Things to do in

San Francisco

Experience a patchwork of unique neighborhoods and bold metropolitan beauty rich in cultural delights.

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Our most recommended San Francisco Cruises & Boat Tours

  • San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

    1. San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

    Launched in 1939 as part of the Golden Gate International Exposition, this 1-hour cruise has been a highlight of any visit to San Francisco for over 75 years. With 8-14 departures daily from 10:00, you will sail along San Francisco's breathtaking waterfront, under the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, and close to the notorious Alcatraz Island. Discover San Francisco's fascinating history, brought to life through audio commentary broadcast in 16 languages via personal headphones. Look out for wildlife along the way, including pelicans, sea lions, and even dolphins and whales. Sail past the lively neighborhood of North Beach, the famous swimming clubs of Aquatic Park, the historic vessels at Hyde Street Pier, and San Francisco Maritime National Park, before heading west towards Golden Gate Bridge. Enjoy views of Crissy Field and the lush hillsides of the Presidio, before cruising under Golde...

    Great experience. There are restrooms and a bar with snacks on board. It was a nice relaxing and educational tour to see the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz island. Everyone was friendly. I would recommend 100%!!

  • San Francisco: 1-Hour Bay Cruise by Boat

    2. San Francisco: 1-Hour Bay Cruise by Boat

    Enjoy a 1-hour journey along San Francisco's historic waterfront and experience the thrilling history of the San Francisco Bay, with all the sound and glory it deserves. The 1-hour Bay Cruise takes you past the famous PIER 39 sea lions and along San Francisco’s historic waterfront, revealing the city’s fascinating skyline. Relax in comfort, with both indoor and outdoor seating, and enjoy a full narration describing major landmarks as you sail by. Whether it’s your first time to San Francisco, or your 10th visit, the Bay Cruise is something you simply must experience at least once in your life. You will get a complimentary souvenir map, which is available in nine languages, and if you get hungry, there’s a full-service snack bar on board.

    Exactly what I expected. We were late getting to our schedule time and was graciously accommodated at a new time slot.

  • San Francisco: Bridge to Bridge Cruise

    3. San Francisco: Bridge to Bridge Cruise

    See both the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in 1 cruise with personal headphone audio included. Explore San Francisco's famous landmarks, history, natural history, architecture, and Native American culture on board this unique bay cruise. During the 90-minute cruise you'll depart from Fisherman's Wharf, one of the city's busiest tourist attractions. From there, sail under the Golden Gate Bridge. Completed in 1937, the Golden Gate is one of the world's most famous and beautiful bridges, and was at one point the largest suspension bridge in the world. Cruise past Alcatraz Island, once home of one of the world's most infamous prisons, and take the chance to enjoy the stunning San Francisco waterfront. The boat will pass along the harbor before heading under the colossal San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Then it's time to head back to the charming city of San F...

    The crew was very helpful getting my husband on and off the boat. He is in a wheelchair. I wish he could have give up too, more to set up there. We enjoyed the audio tour which was broadcast over the ship. I learned a lot about the bridges and the surrounding areas.

  • San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

    4. San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

    Cruise San Francisco Bay and sail under the Golden Gate Bridge on a 90-minute narrated tour around Alcatraz Island. Skip the box office line and go straight to the gate with your ticket.

    See Alcatraz island from the water while listening to accounts of the chilling escape attempts and the notorious criminals that called Alcatraz prison home. Cruise full circle around Alcatraz Island, allowing you to view every angle of this mysterious island, which housed famous inmates such as Al Capone, Billy Cook the Killer, and Clyde Johnson, whose escape attempt is legendary. Gain a clear picture of what life in this maximum-security prison was like when it was the most feared institution in the American penal system.

    This was a fun trip! I do wish someone would of warned us about how windy and cold it is if you sit on the outside deck. A winter coat and hat, at least, would of created a more comfortable experience. It did seem like the cruise was generous with the time. The only thing I would change is that when circling around Alkatraz that circling around at oppsite directions so that BOTH sides of the boat can get the good, unobstructed view. If you want an unobstructed view sit on the right hand side of the boat. Otherwise we enjoyed this cruise very much. Thank you!

  • San Francisco Bay Sunset Cruise by Luxury Catamaran

    5. San Francisco Bay Sunset Cruise by Luxury Catamaran

    Enjoy this relaxing 90-minute cruise on board a luxury catamaran and see sunset views of San Francisco as the sun dips below the San Francisco Bay. Sail by Alcatraz Island and under the Golden Gate Bridge, and search for sea lions playing in the ocean. Then, cruise along the shore, gazing on the city skyline as you watch the magnificent sunset.

