San Francisco often gets second billing to its celeb-filled sister down south, but the stunningly-pretty bayside city full of Victorian manses and fog-shrouded, steeply-sloping streets packs plenty of charm. What started as a boomtown during Gold Rush days has emerged as one of the US’s most vibrant and interesting metropolises.
From brand-name attractions (the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz) and artsy offerings (museums and galleries galore), to diverse neighbourhoods conveying their own hyper-local style – not to mention the innovative chefs fuelling (arguably) the State’s best culinary scene – it’s easy, as Tony Bennett croons, to leave your heart in San Francisco.
Located on the tip of a peninsula, SF is compact (it’s proudly 49 square miles) and hilly (thanks to the peninsula’s mountainous nature).
It’s divided into more than 35 different – and sometimes distinct – neighbourhoods, of which Union Square is the best known, unofficial tourist heart of the city; most neighbourhood directions will be given in relation to the square.
The Embarcadero promenade traces the bay from just south of the Bay Bridge to Fisherman’s Wharf.
Culture & Customs
SF has been the centre of counterculture in the US since hippies and homosexuals deemed it Mecca in the 1960s.
Nowadays, you’ll find the State’s most progressive movements here, from the green-leaning, to the politically-blue and free-thinkers. And it’s this liberal attitude that fuels the boho sensibility that’s among the Bay City’s best calling cards.
SF is also home to a large community of highly educated residents, and their patronage of the city’s cultural offerings is high.
Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers
San Francisco LGBTQ Walking Tour with Local Guide
Cruisin' the Castro Walking tours celebrates 34 years of Pride and as San Francisco's first and ONLY Legacy Business Tour Company! This prestigious award recognizes Cruisin' the Castro as a longstanding, community-servicing business and a valuable cultural asset to the City & County of San Francisco.
Tours are fun, fascinating and offers twice as many tour stops that not only include the colorful sites of the largest LGBTQ community in the world, but explores the spectrum of sexual and gender diversity and the struggle with achieving equal rights in America. No other tour offer this rare and educational opportunity!
Tours are conducted by a local resident, professional tour guide and a civil rights activist.
History and Architecture Walking Tour of San Francisco Financial District
We actually take guests INSIDE 15 different venues, including hidden architectural treasures, a private ballroom, three museums, and a redwood tree garden. See unique sculptures and the spectacular Garden Court with 700 hundred pound crystal chandeliers in the historic Palace Hotel. Explore inside San Francisco's iconic Financial District on an easy 2.5 hour walking tour. Learn the legends of the city's first venture capitalist, the beautiful "Rose of Sharon", banking scandals, architectural genius and a public funeral for a stray dog. Your local guide is an expert.
This private tour takes 2½ hours. You'd barely notice the time as it's less walking and more fun facts and conversation so you never get tired or bored. The tour goes through all of the Downtown San Francisco: Chinatown, Financial District (there be buried ships!), Embarcadero. We talk City's history, the Gold Rush, influential women, buried ships under the buildings, current affairs, tips and tricks to the city and many many more!
Minimum 6 people per tour.
Enjoy the city's sights by night. Beginning at Fisherman's Wharf, our Night Tour of San Francisco takes you through the evening vibrance of the Embarcadero, Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown and the Financial District before crossing the Bay Bridge for photos at Treasure Island. Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so please aim to arrive 20-30 minutes before your preferred tour time. Please note that this is not a hop-on, hop-off tour.
Enjoy a four-hour guided tour of San Francisco. At each stop, you’ll have the chance to get off the bus and see the sights.
Tour the city from the Bay to the Pacific Ocean, with photo stops at key locations. Enjoy great views and visit famous attractions, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Twin peaks, Land's End, Palace of Fine Arts and Mission District.
Opt to upgrade your tour to include a bay cruise, or 4-hour bike rental, or a visit to the Aquarium of the Bay, to complete your San Francisco experience!
Looking for something different and exciting to do? Ride over the Golden Gate Bridge in a shiny red fire engine! San Francisco's fun and only, spectacular, Big Red Shiny Mack Fire Engine is the red hot way to tour the bay. This open-air tour takes you to the Presidio, over the city's world-famous bridge, and through Sausalito. Fasten your seat belts and firefighter jackets, and book this tour today!
San Francisco Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour + Bonus City Walking Tour
See the best of San Francisco with Hop on Hop off Bus Tours. Our open-top sightseeing tours will introduce you to all the city's must-see sights, with stops conveniently located at iconic landmarks and attractions. Your flexible ticket allows you to hop on and hop off the bus as much as you like, so you can enjoy the freedom to stay for a few snaps, or immerse yourself for hours.
A bonus 1-hour guided Chinatown city walking tour is included in the ticket. Tour starts at 1:00pm daily from stop #2.
