San Francisco CityPASS or Go San Francisco Card

This post compares and reviews the various San Francisco city passes available to you, to help you decide which pass (if any) is the right fit! . San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities, both to live and to visit, and with so many tours, attractions and museums, the cost can add up.  A few discount bundle options have been developed to help tourists like you get the most out of their visit – that help you save both time and money. Are you a planner? Traveling with children? Staying for only a day, or do you have a week to explore? Pay attention to the package type listed for each of these great package deals, as each has its unique benefits.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy San Francisco on a budget.  Here is a list of museums that offer free or discounted admission at least once a week.   And of course don’t forget about all our “name your own price” walking tours of the city! For a full list of our tours offered, check out our calendar.

Go Card (All-Inclusive)

Build Your Own Pass (À la carte)

Alcatraz Combos

Viator 3-in-1 Pass


Choose 3, 4 or 5 Attractions

Bus Company Combo Passes

Pier 39 Pass


Package Type: Full Itinerary  | Moderate Planner | Extended Weekend or Week Long Trip

The CityPASS is a booklet of tickets that saves you 46% off [regular admission costs] of the top 4 attractions AND grants free cable car/Muni bus transit!



Attractions included in the booklet:

  • California Academy of Sciences
  • Blue and Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure
  • Exploratorium OR de Young Museum
  • Aquarium of the Bay OR Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • BONUS: Unlimited FREE Cable Car and Muni Bus rides for 3 days!

Prices (as of June 2016)

  • $94 – Adults (full-admission price $174.85)
  • $69 – Children (ages 5-11) (regular $129.85)

Ticket booklets are either available via email or can be shipped after checkout. We recommend you purchase online here.

Extra Perks

  • Your tickets will be valid for 9 consecutive days starting from your first day of use. This gives you plenty of time to see everything included.
  • Skip the admission line and gain instant access with your tickets. This can save hours of time!

Before you buy

Unlimited 7-day access to the Muni trolleys, buses, and cable car can save you a lot on transportation expenses, however, please note that this pass does not include access to BART, and public transportation may not be your fastest option if you’re crunched for time.

If you are pressed for time or not particularly interested in 3 or more of the attractions listed, it might be better to look at one of the many other options below.  


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Package Type: Intense Planner | On-the-Go | Day or Week Long Trip

With flexible options and pricing between 1­-5 days based on your needs, the Go San Francisco Card can’t be beat! This all­-inclusive pass means you are granted free admission to as many attractions as you can fit into the number of days that your pass allows.  There are 28 attractions to choose from.

All Go San Francisco Cards have a zero risk refund policy.  If you don’t activate your pass within 1 year of your travel date, all your money will be refunded no questions asked.


Price Options (as of March 2016)

  • 1­ Day: Adults $65 | Children (ages 3-­12) $49
  • 2­ Day: Adults $90 | Children $62
  • 3­ Day: Adults $115 | Children $85 Check out our sample 3 day itinerary that focuses exclusively on getting the most out of the Go San Francisco Card!
  • 5­ Day: Adults $150 | Children $110

Pro tip: In the city for 3 days? Consider getting a 2­ day pass instead of a 3 ­day. You don’t want to lock down all your time in the city; you never know what you might discover while exploring place to place. You may also be exhausted from running around for 48 hours! Save that $25 and use it to go to that restaurant you saw on your way back to the hotel that has great ratings online!

Before you buy

As recommended with any of these packages, you want to plan ahead in order to get the most out of Go San Francisco Card. While you have unlimited access, you do have limited time. Make sure you look at days and hours of operations for each attractions, and factor in travel time. Grouping activities in nearby locations can be a great way to get in more than just a few thing in a single day! However, there are some places you’ll want to spend more time in than others. Do your research, and this could be a very good buy!

All Go San Francisco Cards have a zero risk refund policy.  If you don’t activate your pass within 1 year of your travel date, all your money will be refunded no questions asked.


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Package Type: Moderate Planner | Extended Stay

There are a few passes (sometimes referred to as ‘pick’ passes) that allow you to create a pass by the number of attractions and activities, rather than the number of days. These passes  (Explorer Pass or the iVenture Card) offer the option to buy between 3-5 attractions. You ‘pick’ your attractions from a list of attractions, many of them among the most popular, and expensive. By purchasing a pass rather than each sight individually, you can save up to 50% on the total cost of your sightseeing. 

