Tips for Traveling San Francisco on a Budget

Tips for Traveling San Francisco on a Budget

San Francisco repeatedly grabs headlines for being the most costly place within the United States to stay. But that doesn’t imply you must cross it off of your journey bucket listing! In reality, this dynamic California metropolis is jam-packed with low-cost and even free issues to do.

You simply should know the place to look.

Wondering the right way to discover The City with out breaking the financial institution? From discovering the fitting place to remain, profiting from sure passes and exploring all of the free issues San Francisco has to supply—you possibly can positively have an journey within the Bay on a dime.

Here are my tried and true tips for touring San Francisco on a funds!

Golden Gate Bridge

Avoid the High Season

San Francisco has an awfully delicate local weather. In reality, from the coldest winter night time to the warmest summer time afternoon, you might be barely a 20-degree distinction. That is among the many explanation why it’s effectively price avoiding the excessive season.

Hotels are at their peak charges from August via October then once more briefly throughout Christmas and New Year’s. Meanwhile, airfare costs max out from June via August.

Avoiding summer time and early autumn will mechanically slash at the very least 15% off your lodge invoice and much more on flights.

Finding a Place to Stay

Watch for Hidden Fees

When you might be reserving a lodge, you may not see the entire further prices concerned. Everything from metropolis taxes to resort charges to parking prices can come out of nowhere to rack up the invoice in your lodge room. Before you e book something, examine the lodge’s web site to make clear charges.

Rent an Airbnb

Renting an Airbnb generally is a cheaper choice to remain in San Francisco whereas experiencing town like an area. Just preserve a watch out for any surprises right here too. Read the entire evaluations to be sure you have entry to parking should you’re driving and be certain that you’re not too removed from the place you need to go.

You can discover Superhosts on Airbnb with superb scores for as low-cost as $75 to $100 per night time. Airbnb lodging can have additional charges as effectively, however the full particulars will pop up earlier than you really e book (simply control the value as you verify).

Consider a Hostel

They fluctuate from absolute dumps to considerably swanky central hideaways. The evaluations will normally offer you a good suggestion by way of what to anticipate. Make a word of any feedback on cleanliness and security. Those are the 2 key issues that may make or break your expertise.

Explore the Pass Options

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: it pays to plan!

Figuring out what you want to do before you arrive will help you budget. Once you know what you’re interested in doing, passes can be a smart option. Before you commit to one, though, make sure you are paying for things you have the time and interest to do.


The San Francisco CityPASS is perfect if you want to go into full tourist mode and see it all.

This will get you into San Francisco’s top attractions while showing you around the city with a three-day Cable Car and Muni Bus Passport. This pass saves you $76.90 but, of course, only if you actually intend to do all the things. Read about the two options here.

Go to San Francisco Card

This is one other fashionable choose that permits you to customise your journey.

If you need a number of days of continuous sightseeing, it can save you 60% with the All-Inclusive cross that will get in you in just about wherever on the town. The Explorer choice is useful if you understand you’re going to need to see a handful of sights (you possibly can select three to 5) sooner or later in your journey. Check out the options here.

Sightseeing Pass

This is one other cool choose that permits you to set the tempo. Opt for wherever from two to 6 sights that you could discover anytime over the course of a month, or get a cross for limitless sightseeing over the course of 1 to 5 days. Full details are here.

bart san francisco

Make Use of the BART

San Francisco has a reasonably nice transit system referred to as the Bay Area Rapid Transit (given the lovable nickname, the BART).

This extremely related community will deliver you in every single place from Sausalito to San Jose, together with the San Francisco (SFO) and Oakland (OAK) airports, via a sequence of trains and bus routes.

The value relies on the space that you just journey.

You can plan your journey and funds for the price with an online calculator. Once you arrive, you’ll seize a pay as you go card that works like a debit card by deducting credit score every time you journey.

Conservatory of Flowers

Explore the Parks

There are so many attractive parks to spend an unforgettable (and free!) afternoon. Of course, the Golden Gate Park is an absolute should. It is the biggest park in San Francisco and there are free occasions happening on a regular basis. Be certain to have a look at the calendar before you go.

As quickly as you arrive within the Golden Gate Park, I’d extremely advocate making a beeline for the Japanese Tea Garden.

Not solely is it an exquisite, serene spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of town, however it may be free should you get in on the proper time. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning earlier than 10:00 am, you possibly can waltz in and save the same old $eight admission. On the primary Tuesday of every month, you can even go to the Conservatory of Flowers for free.

Take Advantage of the Free Things

San Francisco is a photographer’s playground and there are limitless sights to see freed from cost. There are so many stunning views to take snap pics of, or simply stand again and admire. Walk throughout the Golden Gate Bridge to absorb the most effective view of town from this engineering masterpiece.

  • Alcatraz: While you do should pay for the ferry to recover from there, Alcatraz admission is free. Come early to discover the sights and sounds of Fisherman’s Wharf then seize a sourdough bread bowl for lunch. If you’re keen to half with $40, it truly is price getting on the ferry for the journey over to Alcatraz.
  • Coit Tower: Another factor on the kinda free listing is Coit Tower. This 210-foot tower provides you with a panoramic view from the Telegraph Hill neighborhood should you pay the $9 to go all the way in which up, or you possibly can admire the vista from a bit decrease down.
  • Lombart Street Murals: For among the most attractive murals on Lombard Street, get to Clarion Alley within the Mission District for the most effective selfie spots in San Francisco.
  • Painted Ladies: One of essentially the most iconic websites in San Francisco is the Painted Ladies. No journey is full with out snapping a least a pair (hundred!) photographs right here.

Steal some inspiration from my pics of The Golden City earlier than you go.

  • Free Walking Tour: To dive into the tradition a bit deeper, I’d extremely advocate a free walking tour. They are sometimes run by locals or college students who know the realm inside out—which is an effective way to seek out hidden gems! Best of all, these excursions function off of suggestions so guides have a tendency to present it their easiest. If you’ve an awesome expertise, tip what you assume is truthful.

boudin bread san francisco

Cheap Eats

From meals vehicles to Michelin star extravagances, San Francisco’s foodie scene is second to none. For low-cost eats, the Off the Grid Coalition is a useful information to the schedule and site of native meals vehicles. If you’re touring in a gaggle, the Food Truck Park in SOMA is a dream for giving everybody an awesome array of choices.

Wherever you go, you will see taquerias with Mission-style burritos that style like one million {dollars} however will simply set you again only some bucks.

The largest outside farmers market within the US is held on Saturdays within the San Francisco Ferry constructing and it’s the proper spot to seek out the most effective native meals on a budget.

Before you go, discover all of my prime picks for the most effective locations to eat in San Francisco.

Free Museum Days

There are SO many free museums in San Francisco!

Between these which might be at all times free and the particular spots that provide free entry on sure days, you’ll be spoiled for alternative.

Check out the full list of free museums in San Francisco.


While San Francisco could be dear, there are a ton of free issues to make the most of and methods you possibly can discover town on a funds.

What suggestions and tips do you’ve? Feel free to share within the feedback under!


Sara Lassiter

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