If you’re looking at traveling from Portland to Los Angeles, you have many choices. Depending on your preferred method of travel and your budget, here are the many different ways to travel.
Here’s how to get from Portland to Los Angeles…
Portland travel information
Being a large and populated city, Portland, Oregon, has many ways of getting in and out. The city is somewhat of a travel hub for the northwest of America.
It has an airport, train station and bus station.
The services used for longer travel are typically Greyhound buses and Amtrak trains. There is also an intercity bus service, streetcar, MAX Light Rail and local TriMet buses.
The main station, Union Station, has a restaurant, bar, and passenger lounge for first and business-class travelers.
Los Angeles travel information
Los Angeles is the second-largest U.S. city and the largest in California. It is adjacent to the Pacific Ocean, lying in a southern Californian basin.
Los Angeles has a population of almost four million people. It is known for Hollywood, its Mediterranean climate, and its cultural and ethnic diversity.
Traveling from Portland to Los Angeles
Depending on your needs, there are many ways to travel if you’re heading from Portland to Los Angeles. Los Angeles is around 963 miles from Portland, so the journey is quite an undertaking. Let’s take a look at the different travel options.
By Air – Portland to Los Angeles
By far, the quickest way to travel between Portland and Los Angeles is by air. The flight itself is around 2h20m and costs between $80 and $250.
There are several direct flights each day. Flight operators include Alaska Airlines, Inc., American Airlines, and Delta Airlines.
There are also some flights with one stopover. SouthWest Airlines operate a few flights with transfers. Possible transfer cities include Oakland and Sacramento. United Airlines has a flight with a stop in San Francisco or Las Vegas. Alaska Airlines, Inc. has a flight that changes in Seattle.
To get to Portland Airport (PDX), you can take the MAX Red Line tram from Old Town/Chinatown station. This costs around $3 and takes 33 minutes to complete the 11-mile journey. The tram runs every 20 minutes.
On arrival at Los Angeles Airport (LAX), you need to walk for around 7 minutes then take the LAX FlyAway Bus. This takes you into central Los Angeles, to L.A. Union Street Station. The bus takes 30 minutes and runs every 30 minutes too—the bus journey costs between $7 and $11.
By Air – Portland to Burbank – L.A.
Another flight option is to fly direct from Portland to Burbank (BUR). Alaska Airlines runs a daily direct flight at 12:45 pm and an 8:45 am flight on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
These flights take 2h7m and cost between $90 and $250. There is also the option of flying with Southwest Airlines and changing at Oakland.
On arrival at Burbank, there is a 10-minute walk to Burbank Airport – South train station. From there, L.A. Union Station is a 26-minute, 13-mile train ride on Metrolink’s Ventura County Line. This costs between $2 and $7. There are five trains each day.
By Air – Portland to Ontario/San Bernardino – L.A.
Another flight option is flying from Portland to Ontario/San Bernardino (ONT), which is only a 42-minute bus journey to Pomona (OmniTrans bus number 61) and then a 1-hr journey (Foothill Transit, Silver Streak bus) to Arcadia St and Alameda St., L.A.
By Air & Train – Portland to Santa Ana – L.A.
The cheapest journey we’ve found is to fly from Portland to Santa Ana (SNA). Flights to Santa Ana start at $47, and there are two direct flights a day on Alaska Airlines, Inc. The flight takes 2h17m.
Once in Santa Sana, there is a 25-minute bus journey (OCTA, bus 400) to Tustin Metrolink Station. From there, it is a one-hour direct train (Metrolink, Orange County Line) to L.A. Union Station costs as little as $4.
By Bus – Portland to Los Angeles
If taking the bus appeals to you, Greyhound runs a direct service. The bus leaves Portland each day at 18:50 and arrives in Los Angeles the following day at 18:00, taking just over 23h. It makes around 18 stops throughout the journey.
The journey costs between $95 and $135 for an economy ticket or $135 to $215 for a flexible ticket.
There are three types of tickets available. The flexible ticket is 100% refundable and exchangeable without fees. You are allowed two under-the-bus bags included in the ticket price and one carry-on back.
You also get priority boarding. You get priority boarding, one under-the-bus bag, and a free same-day exchange with the Economic Extra ticket.
Otherwise, it’s $20 to change the trip before the date of travel, and the ticket is non-refundable. The Economy ticket is non-refundable, and it costs $20 to make changes. There is still one under-the-bus bag, and one carry-on bag included.