Your ticket is valid for 1 day unlimited use from 10am to 5pm. Stop #1 is located at 99 Jefferson st, San Francisco.
Come Jump on a City Tour with us to cruise through some of the 15 BEST City Highlights including Union Square, Chinatown, North Beach, Hayes Valley, Golden Gate Park, the Haight/Ashbury, Western Addition, Civic Center and The Marina. Also, you get 3 stops for photo ops at landmarks such as The Golden Gate Bridge, Painted Ladies and Palace Of Fine Arts.( shhhh ...On occasion you might see us driving down that crooked Lombard Street if traffic permits) FUN FUN FUN!!!
Bonus is, you will be transported into one of our VINTAGE VW buses while rocking out to classic hit songs of the 60's-70's ( Pearl, Poppy, Skye and Rosie)
Please arrive at the pick up location 10 min prior so we can depart on time as we have lots to cover in the city. Thank you!!
Small Group San Francisco Half-Day Afternoon City Tour
Enjoy a glimpse into the culture and diversity of San Francisco's many districts with a comprehensive panoramic tour of the city. See the contrast between towering buildings and wild nature in the city that houses people from fishermen and winemakers to software engineers and financiers.
Get picked up from your hotel and start your journey in the central square of the city, Union Square. Take in the elegant City Hall building and the impressive Public Library. Drive past the headquarters of the legendary Levi Strauss Company and hear how the Gold Rush is associated with jeans.
Ride through diverse neighborhoods, including Haight-Ashbury, the Castro, and the Sea Cliff. Explore the world’s largest Chinatown and the Italian Quarter
Come across sea lions at Pier 39, take a walk along the chic promenade of the Marina area, reach Park Presidio, and take a photo overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.
During your trip, you will also pass by Coit Tower, Lombard Street, and Alamo Square.
For an unforgettable City Sightseeing tour, hitch a ride in a 1970's VW Hippie bus. This is an authentic and unique way to experience San Francisco. This tour is packed with with facts and fun about San Francisco!
Looking for an authentic San Francisco experience? Trade the tour bus for a vintage Volkswagen van that easily navigates the city’s less-traveled lanes. Vantigo’s San Francisco City Tour takes you through 14 famed districts, complete with views of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and several other storied landmarks. Along the way, we will stop and take photos while we share tales of earthquakes that shaped the landscape, industrial shifts from the 1849 Gold Rush to the rise of Silicon Valley, 1960s counterculture, and surprising insights that only a local would know.
Whether this is your first San Francisco visit or you’ve lived here for years, you’ll see the city from a new perspective. Book today. Then, sit back and enjoy the ride!
It's the most exhilarating, entertaining and enlightening way to see San Francisco - the first-ever GPS-guided storytelling car! The clever talking car navigates for you and points out the sights that bring San Francisco to life. Experience what the press is buzzing about, what visitors rave about and what Time Magazine has nominated "as one of the coolest inventions of the year".
Avoid the crowds, confusion, and limitations of large buses and discover San Francisco by a luxury van. Trade the large tour bus for a guided luxury van and see more of San Francisco! Your guide takes you through more neighborhoods & photo stops, complete with views of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, Twin Peaks and several other famous landmarks.
On this 100% local electric bike tour you’ll experience SF’s most essential sights in one unforgettable adventure. The awesome tour route features a full ride on the Golden Bridge and includes SF’s best landmarks, parks, neighborhoods, Victorian architecture, and hidden gems along the way. We’ll even have a picnic in the park, w/ epic views.
• Make the most of your SF time & explore more! This is the coolest, most expansive way to see the city.
• See the Bridge from unique areas not offered on any other tour
• Explore the best parts of SF’s grand Golden Gate Park
• Nick leads all the tours - get SF’s most experienced guide every time
• Ride an Radpower Radrunner bike - the best, most powerful and fun ebikes offered by any SF bike tour.
• Wireless audio system to guarantee you don’t miss a thing & ensures the safest ride
• Captivating stories & iPad collection of cool historical photos
Big Bus San Francisco Hop-On-Hop-Off Open Top Tour and Alcatraz Combo
See all of San Francisco's top attractions with this special Big Bus hop-on hop-off tour and combo package. Create your own sightseeing itinerary, hopping on and off as you please at stops including Fisherman’s Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, Union Square and Lombard Street. Explore Sausalito on a Sausalito Tour. High point: a visit to the notorious prison island of Alcatraz — a must-see!
Small Group Tour: San Francisco and Muir Woods with Lunch in Sausalito
This San Francisco tour is our most popular and top-rated because you get to see our beautiful City by the Bay with a friendly, local guide.
