Getting to San Francisco by AirYou can choose among three major airports for your San Francisco trip and although obvious, SFO may not always be the optimum choice. Discover the San Francisco Airport Alternatives to find out which is best for you.
A large number of airlines fly into SFO. You can use Kayak.com to check fares and compare prices, but don't stop there. Did you know that Southwest Airlines and Jet Blue don't participate in any of the fare-comparison sites? Always check their prices separately by going directly to their website. You can also check for bargains on air/hotel packages at Southwest Vacations.
Getting Into San Francisco from the AirportSFO is about 13 miles south of the city. To get to downtown San Francisco from there, you can take public transportation, catch a shuttle, hail a taxi or drive yourself:
- By Public Transportation: If you're going to San Francisco, BART is a convenient option if you're going to Union Square, along Market Street or somewhere near the Convention Center, but less so if you're headed for hotels near the waterfront, which are a long walk away from the nearest BART station. Use this guide to find out how to use it.
To get to San Jose, take BART to the Millbrae station and transfer to Caltrain. Caltrain also goes north to San Francisco from there.
- Hotel Shuttles: Only hotels near the airport offer this service. Ask ahead if they provide shuttle service and meet them at the center island of the Departures/Ticketing Level roadway.
- Shuttle Van Companies: A far more hassle-free way to get to your destination from the airport, commercial shuttle companies will drop you wherever you need to go. You can catch a door-to-door airport shuttles on the Departures/Ticketing Level at SFO by going to the roadway center island outside any terminal.
If you'd prefer to have a reservation, pre-arranged vans pick up at Courtyards 1 and 4 of the
Domestic Terminals and Courtyards A and G at the International Terminal (on the Arrivals/Baggage Claim Level). You can also reserve online: to San Francisco hotels and back to the airport from hotels or to private residences and back to the airport again.
- Taxi: Get a cab at the roadway center island on the Arrivals/Baggage Claim Level of any terminal. Uniformed taxi coordinators are on hand during the busiest hours to help you. In early 2010, fare to Fisherman's Wharf was $40 to $50, with an additional $2 exit fee charged by the airport. This may be a cost-effective option for larger groups of 3 or more, with no change in fare up to 5 people.
- Drive Yourself: You can get to the centralized car rental area from any terminal, but think before you choose this option. San Francisco is small enough that you may not need an automobile to get around. Finding parking can be aggravating at the best of times and most hotels charge $20 or more a night for parking in addition to your room cost. Unless you're going out of town every day or need to get out to less-touristed parts of the city, you may be better off to skip the car. Or just rent one at an in-town location for the day or two you do need it (if you're going to Napa for the day, for instance).
- If you need one, you can rent accessible minivans with ramps or lifts, scooters and wheelchairs from Wheelchair Getaways. They'll pick you up and drop you off at the airport.
Getting to San Francisco by Train or BusAmtrak Coast Starlight Line goes through Oakland, across the San Francisco Bay. They run buses into San Francisco, arriving at the Ferry Building.
Getting to San Francisco by CarMany San Francisco visitors, come in automobiles. The most common approaches are:
- I-80 West from Sacramento and Lake Tahoe
- I-280 North from San Jose
- US Hwy 101 South from Northern California
- From Los Angeles and Southern California, you have several options for making the trip in a day.
- There are also plenty of ways to get to San Francisco from Las Vegas.