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Flights to San Francisco -
Prices, Airlines, Duration and Routes

The three airports that handle flights into San Francisco are San Francisco International (SFO), Oakland International (OAK), and Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International (SJC). By comparing prices you'll be able to discover great deals! You'll likely find the most discounted flights into OAK and SJC. However, SFO has many more international flights and provides quicker and more convenient access into the city.

SFO has a wide range of facilities like a full-service travel agency, a yoga room, a medical clinic, museum galleries, showers, spas and a reflection room. Free WiFi is available throughout.

Price Flight Time and Airline Duration and Route
Round trip
6:00 am – 10:15 am
American Airlines
4h 15m
Chicago, ORD-SFO
Round trip
8:56 am – 12:14 pm
6h 18m
New York, JFK-SFO

*Located about 10 miles south of the San Francisco, SFO is connected to downtown San Francisco by the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system. The BART to downtown costs $8.65 and takes about 20 minutes.

OAK offers an abundance of eateries and retail shops like Starbucks, Pyramid Ale Taproom, Oakland Sports Scene, and Bijoux Terner.

Price Flight Time and Airline Duration and Route
Round trip
4:07 pm – 6:41 pm
4h 34m
Chicago, ORD-OAK
Round trip
4:59 pm – 8:17 pm
6h 18m
New York, JFK-OAK

*Located in the East Bay, OAK is connected to downtown by the BART system indirectly through AirBART shuttle buses. It's a 15 minute bus ride to the BART station and then a direct train to SF—total cost is about $7.

SJC provides free WiFi in all public areas of both terminals, and there are a number of eateries and retails shops like Gordon Biersch Brewing Company, Discover San José, and Sunglass Icon.

Price Flight Time and Airline Duration and Route
Round trip
10:45 pm – 1:10 pm
4h 25m
Chicago, ORD-SJC
Round trip
6:55 pm – 10:15 pm
6h 20m
New York, JFK-SJC

*Located in Silicon Valley, only two miles from downtown San Jose, SJC has a free shuttle to a Caltrain station, which has direct commuter trains to San Francisco for $7.50.

What to see and do in San Francisco

The various districts of San Francisco blend together to form an unforgettable mosaic of swanky upscale neighborhoods, effervescent immigrant communities, wondrous architectural marvels, historically important landmarks, and so much more. Let's go on a brief tour of the city.

  • The Golden Gate district has a number of upscale neighborhoods like Cow Hollow and Pacific Heights, offering expansive views and historical landmarks like the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and The Presidio.
  • Fisherman's Wharf is a beautiful waterfront neighborhood dotted with world-class seafood restaurants and souvenir shops. Ghirardelli Square and Pier 39 are fun places to explore.
  • Chinatown-North Beach combines two adjacent culturally distinct neighborhoods. Chinatown is s fully functioning Chinese community, one of the biggest outside of Asia, where Mandarin and Cantonese are regularly spoken in business and everyday life. A series of green, white and red telegraph poles demarks the beginning of North Beach, popularly referred to as Little Italy, where you can immerse yourself in Italian culture.
  • Civic Center-Tenderloin is filled with fascinating architecture like the neoclassical Civic Center and some curiously designed buildings in the Tenderloin district. The San Francisco Opera, the San Francisco Symphony and SFjazz are also located in this area.
  • SoMa, or South of Market, is in the midst of a radical transformation that includes the recent construction of shiny new skyscrapers and some of the city's newest museums. AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, is also located here.
  • Western Addition is a historic neighborhood filled with beautiful Victorian houses. Also in this district is a pocket of Japanese culture, Japantown. This East Asian cultural oasis is home to many Japanese residents, so it's replete with Japanese businesses, hotels, stores and restaurants.
  • Twin Peaks-Lake Merced, located in southwestern San Francisco, offers a retreat from urban life. This hilly area is home to Lake Merced Park, where you will find the San Francisco Zoo.
  • Castro-Noe Valley is historically known for being the cultural center of the city's gay community. Neighboring Noe Valley offers excellent restaurants and shops along pleasant tree-lined streets.

Getting around San Francisco

Because it's a relatively small city, just about 7 miles from north to south and east to west, San Francisco is fairly easy to navigate. It has one of the most comprehensive and easy-to-use public transportation systems in the U.S. Walking and cycling are two other viable options.

  • Public Transportation
    • San Francisco Municipal Railway, or Muni, is fast, efficient, and expansive. The network includes the metro subway, streetcars, buses, trolley buses and cable cars within San Francisco proper. Historic streetcars run along the waterfront near from Fisherman's Wharf while world-famous cable cars traverse steep streets between Market Street and Fisherman's Wharf. An all-day Muni passport good on all Muni services, including Cable Cars, costs $14.
    • BART, the regional train, has eight stations in San Francisco, making it a nice way to get between well-trafficked parts of the city, especially downtown and the Mission. BART gets you across the Bay to Berkeley and Oakland and to the airports of San Francisco and Oakland.
  • Exploring the city on foot is another option. With a relaxed vibe, cool weather, and amazing scenery, San Francisco is pleasantly walkable. For leisurely strolls and excellent shopping, head over to Pacific Heights, Cow Hallow, and Fillmore. If you're looking for a more exhilarating experience, take the strenuous yet picturesque walk up Greenwich and Filbert Steps on the east side of Telegraph Hill, and then ascend to the Coit Tower.
  • Cycling around the city is a good choice for those with urban cycling experience. The Mission, Richmond, and SoMa districts are superb cycling locales because they are relatively flat and offer lots to see. There are also a number of bike paths and bike routes on city streets. A very popular ride takes you across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. The Golden Gate Bridge has sectioned off pathways on each side for pedestrians and cyclists.

Useful tidbits about San Francisco

We assembled some additional information that you may find useful as you prepare for your trip to San Francisco.

  • Geography and Weather. San Francisco has several different micro-climates that are created by the city's topography and oceanic setting, so the sun may be shining in one part of the city while it's raining just a few miles away. Large hills in the city's center block much of the fog, wind, and rain that come in from the Pacific Ocean. Always check the weather forecast for the specific part of the city you'll be in.
  • Harbor Tours. On clear days, the best and most memorable way to see the city is from the San Francisco Bay. There are a variety of tour types, from sunset and dinner cruises to whale watching tours. Most tours leave from Fisherman's Wharf near Pier 39, with prices from $20-$40.
  • Tourist Information. San Francisco's visitor information centers offer maps, brochures and other tourism resources. The two major tourist information centers in the city are San Francisco Visitor Information Center, on 900 Market Street, and California Welcome Center at Pier 39.

Photo header credit Tanel Teemusk

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