You do not need to choose in advance which attractions you will go to or what days you will visit them.  Even better, most ‘pick’ passes are valid for 30 days from the date you first activate it. Another nice perk is that at some attractions you will get fast-track entry and get to skip some general admission lines!

One slight downside to these kinds of passes are that to make the most of your savings, you should do some pre-planning and research. You may even want to take out your calculator. For example, if you pick attractions that are the most expensive (over $20), your savings will be higher. This approach assumes that you actually want to see those attractions.  Watch out for attractions can be visited for free on certain days or hours. Also, there may be similar attractions and activities you can get for a lower price. As an example, if you want to take a walking tour, why use one of your “picks” when you can try one of our pay-what-you-wish tours. 



This pass lets you pay one price, and grants admission to 3, 4 or 5 attractions that you choose from a list of 20 attractions at a discounted rate. You don’t need to pre-select your choices when buying, but will be cut off after you’ve used your 3, 4 or 5 admissions.  The Explorer Pass is valid for 30 days from your first visit, so you can take your time making your choices.

All Go San Francisco Cards have a zero risk refund policy.  If you don’t activate your pass within 1 year of your travel date, all your money will be refunded no questions asked.


Price Options (as of  2017)

3 Attraction Pass

  • Adults: $65
  • Children (ages 3-­12): $49

4 Attraction Pass

  • Adults: $85
  • Children (ages 3­-12): $65

5 Attraction Pass

  • Adults: $100
  • Children (ages 3-12): $75

We recommend the instant delivery via online purchase, as the lines at the ticket booth locations can get long. You can also call 866.628.9031 and have the tickets sent to your mobile device. You’ll receive a guidebook with restaurant recommendations with your purchase!


iVENTURE CARD (San Francisco Flexi Attractions Pass)iVenture Card 

Like the Explorer Pass above, the pass allows you to choose a ticket package of either 3 attractions or 5 attractions (they do not offer a 4-attraction pass). You don’t have to choose which attractions in advance and the pass lasts for one month from the date you first activate it. This pass will save you up to 50% of the normal admission prices.

You pick from the more than 10 of San Francisco’s must-see attractions (see full list here) including museums and several Gray Line tours outside of the San Francisco area such as Wine Country day tour or Yosemite National Park Tour.

Price Options (as of March 2017)

3 Attraction Pass

  • Adults: $65
  • Children (ages 4-­15): $49

5 Attraction Pass

  • Adults: $99
  • Children (ages 4­-15): $79

An iVenture Card package can be purchased online at their website or by calling (415) 692-4141 any day between 7am-9pm. There is no option for pre-printing or shipping so to get your pass you must go to one of the following locations:

  • Gray Line Office 2627 Taylor Street Phone: 415-353-5310, Daily: 7am – 9pm
  • Gray Line Office (Pier 41), Pier 41 Marine Terminal Phone: 415-353-5310, Daily: 8am – 7pm
  • Aquarium of the Bay, Pier 39, Phone: 415-623-5300, Daily: 10am – 7pm

There are pros and cons to buying this card instead of the Explorer Card.  Notably, you cannot get a refund on the card if you do not use it. All sales are final.  One positive is that the attractions to choose from contain many more tours, including ones that get you out of San Francisco to see Muir Woods, Sausalito, Yosemite Park, Wine Country and more.  



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Package Type: Light Planner | Frugal | Short or Extended Trip

Build your own pass with at least 2 attractions from their list of 35 that saves 20% off the admission of all items. This one is best if you know what places you want to visit, but you may not be sure you will have enough time to visit all the attractions that you would need to visit to make the other passes worth it.  You have 30 days to visit everything on this pass from your first use, and you’ll skip the long lines at the door!

All Go San Francisco Cards have a zero risk refund policy.  If you don’t activate your pass within 1 year of your travel date, all your money will be refunded no questions asked.




This pass has no set pricing.  You get 20% off the retail prices of the items that you choose, which vary in admission rate.

Before you buy:

This pass is great, because it’s a personalized coupon book. Be aware, you must choose the attractions at the time of purchase. Looking at 3 or 4 locations? Be sure to check out the Explorer’s Pass (above) to see if you’d save more than 20% this pass grants.

Things to consider with the Smart Destinations Passes:

Our favorite of the Smart Destinations Passes is the Build Your Own Pass. With this, you are able to totally customize your trip and see only the attractions that most interest you. The amount of savings may vary, but each attraction offers a deal with this pass. The All Inclusive Pass is a bit more expensive, but if you want to see and do as much as possible in a short amount of time, this can be a great deal.