8:00AM – Depart Fisherman’s Wharf
8:00AM -9:30AM – Explore San Francisco’s BEST neighborhoods!
During this time, you are treated to entertaining stories about the neighborhoods, including several photo stops.
9:30AM - 11:00AM – Explore Muir Woods
After a ride across the Golden Gate Bridge north of San Francisco, you will have over an hour to walk amongst some of the last remaining coastal redwoods in the world!
11:00AM - 12:00PM – Lunch in Sausalito
Enjoy a scenic lunch in the quaint town of Sausalito where you can shop, explore, and capture views of San Francisco across the Bay.
1:30PM - Return to Fisherman’s Wharf
We return at the same location we started for you to enjoy the rest of your day!
Combo Tour: Alcatraz Island and San Francisco Grand City Tour
Combine a San Francisco City Tour and guided visit to Alcatraz for the ultimate introduction to San Francisco! You'll enjoy the beauty and attractions of everyone's favorite city, in addition to a scenic ferry ride to Alcatraz Island for an audio walking tour.
You're in a special city. Why take an ordinary tour? This is the ONLY convertible MINI Cooper tour in the country!
This tour is totally customizable – you choose the length of the tour, what time you want to be picked up, and what you want to see.
I love San Francisco and have spent 20 years studying and exploring the city. I’ll work with you to plan your tour so you can see the famous sites and the hidden gems other tours can't go to or don't know about. I’ve designed this to be the type of tour I would take if I visited San Francisco, but where you go is up to you. I make suggestions along the way, but how long you spend at any site is up to you. You're never rushed, and never have to wait for other people. It's all about you!
Plus, it's fun! In the convertible MINI Cooper, you see everything up close and personal as we drive along.
I love showing guests San Francisco, and talking about the history and culture of this unique and special city.
Best Alcatraz Prison Tickets & San Francisco Combo Tour
Why Choose Us?
Because we are unconditionally committed to excellence in all we do
We offer new custom tours and exclusive outdoor adventures
We specialize in private tours and provide high quality travel services
Certified local business and hundreds of five–star reviews
Reliable, passionate, professional and multilingual tour guides
Complimentary services and all-inclusive tour packages
Luxury 4WD SUVs and top-of-the-line vehicles
Go where you want to go, travel your way and at your pace
Quality products, great values and no hidden fees
All applicable taxes and entrance fees included
Luxury excursions and VIP travel services à la carte
Refreshments and breakfast or champagne included (Balloon rides)
Expert photographers and hiking tour leaders available
Family-friendly tour operator, you will not be disappointed!
Proximity to the ocean means temperatures hover in the 60s and 70s (16-26°C) year-round and fog and damp winds roll in off the Pacific constantly.
The consistently mild weather is both good and bad news: 65 degrees during winter feels balmy; during summer, it’s downright cold.
The warmest, fog-free days are in September and October, and you’ll find countless outdoor activities, from concerts in the park to street festivals.
Winter and spring bring rain, but winter is also when hotels are priced lowest, and when the city’s cultural calendar (opera, ballet) is in full swing.
Getting there and away
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is 14 miles south of the city. The best way to go is via BART, the Bay Area’s rail and subway system (it takes around 30 minutes, and costs less than USD10). BART’s hours are 5am to midnight daily.
A pricier option is shared rides like Uber and Lyft, and costs tend to surge when the airport is at its busiest. Supershuttle offers a reasonably-priced in-between with their shared van service. But be forewarned: heavy traffic often slows down all above-ground rides.
Heavy traffic and steep streets make SF a city best explored on foot (translation: no rental car).
Regional rail service BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) has several stops in the city, but your best bet, walking aside, is the MUNI (the Municipal Transportation Agency), which runs SF’s efficient network of buses, under-and-above-ground streetcars, and vintage cable cars (not all that practical, but one hell of a ride). There are also a plethora of taxis prowling the streets.
Where to stay
San Francisco’s compact size and good public transportation system make many of its neighbourhoods viable places to stay, as the city’s best sights are never too far away.
Most first-timers choose to bed down in and around Union Square, SF’s commercial and tourist heart which does have some great hotels.
Also consider staying slightly off the more-travelled path, notably SOMA (which stands for south of Market Street), a formerly industrial district full of warehouses which is now home to chic hotels, restaurants, and cultural attractions, such as the Museum of Modern Art.
Where to shop
There’s good reason to break out the plastic in most of SF’s neighbourhoods, where shops often adopt their home district’s tone.
You’ll find the standard luxury brands in Union Square, while things go a little more indie in Hayes Valley, where some of the city’s best designers and gallerists have set-up shop.
Record and vintage stores harken back to the Haight’s hippie-filled past, and chic boutiques line Fillmore Street in privileged Pacific Heights.