Texas is a huge state – and one that it takes a lot of time to drive across, no matter where you’re going. But if you’re planning to make the drive between Austin and San Antonio, you might be surprised: it’s a relatively short drive – as Texas road trips go – and there are some fascinating sights along the way.
In this post, you’ll learn all the basics about the drive between San Antonio and Austin, including the distance and travel time you can anticipate. I’ve also included some of the best stops to make between these two Texas cities, should you wish to explore more than the two-lane interstate running between them. Finally, I include other tips on making this drive (and why you should drive rather than fly). Read on to learn everything you need to know about driving between Austin and San Antonio.
TL;DR: How long is the drive between San Antonio and Austin? The direct drive from Austin to San Antonio (or vice versa) is 82 miles (132 km) and should have a drive time of 1 hours, 29 minutes in normal traffic.
Distance Between San Antonio & Austin
Calculating the distance you have to cover between places is a crucial part of planning a road trip. As the crow flies, it’s roughly 74 miles between San Antonio and Austin. Luckily, you can almost travel as the crow flies if you drive from San Antonio to Austin since the driving distance is quite the same.
A nonstop drive between San Antonio and Austin is roughly 80 miles along I-35. As I always say, the distance may vary slightly depending on your start and end points within each city.
Drive Time Between Austin & San Antonio
Learning the driving time is the second most important part of arranging an itinerary. So here’s the quick answer for the time you’ll spend on the San Antonio to Austin drive.
The San Antonio to Austin drive takes around 1 hour, 30 minutes. Once again, this time varies depending on where you start in San Antonio and end in Austin. The fastest route is on Interstate 35, where the average speed limits are 75 miles.
If you happen to be planning an Austin to San Antonio drive, don’t worry. The distance is the same either way if you’re taking Interstate 35.
7 Stops to Make on Your Drive Between San Antonio & Austin
While you can drive straight through from San Antonio to Austin, you might want to check out the interesting places along the way and stretch your legs. Below, you’ll find seven pit stops you can make along the drive between Austin & San Antonio.
1. The Alamo
Originally named Mission San Antonio de Valero, the Alamo is a perfect pit stop for history buffs and scholars. Franciscan missionaries built the Alamo in 1718, a historic Spanish mission and fortress complex that served as home to missionaries and American Indian converts. Later in 1793, Spanish officials secularized San Antonio’s missions and distributed their lands among the Christianized Indians.
Fast forward forty-three years, the Alamo became the site where folk heroes Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett fought the Battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution. Go inside and revisit the past of this remarkable place.
2. Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch & Caverns
The Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch & Caverns are two natural wonders you can see in your drive between San Antonio and Austin. A great stop if you’re traveling with kids, The Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is an “African Safari, Texas-Style”. Inside, you can see more than 500 animals representing more than 40 species. The ranch features species from every continent except Antarctica.
The Caverns at Natural Bridge is a stunning system of caverns with gorgeous rock formations like the Colossal Dome room and stalactites and stalagmites. There are loads of tours you can choose from to explore the wonders hiding beneath the Earth’s surface.
3. The World’s Largest Pecan
You’ll find many places where it’s worth taking a picture along the drive between Austin & San Antonio. However, none will be as good as The World’s Largest Pecan if you want to take a goofy photo. Back in 1962, Seguin, the “pecan capital of Texas,” built its first massive pecan in front of the City Hall. The giant pecan was five feet long and 2½ feet wide and weighed approximately 1000 pounds.
For years, it held its title as the world’s largest pecan until some pecan farmers in Brunswick, Missouri built an even bigger one in 1982. However, in 2011, Seguin decided to win its title back and built a new 16-foot long pecan!
4. Jacob’s Well Natural Area
You can’t miss the opportunity to visit Jacob’s Well Natural Area on your drive between San Antonio and Austin. Jacob’s Well is an artesian spring inside the second-largest fully-submerged cave in Texas. Every day, the artesian spring delivers thousands of gallons of water from the depths of the Trinity Aquifer to Jacob’s Well, the headwaters of Cypress Creek. You can stop by this amazing place all year round.
Swimming is only available seasonally and requires reservations. You’re warned: the waters there are freezing, but you’ll appreciate them during the hot summer days in Texas.
5. McKinney Falls State Park
McKinney Falls State Park is a great stop in your drive between Austin & San Antonio to explore nature and history in one place. Way before McKinney Falls became a state park, it was the home of Thomas McKinney, a trader, merchant, and co-founder of Galveston, Texas. In 1850, McKinney established a ranch on these lands where he raised livestock and lived there until 1873 when he died of kidney disease. When the government opened the park in 1976, it was named after McKinney.
Today, visitors can still see the ruins of McKinney’s homestead, his horse trainer’s cabin, gristmill, and stone walls in the park. For those who enjoy outdoor recreation, you can also go hiking, mountain biking, bicycling, swimming, and birding in McKinney Falls State Park.
6. Cathedral of Junk
Head to the Cathedral of Junk if you’d like to appreciate some unorthodox art on your road trip. One of Austin’s most offbeat attractions, The Cathedral of Junk is a multilevel junk shelter that stands quietly in the backyard of an unassuming house. The artist behind this artwork is Vince Hannemann, who used over 60 tons of junk to build The Cathedral of Junk. You can find everything erecting the Cathedral’s walls: lawn mower wheels, car bumpers, kitchen utensils, ladders, cables, bottles, circuit boards, bicycle parts, and a lot of stuff that is impossible to identify.
While Mr. Hannemann is happy to welcome visitors, call ahead to confirm this location is open and set up a time to meet with him.
7. Texas State Capitol
The Texas State Capitol Building will be your first stop if you drive from Austin to San Antonio. Designed in 1881 by architect Elijah E. Myers, the Texas State Capitol is a gorgeous historic building that’s even bigger than the United States Capitol in Washington, DC.
Inside, the building features exquisite architecture, from the dome and Terrazzo mosaics to the door hinges. The manicured gardens are equally beautiful and charming. You can take free tours to explore all the monuments, portraits, and sculptures that this national landmark houses. The Texas Capitol Collection is very interesting and includes battle artworks and several historic artifacts.
Other Tips for Your Drive Between San Antonio & Austin
Here are some final tips to help you plan your drive between Austin and San Antonio:
- The route from Dallas to San Antonia is entirely in big ol’ Texas.
- The major city along the route between Austin and San Antonio is San Marcos, which is also roughly halfway along the drive. This is the best place to stop if you need to stop and stretch your legs.
- There actually aren’t any rest stops between San Antonio and Texas.
- There are plenty of gas stations and truck stops along the entire route if you need fuel, toilets, snacks, or other services.
Should You Fly Between Austin & San Antonio Instead?
Most of the time, choosing between flying or driving to a destination depends on personal preferences, time constraints, and costs. However, this time there’s a clear winner: driving. Both time and cost-wise, a drive between San Antonio and Austin is far more convenient.
Regarding time, you’ll spend 1 hour, 20 minutes to cover this 80-mile road trip, whereas taking a plane will take you around three hours if you add to the 39-minute flight the time you spend getting to the airport, taking off, and landing.
Cost-wise, driving from San Antonio to Austin costs $9.08 for a one-way trip and $18.16 for a round trip. Meanwhile, a one-way flight from San Antonio, TX to Austin, TX, costs around $140.
Besides the benefits of driving, a road trip between these two cities means getting to know places you wouldn’t otherwise. So, go ahead and start planning that San Antonio to Austin road trip!
Have any other questions about driving between Austin and San Antonio? Let me know in the comments!