However, keep in mind that the pass only works between 9:00 am – 5:30 pm so you’ll have to be willing to jump from site to site in order to get the most bang for your buck. The Signature Passes are best for those who are less familiar with the city and don’t want to bother with having to plan out the specifics of their trip. Because the pass is good for 30 days, you can take your time visiting each site.

All Go San Francisco Cards have a zero risk refund policy.  If you don’t activate your pass within 1 year of your travel date, all your money will be refunded no questions asked.


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Several bus companies offer tourist attraction passes that feature their hop-on, hop-off bus service.  Many could save you a considerable amount, assuming you were planning on using the bus service.  NOTE: The 2 and 3 day bus tickets offered by most hop-on, hop-off companies also include free walking tours, bike rentals and discount coupons and are of themselves combo packages.  



Package Type: Moderate Planner | Tour Lover | Short or Extended Trip

Big Bus Tours offer hop-on/hop-off tours all over San Francisco, and with the Dynamite Ticket, not only do you get 48 hours to come and go, but an itinerary full of touring. Big Bus is highly rated and this bundle is extremely affordable for all of its features:




  • 48 Hours of  hop-on/hop-off
  • 3 walking tours of Chinatown, North Beach, & Barbary Coast
  • Panoramic Night Tour
  • Sausalito Tour

See the Golden Gate Bridge, Grace Cathedral, Bay Bridge, and more on this 2 hour tour (worth $30).

Explore a narrow-streeted neighborhood with fine dining and boutique shopping.

  • 7D Experience

Compete with your fellow riders in this interactive, 3D ride with wind, strobe, and moving seats. Reviews say this is best for travelers with kids.


What the reviews say…

Kid friendly! The bus ride is the highlight of this package, because you get to board and disembark anytime you’d like at the designated stops all over town, or stay on for over 2 hours of sightseeing. The guides have an excellent reputation for being friendly, funny, and informative. The only consistent complaint is that San Francisco traffic can make the busses run late, so you may want to leave extra time to arrive to any scheduled events.



City Sightseeing recently did away with their Freestyle and GoPass, and introduced the San Francisco Mega Pass. This new pass allows you to select between different options: Mega Pass 1 Day City Tour + 2 attractions, Mega Pass 2 Day City Tour + 3 attractions, or the Mega Pass 3 Day City Tour + 4 attractions. With each, you can choose from 25 different attractions, including a San Francisco Bay Cruise, a tour to the Muir Woods, Escape the Rock boat tour of Alcatraz, and many others. Their hop-on, hop-off Official City Tour (Blue Line) is also included. 

All Mega Passes include the Official City Tour (Blue Line) for the validity period of the pass plus choose from a list of 25 attractions.

When it comes to bus tours, this might be one of the biggest and best passes in San Francisco. With this tourist pass from City Sightseeing, you can explore the entire Bay Area with ease. Whether you want to see Muir Woods, discover the aquarium, or visit the Walt Disney Family Museum, there are plenty of excellent activities included with this pass.

Other tourist passes are typically focused more on attractions than on tours. This company offers a lot of their own bus tours, so it’s easier for them to provide a wide selection with this pass. There are plenty of popular locations to visit in San Francisco, but if you want to see all of the landmarks, bus tours are definitely one of your best options. Although Big Bus has a combo package of their own, the Dynamite Ticket (see above) offers far fewer activities than the Freestyle Pass.

25 Attractions to Choose From: 

  • San Francisco Bay Cruise
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • San Francisco Night Tour
  • Muir Woods Tour
  • SF Museum Of Modern Art
  • 3hr Bike Rental
  • 30 minute Go Car Tour *
  • see the full list.

Things to Consider

If you were to pay for each tour individually, it would cost almost twice as much to experience every bus tour provided by the San Francisco Mega Pass. When you factor in the additional attractions and activities, this deal becomes even more impressive.

As you can see, City Sightseeing offers one of the most affordable tourist passes in the city. If you’re trying to save money while experiencing as much as possible, this pass is definitely worth consideration.


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Package Type: Intense Planner | Tour Lover | Extended Trip

Big Bus Tours offer hop-on/hop-off tours all over San Francisco, and with the Alcatraz Tour, you gain access to Alcatraz and all that Big Bus offers with hop-on/hop-off and walking tours.


