The “Golden State” of California has everything you could wish for: snow-capped mountains, sprawling deserts, verdant forests and long stretches of golden sand beaches. one of the most beautiful in the USA. The city of cable cars and the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco proudly watches over the San Francisco Bay Area. California’s most famous wine regions, the Napa and Sonoma Valleys, lie north of San Francisco, but also south, near Santa Barbara and San Diego, there are excellent wineries. The north of the state is the realm of giant sequoia and redwood trees, waterfalls, whitewater rivers, forests, freezing lakes and majestic mountains. Los Angeles is the second largest metropolis in the USA and is rightly named the Entertainment Capital of the World ). Orange County is home to a world famous tourist attraction – Disneyland – as well as 43 miles of sandy beaches and the pretty little towns of the Santa Ana Mountains. The desert region of California, with its endless blue skies, diverse recreational areas, and interesting history lies in the Southeast. From Death Valley, which is 86 m below sea level and is the lowest point in North America, you can drive in the same day to Mount Whitney, at 4,418 m the highest mountain in the United States mainland.
- Travelationary: Covers basic information about California geography and economy.
Arriving by plane
Direct flights to California are operated by Lufthansa (LH): Frankfurt/M. and Munich to San Francisco and Los Angeles as well as Frankfurt/M. to San Diego; United (UA): Frankfurt/M., Munich and Zurich (seasonal) to San Francisco and Los Angeles; also Vienna – Los Angeles; Condor (DE): Frankfurt/M. – San Diego; Swiss International Airlines (LX): Zurich – San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego; Austrian Airlines (OS): Vienna – Los Angeles. SAS (SK): Copenhagen – Los Angeles. Flights to California are most expensive in the summer between May and August and during the Christmas holidays. Flights to California are cheapest in spring and fall.
Los Angeles – Chicago: 4 hours; Los Angeles – New York: 5 hrs 20 mins; Los Angeles – San Diego: 45 mins; Los Angeles – San Francisco: 1 hour 20 minutes; Los Angeles – Washington DC: 5 hrs; Los Angeles – Frankfurt: 10 hrs 45 mins; Los Angeles – Vienna: 13-14 hrs; Los Angeles – Zurich: 11 hrs 25 mins; San Francisco – Chicago: 4 hrs 10 mins; San Francisco – Los Angeles: 1 hour 20 minutes; San Francisco – Miami: 6 hrs 20 mins; San Francisco – New York: 5 hrs 20 mins; San Francisco – Washington DC: 5 hrs; San Francisco – Frankfurt: 10 hrs 30; San Francisco – Vienna: 13-14 hrs; San Francisco – Zurich: 13-14 hrs
The Jet Blue Airpass lets you book 3 or more flights across the entire Jet Blue network in the US at once. The Jet Blue Airpass is valid for 90 days, can be changed flexibly, and luggage is included. For more information on the availability of the limited contingents, please contact STA Travel, Tel. +49-69-255 150 000.
Arrival by car
California has an extensive road network. By car: Interstate highway I-5 runs from north to south, coming from the Canadian border to San Diego, from east to west I-40, one of the longest interstates in the USA, from Barstow in southern California to North Carolina. Various US highways also run through California, including US-95 to Nevada and US-50, which runs from Sacramento through several states to the east coast. US-101 runs along the west coast, often inland, at a distance of up to about 50 km from the coast. The picturesque US-1 with its particularly beautiful stretches of coastline extends parallel to US-101 directly along the coast of California, past Los Angeles and San Francisco. Speed Limits: Within built-up areas Urban Interstate Highways: 65 mph (104 km/h) Outside built-up areas Rural Interstate Highways (freeways): 70 mph (112 km/h) Tolls: In California, some roads have tolls, especially private roads financed bridges and tunnels (tollways and turnpikes). The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco only has a fee for going downtown. Fees can be paid by credit card at the toll booths. It is easier to book the TCC-Toll Pass Automatic (e.g. at the Alamo or National) when renting a car. It is valid in Northern California. There is no need to stop when driving through the toll station. In Southern California, toll roads are operated by other providers. You have to stop here to pay the tolls. South of Los Angeles highways 73, 133, 241 and 261 are toll roads. If there are two parallel roads, one of the two is often free (value pricing). Bus: Greyhound connects various Californian cities with each other as well as California with the neighboring US states. Main routes are: – San Diego – Los Angeles – San Francisco – San Francisco – Sacramento – Salt Lake City – Los Angeles – Sacramento – Portland – Seattle – Los Angeles – Las Vegas – Salt Lake City Flixbus departs from Los Angeles and San Diego, among others. Documents: It is advisable to carry the international driver’s license with you in addition to the national driver’s license.
