Hop on a San Francisco ferry for a cruise around the bay or for a quick ride across the bay. Top SF ferry routes include Sausalito, Tiburon, and Alcatraz Island. It's also the only way to get to and from Angel Island.
Including a ferry ride in your visit to the City by the Bay is a must! All offer incredible views and a unique way to get to other waterfront towns around the bay.
The first thing to remember before booking your cruise is that there are a few different companies. From my experience, they all seem to be about the same, just with different services and/or prices for their trips.
The Blue and Gold Company, the Red and White Fleet Company, and the Golden Gate Company are the three main companies. The first two offer bay cruises and some ferry service to points around the bay. The third company targets commuters, so it offers mainly morning and afternoon ferry service.
The Red and White Company is the one that provides ferries to and from Alcatraz Island.
To give you some perspective before reading about each location, here is a map that shows the four main terminals in San Francisco. Use this as a reference to see where you will need to go to find your San Francisco ferry.
The Alcatraz cruise offers trips to and from Pier 33. This is only for passengers who have purchased a ticket to visit Alcatraz (find visiting tips here). The ticket for this ride is included with your Alcatraz tour ticket, so you do not have to buy a separate ferry ticket.
Alternatively, you can take a cruise around the island on the Escape from the Rock Cruise (click here to see pictures and read more about my experience on this cruise). This ride takes you under the Golden Gate Bridge and gets close to Alcatraz, but does not stop for a visit. It's great for those that don't have time to spend several hours on the island, yet still want to see it up close.
Like the name implies, the Angel Island Ferry services only Angel Island (click here for a list of fun things to do on the island). This one has a much more limited schedule than the others listed above.
In the winter and spring months, there is usually only one ferry that leaves Pier 41 each day for Angel Island. In the summer and fall months, there are usually two or three San Francisco ferries that head over to Angel Island every day. Some of them leave from Pier 41 and others leave from the Ferry Building.
If you don't want to leave San Francisco, but want to take a tour of the bay, then check out the San Francisco Bay Cruises. They range from the basic 60-minute trip around the bay to romantic champagne cruises at sunset.
It's an unforgettable way to spend a few hours of your visit to San Francisco. Find the one that is right for you!
These ferries pick up at Pier 43 1/2.
The ferry to Sausalito is the most famous and popular San Francisco ferry option. It runs 5 to 6 times a day to and from this quaint waterfront town.
According to the book Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Greatest Trips- this is one of the 10 best ferry rides in the world! This book is one of my ultimate favorite travel books (with the most amazing pictures!) - so it was fun to see one of the local San Francisco ferries on their top ten ferry list.
Two companies offer service from San Francisco to Sausalito. They are the Blue and Gold Ferry Fleet Company, and the Golden Gate Ferry Company.
Blue and Gold picks up passengers at Pier 41 in Fisherman's Wharf near the popular Pier 39. Learn more about the Sausalito Ferry, including prices and the latest Sausalito schedule.
The Tiburon Ferry is another popular Bay Area cruise. It runs between San Francisco and Tiburon daily.
The Gold and Blue Fleet Company runs all of the Tiburon ferries. They run this tour out of both Pier 41 and the Ferry Building.
The services north to Vallejo and east to Oakland & Alameda all run in and out of the Ferry Building. These routes are primarily a form of public transportation for commuters living in these areas as they travel back and forth to San Francisco. There are also a couple of ferries each day that swing by Pier 41 to pick up passengers in route to these three locations.
Blue and Gold Fleet Company offers both of these services. The Oakland and Alameda ferry services both locations.
These two ferries also have additional service for some of the San Francisco Giants games. This special service picks up and drops off right at AT&T Park. This is a fun and easy alternative to driving before or after the game from these three locations.
These are the main ferries that service the Bay Area. If you have the opportunity, I'd highly recommend taking a ride at least once while you are here. It’s a great experience and fun way to see the views around the bay.
Bridge to Bridge
Ride on the Waterfront