You are probably arriving in San Francisco after a long flight and are looking for the most comfortable way to get to your hotel. I'll tell you everything you need to know in this article to make your disembarkation in the city as quick and easy as possible.
1. Best options for getting from San Francisco airport to the city
If you are looking for a door-to-door service, I recommend that you hire a private transfer service in advance for you, your group and your luggage:
2. How to get between San Francisco and the airport
Although there are several ways to get to the city from the airport, I will first share with you the one that I think is the best and most comfortable: the private arrival transfer from the San Francisco airport to your hotel.
This service has all the comforts of a cab or an Uber, but with the added bonus that you will have the driver waiting for you at the airport exit ready to help you with your bags and take you to your accommodation, for a better price than the other options mentioned.
The great advantage is that you will not have to worry about how to get to the city and unlike the shared transfer you will go directly from the airport to your hotel in a comfortable minivan.
How this service works
You will have to provide some information about your flight, such as the identification code and the approximate landing time (in the case of arrival transfers) or take-off time (in the case of departure transfers). The operating company will share this information with the chauffeur and will know if your flight has been delayed, at which departure they will have to wait for you and most importantly, they will know the exact time to drop you off at the airport so that there is no problem with your flight.
Most importantly, by sharing this information the driver will be able to contact you if there are any problems with your flight, and will inform you if there are any changes to the pick up time that you should be aware of.
How long does it take to get there? Around 30 minutes on a day without too much traffic, and up to 40 minutes if you are unlucky. Your driver will wait for you for a maximum of 30 minutes. This does not mean that you have to rush to get off the plane; your transfer driver will use your flight information to calculate how long it will take you to find and get to the meeting point.
Each passenger is allowed one suitcase and one carry-on bag. If you have special luggage (instruments, bicycles, professional photographic equipment...) please check with the transfer agency before booking.
Return transfer from your hotel to the airport
You have the same transportation option available for when your vacation is over and you want to return to the airport without stress, with a private transfer from your hotel in San Francisco to the airport.
You can book your private departure transfer from your hotel to the San Francisco airport in advance to have everything organized and under control and take the stress out of airport days.
3. Other options to get to San Francisco from the Airport
BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit)
The most popular method of public transportation to get to San Francisco after landing is the subway or BART, which connects the airport to downtown. There are three to four trains every hour, and it takes about half an hour to get downtown. To catch the BART, you will need to go to the International Terminal, which is a short walk from Terminals 1 and 3.
You can also ride the AirTrain, which is free and departs from all terminals directly to the BART station.
And by the way, BART is San Francisco's subway system and with it you can get to all areas of the city. It has several types of tickets available, depending on the distance you are going to travel. They are also separated by age: blue for adults, orange for youth and green for seniors.
To go from the airport to downtown as an adult, you can buy a Clipper card and a ticket for $ 9.15, or the BART Blue Ticket with which the journey will cost you $ 9.65.
How long does it take to get there? About 30 minutes for both the outbound and return trip.
There are three SamTrans bus lines that will take you from the airport to the city: 292, 397 and KX. All three will take you to the Transbay Terminal, next to San Francisco's financial district. The ticket costs about $2.25 for the 292, 397, and the KX bus ticket costs $4. If you are looking for an inexpensive way to get to San Francisco from the airport, this is it.
How long does it take to get there? About 1 hour each way.
Cab or Uber
I only recommend one of these two options if for any reason you cannot book a private transfer from downtown, as it will give you all the advantages of a cab but with the peace of mind of having it insured and for a better price. Roughly, the price to go by cab from the airport to San Francisco is $50.
How long does it take to get there? About the same as private transfers, only you will have to wait for your driver. In total, about 40 minutes.
4. Practical information for getting around the San Francisco airport
You've just landed at the airport, now what? I give you some key pieces of information and recommendations to give you a head start:
- The AirTrain is free and connects the different terminals with parking areas, public transportation stops and the car rental center.
- SFO has four terminals: terminals 1, 2 and 3 for domestic flights and the International Terminal which is divided into A and G terminals.
- Each terminal has its own security checkpoint so my advice is to cancel any plans you have in a different terminal than the one you arrive in. I'm one of those who feels a little bit older every time I go through an airport security checkpoint, so I try to avoid them whenever possible.
- To be honest though, the security checkpoints at SFO are not the worst thing in the world, they go pretty fast andthe lines are not too long, plus you can pay to avoid the line if you are in a hurry. If you are interested in what you read, look for the light blue CLEAR logo, you will find it at all checkpoints.
You already have all the information you need to travel to San Francisco as if you've already been there, now to enjoy your visit!
Frequently asked questions
How long does it take to get to downtown San Francisco from the airport?
It usually takes about 30 minutes during regular traffic periods. There are traffic jams on weekends, especially from 7:00 am to 9:00 am and from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. At these times, the journey can take up to 45 minutes.
How big is the San Francisco airport?
SFO has four terminals. Terminal 1 is considered the main terminal and Terminal 3 is reserved for international flights. It is a fairly large airport so it takes between 30 and 50 minutes to clear customs.
Is the San Francisco airport open overnight?
The airport is open 24 hours a day, as are some of its restaurants. If necessary, small rooms can be rented to take a nap.
What is BART?
The Bay Area Rapid Transit system, or BART, is San Francisco's main public rail system. Its itinerary includes a stop at the airport, but the train is often very crowded so we do not recommend it compared to an Airport transfer.