San Francisco Sightseeing Tours – The Best Ways to Explore San Francisco for First Timers

From all-around-the-city tours, to relaxing harbor cruises, professionally guided tours are some of the best ways to explore San Francisco.

Whether you’re looking for a comprehensive overview of the city to kick start your sightseeing or want to learn about San Francisco’s history with the freedom to explore on your own, San Francisco has lots of tours to choose from, so it’s easy to find one (or a few) tailored to your interests.

We put together a list of the best San Francisco sightseeing tours to help you choose one that suits your style.

Save on Popular San Francisco Sightseeing Tours & More

Admission to a bunch of these San Francisco tours are included on the Go San Francisco® Card.

Choose as you go from top attractions and save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.

See all available San Francisco passes, attractions & prices.

A few of the available sightseeing activities include…

  • Hop On Hop Off Big Bus San Francisco Tour
  • GoCar San Francisco Tour
  • Bridge 2 Bridge Cruise or Escape from the Rock
  • One All-Day Comfort Bike Rental by Blazing Saddles
  • Wine Country Tour
  • and more!

Hop On Hop Off Big Bus San Francisco Tour

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The Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus San Francisco Tour one of the best ways to start your visit; you’ll get feel for the city layout, be able to see all the top sights and decide which ones you think are worth going back to (or hopping off at and exploring right then), and learn about the city history from entertaining and knowledgeable guides.

The tour passes top San Francisco landmarks and over 20 popular stops along the way, including:

  • Golden Gate Bridge
  • Golden Gate Park
  • Chinatown
  • Union Square
  • North Beach
  • Fisherman’s Wharf
  • and more!

Getting In: Hop On Hop Off San Francisco Big Bus Tours are included with the Go San Francisco Card.

GoCar San Francisco Tour

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Get behind the wheel of the world’s first ever GPS-guided GoCar for a 30-minute narrated tour of wherever you want to go in the city.

The distinctive little yellow vehicles are GPS-directed, so the car will narrate your tour using your GPS location, making sure you see all the sights you pass along the way and learn about each area’s unique history.

Getting In: GoCar San Francisco Tour tickets are included on the Go San Francisco Card.

San Francisco Sightseeing Cruises

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Choose from 3 popular cruises:

Cruises are a must do sightseeing activity in a city with a waterfront as integral to its identity as San Francisco.

Choose from three popular San Francisco cruises (or do them all) for some of the best views you can get of the Golden Gate Bridge, the city skyline, Alcatraz Island, Sausalito, and more.

1. Bridge 2 Bridge Cruise

Go on a narrated 90-minute cruise around the Bay to see top landmarks, like: Alcatraz, Treasure Island, the Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, and more.

Getting In: Bridge 2 Bridge Cruise tickets are included with the Go San Francisco Card.

2. Escape from the Rock Cruise

The popular “Escape from the Rock” cruise lasts 90-minutes and offers a great opportunity to sail through the bay and around the notorious Alcatraz while listening to some of the most harrowing tales of infamous inmates that once inhabited its prison.

Getting In: Escape From the Rock Cruise tickets are included with the Go San Francisco Card.

3. Golden Gate Bay Cruise

Sail directly underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, around Alcatraz, the Bay Bridge, Angel Island, Sausalito, Pier 39 where the sea lions like to gather, and more on this comprehensive 1-hour tour of the Bay.

Getting In: Golden Gate Bay Cruise tickets are included with the Go San Francisco Card.

One All-Day Comfort Bike Rental by Blazing Saddles

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Biking is one of the best ways to experience San Francisco, biking is a big part of the city culture and as a result, there are lots of bike-friendly trails and routes to choose from to explore the city.

With an all-day bike rental from Blazing Saddles, you can choose from a variety of self-guided bike tours, so you can get to just the sights you want to see on your own time.

Insider Tip: download the Blazing Saddles app which lets you plot your route around major sights. (We highly recommend the “Bike the Bridge” route!)

Getting In: All-Day San Francisco Bike Rentals are included with the Go San Francisco Card.

Wine Country Tour

This full day tour departs from Downtown San Francisco and heads over the Golden Gate Bridge to Wine Country.

Once in Wine Country, you’ll get to go to some wine tastings where you can sample some of the world’s finest wines and learn about its production and Northern California’s wine industry.

Getting In: Wine Country Tour tickets are an included attraction option on the Go San Francisco Card Build Your Own Pass.

Full Day Northern California Wine Country Tour

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This full day tour of Sonoma Valley is one of the best ways to experience the Northern California wine culture.

You’ll get round trip transportation from Downtown and have your itinerary all mapped out for you, so you don’t have to worry about any of the logistics or details and can just enjoy the wine tastings at several of the region’s best wineries (first tasting fee is included!) and learn about the history of wine production in the California.

Getting In: Full Day California Wine Country Tours are included with the Go San Francisco Card.

AT&T Park Tour

AT-T-Park-Home-of-the-San-Francisco-Giants-4Go on a guided tour of the home of the San Francisco Giants, AT&T Park.

You’ll get access to some of the places not typically open to the general public, like: the dugout, field, batting cages, the press box, luxury suite, and more, learn about the park’s unique history, and some of the famous players and moments in baseball history.

As one of the nation’s most beloved ball parks (its location right on the water with the city skyline as a backdrop help – it’s the only US park where players can hit a home run right into the water) it’s a true San Francisco landmark.

Getting In: AT&T Park Tour tickets are included with the Go San Francisco Card.

Remember to Save on Sightseeing Admission

So there you have it. Our list of some of the best San Francisco sightseeing tours and other fun ways to explore this city – from all-around walking tours to hop-on hop-off bus tours, cruises, and everything in between – there’s a way for every type of traveler to experience the city.

Remember, many (if not all) of these options are included on the Go San Francisco Card, where you can save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.

We hope you plan to add a few of these fun touring options to your vacation itinerary.

Go San Francisco Explorer Pass

The information contained in this post, to the best of the author's knowledge, was accurate at time of publishing. We do our best to ensure and maintain the accuracy of this information.

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