For the purpose of this list, a "bus tour" is defined as a tour in vehicles that seat 30 or more passengers, where the tour routes are fixed and you will be touring with other people you don't know.
When deciding whether to take one of these tours, these are a few things you should know and think about:
- Those double-decker buses look like fun and it seems like you'd be able to everything from those seats above the traffic. The reality is that you'll be looking into second-story windows and if you're unlucky enough to get a seat in the middle, you won't even be able to see the sidewalk.
- If you choose one of the hop on/hop off buses as a way to get around town, it might be a good idea, if you want to get on and off a lot. If you're just planning to go from one place to another and back, it's an expensive way to travel.
- Tickets are sold on a 24-hour basis. If you get on late in the afternoon and won't be riding the next day, you'll end up spending a... lot of money for a few hours of riding.
- The tour companies have a street address, but you don't always have to go there to get on the bus. Some of them let you board and pay on the bus at any stop.
01 of 05Best For: Visitors who want transportation, but also want to get off and explore
Type of Vehicle: Double Decker Trolley Buses that resemble San Francisco cable cars
Tours Offered: Two loops, 48 hours of access, unlimited Hop-on, Hop-off privileges at any of 15 stops
Kids ages 10 and under ride free. Complimentary shuttle from Fisherman's Wharf to the hotels in the afternoon. You can buy tickets for this tour ahead of time online or from the driver. They are a fully compliant A.D.A. (Americans with Disabilities) company.
This tour is included in the Go San Francisco Card.
02 of 05
Best For: Visitors who just want someone to show them around
Type of Vehicle: Open-topped, double-decker bus
Features: Live tour guide on board, unlimited travel while ticket is valid
Tours Offered: Several loop tours that cover different parts of the city (including Golden Gate Park) and a night tour. Separate ticket required for each
Buy your tickets ahead of time and they're good for 3 months after purchase. They expire 48 hours after the first use, except for the night tour which is good for 24 hours.
Don't expect a comfortable ride. Seats on the upper level of these buses are crowded and hard, with little room between rows. My 6-foot-tall companion was very uncomfortable . My knees nearly touched the seat in front of us and I'm only i"m 5'4" tall with short legs.
03 of 05Best For: Visitors who want transportation, but also want to get off and explore
Type of Vehicle: Open-topped, double-decker bus
Features: Live tour guide on board, unlimited travel while ticket is valid. Recorded commentary is available in 10 languages.
Tours Offered: A hop on, hop off city loop tour that makes 20 stops. They also offer a night tour.
You can buy tickets good for 24 hours or 48 hours. Children 4 years of age and under travel free of charge (one per adult). You can get a one hour, free bike hire with your ticket purchase and can take three walking tours for free, too.
Buying the 24- and 48-hour tickets online for a fixed date saves money, but you can also buy them at any boarding point. Because they're based in the UK, your credit card company may add a foreign transaction fee to your purchase price, but it is not likely to negate the savings.
Strollers and WheelchairsYou can take a baby stroller onto the bus, but will have to fold it up and store it during the trip.
Some... of their buses are wheelchair accessible. Call them or go to their office at 99 Jefferson Street to find out the times of the wheelchair accessible buses for the day of your tour.
04 of 05Best For: Anyone looking for a smaller group experience - and doesn't mind paying more for it.
Type of Vehicle: Enclosed, 30 to 40 passenger capacity, shuttle-style vehicles with climate control
Features: Tour guide who gets off the shuttle with you at every stop.
Tours Offered: 5-hour and 9-hour tours which include a ferry ride or a bay cruise and a guided walk down Lombard (crookedest) street. They also offer a "Locals Favorite Attractions" tour and a City Plus Alcatraz at Night Tour. Other options include a trip to Muir Woods, Napa Valley and a Yosemite Valley trip that includes a 3-hour train ride.
Kids age 11 and under pay a reduced price, but every passenger needs a ticket and the vehicles don't have room for strollers. A wheelchair accessible shuttle is available with 72 hours' notice.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
San Francisco Sightseeing Company City ToursBest For: Visitors who just want someone to show them around
Type of Vehicle: Double Decker Buses
Features: Foreign language tours once a day. They offer complimentary hotel pick up and return shuttle service from most San Francisco hotels.
Tours Offered: Two tour routes which include a 24-hour ticket for their Hop-on, Hop-off City Tour. Extra cost add-ons for selected tours include Muir Woods, Sausalito and a bay cruise.
Kids aged 10 and under ride free. These tours must be reserved ahead of time. They are a fully compliant A.D.A. (Americans with Disabilities) company.