    Relax onboard either a 55- or 65-foot catamaran. Both come complete with a protected viewing area, providing panoramic 360-degree viewing, in addition to canvas trampoline nets for the more adventurous who want to experience the ocean and sights in the bracing open air.

    the crew was very informative and prepared for our trip, even providing extra jackets if needed

  • San Francisco: Luxury Dinner Dance Cruise

    6. San Francisco: Luxury Dinner Dance Cruise

    Think of this as date night with a delicious, dynamic twist: When the sun sets and city lights twinkle from the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate, your Dinner Dance Cruise kicks into high gear. A three-course sit-down meal includes appetizers, salad, a choice of entrée, and dessert, while live music and dancing round out this ideal sightseeing trip or special evening out. Highlights of this tour include Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island, Tiburon and Sausalito, the Bay Bridge and San Francisco's piers and city skyline.

    This is a time / money / fun best choice . The team is profesional and ambiance pleasant . Chose best price and extras also . You can realy dance . Good for a event . Also a small gift from them to remeber the trip. In recommand . Look for coupons discount .

  • San Francisco: Waterfront Guided Tour and Alcatraz Ticket

    7. San Francisco: Waterfront Guided Tour and Alcatraz Ticket

    Meet your guide at the north end of Fisherman's Wharf at 9:30 AM and start your experience by taking in the amazing views of the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. Hear how San Francisco transformed from a sleepy village to a booming port city when gold fever swept the nation in 1849. Learn about the life of the Italian chocolatier Domenico Ghirardelli at the famous former chocolate factory in Ghirardelli Square. Stroll along the fog-lined waterfront and drool over the numerous stalls selling crab and clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls. Walk a portion of the historic Barbary Coast trail while your guide tells you about it's colorful past. You and your group will then make your way to Pier 39 and admire historic ships in the harbor. Witness the colony of sea lions that have taken over many of its docks. Continue along the Embarcadero Promenade and learn about its evolution fr...

    Dara Mihaly, our tour guide was knowledgeable and friendly. She provided a great experience with historical information that was fascinating. I would highly recommend her for any tourists.

  • San Francisco Bay: Adventure Boat Tour

    8. San Francisco Bay: Adventure Boat Tour

    Travel along the San Francisco Bay in a small group on a boat tour. Travel faster and go farther out into the bay than most other boat tours. You will be as close as possible to the sights and wildlife, in a personal setting.  Depart from the world famous Pier 39. You will be outfitted with weather appropriate gear to keep you warm and dry from the occasional splash. Take in the historic waterfront from a new angle. Make a quick visit to the world famous Pier 39 sea lions, where you can see them eye to eye. There is no need for binoculars on this trip because you will see everything up close. Listen to the narration from your expert captain and learn something new about this historic area. See the waterfront in a way that is unlike any other experience on the bay. Take photos, make memories, and enjoy one of the finest ways to see it all up close. This small group boat tour is limited...

    This was a great trip! We got to see the bay and all the sites. Captain Charles was great telling us all the history of the area. I highly recommend this trip.

  • San Francisco: Alcatraz Tickets and Chinatown Walking Tour

    9. San Francisco: Alcatraz Tickets and Chinatown Walking Tour

    Begin your day with a local guide near the Dragon Gate of San Francisco's beloved Chinatown. Weave through time and space down the main street for a walking tour through a neighborhood lined with dragon lanterns, imperial terracotta statues, and all the adornment of a "Little Shanghai." Hear the stories of the former streets and alleys — how it came to be and the more seedy aspects of its Gold Rush foundations. Discover how the neighborhood has transformed over the decades. See neighborhood landmarks including Waverly Place and St. Mary’s Cathedral. Stop into a traditional apothecary featuring fascinating Chinese medicine. Snack on some fresh fortune cookies, a San Francisco invention, and take some home for the road (on us!). After your Chinatown tour, head out for lunch on your own into 2 incredible foodie neighborhoods. Your guide will set you up to find all the "locals only" spots ...

    I really enjoyed learning about Chinatown, Little Italy and Alcatraz. The tour guid was amazing and very informal.

  • San Francisco: Muir Woods, Sausalito and SF Bay Cruise

    10. San Francisco: Muir Woods, Sausalito and SF Bay Cruise

    Cross the Golden Gate Bridge, and after you motor through the “Rainbow Tunnels” on Hwy. 101, Marin’s unique topography comes into view. Tidal flats along the bay segue into gentle undulating hills as they rise to meet Mt. Tamalpais, Marin’s 2,600-foot landmark. As your tour ascends Mt. Tam, breathtaking views abound at every turn. Descending into the valley toward Muir Woods, you will see a landscape that hasn’t changed since its original inhabitants, the Coast Miwok Indians, lived here centuries ago. You will have 1-1/4 hour to spend in Muir Woods, the most time offered on any sightseeing tour program. There will be ample time to stroll the Nature Trail along picturesque Redwood Creek, and through Cathedral and Bohemian Groves, filled with 500 to 800-year-old redwoods. Be sure to stop at the Visitors Center and Gift Shop. The next s...

    My tour guide was well informed and kept us up on historical events throughout the tour. He was a great driver on a very twisty road. Our bus was more comfortable than others I’ve been on

Frequently asked questions about San Francisco

What top attractions are a must-see in San Francisco?

Planning Your Visit

  • How many days?

