San Francisco Walking Tours

The Best Guided Walking Tours in SF

Taking one of the San Francisco walking tours is the best way to see the city. It gives you the chance to get an up close and personal look at the major attractions and neighborhoods that made SF famous.

mission mural from sf walking tour
This is just one of dozens of photos I took during a Mission Murals walk.

San Francisco has quite a few interesting guided walks from the popular Golden Gate Bridge trips to food tours where you taste your way through a specific neighborhood or market.

The best part about many of the San Francisco walking tours is that you get access to places you can't get into otherwise. You will also find out about hidden spots and little known facts for each SF district or tourist attraction.

painted ladies of alamo square
This is a rare look inside one of the painted ladies in Alamo Square. The owner offers a look inside, at times, for those on the Alamo Square Walk offered through the SF Public Library.

What to Expect During These Walks

Many of the ones here last between one and three hours. I've found that most hit the spot in between and are around 2 hours long.

During this time, you do quite a bit of standing and walking, since the guide is explaining quite a bit along the way. On average, they usually cover around one to three miles.

The city is very hilly, but many try to take the flattest route. Any that include a steep hill or set of stairs is included in the description, so you know what you are getting yourself into before you book.

Make sure you always wear comfortable shoes and clothing for the walk, since there isn't always a place to sit down and rest.

San Francisco Public Library

The Public Library offers several informative walks. They are given by local experts that are volunteers and passionate about their subject.

coit tower muralsEach one provides well researched information on their topic. I've done quite a few of these and I'm always learning something new.

These are free, although they do ask for donations at the end. This is to help keep the program running - and is not a tip for the guide.

You also don't need to make a reservation. You just need to show up at the designated location a few minutes before it begins.

One con of these is that they don't limit the number of people on each one. Some of the most popular ones get quite large. However, they are free, so you can always head off and do something else if it isn't right for you.

Learn More: List of Guided Walks Offered by the SF Public Library

Alcatraz Prison

alcatraz island prison cellThe Alcatraz prison visits are by far the most popular of the San Francisco walking tours. They start and end with a ferry ride over to the island, but the rest of it is all on foot.

There are several tours a day. They also offer one or two each evening, depending on the time of year.

All tours start with a walk up the hill to the prison. You will then take a self guided audio walk.

A visit to Alcatraz is a must for all first time San Francisco visitors!

Fishermans Wharf & North Beach Walk

This San Francisco walk covers two of the most visited SF neighborhoods: Fishermans Wharf and North Beach. The two hour journey starts at the world famous Buena Vista Cafe.

fishermans wharfFrom here, you'll take in some amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge and then make your way over to North Beach. Here you get to experience Washington Park and Saints Peter and Paul Church.

You'll then climb the stairs to soak in the views near Coit Tower. From here, you get additional views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard Street.

At the end, you receive a ticket to ride on the famous cable cars. This way you can continue to explore on your own.

This one lasts around two hours and includes quite a bit of walking. It also includes a stair climb to the top of Coit Tower. It's a great one for those that love to explore on foot.

Book Tickets: Fishermans Wharf & North Beach Walk


chinaYou can find several walking tours offered for Chinatown. Here you can sample some dim sum and find out more about the ghosts that roam this part of town.

Most of these also include a walk past its many attractions such as the Fortune Cookie Company, its famed herbal pharmacies and colorful temples.

Learn More: Chinatown

North Beach

north beachYou can also find quite a few San Francisco walking tours in North Beach. Here you can see many attractions including Washington Park, Saint Peter and Paul's Church and Coit Tower. You can also take a food trip and sample some of its amazing Italian treats.

Learn More: North Beach

Visit the Castro

castro san franciscoTake a historical walking tour and learn the history of SF's internationally recognized gay and lesbian district. The Castro is colorful and packed full of history.

It's the neighborhood where civil rights leader Harvey Milk lived. Discover the location of his original camera shop, visit Harvey Milk Plaza and learn more about the Civil Rights Academy built in his honor.

You'll also visit many beautifully crafted murals, spend some time in the Pink Triangle Memorial Park and find out about the Rainbow Honor Walk Project.

This two-hour adventure is a great way to learn the truth about this controversial, yet thriving San Francisco neighborhood.

Book Tickets: Guided Castro Visit

SF Ghost Walks

chinatown ghost tourDo you want to search for the ghosts from San Francisco's past? If so, then you will enjoy these walking tours. Each one offers you the chance to learn more about SF's dark and mysterious past and you experience the places where ghosts are said to roam. Most are more educational than scary, but all are fun.

Learn More: SF Ghost Walking Tours

Discounted Tickets

In addition to the tours mentioned above, you can also find some discounted tours on Goldstar. Here are just some of the San Francisco walking tours that you can find at up to 50% off the full retail cost for certain days and times:

  • Rick Evan's San Francisco Chinatown Walking Tour
  • See Chinatown After Dark on the Ghostly Walking Tour
  • Japantown: Edible Excursions Tasting Featuring Asian Specialities
  • Tasty Tours of the Ferry Building and Farmer's Market
  • Visit the Cutting-Edge Cuisine of 18th Street in the Mission
  • Mission 24th Street: Culinary Journey with an Epicurean Concierge

Find discounted tickets for even more walking tours and events on Goldstar.

Additional San Francisco Walking Tours

Self Guided: Do you prefer to tour on your own? If you enjoy a slower tour on your own (or with your own group), then check out these Self Guided Tour options. You can choose from audio guides and hard copy maps with a pre-planned routes.

Food Adventures: Are you interested in sampling some of the tasty treats of San Francisco? These San Francisco walking tours combine a guided walking tour with the savory flavors of some of San Francisco's most popular dishes.

Night Trips: Do you love to experience a city's nightlife? These night time San Francisco walking tours include both ghost stories and those that end with dinner in a local restaurant.

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> > Walking Tours

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