San Francisco in one day: the best route


This guide of what to see in San Francisco in one day It will help you organize the routes on your first or only day in the city, making the most of your time.

The first thing you should keep in mind is that you have only 24 hours, it is a short time to get to know San Francisco, although it is also true that with a well organized and optimized route, you can visit some of the main points of interest such as the Golden Gate and have a first vision of one of the most beautiful cities in the United States.
In addition, San Francisco is a European-style city with low-rise buildings that occupy a large area and large slopes, which will make it necessary to combine public transport with walking routes.

Based on the 4 days we spent in the city, during our trip through the National Parks of the Western United States, we have made this guide to get to know the best of San Francisco in one day. We start!

How to get from San Francisco airport to downtown

San Francisco has a large international airport located 20 kilometers south of the city, with 4 terminals connected by a free elevated train called Air Train.
The best means of transportation to transfer to the center or to your hotel are:

  • Subway: The yellow BART line will take you from the International Terminal to several downtown stops (Civic Center, Powell Street, Montgomery Street and Embarcadero) in 30 minutes for about $ 9.
  • Bus: lines 292, 398, KX and 397 (night) of the SamTrans will take you to several stops downtown (Union Square) in one hour for $ 2.25.
  • Private transport: when booking a direct transfer a driver will be waiting for you at the exit of the terminal and will take you directly to your hotel
  • Cab: The price of a taxi to the center is about 55 dollars.

For more information on the transfer you can check this post on how to go from San Francisco airport to downtown.

Recommended accommodation

Our recommended hotel to make a route through San Francisco in one day It is the Grant Hotel, which has good communication with the airport being located 5 minutes walk from Union Square and a few meters from a tram stop.
In addition to its excellent location to tour the entire city, the hotel has parking and a good quality / price ratio, something essential in a city where accommodation is quite expensive.

Tips for traveling to San Francisco

Following this list of recommendations can help you in your first contact with the city:

  • Complete this list of things to see and do in San Francisco essential.
  • Remove the ESTA from this official page that costs $ 14, at least 3 days before entering the United States. Remember that lately there are many websites that hide after deceptive titles and perform this procedure for more than 80 dollars when it is something that you can do directly online and for only 14 dollars. Before following any link, even a blog recommendation, check that it is really the official page.
  • Book a free tour of San Francisco Free! With a guide in Spanish to learn about the history of the city and not miss anything important in the center.
  • Bring adapters for type A / B plugs.
  • Taking the best travel insurance for the United States, in a country where medical services are very expensive, can cost a simple visit to the doctor 500 dollars and several thousand for any operation, we believe it is essential. We always travel insured with Mondo And he has always been the best travel companion.
  • If you only have one day it may be a good option to book the tourist bus, which stops at the main attractions of the city and has comments in Spanish.
  • Use the N26 card to pay and the BNEXT card to get money from the ATMs, you will have the current exchange and will not be charged commission. You can find all the information and details on this topic in the post of the best cards to travel without commissions.
  • If you want to have internet in San Francisco, a good option is to buy a Holafly SIM card, with which you will have internet from the moment you land, several GB of data, keeping your WhatsApp number and support service in Spanish. You can buy your Holafly prepaid SIM card here with a 5% discount for being our reader.

For more recommendations you can consult this post of tips to travel to San Francisco essential.

What to see in San Francisco in one day

The route of what to see in San Francisco in one day It starts arriving early in the Golden Gate, the great icon of the city. This 227 meter high bridge that crosses San Francisco Bay, can be seen from several viewpoints scattered around it and although you can reach the Golden Gate by bus or bike, the best option if you want to see the bridge from different Prospects without wasting much time, is to use a rental car.
If you do not have a car and you only have one day, we recommend you stop alone at the Battery East viewpoint and walk a part of the bridge.

Map of the route through San Francisco in one day