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Hop on Hop off San Francisco Bus Tours

Updated: June 29, 2023
 By Britt

If you're interested in seeing all the best attractions in this city, a San Francisco hop on hop off bus tour is one of the best ways to get from one landmark or historic site to the next.

This post provides details about each of the hop-on hop-off San Francisco bus tours, including tips about discount opportunities.


If you’re looking for an open-top bus tour that will allow you to jump off and explore a specific area in the San Francisco area, then a hop-on-hop-off tour may be your best bet.

These buses stop at locations along set routes. You hop off where you like and explore the area on your own, and work great in tandem with our pay-what-you-like guided walking tours

Here are some of the more notable famous neighborhoods and historic landmarks that you can expect to see on a San Francisco hop-on hop-off bus tour:

  • Pier 39
  • City Hall
  • Chinatown
  • Civic Center
  • Presidio Park
  • Alamo Square
  • Painted Ladies
  • Lombard Street
  • Haight Ashbury
  • Golden Gate Bridge
  • Fisherman's Wharf
  • Embarcadero Center
  • And more!

Since their main route usually goes through Golden Gate Park, you'll also have easy access to the following sites:

  • de Young Museum
  • The Japanese Tea Garden
  • San Francisco Botanical Garden
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • And more!

Two companies in San Francisco run hop-on, hop-off bus tours: Skyline Sightseeing and Big Bus.  

Both offer one-day single route tickets as well as multi-day tickets.

Multi-day tickets get you the most for your money as they include free additions, such as bike tours, walking tours, and discount coupons.  

Both also offer night tours, which can be a stand-alone purchase but are usually included in multi-day tickets at no additional cost.

They also offer combo packages that include both multiple-day hop-on-hop-off bus service and entrance to major attractions, such as Alcatraz Island.  

San Francisco Alcatraz

Expect to pay anywhere from $35+ per adult and $25+ per child for stand-alone routes to $70+ per adult and $55+ per child for multiple-day tickets.  

Competition is fierce and tour offerings and prices in this segment change frequently, so be sure to double-check what is currently on offer with each company.

We have listed the companies in the order that we feel offer the best combination of reviews, options, and prices. 

How long is a hop on hop off San Francisco bus tour?

The full circuit for an open-top bus tour is between 1-2 hours depending on which route you're taking.

Are the hop on hop off San Francisco bus tours 24 hours?

No, neither company offers 24/7 bus service. While you can purchase admission that is active for multiple days, the buses only run during certain hours.


Big Bus offers 2 and 3-day passes on its hop-on-hop-off bus tours, with 25 stops (see the route map) in the city.

Their tours are a great way to experience San Francisco in a short amount of time.  

Big Bus also offers a free app, which you can use to find bus stops and schedules.

This company usually offers a 10% discount on most of their tickets when you purchase them online. The prices below are before said discount is applied.

Classic Ticket 

  • 24 hours of hop-on, hop-off service in San Francisco
  • Bike rental - buy 1 hour, get 1 free with Blazing Saddles
  • Included for free with the purchase of the Go City San Francisco tourist pass.


  • $59 for Adult
  • $49 for Children (ages 5-15)

Premium Ticket 

  • 24 hours of hop-on, hop-off service in San Francisco
  • Panoramic Open-Top Night Tour
  • 1 Hour Bike rental - buy 1 hour, get 1 free with Blazing Saddles 


  • $67 Adult
  • $59 Child (5-15 years)

Deluxe Ticket

  • 48 hours of hop-on, hop-off service in San Francisco
  • Panoramic Open-Top Night Tour
  • Free Blazing Saddles bike rental OR USS Pampanito tickets


  • $79 Adult
  • $69 Child (5-15 years)

Panoramic Open-Top Night Tour 

1-hour tour of the city's top sights such as Golden Gate Bridge, Embarcadero, Nob Hill, and more. Includes a Courtesy Shuttle back to Union Square


  • $49 Adult
  • $39 Child (5-15 years)
  • Includes courtesy shuttle back to hotels
  • Included with both Premium and Deluxe tickets.

