Visiting San Francisco? Here’s how to get around (without a car)

We’ve received a few emails from first-time visitors asking how to get around San Francisco using BART. We wanted to put together an easy guide with visitors in mind, so you can confidently explore the Bay Area without worrying about the hassle of renting a car.

Flying into San Francisco International Airport (SFO)?

BART has a station located in the International Terminal at SFO, which is a short walk from Terminals 1 and 3. You can also take the free SFO AirTrain from all terminals directly to the BART station (follow the signs upstairs to reach the AirTrain).

During the week, trains run every 15 minutes. During the weekend, they run every 20 minutes.

Flying into Oakland International Airport (OAK?)

The Oakland International Airport BART Station is located just across from the Terminal 1 baggage claim area, and a short walk from Terminal 2. Take the escalator up to the BART station and board the train. You will exit at Platform 3 of the Coliseum Station. At Platform 3 you can purchase your Clipper card and take the escalator down to Platforms 1 and 2, where you will transfer onto a BART train.

  • If you are going to San Francisco, transfer to a San Francisco/Daly City-bound train.
  • If you are going to downtown Oakland or Berkeley, transfer to a Richmond-bound train.

How do I find the closest BART station to my destination?

BART offers an end-to-end Trip Planner to get to your destination. Enter your starting point and destination, and the Trip Planner will provide walking and transit directions, plus a train schedule, estimated travel time and cost.

How do I purchase a ticket?

To ride BART, you will need to purchase Clipper card (children under the age of 4 ride for free). Clipper is an all-in-one transit card that can be used on BART and other modes of travel throughout the Bay Area, including San Francisco’s Muni System, the Golden Gate Ferry, Ford GoBike and AC Transit. Learn more on the Clipper website.

To purchase a Clipper card, visit the kiosk within any BART station. To find your fare, click here or check the chart posted on the ticket vending machine. There is a $3 fee to purchase a Clipper card. Weekly or monthly passes are not available.

You can add value to the card at Clipper Add Value machines at any BART station.

What is the BART schedule?

There are five main BART lines, and four of them travel through downtown San Francisco. They are:

  • Richmond to/from Daly City - Millbrae
  • Warm Springs to/from Richmond
  • Warm Springs to/from Daly City
  • Antioch to/from SFO - Millbrae
  • Dublin/Pleasanton to/from Daly City

On weekdays trains run every 15 minutes. On nights and weekends trains run every 20 minutes. In many cases, service extends past midnight. Note: BART is conducting important track work that may impact service on the weekends. Be sure to check the schedule before you go.

  • Weekdays (5am to midnight)
  • Saturday (6am to midnight)
  • Sunday (8am to midnight)

BART weekday service map

BART System Map

What do I do about my luggage?

Luggage may be stowed under your seat or held in your lap. Please keep the doorways clear. Some cars have space near the doors to accommodate wheelchairs, bikes or strollers. If the space is not being used by a person with a disability, you may store your luggage there, but please keep it under your control at all times.

Now that I’m settled into my hotel/AirBnb/friend’s couch, what do I do?

Many of San Francisco’s top tourist attractions are close to BART stations. Here are some ideas of what to explore ...

Embarcadero

Ferry Building in SF. San Francisco. BART. BARTable. Tourist. Embarcadero. Waterfront.

The Embarcadero is one of San Francisco’s most picturesque locations. From the BART station, wander through the Ferry Building and explore the shops and restaurants inside. Take a leisurely walk along the Embarcadero and enjoy views of the city or ride a historic cable car to Pier 39.

Montgomery Street

Yerba Buena Gardens. SF MOMA. Montgomery. BART. BARTable. SF. San Francisco. Tourist.

An array of cafe, shops and museums are found near Montgomery Street station. The world-class San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a short walk from the station. Wander through Yerba Buena Gardens, which houses a variety of attractions, including the Children’s Creativity MuseumYerba Buena Center for the Arts, outdoor events and restaurants. You’ll find The Contemporary Jewish Museum and the Museum of African Diaspora nearby.

Powell Street

Powell Street, Union Square, San Francisco, SF, BART, Tourist

Centrally located near San Francisco’s most popular attractions, it’s an easy walk to Union SquareWestfield San Francisco CentreChinatown, the theater district and places to catch live music.

Civic Center/UN Plaza

SF City Hall. BART. BARTable. Tourist. Visitor.

Civic Center is the home to San Francisco City Hall, a fine example of French Renaissance architecture in America. You’ll also find world-class theater and arts nearby. The nearby Asian Art Museum houses one of the most comprehensive Asian art collections in the world. If you’re in the mood for a live performance, the Orpheum Theatre on Market Street has Broadway musicals, or you can see the San Francisco SymphonySan Francisco Opera and SF Ballet.

16th Street Mission

Dolores Park. BART. BARTable. Mission. SF. Tourist.

San Francisco’s vibrant Mission District is the oldest neighborhood and San Francisco, and visitors can spend a few hours wandering the streets. Mission Dolores Park is a favorite picnic hangout spot for locals. Take a walking tour of the vibrant murals along Clarion Alley. Explore the trendy Valencia Street, where you’ll find clothing stores, boutiques and Instagram-worthy restaurants.

24th Street Mission

Mission Mural Tour. SF. San Francisco. Tourist. BART. BARTable. Mission District.

The other end of the Mission District is anchored by 24th Street/Mission, where you’ll find more murals along Balmy Alley, restaurants and art galleries.

To discover more things to do near BART, visit BART’s lifestyle and entertainment website BARTable.

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