How to Travel from Oakland to San Francisco by BART, Bus, Car, and Ferry

traveling from oakland to SF

 TripSavvy / Brianna Gilmartin

Just an easy 12 miles across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge from one another, Oakland and San Francisco share a general penchant for creativity, good food, and high rents—but they're each their own entity. It only takes about 25 minutes to drive from one downtown to the other sans traffic, though it is often an even easier commute via Bay Area Rapid Transit or ferry.

While it's not possible to take a bicycle across the entire Bay Bridge, some intrepid souls like to cycle from Oakland to the bridge's central Yerba Buena Island, then hop aboard a commuter bus for the rest of the journey.

How to Get From Oakland to San Francisco
  Time Cost Best For
BART 12 minutes From $3.45 Traveling on a budget, arriving on a time crunch
Bus 24 minutes From $7 Exercising during your commute
Car 25 minutes 12 miles (19 kilometers) Exploring the local area 
Ferry 40 minutes From $5.40 Beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Oakland to San Francisco?

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is the most efficient form of transportation. This is the sole form of "train" travel between Oakland and San Francisco, and consists of several electronically-operated connected railcars that travel from one city to the other beneath San Francisco Bay.

The journey can take anywhere from six to 34 minutes, depending on your departure and arrival stations. If you're planning to go to the Embarcadero or downtown San Francisco, it will take roughly 10 to 15 minutes.

BART is also the cheapest way to get from Oakland to San Francisco. The cost ranges from $3.45 to $4.65, depending on your route. Tickets are available for purchase at individual stations, though riders can also purchase a reloadable Clipper Card for rides both on BART and on San Francisco's Muni buses and trains.

Another good thing about BART: It runs to both SFO and Oakland International Airport, making connections beyond the Bay Area easy.

You may bring your bicycle; however, it is not permitted on the first car of any train, or on the first three cars weekdays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. If a car is too crowded for your bicycle, choose another or wait for the next train.

While BART is convenient, keep in mind that it is loud and can be standing-room only at times—especially during weekday rush hours or when there's an event in SF, such as a Giants game.

San Francisco Bay Bridge Evening
Tim Miley / Getty Images

How Long Does It Take to Drive?

It's about a 25-minute drive from downtown Oakland into Downtown San Francisco along Interstate 80W and across the Oakland Bay Bridge, but driving times can vary vary considerably depending on traffic. If you are traveling westbound, there is a $7 toll during rush hours, $6 on weekends, and $5 at all other times.

Having an alternative mode of transportation is essential, especially during morning and evening rush hours and on weekends when there's an event happening in SF, such as the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival or the Chinese New Year Parade. Consider taking public transit instead.

Is There a Bus That Goes From Oakland to San Francisco?

Greyhound runs buses from Oakland's Uptown to San Francisco's Salesforce Transit Center (in the South of Market neighborhood) numerous times daily.

For a bit of fresh air and exercise, you can also ride your bicycle across the Oakland Bay Bridge's newer eastern span to Yerba Buena Island, which sits at the center of SF Bay. Here, you can catch either the Muni line 14 bus or the line 25 bus from Treasure Island Road and Clipper Cove Way into San Francisco. Muni buses have bike racks on the front of each vehicle.

What's the Most Scenic Route to San Francisco?

The San Francisco Bay Ferry is a convenient—and entertaining—way to travel between Oakland and San Francisco. Ferries operate year-round on weekdays and weekends, running from Oakland's Jack London Square to Alameda, San Francisco's Ferry Building, and Pier 41. Adult one-way tickets cost $7.20 ($5.40 if you have a Clipper Card), and discounts are available for youth and seniors. Bring your bicycle on board, grab a snack or cocktail at the onboard bar, and sit back and enjoy the scenery. Public restrooms are also available.

What Is There to Do in San Francisco?

There are so many things to see and do in this City by the Bay. Spend an afternoon cycling through the Presidio, enjoy a burrito in the Mission District, or peruse a selection of locally grown and produced foods at the Ferry Building Farmer's Market. Of course, seeing the Golden Gate Bridge is a must, and for the full SF experience, hop aboard an iconic cable car for a ride to the top of Nob Hill or windy Lombard Street. On sunny days, Baker Beach is worth a visit, or opt for a walking tour of neighborhoods like Chinatown, Haight-Ashbury, or the Castro. Golden Gate Park is filled with inspiring museums, picnic-perfect meadows, and plenty of greenery, while Fisherman's Wharf is the ultimate tourist hub (and an especially good place to chow down on some of the city's famed sourdough bread). 

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