San Francisco CityPASS or Go San Francisco Card

San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities, both to live and to visit. With so many attractions and museums, the cost can add up. A few options have been developed to help tourists like you get the most out of their visit using San Francisco tourist passes – that help you save both time and money.  It can be hard to figure out which pass for San Francisco is best for you. We’ve looked further into several, beginning with two of the most popular options – San Francisco CityPASS booklet and and Smart Destinations San Francisco — to help you decide which pass (if any) is the right fit!  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:

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.


CityPASS

Explorer Pass (3 or 5 Attractions)

Bus Company Combo Passes

Pier 39 Pass


SAN FRANCISCO CITYPASS

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 7 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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GO SAN FRANCISCO CARD – (ALL INCLUSIVE)

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.

 

 

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!

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!

For less intense sightseeing pass options, check out Smart Destination’s Explorer (3 or 5 Attractions) and Build Your Own Passes below.  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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SAN FRANCISCO EXPLORER PASS (3, 4 or 5 ATTRACTIONS)

Package Type: Moderate Planner | Extended Stay

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 June 2016)

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

Before you buy…

The Explorer Pass doesn’t have the time pressure of the Go Card (you have 30 days to visit 3, 4 or 5 locations) and gives several options for visitors looking for discounts on a wide range of attractions. But it takes more planning and research than the Citypass. You’ll need to use your calculator to see your potential savings, but if you visit the more expensive attractions with your pass, you can save a bundle (as much as 50%).

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!

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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GO SAN FRANCISCO CARD – BUILD YOUR OWN PASS – (à la carte)

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.

 

 

Prices:

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.  

 

BIG BUS DYNAMITE TICKET

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:

 

 

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.

Price:

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.

 


FREESTYLE SAN FRANCISCO PASS (City Sightseeing)

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. In addition to their traditional hop-on, hop-off service, you’ll also have access to at least 4 additional tours and tickets for at least 3 popular attractions in and around the city. 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.

 

CitySightseeing San Francisco FreeStyle Pass

 

Tours Included

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

Additional Attractions

Depending on which version of the Freestyle Pass you obtain, you will have access to either 3 or 5 of the following activities.

  • Ripley’s Believe It Or Not
  • San Francisco Bay Cruise
  • Aquarium of the Bay
  • Walt Disney Family Museum
  • Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
  • Muir Woods Tour
  • California Academy of Science
  • De Young Museum
  • San Francisco Dungeon
  • 3 Hour Bike Rental
  • 1 Hour GoCar Rental
  • Escape From The Rock Cruise
  • San Francisco Exploratorium
  • 7D Experience XD
  • Legion of Honor
  • Angel Island Ferry
  • Sausalito Ferry
  • Airport Shuttle

Prices

Freestyle Pass w/ 3 Additional Activities

  • $104.99 for Adults
  • $79.99 for Children

Freestyle Pass w/ 5 Additional Activities

  • $124.99 for Adults
  • $99.99 for Children

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 Freestyle Pass. When you factor in the additional attractions and activities, this deal becomes even more impressive.

This is an excellent opportunity for any visitors who want to see San Francisco from a variety of different angles. However, if you’re not interested in taking so many different tours, you may want to consider another option. Thankfully, City Sightseeing actually offers an alternative that might be perfect for guests who don’t want to take so many trips around the city.

We recommend this tourist pass for people who intend to spend at least a week in the Bay Area. If you’re not going to be around for long, this pass might offer a bit more than you can handle.

 


SAN FRANCISCO GO PASS

Like their Freestyle Pass, this offering doesn’t combine nearly as many attractions or tours. Although it might not be as good of a deal, it’s definitely a better option for travelers who don’t intend to stay in San Francisco for very long. This tourist pass includes their hop-on, hop-off service along with two additional attractions or activities. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time traveling around the city, this can be a fun and inexpensive way to experience some of the best sights and sounds that the Bay Area has to offer.

The San FrancisGO Pass is very comparable to the Dynamite Ticket offered by Big Bus Tours. That being said, you might find the tours and attractions offered with this pass a lot more attractive than those provided by competitors. If you want to visit places like the San Francisco Dungeon or the Aquarium of the Bay, this tourist pass will be a much better and more affordable option. This is also the cheaper alternative overall, so keep that in mind before you make a purchase.

 

GoCard CitySightseeing San Francisco

 

Tour Included

  • 2-Day Hop-On, Hop-Off Downtown Tour

Additional Attractions

Choose 2 of the following activities:

  • Muir Woods Tour
  • Ripley’s Believe it Or Not
  • San Francisco Dungeon
  • Walt Disney Family Museum
  • Aquarium of the Bay
  • San Francisco Bay Cruise
  • 2 Hour Bike Rental
  • ½ Hour GoCar Rental

Price

  • $50.99 for Adults
  • $37.99 for Children

Things to Consider

If you only have a few days to explore San Francisco, this is an excellent tourist pass. Why feel pressured into taking as many tours as possible when you can just relax and enjoy some of the most interesting attractions in the Bay Area?  Visitors who intend to stay for at least a week may want to consider alternatives, but those who will be in town for only 2-3 days are likely to get more than they bargained for from the San FrancisGO Pass.

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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BIG BUS ALCATRAZ COMBO

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

 

Features:

  • 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!

Price:

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!

 


CITY SIGHTSEEING ALCATRAZ COMBO

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

Price

  • $109.99 for Adults
  • $89.99 for Children

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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PIER 39 ATTRACTION PASS

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

Price:

  • 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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VIATOR 3-IN-ONE PASS

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!

Attractions

  • Madame Tussauds
  • San Francisco Dungeon
  • Alcatraz

Price

  • 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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