Note on arrival by car
Average travel times by car: Los Angeles – San Diego: 2 hours; Los Angeles – Las Vegas: 6 hours; Los Angeles – San Francisco: 8 hours; Los Angeles – Phoenix: 8 hours; Los Angeles – Reno: 10 hrs; Los Angeles – Albuquerque: 16 hrs; Los Angeles – Seattle: 24 hours; Los Angeles – Dallas: 29 hrs; Los Angeles – Chicago: 44 hours; Los Angeles – Miami: 58 hours; Los Angeles – New York: 58 hrs San Francisco – Reno: 4 hrs; San Francisco – Portland: 13 hours; San Francisco – Albuquerque: 12 hrs; San Francisco – Seattle: 16 hrs; San Francisco – Dallas: 36 hrs; San Francisco – Chicago: 45 hrs; San Francisco – New York: 61 hrs; San Francisco – Miami: 65 hrs. All driving times when driving non-stop within speed limits. Average bus travel times: Los Angeles – San Diego: 2 hours 30 minutes; Los Angeles – Las Vegas: 5 hours 30 minutes; Los Angeles – San Francisco: 7 hours 30 minutes; Los Angeles – Phoenix: 8 hrs 30 mins; Los Angeles – Yosemite: 10 hrs 15 mins; Los Angeles – Sacramento: 12 hrs 30 mins; Los Angeles – Albuquerque: 17 hrs 30 mins; Los Angeles – Portland (Oregon): 22 hours San Francisco – Sacramento: 2 hours; San Francisco – Lake Tahoe: 5 hrs; San Francisco – Reno: 5 hours 30 minutes; San Francisco – Los Angeles: 7 hours 30 minutes; San Francisco – Yosemite: 7 hours 30 minutes; San Francisco – Portland: 16 hrs.
Arrival by train
Los Angeles Amtrak Station (Union Station, 800 North Alameda Street) is the western terminus of many major lines through the southern Rocky Mountains and the southern terminus of Seattle’s Coast Starlight Line. There are frequent services to San Diego in the south, as well as to Chicago and Orlando (Florida). The following Amtrak trains terminate in California: – California Zephyr: Chicago – Denver – Glenwood Springs – Emeryville (San Francisco); – Coast Starlight: Seattle – Portland – Los Angeles; – Southwest Chief: Chicago – Albuquerque – Los Angeles; – Sunset Limited: New Orleans – San Antonio – Tucson – Phoenix – Los Angeles; – Texas Eagle: Chicago – St. Louis – Dallas – San Antonio – Los Angeles (overnight stay in San Antonio from 7-9, 5 hours due to train couplings). The Transbay Terminal (425 Mission Street) in San Francisco is used only for suburban trains. The much larger Amtrak station in Oakland (across the bay) is the hub of the West Coast Lines and western terminus on the route through Salt Lake City, the Rocky Mountains to Chicago. Amtrak operates a bus service between the Oakland and San Francisco train stations. Information about schedules and reservations is available from Amtrak (1800-872-7245, toll-free).
The Amtrak USA Rail Pass is valid on the entire Amtrak network. Detailed information under Arrival USA.