    Some would say for as long as you can, so bear in mind that it's a big and busy city with plenty to see and do. First-timers should consider spending at least a week there if possible, though even that might not be enough!

  • Where to stay?

    Which of San Francisco's neighborhoods is best for you depends on the nature of your trip. Fisherman's Wharf will meet all the immediate needs of a fleeting visit, though Union Square is a more neutral and relaxed jumping-off point for tourists. Other neighborhoods each have their own personality so it's worth putting in the research, but high-crime areas to avoid include Bayview, Hunter's Point, Sunnydale, and Visitation Valley.

  • How to get around?

    "San Francisco has one of the world's most unique public transport systems. As well as buses and trains, the city is mostly mobilized by its historic cable-car network. Although newer trams do operate, visitors may want to ride one of the older ones for the novelty. Be warned though, notable routes such as the F-Market & Wharves line tend to get very crowded!
    The city is also very bike-friendly,with extensive bicycle lanes and even bike lockers!"

Good to know

  • Language
    English
  • Currency
    USD ($)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (-08:00)
  • Country Code
    +1
  • Best time to visit
    Summer, Fall

Insider tips: Planning a trip to San Francisco

There's good reason so many people have left their hearts in San Francisco. The stunning views, rolling hills, historic culture, and more make the city one of the most exciting to visit in the United States. To help you make the most of your time in San Francisco, we've enlisted help from travel expert Cathy from Mummy Travels. Read the tips below for your next visit.

What should I do on my first trip to San Francisco?

Start by soaking up San Francisco's atmosphere - you can't miss a look at the Golden Gate Bridge, but it's fun wandering around Pier 39 to spot the sea lions, browsing at the Ferry Building, eating and enjoying street arts in the Mission District - or hop on a cable car to beat those famous hills.

What are some hidden gems to see in San Francisco?

Head out towards the yacht harbor for a unique performance as the wave organ transforms the sound of the tide into music - it's easy to wander along to the beach by Crissy Field and get great views of the bridge too. Set aside plenty of time to explore the Golden Gate Park - it's huge and you can spot everything from American bison to windmills, a Japanese garden, 19th-century Conservatory of Flowers, the San Francisco botanical gardens, a classic carousel, lake, and several museums.

How much time should I spend in San Francisco?

Set aside at least three days to see your top sights and do some exploring, but if you're determined to pack as much in as possible, you can happily fill a week. Realistically, it's not possible to fit everything into one trip but if you break the city down into districts, you can make the most of your time. Allow half a day for Alcatraz alone, and for any of the major attractions, but leave time to wander along the beaches, soak in the views, browse the shops and try some of the city's great food rather than filling every minute of your itinerary.

What food is San Francisco known for?

You could happily eat your way around San Francisco with great artisan food and local producers - make sure you stop for some fresh seafood at Fisherman's Wharf and try a Mission Burrito in the Mission District, as well as checking out the treats in the Ferry Building. If you're craving Chinese, Japanese and Italian food, you'll be spoiled for choice in Chinatown, Japantown, and North Beach.

What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit San Francisco?

You'll be spoiled for choice when it comes to places to stay, so it's worth considering how much you're happy to travel. Union Square is a great central spot for hotels, and if you're traveling with younger kids, Fisherman's Wharf is touristy but close to a lot of attractions. For more budget accommodation and self-catering, look at the neighborhoods outside the center but make sure they have good transport links - Noe Valley is another great option for families, as it's easy to explore from but makes a chilled out base.

What is the best way to get around San Francisco? 

San Francisco is one city where you'll find yourself using most transport to get around - there's a great public transport network, which is easiest to get across the center (and the cable cars are attractions in their own right) but if you're trying to pack a lot in, a car will come in very handy. Only the very fit would fancy cycling up the city's hills, but a bike tour over the Golden Gate Bridge is a fantastic experience. Once you've got from A to B, walking is the best way to soak up the sights and the atmosphere though.

What are the best months to visit San Francisco?

San Francisco is best in spring and autumn (fall) - May-June and September-October usually have good weather without the crowds (though the famous fog is usually around in June too) and you'll miss the worst of the rain. 

What are the best things to do with kids in San Francisco?

San Francisco is a fantastic city for families - there are quirky spots to discover like the golden fire hydrant, Seward Street and Bernal slides, and the 16th Avenue mosaic steps, along with fun sights including the twisty Lombard Street and sea lions at Pier 39. Even the tours have a unique touch: a fire truck city tour beats a bus hands down. You could climb onboard a submarine or a 19th-century ship, there are two aquariums and zoos, plus some fabulous interactive museums to explore. And that's all before you hit the beach.

Flere reisetips for San Francisco

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What people are saying about San Francisco

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 12,245 reviews

My experience was very enjoyable, the driver was very informative and all of the places I went made me feel comfortable being there

It was great. I was provided with the proper information I needed. I will surely use this again when I return.

Our guide was great! We got to see Muir Woods without having to worry about driving or making reservations.

it was awesome - the gps takes you everywhere - and driving the car is too cool

Started off slow, but as the tour progressed it was fantastic!