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Walk Across the Golden Gate Bridge: 12 Tips & Answers to FAQs

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Updated: June 6, 2022

Can you walk across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco? Yes, you can!

The other great news is that the pedestrian walkway is open every day of the year and free for all visitors. Walking across this incredible gem is a highlight of many trips to SF.

The Golden Gate Bridge is a colorful International Orange and sits over a narrow straight above the San Francisco Bay. The bridge's southern side is in SF, and the northern end of the bridge is in Marin County.

Upon its completion in 1937, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Although it no longer holds that distinction, you will find it's a fantastic attraction to visit.

Ready to walk across? In this article, you will find a few tips and answers to some frequently asked questions about one of the most gorgeous bridges in the world! 

1. Distance & Time to Walk the Bridge

Heart around the Golden Gate Bridge from inside Equator Coffee near the Welcome Center.You can take this same photo from inside the Equator Coffee in the Round House on the south side of the bridge.

How long does it take to cross the bridge? What is the distance?

To get from one side of the bridge to the other is about a 1.7-mile long walk. It's a straight path with a little bit of an uphill walk until you reach the center. It then goes downhill just a bit, but not too much.

How much time will it take?

Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge at a steady pace will take you about 30 minutes to walk the entire route. You will want to leave plenty of time, though, as the walk is usually slow and steady, so plan for it to take you at least 45 minutes each way.

You will find that most people walk to the first tower, spend a little time soaking in the scenery, and then head back. The entire walk is about a half-mile from Vista Point to the first tower if you do this. The total walk is about a mile to get there and back. 

2. Entrances to the East Sidewalk

Where do I start the Golden Gate Bridge walk?

Your walk across the Golden Gate Bridge will start near Vista Point South from the San Francisco side. You'll see the entrance just to the west (near the roadway) of this famous lookout point.  

From the north side of the bridge, your walk will begin at Vista Point in Marin County. There are a few sidewalks that lead you to the east pedestrian walkway.

Note: The west sidewalk is reserved for those riding their bikes. It's open during the busiest times of the day and on the weekends. You can only enter this side if you are on a bike. No pedestrians allowed. Find my tips for riding a bike across the bridge here. It includes details on where to find a bike rental, what the entire path looks like, and how to get back to SF.

3. Golden Gate Bridge Walkway Hours

South Tower of the Golden Gate BridgeThis is the view from the east sidewalk of the south tower of the bridge.

What are the hours to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge?

The hours vary by season. Here are the current hours for the East Walkway.

  • November to early March: 5 am to 6:30 pm
  • March to early November: 5 am to 9 pm

The walkways have gates that automatically open and close at these times. If you are on the bridge and it's close to closing time, make sure to exit the walkway as soon as you can.

4. Parking Near the Bridge

Where is the best parking nearby?

You will find several options for parking near the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge. The southeast side visitor parking lot right near the Welcome Center on the San Francisco side gets crowded early, and it is difficult to find a parking space, so I never recommend parking here.

However, I created a complete guide to help you find parking for your visit. You will find both paid and free parking options on my list. You can see all of my recommendations here.

5. Best Times to Walk Across the Golden Gate Bridge

View of the GGB from Marshall's BeachA view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Marshall's Beach in October.

What are the best times to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge? There are a few times that I recommend. Here are a few more details on each one.

Mid-Morning: I think the best time to explore the bridge on foot is in the mid-morning. During the foggy season, this is usually the time of day when the fog starts to burn off so you can get great views from the walkways. By this time, the temperatures will be a little warmer.

Early Evening: Another fun time to visit is in the early evening. This is when the foot traffic dies down a little, and you can easily walk across. This is also when the cyclists are required to use the western walkway (3:30 pm to 6:30 pm), so you will have less bike traffic. 

Weekdays: You will also find less traffic on the weekdays. The closer you get to the weekend, the more traffic you will find. Usually, you'll find the least number of people visiting on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

San Francisco high season is during the summer and over holiday weekends. You will find the bridge is crowded during these times.

6. Walking the Bridge at Night

Can you walk across the bridge at night? 

No. The walkways on the bridge close down to pedestrians at night for safety.

It is open 24 hours a day to cyclists, so they close it down to pedestrians to ensure no accidents on the bridge when it's dark, and people are riding their bikes across.

The gates will automatically close at 6:30 pm in the winter and 9 pm in summer.

7. What to Wear

People walking across the Golden Gate BridgeThis is a great view of the east sidewalk. You can also see it's a sunny day, and most people are bundled up with jackets and long pants.

What should I wear to walk the bridge?

Most people don't realize that it's windy on the Golden Gate Bridge and usually a bit cooler than San Francisco or the surrounding areas. However, during September and October, you will find it's pleasant and warm (not as cool as windy as the rest of the year).

Due to these variations, I recommend you wear layers. 

I usually wear a medium-weight long or short-sleeved shirt. I then bring along a jacket to add or remove as I walk across. 

I always wear pants. Shorts are acceptable if you run hot, but make sure to bring along a jacket to keep you warm. 

Also, I don't recommend skirts. The wind can whip around at times, and you don't want to have to be trying to hold your dress down the entire time you are there.

For shoes, I recommend you wear close-toed shoes with socks. I don't recommend heels as the pavement is not 100% flat on the walkway. There are a few places where you could trip if you are wearing heels. 

Biking the Bridge: Trying to decide if you should bike the bridge instead? If so, check out this page with everything you need to know to bike the bridge. You can also check out this great guided tour.

8. Walking to Sausalito

Can I walk all the way to Sausalito? Yes!