You can book tickets online or at the station. It’s a good idea to book in advance rather than turning up as tickets sell out quickly.
By Train: Portland – Los Angeles
For people who don’t want to fly but don’t like the idea of being on a bus for 23h, taking the train is a great option.
The train from Portland to Los Angeles covers some 1200 miles and takes around 30h35m, longer than the bus journey. The price varies between $115 to $160 for a coach seat, rising up to around $480 for a premium seat.
The train offers sleeper service as well as business class and coach class. Superliners, roomettes, bedrooms, bedroom suites, accessible rooms, and family bedrooms are available on the train. There is also a café and a dining car as well as a sightseer lounge car.
Amtrak runs a daily train (the Coast Starlight service) that leaves Portland at 14:22 and arrives in Los Angeles at 21:11 the following evening. The train takes you through some great cities, including Salem, Oakland (near San Francisco) and Santa Barbara.
The train starts in Seattle, Washington and ends in Los Angeles, California. Around 1235 people take the train each day, and the entire route is 1377 miles.
Amtrak trains have comfortable seats with extra legroom. They also have some four-seat tables for groups traveling together. Each train car has its own clean restroom, and there are power outlets and free WiFi too.
Tickets can be booked at amtrak.com, at the train station or by telephoning +1800-871-7245.
For people who enjoy driving or want to take their time over the journey and make it into a road trip, there is the option of going from Portland to Los Angeles by car.
The route is around 960 miles and takes around 16 hours (not including breaks).
The suggested route leaves Portland via the I-5 S through Salem, Eugene, Redding, and Sacramento. What’s great about this journey is that it is all one highway. However, this might be boring for some drivers.
The longer route between Portland and L.A. allows you to go through some wonderful countryside, taking in Las Vegas before you hit L.A. With this route, you take the I-84 E to Twin Falls via Nampa. At Twin Falls, you take the US-93 S to Las Vegas before getting the I-15 S to Los Angeles.
This route is around 18 hours of driving and is 1318 miles long.
Suggested stop-off points
The more direct route has some smaller cities that are ideal for stop-offs en route. If you’re breaking the journey into two days, Redding is around halfway. There is a rest stop at Santiam River.
For the longer journey, it’s probably best to break it over three days. First, you could stop around Nampa in the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation area, a rustic and vast canyon home to owls, eagles, hawks, and falcons.
Your second stopover could be in Las Vegas or around the Grand Canyon before you have a shorter, final day of driving.
For the shortest route, you would pay between $100 and $140 for fuel. This doesn’t include other fees like tolls or car rentals.
If you need speed, flying is the quickest way to get to Los Angeles from Portland. If you don’t like flying, there are direct buses and trains, which take longer but are more relaxing, particularly the train.
Driving is also an option and would make a great road trip if you’re not in a hurry.
No matter the journey type, the best thing you can do to get a great deal is to book ahead.
Getting the best deals
For many people, the cost is important when looking at travel options. So here are some ways of making sure you get the best price for your tickets however you choose to travel.
- Booking in advance pretty much guarantees you’ll pay less. Generally speaking, tickets are much more expensive the closer you are to your departure date.
- It is usually cheaper to travel mid-week or on holidays, so if it’s possible to choose which day you travel, look for mid-week prices.
- Tickets are always cheaper if you buy them online and not in person at the station or through a travel agency.
- Look for voucher codes and promotions codes from travel websites and the travel company’s social media pages.
- Subscribe to any travel reward systems you can (Greyhound a points system) and apply for points-based reward cards.
- Make sure you use any discounts you’re entitled to – military tickets, senior tickets, and minors have cheaper options.
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Michael Cowley – writer and photographer
Ever since he was knee-high to a grasshopper Michael has always had an affinity for adventure. Growing up he was lucky enough to live in a handful of exotic far flung locations including Hong Kong, Pakistan, Kenya and Tanzania and since then he’s continued seeking out new places and cultures. In his spare time he explores everywhere from the sizzling street markets in Bangkok to random back alleys in Sri Lanka and everything in between! He also has a special fondness for Cohibas, trying all kinds of street food, playing carrom with random strangers, and fine wine – he knows his clarets from his chiantis. He counts Cuba, Amsterdam, Indonesia, Goa, Cambodia and Italy as his favourite destinations. Find Michael on Instagram or Twitter.