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Sightseeing on a Budget in San Francisco

Sightseeing on a Budget in San Francisco

San Francisco's stratospheric cost of living may make headlines, but there are still ways to explore the City by the Bay even without a tech-stock windfall. From historic walks and picnics in Golden Gate Park to world-class culture and wine country day trips, here's how to experience it all without breaking the bank.


Take a Historic Walk

At 49 square miles, San Francisco is a compact city, and its most charming neighborhoods are easily walkable. It’s free to soak in the distinct ambiance of North Beach, Chinatown, the Mission District, and Haight-Ashbury on a stroll past quirky cafés, bookstores, alley murals, and Victorian mansions. If aimless ambling isn't your style, walking and bike tours showcase each neighborhood’s hidden history. 

 

Ride Muni, BART, or a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus

Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft dominate San Francisco streets, but there are cheaper ways to get around. Two public transit systems (Muni and BART for short) connect all corners of the Bay Area with a combination of trams, streetcars, buses, and underground trains. Within San Francisco proper, hop-on-hop-off-bus tours stop at all the major city landmarks and are a wallet- and user-friendly way to get from A to B.

 

Look for Package Tours and City Passes

If you don't mind shelling out a bit more at the outset, combo tours can actually save money compared to visiting top attractions individually. Attraction passes are also a great value if you plan to visit multiple ticketed sights such as the Aquarium of the Bay, Madame Tussauds, SFMOMA, bay cruises, and more. Insider secret: If tickets to Alcatraz are sold out for the dates of your trip, you can often still visit the Rock last minute by booking a package tour.

 

Find a Discount Day Trip

When you've decided to forgo the expense and hassle of car rental (including San Francisco’s famously steep hills and parking tickets), it's still possible to visit popular Bay Area day-trip destinations on a budget. Cost-effective shared bus tours can get you to Muir Woods, Sausalito, and Napa wine country for guided or independent exploring of Northern California's natural treasures.

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Free Cancellation:Get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance on most experiences.See Details

11 Tours and Activities

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Big Bus San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Tour

Big Bus San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Tour

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2444
Ride a double-decker sightseeing bus to San Francisco's most famous landmarks with a choice of 2 different passes. Explore the city's 49 square miles, including stops at big-name attractions like Pier 39, the Palace of Fine Arts and Union Square. Go at your own pace, hopping off at any of 16 stops, exploring at your leisure, and then hopping back on when you're done. Choose the Premium pass to include a night tour or a Deluxe pass for an additional 24 hours of hop-on-hop-off and a night tour.
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  • 1 to 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$40.50
From
$40.50

Muir Woods Tour of California Coastal Redwoods (Entrance fee included)
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

Muir Woods Tour of California Coastal Redwoods (Entrance fee included)

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315
Explore the famous groves of the Northern California redwoods on this tour of Muir Woods. Departing from Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, a local guide drives you over the scenic Golden Gate Bridge and into the moist air of Muir Woods National Monument. Crane your neck to admire these 1,000-year-old trees standing 260 feet (80 meters) tall. Afterward, enjoy a drive through the charming town of Sausalito before heading back to the city.
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  • 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$85.00
From
$85.00

San Francisco Grand City Tour
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

San Francisco Grand City Tour

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492
Take a San Francisco half-day tour to pack in the city’s top sights in a convenient way that leaves you with plenty of time to spare so you can enjoy the city however you wish. With a driver-guide, travel the city by bus, stopping at major attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge and Twin Peaks and neighborhoods like North Beach and Chinatown. Plus, you can upgrade to include a San Francisco Bay cruise, a half-day bike rental, or admission to Aquarium of the Bay.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$58.00
From
$58.00

Golden Gate Park Segway Tour - Easy to learn then 2.5 hours of gliding fun

Golden Gate Park Segway Tour - Easy to learn then 2.5 hours of gliding fun

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292
Explore San Francisco’s beautiful Golden Gate Park on this 2.5-hour Segway tour. Led by a local guide, you’ll pass top attractions like the Japanese Tea Gardens, the de Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences. All equipment is included, as well as a safety training. Cover even more ground on a Segway as you soak up Golden Gate Park's rich history and hidden gems from your guide.
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$79.00
From
$79.00

