getting around san francisco

How to Get Around San Francisco: A Guide to San Francisco’s Public Transportation

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San Francisco is one of the most famous cities in America and for this reason, you would think that it is a sprawling city, but in reality, it is not so. It is quite a small city and most of the tourist attractions are located in a fairly limited area, so it takes less time to get from one attraction to another than in many other cities.

Thanks to the short distances between points of interest, you can visit parts of the city on foot, or use public transportation, or even, if you are sporty, rent a bike. So let’s see some tips on how to get around San Francisco by considering all the various possibilities: Public transportation, car, cable cars, and more …

San Francisco by Car

how to get around san franciscoI definitely do not recommend this option. You will find traffic, you will have a hard time finding parking (and in any case it’s expensive) and, if you accidentally park where you’re not supposed to, you will be charged heavy fines. In fact, there is no good reason to visit the city by car. If you are on a road trip and San Francisco is your first stop, I recommend that you rent the car the last day in San Francisco before departing for the next destination, as you will read in the upcoming article on car rental in San Francisco.

Public Transportation in San Francisco

Public Transportation in San FranciscoPublic transportation in San Francisco covers the entire urban area and can be a valuable tool during your stay. The historic cable cars, which the city is known for, climb over the city hills and are also one of the main attractions. If you ride a cable car, make sure to bring a jacket. Since you will be exposed to the elements, you may get cold.

In addition to cable cars, there are also other forms of public transportation, such as buses and streetcars, all operated by MUNI, San Francisco’s light rail network. Tickets for non-historic means of transportation currently cost $3.00 (120 minutes) and if you want to buy them on board, you must pay the exact amount (they won’t give you change), while cable cars are much more expensive ($8).

My advice, if you plan to explore the city using public transportation, is to get a pass that includes all the lines, for example, the Muni Day-Passport: a card that allows unlimited rides on MUNI public transportation, Muni Metro, the Historic Streetcars, and the Cable Cars for 1, 3, and 7 days.

However, be aware that this Visitor Passport expires at 11:59 PM on the first, third, or seventh day of use, not from the moment you first start using it. For example, if you purchase the 1-Day Visitor Passport and use it for the first time at 6:00 PM, you will only be able to use it for six hours.

As of the time we are updating this article, the prices for this pass are as follows:

  • 1-Day Visitor Passport: $13
  • 3-Day Visitor Passport: $31
  • 7-Day Visitor Passport: $41

An additional $3 will be added to make the card.

BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit)

get around san francisco without carThose looking for information on how to get around San Francisco will likely come across the BART. This is the regional railway network that connects the entire Bay Area. Perhaps it is not as useful to visit the city, but I am including it in this article anyway because it connects the city to the airport and to the historic Mission District.

Transportation to the Airport

In addition to the classic taxi, there are various alternatives available including private and shared transportation, as well as the already mentioned BART system, to take you from the airport to the city and vice versa. Meanwhile, if you are looking for the prices of shuttles and private cars, you can find them all on the website indicated below:

Transportation from the airport to San Francisco

Cycling in San Francisco: Bike Rental

Bike rental san franciscoAlthough it can be challenging to ride a bicycle on the numerous hills of San Francisco, renting a bike remains the most comfortable, practical, and pleasant way to get around the city. I highly recommend the bike ride on the Golden Gate Bridge. You can rent a bike at one of the many Blazing Saddles locations in the city, rent bikes online, or take advantage of a guided bike tour (you can find many of them on this website).

Walking  in San Francisco

Walking around San Francisco is one of the best options to get around. Of course, it takes more time, but it’s the best way to fully immerse yourself in this somewhat eccentric city. The hilly areas do not allow for a relaxing walk, but areas like the waterfront, Chinatown, and North Beach definitely do.

San Francisco Bus Tours

San Francisco Bus ToursLike all major tourist cities, San Francisco also offers hop-on hop-off bus tours. The buses are constantly riding through the city (often you can enjoy scenic views and guided commentary) and you are free to get off and off at various points throughout the city over the course of the day. The advantage is that San Francisco’s attractions are found along the routes so you have an opportunity to get to know the city better. There are many bus tours and you can read the information about them by clicking the link below:

All San Francisco Hop on – Hop off Bus Tours

How to Get Around in San Francisco: In conclusion…

In addition to knowing how to get around, you will also have to choose the attractions to visit, so that you can plan your visit well. Therefore, I recommend you read our article on the attractions in San Francisco. Another important thing is deciding where to stay overnight in the city. If you want to take advantage of the convenience of public transportation in San Francisco, you will have to choose an area that is central or well connected. Follow these tips on where to stay in San Francisco so as not to risk being in an area that is out of the way or far from the main points of interest.

Our Tip:
Looking for accommodations for your trip from California to other parts of the Southwest? Read our guide that contains reviews of hotels and strategic tips for finding accommodations near major attractions: Where to Stay: Our Tips for the SouthWest Area

Warning: Operating hours can change and closures for extraordinary events can occur, so we strongly suggest to check the venues official websites.

lorenzo puliti
lorenzo puliti

I am fascinated by the wonders of the world I never tire of going in search of them.

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