updated on May 23rd, 2019
Once downtown we walk as much as possible. One of our best outings was walking from the Embarcadero to Haight Street. It was a long walk full of adventure, stopping into small bars, and taking hundreds of photos. We typically use Uber or Lyft to get to farther distances and we’ll occasionally jump on the bus if it’s a straight shot with no transfers.
The famous Cable Car system in San Francisco only serves a small area. Don’t plan on this to be more than a fun tourist activity, because you likely won’t get very far. We also didn’t find their timetables to be very reliable.
If you’ll be doing a lot of walking, which we highly recommend, bring along a great pair of shoes that have been broken-in. A long weekend in bad walking shoes left us with horrible foot blisters and forced us to buy some cheap flip-flops in Chinatown. Blister bandaids have been saviors and are a smart item to pack, just in case! If you do plan on getting around on foot, definitely walk Columbus Ave.
Also, if you’re walking this much, it’s fun to have a FitBit or some kind of pedometer. We knock out 20k steps easily and love seeing all the activity logged.
San Francisco is famous for all its hills and twisty streets. It’s also famous for unique architecture and fantastic culture- so take your time and wander the streets. You never know what you’ll come across.
If you’re physically up for it, renting a bike in San Francisco can give you a new perspective on the sights.
Getting from SFO to Downtown San Francisco without a Car
By Public Transportation – BART
Taking the train from SFO to San Francisco Downtown is the cheapest but slightly slower option– unless it’s rush hour- and will run you $9.65 (or a little less, if you’re getting off at the Mission District). Trains from SFO to Market Street take around 40 minutes. BART doesn’t run 24 hours, so this may force you to snag a rideshare like Uber or Lyft.
- Weekdays (5:00 am – 11:53 pm)
- Saturday (6:30 a.m. – 11:53 p.m)
- Sunday (8:00 am – 11:53 pm)
On weekdays trains run every 15 minutes. On nights and weekends trains run every 20 minutes. You can find the SFO BART schedule on the BART website.We’d recommend using http://511.org to better time your train.
You can buy BART tickets through the automated ticket machines at the transit locations. They accept coins, bills, and credit cards. There is a little bit of a learning curve to use the machines for the first time, but you can find BART staff who can help you, if needed. Once you get to your station, you’ll probably have a bit of a walk to your destination, but San Francisco is walking-friendly!
Need a guide to San Francisco? We love Lonely Planet’s Guide to San Francisco. Use our code BOLDTOURIST10 for 10% off your purchase!
SFO to Downtown SF By Rideshare – Uber or Lyft
Each of these options will run you a bit more money than BART, but will get you exactly to your destination without any extra navigation. Getting to see the sights on your way is arguably the better value, if you are on limited time. Taking Uber or Lyft from SFO to downtown is more expensive, but faster. Usually. When traffic is great, the ride is around 30 minutes. However, rush hour will shoot the prices up 2 or 3 times normal, and your ride could take an hour or more.
Non-Rush Hour Fare estimates (one-way) as of 04/2019
- UberPool (ride share) – $17-$25
- UberX (private car) – $25-$35
- Lyft Line (ride share) <$26
- Lyft (private car) $26-$35
More San Francisco Transportation Resources
Start Your San Francisco Hotel Search
Need a hotel in San Francisco? We love starting our search with Booking.com. You can start your search right here!