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

Jill at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

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 70s VW van or checking out famous movie locations. Read on to learn more and find the one that is right for your stay!

Two bus tour images for San Francisco

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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.

Days/Times: Every day at 9 am, there is also a 2 pm 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 this route, which offers 20+ stops, including Fisherman's Wharf, Union Square, Chinatown, Lombard Street, and the Haight-Ashbury district. 

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.

Should you choose to ride the whole route from start to finish without hopping off, it takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Days/Times: Daily from 10 am to 6 pm

>> Find tickets today

>> Additional Hop-On Hop-Off Tour options

3. San Francisco Panoramic Night Tour

San Francisco is beautiful during the day, but even more amazing at night. Hop aboard this open-top double-decker bus for a one-hour and 15-minute night drive through SF.

You will pass by top attractions including those in North Beach, Chinatown, and along the Embarcadero. You'll see Grace Cathedral atop Nob Hill and cross the Bay Bridge to Treasure Island for a chance to take photos of the impressive SF skyline.

The tour provides complimentary headphones to listen to the pre-recorded commentary in six languages.

This is one of the San Francisco city tours that runs after dark part of the year and when it's still light out in the summer months.

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

>> Check pricing and find ticket availability

>> 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. The two-hour experience also takes you to conventional stops like the Golden Gate Bridge, North Beach, the Castro, the Mission, and more.

Days/Times: Runs most days at 8:30 am or 11 am

>> Find tickets today to this funky tour

5. Movie Sights City Tour

Want to see where some of the most famous movies and TV shows were filmed in San Francisco? 

This tour takes you on a fun adventure through the heart of the city. You'll see clips of movie scenes right before you drive past the actual filming location. I LOVE this tour, and it's very well done.

On this three-hour tour, you'll cruise past more than 55 filming locations. Some top picks include locations for Mrs. Doubtfire, Vertigo, and the opening credits of Full House.

Did you know that scenes from Interview with the Vampire, The Princess Diaries, and What's Up Doc? were also filmed here? You'll see some of those locations too!

Days/Times: Runs most days at 10 am or 1 pm

>> Find out more about this movie city tour and find tickets for your upcoming visit

6. Dylan's Famous San Francisco City Tour

One of the top San Francisco city tours is called Dylan's Famous San Francisco City Tour as it includes so many of the top attractions around SF. 

On this 2.5-hour tour, you will get the highlights of San Francisco starting in Fisherman's Wharf, where you will board their comfortable minibus.

As you are chauffeured around SF, you will hear interesting stories from your knowledgeable local guide about some of our top districts, events, and culture. 

This tour includes several photo stops and concludes with a drive over the Golden Gate Bridge. 

The ending location is the waterfront town of Sausalito, where you might want to grab lunch with a view before deciding how you want to return to San Francisco (options include bus, ferry, and taxi/Lyft/Uber). 

Days/Times: Daily at 8:30 a.m.

>> Get more details and make your reservation on their website

More Fun Tours for Your Stay

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?

I would love for you to join me in my private Facebook group

It's a great place to interact with me and others who know the area well.

You can ask questions, get advice for your upcoming stay, and then share your photos and advice with others when you return home. It's a great community and the fastest way to get answers to those nagging questions about your visit!

Come join the fun here!

San Francisco City Tours Pin

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