San Francisco Walking Tours

The 10 Best Guided Walking Tours in SF

Are you looking for the best San Francisco walking tours? With so many options are you not sure which one to choose?

My list of the top 10 offers you the chance to easily find the right tour option for you. They give you the chance to get an up-close and personal look at our major attractions and learn more about the neighborhoods that made SF famous.

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 these guided walks is that you will get access to places you normally wouldn't find on your own or that only allow guided tours to visit.

You will also find out about hidden spots and little-known facts for each SF district or tourist attraction.

What to Expect During These Walks

San Francisco walking tours last between one and three hours. I've found that most hit the spot in between and are around two hours long. During this time, you do quite a bit of standing and walking, since the guide is explaining a lot along the way.

On average, the tours usually cover around one to three miles. The city is very hilly, but many tours try to take the flattest route. If any tour requires climbing a steep hill or set of stairs, I've included it 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.

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 SF City Guides.

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

1. Golden Gate Bridge

The first of the San Francisco walking tours on my list is a free Golden Gate Bridge walk. It's offered through SF City Guides every Sunday and Thursday at 11am.

On this stroll, you will learn more about the history of the Golden Gate Bridge, walk through its outdoor museum, and then walk on the bridge to the first tower.

The walk lasts about two hours and starts at the Strauss Tower on the southern end of the bridge near the Visitors Center.

It's a great way to learn all about this amazing structure and the people that built it.

Walking Tour on the Golden Gate Bridge

You do not need to register for this tour ahead of time. Simply show up at the meeting location a few minutes before 11am.

They will ask you to sign their form and where you found out about this walk.

At the end, they will ask for a small donation to help support their work. I usually give about $7 to $10 per walk.

The only downside of this walk is that they don't limit the number of people, so come early and stand in front so you can hear everything the guide describes.

>> Find additional guided walks offered for free by SF City Guides

2. Little Italy & North Beach

The San Francisco North Beach District, also called Little Italy, is where you will find some of the most amazing Italian treats and quite a bit of history. And, this walking tour gives you a sample of both!

Stroll through the streets of North Beach as you sample some of its tasty pastries and desserts from locally popular bakeries and delis. Indulge in fresh roasted coffee, Italian sodas, and teas.

Tastes of North Beach

You will also learn all about this historically significant neighborhood from your local guide. Take a peek inside some of the Beat Generation's favorite stops. Step inside one of the most beautiful neighborhood churches, Saints Peter and Paul Church.

At the end of this tour, you will know North Beach, Little Italy and it's most treasured stops like a local!

The tour runs for about 3 hours on mostly flat streets. It runs twice a day almost every day of the year.

>> Find tickets to this tour on GetYourGuide

>> More of my favorite food tours around SF

3. Mission & Castro Adventure

One of the hottest new San Francisco walking tours is called the Mission and Castro Adventure. It tells the story of two of our most interesting and diverse neighborhoods: The Castro and The Mission.

Your tour starts in the Mission where you will visit some of its murals, sample locally produced chocolate, visit a couple of eclectic shops, and spend a little time in Mission Dolores Park.

 

Radical SF Tour

You will then head over to the Castro, which is the heart of the LGBTQ community in San Francisco. Find out how this now colorful district came to life and the story of one of its earliest leaders, Harvey Milk.

You will then return to the Mission District for a glass of wine (included in the ticket price) while checking out the 360-degree views above this colorful district.

This 3-hour tour starts at 3633 18th St. near the Women's Building in the Mission. It runs most Sundays at 1 p.m.

>> Find tickets to this tour on Viator

4. Night Walking Tour of Chinatown & North Beach

Spend your evening getting to know two of our top districts: Chinatown and North Beach. These two very different neighborhoods sit side-by-side and are the topic of one of one of the most popular San Francisco walking tours at night.

Your journey begins in Chinatown, one of the oldest and largest outside of Asia. You'll start by sampling fresh dim sum at a local bakery.

You will then hear all about this district's culture and intriguing stories. Before you leave, you will also get the chance to sip on some tasty Chinese tea.

North Beach and Chinatown at Night

You will emerge from China and step into Italy as you enter North Beach. This part of your walking tour includes stops at some of the Beat Generations favorite watering holes and a chance to sample handmade pizza.

You will savor some of this district's best locally roasted coffee. You will also get the chance to see where "The Godfather" was written.

Your ticket for this 2-hour tour includes all the food and drink samples along the way. Don't eat too much before you arrive as you want to leave room for all of the samples along the way!

This is one of the San Francisco walking tours that runs almost every night of the year.

>> Find tickets for this tour on GetYourGuide

>> More Chinatown tours

>> Additional night tours

5. Haunted SF: Ghosts, Murder & Mystery

Union Square's dark history comes to light on this interesting and fun ghost tour. This district was a common stop for visitors looking for a little fun during the Gold Rush era.

Its popularity continued throughout the years and has been the location of many dark, historic events.

On this tour, you will hear tales from the Gold Rush era including an upscale shopping district that used to be the home of many of this era's most frequented brothels.

You'll visit the sites of many infamous murders including the St. Francis Hotel, the Curran Theater, and the Pinecrest Dinner.