You can walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and all the way to Sausalito (on the Marin side). I've done it a few times. It's quite a walk, and you'll want to come prepared, but you can get all the way to Sausalito from the bridge on foot.

One of the things to keep in mind is that once you leave Golden Gate Bridge View Vista Point (on the Sausalito side), there are no services until you reach Sausalito. You won't find anywhere to stop, go to the bathroom, or grab something to eat. Make sure you bring anything you will need for your walk.

The distance from the northern end of the bridge to downtown Sausalito is about 2.5 miles. It's another 1.7 miles to walk across, so the total is around 4 to 4.5 miles. 

You will run into some hills as you walk the last 2.5 miles to Sausalito, but they aren't too bad.

9. Best Way to Get Back to San Francisco

Can I take the ferry or public transportation back from Sausalito? Yes! 

Blue and Gold Ferry from Sausalito to Fisherman's WharfThe Blue and Gold Ferries are a popular public transit option for those returning from Sausalito.

Tips to Take the Ferry Back from Sausalito

You can take the ferry back from Sausalito if you plan to walk over the bridge. The Sausalito ferry terminal is downtown, so the walk to get there won't add to the mileage for your journey.

You will want to check the times for the ferry on the day of your walk. I'd double-check them in the morning as the ferry does not run very often to SF. You'll want to leave a little extra time as well since you will probably walk slower than you think over the bridge (there are so many great things to stop and admire!). 

You have two ferry options. The one that runs most often is through Blue and Gold. It drops off at Fisherman's Wharf near Pier 39. 

The second option is a commuter ferry and doesn't run as often. It drops off at the SF Ferry Building.

>> Pick up your Sausalito ferry tickets in advance

Take the Bus from Sausalito to San Francisco

If you miss the ferry, you can also take the Golden Gate Transit bus back to SF. There is a stop in downtown Sausalito, and it will drop you off at the southern (San Francisco) side of the bridge. Ensure the driver knows you want to get off here as they don't stop unless it's requested.

The ride takes about 16 minutes.

If you want to get closer to your hotel and you didn't drive to the bridge, you can take this bus to Fisherman's Wharf (it drops off about a half-mile from the western end), Civic Center, and Union Square. If you plan to go to Union Square, make sure to find a stop that is closest to your hotel.

This bus drives along Mission Street, one block south of Market Street. You may have to walk a half-mile to a mile to get from these bus stops to your hotel.

10. Dogs & Animals on the Bridge

Can I bring my dog along?

Non-service animals, including dogs and horses, are not allowed on the Golden Gate Bridge. 

If you have a service animal, they are welcome to join you on the bridge any hours it's open to pedestrians. 

Be aware of your surroundings as both cyclists and pedestrians use the east pedestrian sidewalk. Some cyclists come through quickly and, since it's loud on the bridge, you may not hear them coming. Keep your service animal and yourself safe by being very aware of others on the bridge, both in front and behind you. 

11. What Sights Can I See from the Bridge?

Fort Point from the GGBA view of where Fort Point sits below the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Here are just a few of the attractions you can see from the walkway on the bridge.

Crissy Field: This long, narrow stretch of green space is easy to see from the bridge. It's a popular spot for running and walking. It's also where you will find the Warming Hut, a popular restaurant with sandwiches, salads, and coffee. Learn more here

Fort Point National Historic Site: The Fort Point historic landmark sits below the south end of the bridge (the San Francisco side). It's one of the oldest buildings in SF and interesting to see from above. Learn more about it here

Palace of Fine Arts: You'll easily be able to spot this dome-shaped attraction just to the east. It's a free attraction and one you should check out while you are in the area. More here

Alcatraz Island: From the east sidewalk, you will get some great views of Alcatraz Island. This former federal prison is another must-visit while in SF. Find out more about visiting here

Angel Island: The largest island in the San Francisco Bay sits on the eastern side of Alcatraz. You can see it from the walkway as well. Learn more about the history of this island and a few tips to visit.

Downtown San Francisco: The perfect place to admire downtown San Francisco is on your walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. It will give you an excellent feel for the lovely downtown area. Learn more about downtown SF here.

Marin Headlands: The Marin Headlands sit on the Marin County side. If you decide to walk across, you can hike to the top or admire them from the walkway.

Fort Baker: On the north end, you will find Fort Baker. You can see it from above on the walkways or stroll down there after you walk on the bridge. 

Battery Spencer: Another attraction on the Marin side of the bridge is Battery Spencer, about half way up the hill to the Marin Headlands. You can hike up to visit or admire it from the bridge.

Where will you find the best views of the gorgeous Golden Gate Bridge? Check out this page which offers many places to see it and take amazing photos.

12. Guided Tours of the Golden Gate Bridge

You can also take a guided tour of our famous bridge. This will allow you to learn more about its history, including Joseph Strauss, who made this gorgeous gem a reality. 

Free SF Public Library Walking Tour: This tour is offered a couple of times every week. It stared at the Golden Gate Bridge Plaza on the south side of the bridge near the Welcome Center. You will learn about the bridge's history, important people from around the Bay Area that supported its construction, and a few fun facts. Learn more about these walking tours here

Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour: If you want to drive across, you can head over on the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour. This one of the tour buses takes you around SF and allows you to jump off and on at any of their designated stops. Learn more here. You can also pick up your tickets directly here.

Love Tour: This small-group tour also offers a chance for you to stop and admire it. On this tour, you won't get a chance to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, but you will learn all about it and take some pictures from a popular viewing point. Learn more about this tour.

Love Tour at Night: An even better way to explore the bridge is with this night tour. You'll have the chance to photograph this beauty at night and other top attractions. This small group tour runs for 2 hours. Find out more here

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