Big Bus Alcatraz Combo Ticket



  • Includes everything in the Dynamite Ticket (plus)
  • Alcatraz admission and ferry ticket

This abandoned federal prison is now a popular tourist site just over a mile off the coast of Fisherman’s Wharf. The oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast is located here.

  • Aquarium of the Bay admission

A small exhibit, and a nice bonus to this package. Explore glass tunnels filled with 20,000 marine life species. Located off of Pier 39, this is a quick stop for animal lovers!


What the reviews say…

While reviewers recommend this package for all of its activities (kid friendly!), there is a consistent complaint of busses taking longer than 10-20 minutes to reach certain stops during high traffic or busy weekends. We recommend this package for the planner who knows how to use a map and plan a day to maximize time, since hopping on and off this bus to cross the city may eat up a lot of it.

Travelers also recommend that you choose the Dynamite Ticket over the Alcatraz Combo if you aren’t interested in seeing the prison, since that is the main difference in the two Big Bus packages. The 7D Experience and Aquarium of the Bay are extremely fun exhibits for children!



Alcatraz is one of the most popular destinations in the Bay Area. It’s so popular that they often sell out of tickets to the island months in advance! If you want to secure your ticket before heading to San Francisco, it’s best to book your tour as soon as possible. Thankfully, City Sightseeing offers a pretty great combo package that makes it a lot easier to guarantee access to the Alcatraz tour.  Big Bus Tours has a similar package, but there are important differences between the two.

The Alcatraz combo package from City Sightseeing is more affordable than similar offers from their competitors. To be fair, this package does not include entrance to as many attractions as the Dynamite ticket offered via Big Bus Tours. That being said, you will have access to a total of four tours over the course of three full days. If you’re looking to explore the San Francisco area and experience Alcatraz Island up close, this is an excellent alternative.

Tours Included

  • 3-Day Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour
  • San Francisco Downtown Tour
  • San Francisco Night Tour
  • The Official City Tour
  • Sausalito Bus Tour
  • Alcatraz Island Tour


Things to Consider

Taking advantage of this combo package is actually one of the easiest methods for getting your ticket to Alcatraz Island. You can purchase tickets to the island separately, but they are very popular and can be difficult to obtain.

The main difference between this combo deal and the Big Bus package is the type of hop-on, hop-off ticket you’ll receive. Their competitors only offer a 2-day ticket, but it comes with access to a variety of different attractions and activities. If you stick with City Sightseeing, you’ll get a 3-day ticket without all of the extras. They do offer a free 1 hour bike rental, but this package is mostly focused on providing tours in and around the city.

If you are more interested in taking a variety of tours, this is definitely the better option. Discover the city and its most beloved landmarks at your own pace with this Alcatraz combo package.


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Package Type: Light Planner | Family Fun | Weekend Trip

Don’t let the name fool you, this combo gives you more than just the fun attractions of Pier 39. You’ll also get to tour the city via hop-on/hop-off bus and a bay tour that travelers give two thumbs up!

Pier 39 Attractions (kid friendly!):

  • Aquarium of the Bay
  • 7D Experience
  • Magowan’s Mirror Maze
  • Pier 39 Fun Pack

Additional Included Attractions:

  • Hop-on/Hop-off 48 hour bus pass
  • Bay Cruise Adventure OR Escape from the Rock Bay Cruise


  • Adults: $108.95
  • Children (5-11): $71.95
  • Infants (0-4): FREE
  • Purchase here.

Passes are valid for 7 days after issued, so these passes are best bought upon arriving to San Francisco.

Before you buy…

We highly recommend this most for families/groups with children. Many of the Pier’s activities are made for family fun, and some reviewers regretted buying this package for their adult only group. The hop-on/hop-off bus is only valid for 48 hours of the 7 day pass, so make sure to have other means of transportation.


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Package Type: Light Planner | Day Trip

See the top three San Francisco dark and twisted attractions at a discount with the this pass. Tourists say this can all be easily done in one day!


  • Madame Tussauds
  • San Francisco Dungeon
  • Alcatraz


  • Adults (12+): 102.95
  • Children (4-11): $87.95
  • Infants: FREE
  • Purchase here.

Reviews say… Spend an hour at Madame Tussaud’s, then visit the dungeon for live-action history by professional actors. Finish your day with a trip to Alcatraz island. The reviews confirm that this is an easy, convenient, affordable way to spend a day seeing some of the best spots in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.


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