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Travelling to San Francisco

All international and most domestic flights arrive at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), inconveniently located about fifteen miles south of the city. San Mateo County Transit (SamTrans) buses leave every half-hour from the lower level of the airport; the #KX express takes around 30 minutes to reach the Transbay Terminal downtown, while the slower #292 stops takes nearly an hour.

Travelling to San Francisco
Arriving in San Francisco by Aeroplane.

On the #KX, you're allowed only one carry-on bag; on the #292, you can bring as much as you want provided you can carry it onto the bus yourself. The SFO Airporter bus  picks up outside each baggage claim area every fifteen minutes and travels to Union Square and the Financial District. The blue SuperShuttle, American Airporter Shuttle and Bay Shuttle minibuses depart every five minutes from the lower level of the circular road and take passengers to any city-center destination.

Be ruthless - competition for these and the several other companies running shuttle service is fierce and queues nonexistent. Taxis from the airport cost for any downtown location, more for East Bay and Marin County - definitely worth it if there is more than one of you. If you're planning to drive, the usual car rental agencies operate free shuttle buses to their depots, leaving every 15 minutes from the upper level, but you have to load and unload your bags yourself. The car rental depot is located north of SFO and is too far to walk to.

Several domestic airlines (Jet Blue and Southwest are two) and United fly into Oakland International Airport (OAK), across the bay. This is actually closer to downtown San Francisco than SFO, and is efficiently connected with the city by the AirBART shuttle bus, which drops you at the Coliseum BART station. Get on BART and San Francisco's downtown stops are fifteen minutes away.

Travelling by Bus or Train.

All San Francisco's Greyhound services use the Transbay Terminal at 425 Mission St, south of Market Street, near the Embarcadero BART station. Green Tortoise buses stop behind the Transbay Terminal on First and Natoma. Amtrak trains stop across the bay in Richmond (with easy BART transfers) and continue to Oakland, from where free shuttle buses run across the Bay Bridge to the Transbay Terminal, or you can take BART. Though technically closer to San Francisco, don't get off at the stop before Oakland, Emeryville , as consistent public transportation to the city doesn't exist.

Useful Travel Information.

The San Francisco Visitor Information Center , on the lower level of Hallidie Plaza at the end of the cable car line on Market Street (Mon-Fri 8.30am-5pm, Sat & Sun 9am-3pm; tel 415/391-2000), has free maps of the city and the Bay Area, and can help with lodging and travel plans. Its free San Francisco Book provides detailed, if somewhat selective, information about accommodation, entertainment, exhibitions and stores.


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