How to get from San Francisco Airport to the City Centre
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is the biggest and one of four airports situated in the San Francisco Bay area. It is situated 13 miles (20 km) south of downtown San Francisco. Once you arrive at SFO, there are 4 transport options from San Francisco airport to the city centre and Union Square. You can either take a taxi, a private shuttle, a metro or a bus.
Taxis and private shuttles operate 24/7 from San Francisco airport and the journey time to the city centre is around 35 minutes. If you prefer to travel by metro, you can board the yellow line at the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). Trains pass through the airport station roughly every 18 minutes. Taking the bus is your last option for a direct service towards the Union Square in central San Francisco. Buses 292 and 398 operate every day and a normal ride to downtown San Francisco takes 1 hour 15 minutes. Moreover, there are also shuttle buses that can take you to San Francisco city centre, but there are no scheduled services and you will need to book your trip in advance.
Comparison of the options
| OPTION|| PRICE|| DURATION|| AVAILABILITY|
| Taxi or shuttle bus || €51|| 35min|| 24/7|
| Metro || €17.5|| 27min|| 05:11–23:56|
| Bus || €4|| 75min|| 04:30–01:40|
How to get from San Francisco airport to the city centre by taxi or shuttle bus
Taxis and San Francisco airport private shuttles are available 24/7. To get a taxi from San Francisco Airport (SFO) to downtown San Francisco, you need to walk to the arrivals/baggage claim level at all airport terminals. Taxis in SFO are metered, therefor the fare is based on the time and distance travelled. However, the estimate price for up to 5 passengers to most city centre locations, including Union Square, is around $56USD (€51). If you wish to travel on a set rate fare, you can book a private shuttle in advance, and avoid any hassle or hidden fees. Both taxis and private shuttles take approximately 35 minutes from SFO airport to downtown.
Taxi fare from San Francisco airport to the city centre
Taxi fares to San Francisco city centre from the airport cost approximately $56USD (€51) for a ride with up to 5 passengers. Taxis are metered so your total fare will be based on the time and distance travelled. Please note that you will have to pay an extra fee of $4USD (€3.60) for taxis leaving SFO airport. However, by booking a private shuttle in advance, you are guaranteed a fixed price, no matter how long the journey, with on-time pickups and no waiting time at any taxi rank.
FROM SFO TO CITY CENTRE OF SAN FRANCISCO
FROM SFO TO HOTELS IN CITY CENTRE
FROM SFO TO UNION SQUARE
FROM SFO TO NAPA VALLEY
FROM SFO TO SAN JOSE
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Taking a taxi or private shuttle to the city centre of San Francisco, where you can visit Union Square, Civic Center and other major attractions of the city, are very convenient transport options. Taxis and shuttles are always available at the airport and provide a door-to-door service. Taxis and private shuttle fares can be shared between 5 passengers, which helps reduce the cost per person.
You will find uniformed taxi coordinators at the taxi zones of SFO from 07:00 to 01:00, in order to help you get a taxi and arrange your trip.
App-based taxis have different pick-up locations from regular airport taxis.
If you want the smoothest travel experience, it is recommended to book a private shuttle in advance.
How to get from San Francisco Airport to the city centre by metro
Using the metro for your San Francisco Airport transfer to the city centre of San Francisco is a convenient and affordable option. The BART metro system operates every day and trains stop at the International Terminal of the airport every 15-20 minutes. Take the yellow line towards Antioch and get off at Civic Center or Powell Street stations, both at a walking distance from Union Square and the rest of downtown San Fransisco. The journey duration is 27 minutes and a single ticket costs 9.65USD (€8.75).
How much is the metro from SFO Airport to downtown San Francisco?
A metro ticket to the city centre of San Francisco is 9.65USD (€8.75) for a single ride. You can purchase your San Francisco city centre ticket at the Airport BART station using the automatic vending machines and paying either in cash or by credit card.
*Trains pass every 15 minutes Monday-Friday and every 20 minutes Saturdays and Sundays.
The BART yellow metro line operates at San Francisco Airport Monday to Friday 05:11 - 23:54, Saturdays 06:07 - 23:54 and Sundays 08:17 - 23:56.
Where do I get it from?
To board the yellow line of the Bay Area Rapid Transit, you need to get to the International Terminal at SFO and just follow the signs to BART station. To get to the city centre, you need to ride the train towards Antioch and get off after 9 stops.
BART offers quite a convenient transfer to the city centre of San Francisco and relatively easy access to Union Square. You will have to walk either from the Civic Center or Powell Street stations to your hotel. Also, bear in mind there is no after-midnight service to the city centre.
If you don't land at the International Terminal and you want to get to the BART station, you can ride the airport Air Train for free. The Air Train circles the airport of San Francisco. Alternatively, if you don't carry lots of luggage, you can also walk to the International Terminal.
There is no need to purchase a ticket for children aged 4 or under as they ride the metro for free.
There are more ticket and card options available if you plan on using the metro system frequently while in San Francisco.
How to get from San Francisco Airport to the city centre by bus
There are two buses that can take you from San Francisco Airport to downtown San Francisco: 292 and 398. Bus 292 will take you to Market Street and bus 398 will take you to Mission Street - both very close to Union Square. Journey duration is 75 minutes on average for both options, but bus service 292 is more frequent than 398. You can board 292 every 27 minutes and 398 every 57 minutes.
How much is the bus from San Francisco Airport to the city centre?
The bus ticket to the city centre of San Francisco from the International Airport of San Francisco costs 2.25USD (€2). You can purchase your ticket on board paying in cash, using a Clipper Card or by downloading your ticket through the samTrans mobile app.
*Buses run with reduced frequency on weekends and late at night.
Bus 292 operates Monday to Friday 04:30 - 01:40, Saturdays 04:30 - 01:32 and Sundays 04:30 - 01:22. Bus 398 operates Monday to Friday 05:48 - 22:36, Saturdays 06:34 - 22:26 and Sundays 05:42 - 21:44.
Where do I get it from?
In order to ride bus 292, you have to go to the Lower Arrivals Level Courtyard A at T1, the centre island at T2 and the curbside at T3. There are signs at the San Francisco Airport to guide you towards the bus stops.
Taking the bus to downtown San Francisco is not the most convenient transport option, as frequency is lower than the metro and the journey duration is longer. It takes 75 minutes for the bus to reach the city centre from the airport of San Francisco. Duration depends heavily on traffic conditions, so it may take even longer in the end if traffic conditions are worse than normal.
There are more buses to different destinations in and out of the city centre of San Francisco. You can also opt for a connecting bus service, if it suits your itinerary.
Consider getting a Clipper Card for the San Francisco bus network as it offers lower fares.
After you get off the bus, Union Square is just a 10-minute walk away.