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How To Get Around San Francisco Without a Car
November 10, 2023 By CityPASS
Navigating public transit when visiting a new city can either seem like a quirky adventure or a daunting task. No matter how you feel about it, there are plenty of ways to get around without a car in major cities, thanks to efficient transit systems. This is especially true in San Francisco.
So, if you're wondering how to get around San Francisco to see all the best sights, here's what you need to know.
What Are the Car-Free Options To Get Around San Francisco?
While many travelers like the freedom that renting a car can offer, it also comes with the hassle of parking, navigating unfamiliar streets, and high expenses. Thankfully, there are several easy-to-use modes of public transportation in San Francisco that are visitor-friendly. In fact, it's the easiest way to get around the city and is more cost-effective than private transportation.
Public Transportation Options
Exploring the Bay Area is easy as pie since San Francisco's transport system includes travel methods on both water and land. Here's what you need to know about the different ways to get around by public transport in San Francisco.
Underground BART System
The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) System is a series of rail lines connecting the San Francisco Peninsula with both the East and South Bays. It's so extensive that the railway spans five counties and has 50 stations.
If you're wondering how to ride BART, it's easy. Consult the BART map to find the station closest to your point of interest. You can buy a paper ticket or reloadable Clipper card at the station to pay the fare or download the virtual Clipper card to your smartphone.
Muni Bus and Trolley SystemBesides the rail system, buses in San Francisco are another reliable way to get around. Muni is the city's network of buses, trolleys, and metro lines that weave across San Francisco. Purchasing a Muni Passport gives you unlimited travel on the streetcars, cable cars, and Muni metro. A Muni Pass is valid for one, three, or seven consecutive days.
Muni's trolleys have poles on the roofs that connect to wires overhead. The historic streetcars run on tracks and have these poles, too. The streetcar lines are separate from the city's iconic cable car lines and are the preferred choice since they're faster than the quaint cable cars.
Presidio GO Shuttles
The Presidio GO Shuttle has two routes. The Downtown Route shuttle bus connects Presidio Park to the downtown area with several stops at key points. This shuttle requires a pass, and some weekday trips are limited to residents and employees only.
The South Hills route is free to all and doesn't require a ticket. This is an excellent option for transportation in San Francisco if you want to explore areas like Presidio, Baker Beach, and popular scenic overlooks.
Golden Gate Transit
Golden Gate Transit is the perfect way to get around if you want to take a day trip to the North Bay area. This network of buses can take you to Golden Gate Park and beyond, as it also serves Marin, Sonoma, and Contra Costa counties. A single trip in the San Francisco zone starts at $5 using either cash or the Clipper card.
San Francisco Ferries
Hopping on the San Francisco Bay Ferry is a fun and relaxing way to explore the area's coastline while enjoying breathtaking views. Six ferry routes start at the San Francisco Ferry Building and fan out across the bay to varying points. There are also two short-hop routes and three seasonal routes that make it easy for locals and visitors to get to tourist hot spots and sporting events.
Jump on the most iconic San Francisco transport, the city's cable cars. Dating back to the 19th century, the cable car system is the largest manually operated system in the world. There are three lines that stop at attractions like Fisherman's Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge.
While some locals use the cable cars, they are primarily used by tourists. So don't be surprised if you have to wait in line to hop on.
Taxis and Rideshares
While public transport in San Francisco is reliable and affordable, there are also taxis and rideshare services. These options can get you where you need to go quickly and easily. Besides the city's taxi fleet, you'll find rideshare companies like:
Zipping around the city is easy in a GoCar. These small cars come equipped with an audio guide so you can tour San Fran's best sites at your own pace. It's like a bus tour, except these little cars can sneak into areas that buses can't. These mini-cars are open-roof and can seat two passengers. GoCar tours take you to iconic neighborhoods and monuments, ensuring you have a blast along the way.
Another fun way to get around San Francisco is by enjoying the views from a pedicab. There are many companies with these unique cabs on the street, so finding one shouldn't be challenging. Pedicabs have set fares and provide service to central points around downtown San Francisco.
When you take a guided tour, you learn the city's secrets from a local while taking in the most famous sites. You can enjoy several kinds of tours, including walking, bus, or bike. You can also find tours specialized to your interests, like gastronomy, art, or architecture.
Choose the Best Option and Discover San Francisco With a CityPASS® Ticket
Getting around San Francisco without a car is easy thanks to the city's great transport system, which allows you to explore the best of the city hassle-free. To make your trip even easier, purchase a CityPASS® ticket to save both time and money at the Bay Area's top things to do.
Choose from either the traditional San Francisco CityPASS® ticket to see five attractions or the C3 to get into three. You'll save up to and skip the box office lines, making buying a CityPASS® ticket a simple choice when it comes to seeing the best of San Francisco!
San Francisco Lodging
To get the most out of your stay in San Francisco, we recommend finding lodging near San Francisco's top attractions. Use this map to find the right lodging for you: