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Layover In San Francisco – The Ultimate Guide 2022

Published by: Bounce27 August, 2021

It doesn't matter whether you have a short or long layover at San Francisco International Airport as this is one airport that's totally geared up to accommodate passengers on layovers. The Bay Area Rapid Transit service is the key to making the most of every minute of your San Francisco layover and you'll be pleasantly surprised just how much you can cram into even the shortest space of time.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART for short, is located in the main hall of the International Terminal. If you didn't land in that particular terminal you can transfer there using the airport's Airtrain. You'll need the George G/ BART station stop. Depending on where your San Francisco connection is taking off from, you may want to store your bags with one of our luggage storage San Francisco locations before getting on the Airtrain as it'll make your transition easier.

6 hour layover in San Francisco

Jump on the BART and head into the city. Alight at either the station on 16th or 24th Street and you'll be in the Mission District. The trip takes twenty-five minutes each way so will leave you a couple of hours to explore the arty district which is renowned for its food culture. For a breath of fresh sea air get off at the Montgomery Street station and you'll be a short walk from the waterfront where you can sit and enjoy a coffee before getting back to the airport.

  • If you're feeling active on your layover, stroll through ChinaTown to North Beach and have coffee there instead.

  • If you go as far as North Beach you can shorten the walk back to the BART station by jumping on at the Union Square stop on Powell Street.

8 hour layover in San Francisco

On an eight-hour layover in San Francisco you'll have time to slot in another activity or two. One thing that just has to be done when you're in the city is riding a cable car. Take the BART to the Powell Street station and you can board one there that runs out to Fisherman's Wharf. It's a pretty spot and some of the streets are steep so you'll get fantastic views on the ride. Get in some souvenir shopping while you're there at the Westfield San Francisco Center on Market Street which is a huge mall next to the Powell Street Station.

  • Tickets for the BART can be purchased from automated machines at SFO and in the stations. The machines take US notes and coins as well as debit and credit cards.

  • Fares on the BART are calculated automatically when you choose your destination station.

10 to 12 hour layover in San Francisco

If your layover in San Francisco won't be complete without you getting a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge, you'll find a ten to twelve-hour layover is more than enough time to go and see it. Get off the BART at the Market Street Station and head for Fisherman's Wharf. It'll be a distant view, but a view nonetheless. Before walking on the bridge itself, you want to make sure you drop off your needed bags with luggage storage partners in San Francisco so you’re not carrying more than you need to.

  • The best place to go to see the Golden Gate Bridge is the Visitor Center.

  • Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge takes just over half an hour. Don't forget you'll need to walk back again so allow an hour or more if that's what you plan on doing. Access for pedestrians is restricted after 6:30 PM.

  • While you're in Fisherman's Wharf you may want to consider boarding the ferry that sails over to Alcatraz. The boat leaves from Pier 41 and takes twenty minutes each way. There's a lot to see and explore there so make sure you don't get too distracted by the exhibits you miss the ferry back.

24 hour layover in San Francisco

If you've already done most of the things listed above on your San Francisco overnight layover, don't worry, there's plenty of other places to go and things to see to fill your day. Start by heading over to Pier 39. The wharf is a major tourist attraction with lots of waterside restaurants where you can while away a few hours people watching or take a ride on the massive carousel. Even if you've already ridden the cable car on Powell Street, don't miss riding the historic F Market streetcars. It's a different experience entirely.

  • Get some exercise by hiring a bicycle and pedaling around Golden Gate Park. It won't be a brief ride as the park is bigger than New York's Central Park. If that sounds like too much hard work for a layover, consider renting a Segway.

  • Take a boat cruise around San Francisco Bay and under the Golden Gate Bridge. Most cruises take around an hour so won't take up all of your layover time.

  • Get some aquatic action by hiring a kayak or even more exciting, a jet ski and tour the bay on your own.

  • See fish without the need to immerse yourself in the water by visiting the Aquarium of the Bay on Pier 39.

  • Don't fall head over heels for San Francisco and forget you're only on a layover and need to get back to the airport in time to check in for your connection. It's easily done. Click save

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