Getting to San Francisco
San Francisco is served by two major airports: San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Oakland International Airport (OAK), both less than 30 minutes away from downtown San Francisco and serviced by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) in addition to taxis, buses, vans, and private car services.
You may also consider Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, located in neighboring San Jose, CA, about 50 miles or 1 hour away from downtown San Francisco. All three airports provide access to San Francisco via taxis, buses, vans, subways, trains and private limo car services.
Voted “Best Airport in the Americas,” SFO is located about 14 miles from downtown San Francisco. SFO offers non-stop service to more than 75 U.S. airports on 15 domestic airlines and more than 30 international points on 30 international carriers.
|Getting to San Francisco from SFO:
Located about 20 miles from San Francisco, OAK’s two passenger terminals provide service for eight domestic airlines and three international airlines.
|Getting to San Francisco from OAK:
Approximately 45 miles from downtown San Francisco, SJC averages 150 commercial and 50 general aviation departures daily. A combined 13 domestic and international airlines operate out of SJC’s two terminals.
|Getting to San Francisco from SJC:
Other Ways to Get Here
In addition to nearby airports, San Francisco is easily accessible via an extensive network of bridges, trains, light rail, buses, heliports, and even cruise ports. Driving to San Francisco is an option, but you certainly won’t need a car to get around once you’ve arrived—the fastest, easiest way to explore the streets of San Francisco is by foot, public transportation, or by ridesharing.
Getting Around San Francisco
Measuring 49 square miles, San Francisco is not only a very walkable city, but also offers a variety of options for public transportation.
MUNI/San Francisco Municipal operates buses, trains, cable cars, and the F-line heritage streetcar. The MUNI buses remain above ground while MUNI metro runs on rails and sometimes go underground. Use the MUNI website to plan your trip, or download one of many smartphone apps that provide maps, routes, and times.
MUNI Visitor Passports and CityPASS may be useful if you plan to use MUNI to get around during the conference. They provide unlimited rides on Muni, Muni Metro, historic streetcars, and cable cars. There are multiple locations throughout the city where you may purchase tickets and day passes.
If you want to widen your travel radius to the entire Bay area, the Clipper Card is an easy and fast way to use the various modes of transportation. Purchasing this pre-loaded card will give you access to all bay-area transportation such as Bart, Muni buses, and Muni Metro, but NOT Cable Car. When you board, hold the card over a scanner and listen for the beep. Cards can be bought at multiple locations and re-filled at Bart Stations.
Cable Cars and street cars are San Francisco’s historical cars and run along cables that are affixed to the street. Cable Cars are located downtown and run on three lines; Powell-Hyde, Powell-Mason, and California St. The F-Line Street Car runs up and down Market St. all the way to Fisherman’s Wharf. For these you may pay the conductor on board or purchase tickets at multiple locations.
Ride Sharing and Taxis
Uber and Lyft are both available in San Francisco. You must first download the app, register, and set-up a credit card payment system. Get more ride sharing tips here. As is customary in most U.S. cities, you may also hail a taxi directly or use a smartphone app. Taxis are typically under $20 for most trips around the city.
- Hotel doorman: $3 for hailing a cab
- Porters and bellhops: $1–$2 per bag
- Maids: $1–$2 per person, per day of your visit, or as much as $5 per day
- Waitstaff and bartenders: 15–20 percent of total bill
- Taxi drivers: 15–20 percent of total fare
- Tips for other service personnel, such as theater ushers, tour guides and coat-check staff, are always appreciated.
It’s worth noting that if you’re having drinks at a bar, bartenders typically expect a $2 tip for every drink they serve you.
San Francisco is committed to ensuring accessibility for everyone with special needs, and has equipped all forms of public transportation with a variety of features to make transportation easier for those with disabilities. The MUNI bus fleet includes electric trolley coaches, clean diesel coaches and hybrid low-floor vehicles. Downtown, the MUNI Metro runs underground and all stops are accessible. In the neighborhoods, trains run at street level and accessible stops are located at major destinations and transfer points. All streetcars are accessible. Many street-hail cabs accommodate wheelchairs. To request a wheelchair-accessible taxi for scheduled pick-up, call Yellow Cab (415-333-3333), Desoto Cab (415-970-1303), or Town Taxi (415-333-3333) for priority service. Passengers with disabilities are eligible for reduced fares on most mass-transit trips. For more information about San Francisco accessibility, call 415-701-2311 from outside the city or 311 within the city; or contact the Mayor’s Office on Disability (415-554-6789, sfgov.org/mod).