Note on arrival by train
Average Amtrak travel times: Texas Eagle: Los Angeles – Phoenix: 8 hours; Los Angeles – El Paso: 18 hrs; Los Angeles – San Antonio: 29 hrs; Los Angeles – Austin: 32 hours; Los Angeles – Fort Worth: 37 hrs; Los Angeles – Dallas: 39 hrs; Los Angeles – St Louis: 54 hrs; Los Angeles – Chicago: 61 hrs Southwest Chief: Los Angeles – Flagstaff: 9 hrs; Los Angeles – Albuquerque: 16 hrs; Los Angeles – Kansas City: 32 hours; Los Angeles – Chicago: 38 hours Sunset Limited: Los Angeles – Houston: 34 hours; Los Angeles – New Orleans: 43 hrs Coast Starlight: Los Angeles – San Jose: 9 hrs; Los Angeles – Oakland: 11 hrs; Los Angeles – Sacramento: 13 hrs; Los Angeles – Portland (Oregon): 29 hrs; Los Angeles – Seattle: 33 hrs
Arrival by ship
Numerous ferries and cruise ships serve the California coast.
Various cruise lines offer cruises to and from Los Angeles and San Francisco, including: – Carnival Cruise Line: Los Angeles – Mexico; – Regent Seven Seas Cruises: Vancouver – San Francisco; – Oceania Cruises: Vancouver-San Francisco; – Royal Caribbean: Seattle-San Francisco; – Celebrity Cruises: Vancouver – San Francisco – Los Angeles.
San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) ferries and private operators connect San Francisco with the coastal towns of Sausalito, Tiburon, Vallejo, Oakland, Mare Island, Harbor Bay, Alameda and Larkspur in scenic Marin County. Tours to Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf and the San Francisco Bay are offered. The Catalina Express connects Long Beach, San Pedro and Dana Point, in the greater Los Angeles area, with Catalina Island.
Passport and visa regulations
Entry with children
Since June 27, 2012, children need their own travel document (passport / children’s passport) for trips abroad (also within the EU). Entries of children in the parental passport are no longer possible.
BARSTOW/JOSHUA TREE REGION: The city of Barstow was originally a railroad hub. Today it offers itself as a starting point for numerous excursions into the so-called »High Desert Region«. Nearby is Calico Ghost Town, a restored 19th-century gold rush town complete with campfires, shops, mine tours, train rides, gold panning, and theater. The Wild West comes alive again at the Mojave National Scenic Preserve – spectacular scenery awaits visitors. The barren scenery of Joshua Tree National Park offers numerous opportunities for hiking and mountaineering on 220 square kilometers. To the south is the Providence Mountains State Recreation Areawith the dramatic beauty of the eastern Mojave Desert. The well-known limestone caves Mitchell Caverns are also located here . Hiking suggestions and a list of campsites are available from the Visitor Center. Numerous fossil finds have been made in Rainbow Basin/Owl Canyon.
Endless horizons, blue skies, pioneering heritage and world-class resorts make California’s deserts a year-round destination. Natural attractions abound here, from the stillness and solitude of Death Valley National Park to the vast Joshua Tree National Park. In the remoteness of the backcountry, the desert tortoise is often the traveler’s only companion, in contrast to the sun-kissed resorts of the Coachella Valley. Trekking through the Indian reservations, canoeing on the Colorado River, prospecting for gems, fishing on the Salton Sea, animal watching, ghost towns or the historic “Route 66” – this region is known for all of this.
Orange County was a secluded rural region until Walt Disney opened its first theme park in Anaheim in 1955, which attracts millions of visitors annually. Today the region is famous for its luxurious beach resorts and rich entertainment and leisure facilities for the whole family. Orange County covers an area of 206 sq km and has 68 km of coastline. The most famous vacation spots are Anaheim and Buena Park, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point and Costa Mesa. The region offers a very good range of accommodation options of all categories – from family-oriented accommodation for the budget conscious to posh luxury hotels. A wide range of restaurants is also available.
- Usaers: Provides a full list of major rivers and mountains in California.
The mild climate makes the county an ideal year-round travel destination. The average temperature is 21ºC. Humidity is generally very low.
Social Rules of Conduct
Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in public buildings and transport. Smoking is also prohibited on most California beaches (including San Diego, Solana Beach, Malibu, Santa Monica and Long Beach) and in all restaurants, parks and other public places.
Best travel time
Hot in summer, mild and humid in winter.
Area (sq km)
Population density (per square km)
Population statistics year