San Francisco Chinatown Walking Tour with Optional Lunch

San Francisco Chinatown Walking Tour with Optional Lunch

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639
Dive deep into one of San Francisco’s most historic neighborhoods on this Chinatown walking tour. From paper lanterns to medicinal herbs to a fortune cookie factory, explore both popular and lesser-known gems in this bustling district with an in-the-know guide. See sights including a Buddhist temple, and upgrade, if you wish, to include a 9-course lunch of dim sum for an even more memorable experience.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$55.00
From
$55.00

Straight to the Gate Access: San Francisco Bridge-to-Bridge Cruise
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

Straight to the Gate Access: San Francisco Bridge-to-Bridge Cruise

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336
On this San Francisco bridge cruise, get an up-close look at the city’s two engineering marvels—the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge—as you travel across San Francisco Bay. See major city sights like Alcatraz, Coit Tower, and the Ferry Building, and listen to recorded commentary about the city's legendary architecture while you glide under both bridges.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$48.00
From
$48.00

San Francisco CityPASS

San Francisco CityPASS

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343
Save time and money with the San Francisco CityPASS, which gives you admission to top area attractions, a cruise on San Francisco Bay, and discounts for shopping and activities. You can choose to visit science and art museums like the Exploratorium or the Walt Disney Family Museum. You’ll have important details like hours of operation right in your pocket with the provided mobile ticket.
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  • 9 days
  • Free Cancellation
From
$76.00
From
$76.00

Go City: San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass with 25+ Attractions

Go City: San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass with 25+ Attractions

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35
Tour San Francisco with Go City and enjoy admission at more than 25 popular San Francisco attractions and activities - all on one digital pass. Choose an All-Inclusive Pass valid for 1-,2-, 3- or 5-days and visit as many attractions as you like, all while saving as much money as possible on your vacation. Please note: Enjoy the extra flexibility in case your travel plans need to change: All passes are valid for two years from purchase date and only become activated with your first attraction visit. After activation your pass will be valid for the remaining number of days purchased.
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  • 1 to 5 days
From
$63.00
From
$63.00

1 Day Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

1 Day Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

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23
Make your own travel itinerary for the day while in San Francisco with this full-day hop-on hop-off bus pass. Ride a double-decker bus throughout the city, and hop off and back on at any of the stops along the route. Make stops at Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Park, Union Square, Chinatown, and more. For even more adventure, upgrade your ticket to include the Sausalito route and cross the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$54.99
From
$54.99

2 Day Hop-On Hop-Off Tour & Night Tour.

2 Day Hop-On Hop-Off Tour & Night Tour.

star-3.5
68
Make your own travel itinerary for the day while in San Francisco with this 2-day hop-on hop-off bus pass. Ride a double-decker bus throughout the city, and hop off and back on at any of the stops along the route. This bus offers multiple routes with audio commentary filled with historical and fun facts about the areas you pass. See some of SF’s most popular places, such as Pier 39, the Palace of Fine Arts, the de Young Museum, and War Memorial Opera House.
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  • 1 to 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$78.99
From
$78.99

City and Sea Adventure: 1 Day Hop-On Hop Off Pass and San Francisco Bay Cruise

City and Sea Adventure: 1 Day Hop-On Hop Off Pass and San Francisco Bay Cruise

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19
In just one day, experience the best of San Francisco by land and sea with this combo package that includes two hop-on hop-off bus tours and a cruise. Check out the top attractions of San Francisco, wind through the downtown streets, and cross over the Golden Gate Bridge. Each hop-on hop-off bus tour lasts 60 minutes to 2 hours and offers live commentary. The 1-hour boat cruise takes you through San Francisco Bay, giving you prime views of Crissy Fields, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island.
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  • 1 day
  • Free Cancellation
From
$84.99
From
$84.99