Note: Big Bus also offers an Alcatraz Ticket Package. See below for more information.

Big Bus San Francisco Route Map

Click here for larger map.

TIP: Go City sells two tourist attraction discount passes (the Go City All-Inclusive Pass and the Explorer Pass) that include a 1-day Downtown Loop ticket for free (with the purchase of the pass).

These passes can save you between 20% - 50%, depending on which pass you choose. Learn more here.

Big Bus Tours San Francisco Reviews

Big Bus has just over a 4 out of 5-stars rating on TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide (read the reviews).

It’s safe to say that Big Bus Tours offers a reliable service. Most guests report that their buses are safe and their guides are very knowledgeable.

Some reviewers have had a negative experience, but there are no frequently reported complaints.

In order to avoid any problems, make sure to get on the bus early and pick the stops you are most interested in before leaving.  

SAN FRANCISCO SKYLINE SIGHTSEEING TOURS (formerly City Sightseeing San Francisco)

You probably have seen a Skyline Sightseeing bus before. They are orange, open-top double-decker vehicles found all over San Francisco. 

CitySightseeing Bus San Francisco

In addition to all their offerings at great prices, they have a convenient live bus tracker app so you can check when the next bus will be arriving. 

Skyline Sightseeing offers 1-Day and 2-Day tickets. They also offer a stand-alone night tour as well as an Alcatraz Ticket Package.

Below the route map, we list their most popular tours that get you a lot for your money. They have many other options, so look at their website to see what is best for you.

1-Day Hop-On-Hop-Off Tour 

  • Unlimited access to the City Tour Hop-on, hop-off tour for 24 hours
  • Discount on a bike rental

Prices when purchased online:

For $8 more you can buy the Premium 1-Day Hop-On-Hop-Off Tour which offers the same as above, as well as the Night Tour.

2 Day Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour

  • Unlimited access to the City Tour Hop-on, hop-off tour for 48 hours 
  • Night Bus Tour 
  • One hour free bike rental with the purchase of an hour

Prices when purchased online:


City Tour (Red Route): 

  • Full City Loop duration - 2.5 hours long
  • Hop-On Hop-Off at any of the stops along the route
  • Departs daily between 9 am- 5 pm every 15-20 mins
  • Departs from 99 Jefferson St (corner of Mason Street)

SF Night Tour (Blue Route): 

  • Loop duration - 1.5 hours
  • The night tour is not a hop on hop off
  • Departs 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm year-round
  • Departs from 99 Jefferson St (corner of Mason Street). 

Reviews of Skyline Sightseeing

Skyline Sightseeing also has an overall 4 out of 5 stars rating on TripAdvisor. Although there are some common complaints, they are few and far between.

Some reviewers said that buses can be late and also that it is sometimes hard to find them again once you’ve jumped off. 

Skyline Sightseeing added a live bus tracker app that should prevent that problem from occurring.

Many double-decker buses have a similar appearance, and this service is no different. As long as you remember which bus tour you’re on, there shouldn’t be a problem.

Most positive reviews came during the summer months, indicating that this certainly a good time to consider this option. 


One of the best ways to experience San Francisco is by discovering the skyline at night.

This city changes dramatically once the sun goes down, so consider taking a night tour to get a taste of the bay area’s nightlife.

Many of the companies we have already covered in-depth above offer night tours. They are mentioned here again.

TIP: Before you pay full price, keep in mind that many of these night tours are included for free in each companies multi-day ticket options.


Night Tour of the Golden Gate Bridge & Skyline

  • $49 for Adults
  • $39 for Children (ages 5-15)
  • One Departure nightly: 6:30 pm
  • Note: This tour is included in their Deluxe Tour

SKYLINE SIGHTSEEING TOURS (formerly City Sightseeing San Francisco)

Tour of the Golden Gate Bridge & Skyline

  • $43.99 for Adults
  • $34.99 for Children (5-11)
  • Free for Infants (0-4)
  • Tours depart at 6:30 pm


Many of the tour companies listed here offer packages that include a trip to Alcatraz.

The intriguing history behind this high-security prison is best experienced during one of their notorious tours.

