How to Reach Downtown San Francisco from the Airport

The San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is among the largest airline hubs on the west coast and a lot of first time vacationers arrive everyday for a taste of the fabulous San Francisco. Like many metropolitan airports, SFO lies outside of the city, in a suburb city called San Bruno. Finding your way to downtown San Francisco may pose as a challenge to first time tourists but getting to and from SFO is quite easy. Whatever your travel plans are and whatever budget you have, here’s a list of  convenient options to get you on your way.


1.  Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)

BART rapid rail connects SFO to San Mateo County, San Francisco and the East Bay.  A 1-way BART ticket to downtown San Francisco costs $8.10 (5.6 euros, 5 pounds). Children under the age of four ride for free.

If you are coming from the International Terminal entrance, you will need to buy a BART ticket before you can enter the BART station. Get one from the vending machines around the airport. The automatic ticket vending machines accept United States dollars, credit and debit cards.


2.  Taxi

Each airport terminal has a taxi stand. Locate a taxi dispatcher and line up to get the next available taxi.

Taxis are more expensive than BART. A taxi ride from SFO to downtown San Francisco can cost about $40 (28 euros, 25 pounds). This includes the flagging fee, mileage, airport surplus charge, wait time and a tip. For foreigners, it is customary to tip the taxi driver approximately 10 percent of the total payable amount for taxi rides in San Francisco.


3. Shuttle

To locate a shuttle, exit the airport at the Departures level. If you just arrived, you may need to take an escalator or elevator down a level from the Arrivals level area. Cross the first lane of traffic at the cross-walk and find the shuttle dispatcher. The shuttle dispatcher will lead you to the next available shuttle van. Alternatively, if you have already booked a shuttle in advance, inform the dispatcher so he can point you to the right section for your chosen shuttle van company.

Shuttle van rides may take longer than BART or taxi rides because he driver is dropping several people off at their destinations.

Shuttles cost between $13 and $25 (9 to 17 euros, 8 to 16 pounds) but there are usually some discount if you’re having more than 1 person in your party. It is also customary to give the driver a 10 percent tip.


4. Car Rent

Once you’re off the plane, board the blue line on the Air Train, until you reach the Rental Car Center Station. The cost of car rentals will depend upon how long you intend to keep the car.

For car rentals, SFO’s Rental Car Center is a convenient location for both pick-up and drop-off, and is served by the AirTrainautomated people mover.



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