This tour isn't so much scary, but more of a chilling look back at this district's better-known events.

This tour is offered most nights and runs for about 90-minutes.

>> Find tickets for this spooky tour on Viator

>> More ghost tours around SF

Discounted Tickets for San Francisco Walking Tours

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 cost for certain days and times:

  • North Beach Food Tour
  • Mission North Food Tour
  • Edible Excursions' Japantown Food Tour
  • Craft Chocolate Tour
  • Edible Excursions' Ferry Building and Farmer's Market

Find discounted tickets for these and other walking tours and events on Goldstar.

6. Craft Beer Walking Tour in Fisherman's Wharf & North Beach

Are you a craft beer lover? Are you curious about the craft brews that San Francisco has to offer? If so, you are going to love this fun walking tour!

On this fun adventure, you will spend around 4 hours sampling some of the area's best craft brews in the Fisherman's Wharf and North Beach districts.

Craft Beer FW & NB

You will get the chance to stop and sample at three breweries. As you sip, you will also learn all about the history of craft beers in both SF and California.

It's a great way to get to know some of our top district as well as our hot craft brewery scene.

This tour runs several times a week.

>> Visit Viator to check for ticketing availability

7. Bridge & Beach Walking Tour

Throw on your sneakers, grab your camera and get ready for one of the best San Francisco walking tours. This 4.5-hour tour offers breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the rugged cliffs along SF's shoreline.

Your adventure starts with a walk out onto the Golden Gate Bridge, where you will learn more about the history of and what it took to build this amazing structure. You will then head west along the Coastal Trail over to Baker Beach.

Land's End Trail Tour

From here, you will hike up into one of SF's most posh neighborhoods. From here, you will enter the Land's End Trail, which is set high above the waterfront on rugged cliffs. This trail is gorgeous with quite a few hills and steps along the way.

You will make a few stops as you hike on this trail as you continue to head west. One of your final stops is the historic Sutro Bath ruins. You will learn about this once popular indoor swimming pool, the largest at the time it was finished.

The tour runs for around 4 to 4.5 hours. It's scheduled most days and ends at around 7:30pm.

>> Find tickets for this fun outdoor hike

8. Flavors & Murals of the Mission

If you love both food and art, then this is the tour for you. It combines the Latin cuisines of the Mission District with stops at some of its most colorful murals.

Your 2.5-hour tour starts by sampling some artisanal donuts and some coffee. You choose the one you want to sample from their unique offering such as bacon maple apple or chocolate rose.

Once you have devoured your sweet treat, you will then stop by a Mexican bakery where you will again be able to choose from a selection of goodies. You will also get a chance to sample some of their agua fresca.

Your journey continues with a stroll through Balmy Alley where you will learn more about a variety of colorful, interesting murals that all tell a story.

Mission Tour SF

Other stops on this tour include a couple of additional food stops for pies and other traditional Mexican dishes and a walk-through Clarion Alley where you will see even more colorful murals.

Your ticket includes food samples at 5 locations. Make sure to bring along a few dollars for a short bus ride from one end of the Mission to the other and for any beverages you want to enjoy along the way.

>> Visit GetYourGuide for ticket availability

9. San Francisco Telegraph Hill & The Old Waterfront Tour

Learn all about the history of the old waterfront along San Francisco's eastern side. Your three+ hour tour starts at the Ferry Building and takes you along the waterfront.

You will then head up the Filbert Street Stairs as you learn about the history of the Telegraph Hill District as well as some of its most famous residents, the wild parrots.

Parrots of Telegraph Hill

You will walk up to Coit Tower to learn more about this tall tower on the hill. You'll learn about its history and the person that donated the money to build it.

You will then descend down the Greenwich Stairs as you learn even more about this interesting, historic area.

The walk includes about four miles and quite a few stairs. It takes about three to three and a half hours.

You will then return to the Ferry Building at the end of the journey. This tour runs four days a week.

>> Find tickets to this interesting San Francisco experience

>> Find additional unusual experiences around SF

10. Urban Jungles & City Heights

The final option on my list of the 10 best San Francisco walking tours is the Urban Jungle & City Heights Walk.

Step off the beaten path and get your heart pumping on this 3-hour tour. Your guide will take you to the top of several hills with views for miles.

Hike to the top of Kite Hill, Tank Hill, and Twin Peaks for views of the Golden Gate Bridge, downtown SF, and the surrounding Bay Area. Slide down the popular Seward Slides near the Castro.

City Heights Hike

Your tour will also include time walking through lovely stairways, quaint streets, and other hidden areas that would be impossible to find on your own.

The hike is about 5 miles (8 kilometers) and is offered most Thursday and Friday afternoons starting at 1:30pm. It's also offered most Saturdays at 9:30am.

>> Visit GetYourGuide to book your spot

Best Walking Tours of SF

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San Francisco is currently on a shelter-in-place order through May 3, 2020. Learn more on my coronavirus page.

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Hi there! I'm Jill Loeffler and welcome to my site. I've been exploring San Francisco for almost two decades and I can't wait to help you find the best things to do here! Thanks for stopping by and please contact me if you have any questions before your trip.

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