If you’ve ever wanted to visit this location, these packages are an excellent way to save money while experiencing as much of the bay area as possible.

Read our full post on Alcatraz tours and tickets.

While you will save some money with these packages, many are purchased simply for the convenience, especially when tickets on Alcatraz Cruises' website are sold out, and these packages may be your only way to get tickets to the prison.


This package is a very good deal considering what you get for your money. 

Alcatraz Package

  • Alcatraz Ferry and Entrance Ticket
  • Big Bus Premium Ticket (good for 2 days of hop-on-hop-off bus service)
  • One hour free bike rental with the purchase of an hour
  • Night Bus Tour 


SKYLINE SIGHTSEEING TOURS (formerly City Sightseeing San Francisco)

Though the price might seem high at first, you get quite a lot for your money. It comes with a night bus tour ticket as well!  A great value package! 

CitySightseeing San Francisco Alcatraz Combo

Alcatraz + Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Package

  • A full tour of Alcatraz Island, including the award-winning cellblock audio tour
  • 48 hours unlimited access to the hop-on, hop-off City Bus Tour 
  • Night Bus Tour 
  • A self-guided walking tour 
  • Discounts on a bike rental

Prices when purchased online:


Combining more than one tour into a trip is a great way to save money and experience more of the area.

These bus tour combinations are usually held over multiple days, so make sure that you have the time to experience all of them.

If you want to discover more about San Francisco than just the downtown area, you might want to consider one of the following packages.

SAN FRANCISCO MEGA PASS (Skyline Sightseeing)

This new pass allows you to select between different options: Mega Pass Pick 3, Mega Pass Pick 4, or Mega Pass Pick 5. 

With each, you can choose from 25 different attractions, including a San Francisco Bay Cruise,  Escape the Rock boat tour of Alcatraz, and many others.

Their hop-on, hop-off Official City Tours are also included as options to choose. 

When it comes to bus tours, this might be one of the biggest and best passes in San Francisco. With this tourist pass from Skyline Sightseeing, you get so much for your money!

You can explore the entire Bay Area with ease. You can ride a bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, discover the aquarium, or visit the Walt Disney Family Museum, and so much more!

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, their Deluxe Ticket (see above) offers far fewer activities than the Mega Pass.

NOTE: This pass is not currently available as of September 2022, and we do not know when they will offer it again.

25 Attractions to Choose From: 

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, Skyline 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.


This company currently offers both an all-inclusive pass and an explorer pass (pick your own attractions) in San Francisco.

Both tourist passes include the Classic Big Bus Hop-on, Hop-off Bus Tour.

In addition to this service, you can also use either pass to save money on a variety of other activities and attractions including the following:

  • Madame Tussauds
  • Aquarium of the Bay
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
  • LEGOLAND Discovery Center
  • GoCar San Francisco Rental
  • Walt Disney Family Museum
  • K1 Indoor Karting

For more details on how much you can save and how to use a Go City San Francisco Pass, please read our post covering San Francisco Tourist Passes.

If you want to get some exercise, you can take a look at one of our own self-guided tours of the city, such as our North Beach Walking Tour or our Chinatown Tour.

Whether by bus or on foot, you can’t go wrong when exploring the city by the bay!


In addition to their Alcatraz combo deal, this company also offers packages which include their hop-on hop-off bus tours and one additional activity.

Currently, the only combo package they have includes either their 24 or 48 hour bus tour and tickets to the Aquarium of the Bay.

If you're planning to enjoy both of these activities, this is an excellent way to save some money on admission.

  • $80.95/Adults | $65.64/Children | $76.44/Seniors
  • Includes tickets for either their 24-hour or 48-hour hop-on, hop-off bus tour
  • Includes tickets for Aquarium of the Bay
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.


About The Author


Britt is a San Francisco Bay Area native, and has spent 25 years in this magical city. He has traveled to over 30 countries, and has never found a place he loves as much as this one! If you come to San Francisco, you might join one of Britt's tours of the city. A graduate of the University of Maryland and University of Southern California, he has been leading tours for Free Tours by Foot since 2015.
Updated: June 29th, 2023
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