Getting Around San Francisco
The best ways to get around San Francisco are on foot and by using public transportation. Most of the popular attractions are within walking distance of the city center, and the large municipal transportation system (called the Muni) operates bus and streetcar lines, leaving little need for your own set of wheels. The city's famous cable cars (also operated by Muni) are a more entertaining, albeit slower, way to see the city. To get into town from the San Francisco International Airport (SFO), you can use the Bay Area Rapid Transit commuter rail, or you can take a taxi for around $45 one way.
|On Foot||All of San Francisco's neighborhoods can be explored in the heel-to-toe fashion thanks to their compact size and easily navigable streets. However, if you find yourself in an unfamiliar area after dark, consider opting for public transportation or a taxi instead.|
Numerous bus, streetcar and cable car routes on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's "Muni" system render a car unnecessary. Individual rides on bus and rail cost $2 and cable car rides cost $6, although there are discounts on all transportation for children and senior citizens. If you plan to ride a lot, consider purchasing a Muni Passport, which offers unlimited rides for one, three or seven-day periods (prices range from $15 to $29). The San Francisco CityPass is another option, offering unlimited Muni rides for a week as well as free entry to some of the city's top attractions for $84.
You can avoid rental car fees even if you plan on seeing more of the Bay Area than just San Francisco. Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) provides high-speed rail service to the surrounding areas and the San Francisco airport. Fares are dependent on distance, although you can expect to pay about $8.65 for a one-way trip from the airport to downtown, and about $2 for a ride within city limits.
|Taxi||Unlike some other major U.S. cities such as New York, San Francisco taxis aren't always easy to catch, let alone find. If you need to get someplace quickly, your best bet is to call ahead. However, if you're not in a rush, you'll save a lot of money by sticking to public transportation. Taxi fares start around $3.50, and each additional mile tacks on another $3 or so, with every minute you spend stuck in traffic costing about $0.55.|
|Car||You don't need a car to explore central San Francisco; most of the top sites are within walking distance or are easily reached by the Muni. Plus, driving in this city is stressful due to aggressive drivers, bumper-to-bumper traffic and parking rates of up to $30. But for those of you hoping to spend a lot of time exploring the rest of the Bay Area (especially places not serviced by the BART), a car is your best option. You can find most major rental agencies at the airport. Be aware that prices can fluctuate dramatically based on the season.|
The Golden Gate Ferry Service offers water transportation between central San Francisco (Market Street in the Financial District) to several nearby communities, including Sausalito, Tiburon and Larkspur. One-way fares cost around $8 for adults. Ferry service between San Francisco (Fisherman's Wharf) and several nearby towns (including Sausalito and Tiburon) is also provided by the Blue & Gold Fleet. One-way fares range between $8.50 and $11, depending on the destination.