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What to know about traveling to and throughout San Francisco

Chelsea Davis   

What to know about traveling to and throughout San Francisco
  • If you're looking for a west coast getaway, San Francisco is an excellent destination to visit.
  • The city is easy to get to by flight and offers a handful of options for exploring the locale.

San Francisco is accessible for most travelers looking for a West Coast getaway. Once you arrive, navigating the city is relatively easy, given that it's only about 47 square miles. Here's what you need to know about making your way to and throughout San Francisco:

Getting to San Francisco

San Francisco International Airport

The Bay Area's largest airport, San Francisco International Airport offers nonstop connections to and from 86 US cities through 12 domestic airlines (out of the 47 total airlines at SFO). After you arrive, you can use these services to commute to your desired destination:

  • Bay Area Rapid Transit: You can take BART directly to the city. The SFO BART Station is on the departure level of the international terminal. You'll need to purchase a Clipper card at the station.
  • SamTrans public bus service: Routes SFO, 292, and 398 of the SamTrans service stop directly at the airport's terminals. SamTrans operates 24/7 from SFO.
  • Caltrain commuter rail: For those heading toward the South Bay, consider Caltrain, which provides rail service between San Francisco and San Jose.

Oakland International Airport

With only two terminals, Oakland International Airport is significantly smaller than SFO. After you touch down, take a cab, shuttle, rental car, or ride-hailing service to your destination. You can also take BART and use the Amtrak Capitol Corridor, which stops at BART Coliseum Station.

Getting around San Francisco

San Francisco is walkable, so long as you're aware of the occasional enormous hill. If you prefer to explore by way of transit, you have a handful of options.


BART is the most popular way to get around the city - though, depending on where you're going, you may also need to take a bus. Check the BART and Muni public-transit schedules to plan your trip. Or you can download the Umo IQ app and use the NextBus tracker to see when a bus or streetcar is on its way.

Car services

Finding an Uber or Lyft ride in San Francisco is usually quick on account of the relatively large pool of available drivers.

Cable cars

Riding the iconic cable cars is part of the quintessential San Francisco experience. There are only three lines, but each offers a ride through scenic parts of the city. They don't halt at every stop unless asked, so stay alert.

Electric bikes and scooters

If you're comfortable, you can jump on an electric bike or scooter. Just be sure to stay off the sidewalks to avoid irritating pedestrians. Lime, Scoot, and Spin are a few brands you'll see zooming around the city.

View Insider's comprehensive guide to visiting San Francisco.


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