to stay in Tijuana by the water
Stay near the boardwalks of Playas de Tijuana if you want to be at the meeting point of serene Pacific waves and Tijuana’s bustling streets.
This is considered by many to be the “Venice Boardwalk of Tijuana.” You’ll have about four miles of boardwalk to explore all around you when you find a hotel or condo perched by the water.
The beautiful boardwalk is lined with fruit stands, churro stands, trinket vendors, bars and restaurants that keep things interesting even though this section of the city is very quiet when compared to other spots.
The nice part about staying in Tijuana Beach is that you can easily reach here from the city’s center.
What really makes this one of the best places to stay in Tijuana is that most tourists have no idea that this peaceful coastline is hiding away just beyond all of the action!
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN TIJUANA BEACH
4. Rosarito, where to stay in Tijuana for a resort experience
Rosarito is a great place to stay in Tijuana if you’d like to enjoy a little joy by the beach right outside the city. Located just 20 minutes away by car from Tijuana, Rosarito is a true resort town. Yes, this is also a “party town.”
The beaches and dance clubs here get especially packed when college students from the United States come down for spring break.
Rosarito is also a popular destination for bachelor and bachelorette parties because of all the excursions and experiences that can be booked.
The main attraction here is beautiful, bustling Rosarito Beach. This picturesque beach is lined with world-class resorts that attract everyone from college kids to Hollywood celebrities.
Rosarito is an amazing place to stay as a launching point for incredible excursions. Countless local tour operators offer wine tours, tequila tastings, horseback rides on the beach and motorcycle rides in the mountains.
Many people who stay in Rosarito slink off to Cerro El Coronel to explore hiking trails in the beautiful Mexican mountains.
The vendor markets on Blvd. Benito Juarez Garcia are extraordinary for procuring some one-of-a-kind arts and crafts from Mexican artists.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN ROSARITO
5. Chula Vista, where to stay in Tijuana when crossing the border for the day
Some people prefer to stay on the American side of the border when visiting Tijuana. A great place to stay for easy access to Tijuana is the town of Chula Vista.
Located just seven miles from the Mexican border, Chula Vista has tons of attractions that will complement your visit to Tijuana nicely.
You may even be able to save some money by booking a hotel or motel in Chula Vista instead of finding a room in San Diego.
Don’t miss the slides and lazy river at Aquatica San Diego in Chula Vista if you’re feeling a little sweaty after trekking back across the border after a fun day in Tijuana.
This great town also offers attractions like Living Coast Discovery Center, Rice Canyon Trail and Marina View Park.
Of course, the fact that you’re just seven miles away from both Tijuana and San Diego means that you can really straddle two great vacations when booking your hotel or rental house in Chula Vista.
When deciding how to get into Tijuana from Chula Vista, you have two really good options for getting through the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
Considered the main pedestrian crossing, PedEast is a convenient choice when crossing by foot because it is open around the clock. It’s also located right next to the trolley station.
Located about 15 minutes away from PedEast, PedWest stays open from 4 a.m. until 10 p.m.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN CHULA VISTA
- ($$) Ayres Hotel San Diego South – Chula Vista
- ($) Holiday Inn Express San Diego South – Chula Vista, an IHG Hotel
- ($) La Quinta Inn by Wyndham San Diego Chula Vista