Because of its steep hills, narrow one-way streets, and exorbitant parking prices, San Francisco is one city where it’s better not to have a car. Fortunately, public transit is available, San Francisco is a bike-friendly city, and numerous tours—including hop-on hop-off bus tours—make it a breeze to get around. Here are your best options for navigating San Francisco.
Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tours
To avoid the confusion of navigating public transit—without breaking a sweat on a bike tour—hop-on hop-off bus tours are the most convenient way to get around San Francisco. Tours typically stop at top attractions, such as Union Square and Pier 39, and may include optional upgrades for trolley rides or night tours.
With its temperate weather and bike-friendly streets and bridges, there's no better way to explore San Francisco than on a bicycle. Guided bike tours explore the city's top attractions, including the Golden Gate Bridge, while daily bike rentals offer the flexibility to explore on your own.
Walking tours are the best way to visit San Francisco's historic neighborhoods at a slower pace. Be sure to book more popular walking tours in advance, including excursions to Chinatown and North Beach—the old stomping grounds of the Beat writers.
Ferry and Sailing Tours
Whether you want to go to Alcatraz Island or nearby Sausalito, ferries are a great way to visit San Francisco's top attractions while taking in skyline views from the bay. Because San Francisco Bay cruises are popular, be sure to book your sunset sail, whale-watching excursion, or Alcatraz tour in advance, to secure seats.
San Francisco's public transit system consists of a network of buses, light-rail trains, and streetcars. Known to locals as Muni, the system will get you anywhere in San Francisco, but expect to wait for a seat on the bus during peak commuting hours. To avoid the hassle of buying tickets, book a city pass in advance, with Muni transit included. And don’t miss a ride on a historic cable car.
To travel between San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, plan to take Bay Area Rapid Transit (known to locals as BART). Fares vary by distance traveled, so be sure to confirm with a station agent—or check at the vending kiosks—before you purchase a ticket. To save a few bucks, plan to take BART to the airport—it covers both Oakland and San Francisco.