San Francisco City Tours: 6 Great Options to Get to Know SF

San Francisco city tours are one of the best ways to explore the City by the Bay. You can head out on a classic journey that takes you to the hot spots in a large van or passenger bus. 

I've also included a few fun options such as exploring in a 60s Van or on the Magic Bus. Read on to learn more and find the one that is right for your stay!

San Francisco City Tours

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1. San Francisco Deluxe Half-Day Tour

Of all the San Francisco city tours, this deluxe half-day (3.5-hour) tour does a great job of packing all the major highlights into one convenient, informative morning or afternoon. This option is great because it's thorough but compact, allowing you to check off all the top tourist sights on your list, and spend the rest of the day exploring on your own. 

The tour makes it easy for you by picking up and dropping off at central SF hotels, and narrating the scenery and history as you visit the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, and more, with a special photo stop at Twin Peaks. You'll especially want to consider this option if you have very limited time to spend in the San Francisco.

Dates/Times: Every day at 9am, there is also a 2pm tour during the busier months

>> Check for ticket availability today

>> Find more of my favorite bus tours

2. Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

The Hop-On Hop-Off Tour is the perfect option for visitors who prefer to go at their own pace, but still appreciate the convenience of being transported from one attraction to another and learning about them in between. 

The double-decker bus has an open top so you can take in the city sights as you cruise along the 2-hour route that offers 20+ stops, including Fisherman's Wharf, Union Square, Chinatown, Lombard Street, and the Haight-Ashbury

Buy a one- or two-day pass, and for that duration, take your time getting off and back on at the stops you choose. The bus will pass by at 15- to 20-minute intervals.

Dates/Times: Daily starting at 9am 

>> Find tickets today on the Big Bus Tours website

>> Additional Hop On/Hop Off Tour options

3. San Francisco Night Tour

San Francisco is beautiful during the day, but even more amazing at night. Hop aboard this open air, double decker bus for a night drive through SF. You will pass by top attractions including those in North Beach, Chinatown and along the Embarcadero.

You will also get the chance to learn more with two short walking tours during your journey. This is one of the San Francisco city tours that offers live narration, so you can also get your questions answered along the way.

This tour runs after dark part of the year and when it's still light out in the summer months (7pm).

Dates/Times: Leaves nightly at 6:30pm (7pm in the summer)

>> Check pricing and find ticket availability on the Big Bus Tours website

>> Find more of the best night tours and activities in SF

>> Find additional things to do at night in SF

4. San Francisco Love Tour

Get a taste of San Francisco's hippie era of the past and hipster culture of today as you tour the city in a 1970s VW bus that harkens back to the heyday of free love in the City by the Bay. 

This is one of the more personalized San Francisco city tours, as the bus seats only up to six people, and will take you down streets that normal tour buses can't. 

In addition to the interior shag carpet, the Love Tour keeps to the theme by taking you to the homes of the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix, as well as conventional stops like the Golden Gate Bridge, North Beach, the Castro, the Mission, and more.

Dates/Times: Runs most days at 8:30am, 11am, 2pm, & 5pm

>> Find tickets today to this funky tour

5. Magic Bus Tour

In the 1960s, San Francisco was a haven for flower children, beatniks, and rock n' roll. Hop on this psychedelic, decked out 'Magic Bus' and get transported back in time to the Summer of Love on your tour of the top 60s hotspots. 

Learn how the Haight-Ashbury, Golden Gate Park, North Beach, and Chinatown districts each played a distinct role during that era, and ride by sites that held important demonstrations and the very first Earth Day event. On your 2-hour cruise around town, your guides will invite you to wear a flower in your hair, sit back, and enjoy some classic tunes. 

Dates/Times: Friday & Saturday at 10:30am for June, July and August; Saturday at 10:30am for September, October, November, and December

>> My experience on this fun, colorful tour

6. Dylan's Famous Tour

One of the top San Francisco city tours is through Dylan's Tours. It's called Dylan's Famous Tour as it includes so many of the top sites around SF. 

On this 3-hour tour, you will get the highlights of the city of San Francisco. You will meet your local knowledgeable guide in Fisherman's Wharf (or schedule a pick-up from your hotel) and hop aboard their comfortable minibus.

As you are chauffeured around SF, you hear interesting stories about some of our top districts, events, and culture. You see drive past some of our top attractions as you learn more about them. 

This tour includes a few photo stops and also a drive over the Golden Gate Bridge. 

Your tour ends in the waterfront town of Sausalito. You can then decide how you want to return to San Francisco including by bus, ferry, or taxi/Lyft/Uber. 

Dates/Times: Runs daily at 9:30 a.m.

More Fun Tours for Your Stay

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