San Francisco transport | Buses, streetcars, cable cars and taxis

Ride through San Francisco’s hilly streets to the city’s best attractions with our top tips on transport.

San Francisco is a city that is easily explored by public transportation and it’s a must to ride one of the classic cable cars. Plus, many of the main tourist attractions such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz are not within short walking distance so it is advised to use public transportation.

Hiring a car in the city itself is not needed but if you’re visiting anywhere in the Bay Area such as San Jose or Napa Valley, it’s a good idea to rent one as public transport is not as widely connected.

San Francisco public transport

  • Types of transport: San Francisco has buses, streetcars, cable cars and light rail operated by Muni. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) offers transport from airports to city centres and between cities in the Bay Area.
  • Paying for transport: Visitor Passports can be purchased for 1, 3 or 7 days that include unlimited rides on Muni, Muni Metro, historic streetcars and cable cars. Passports can be bought on MuniMobile, a mobile ticketing app, or from select retailers. Single-trip cable car tickets (US$7) or bus and rail (US$2.75) can be bought for exact change on-board. For BART transport, single tickets and the Clipper card can be purchased at ticket-vending machines in stations.
  • Getting to and from the airport: The BART rail brings visitors to the city from the San Francisco Airport BART station. The station is on the departures level of the international terminal. It is easily accessed from any terminal on the San Francisco International Airport AirTrain.
  • Best apps for getting around: The MuniMobile app allows you to pay online and purchase multiple tickets or passes that work immediately. The 511 SF Bay Transit Trip Planner has phone features that use voice recognition when you call. It allows you to plan trips in the San Francisco Bay Area and view scheduled departures from the stops closest to you.

Taxis and Uber

  • Taxi: Taxis can be hailed from the side of the road or booked online in advance.
  • Uber: Uber is available in San Francisco and costs US$28–$69 from the airport to the city centre.

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San Francisco car hire rental companies

Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Fox, Hertz, National and Thrifty service the San Francisco International Airport.

All car rental booths are found at the car rental centre at the San Francisco Airport. This can be accessed from any terminal using the AirTrain Blue Line.

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Airport transfers

Find private or shared transfers to and from San Francisco International Airport to ensure a smooth beginning and end to your trip.

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Stephanie Yip

Stephanie is the travel editor at finder.com.au. On top of being an avid traveller, she's an all-round bargain hunter. If there's a deal on hotels or a sale on flights, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too. Though probably not before she buys her own ticket.

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