We’ve heard a few occasions of first-time visitors to San Francisco landing in SFO and heading straight out to pick up a rental car. This isn’t always a bad move… but it probably is. Keep reading to decide if you might be in the minority of folks who need to rent a car for their entire stay.
If you’re staying in the ‘burbs on the peninsula, outside of downtown SF, renting a car might not be a horrible idea so you can get around the smaller towns and/or into the city each day. The cost of this will add up, because on top of your rental fees, you will be paying a steep fee for parking or driving around trying to find a highly coveted on-street spot. If you’re staying downtown, which we’re willing to bet you’ll be doing (because it’s the best place to stay when you’re in SF for pleasure), save yourself the hassle and money- it’s not uncommon to pay $50 a night to park at a hotel. The likelihood that you’ll use the car once you see SF traffic, is slim.
However, if you are staying in the city, and are planning on a day drive outside of San Francisco proper, see our post on renting a car in San Francisco and save hundreds of dollars while you visit the Marin Headlands, Point Reyes, The Muir Woods, Pacifica, and more.
If you’re flying into the airport and need to get to downtown SF, getting to the city is a cheap. Via a quick trip on the BART system or an direct with an Uber ride. See our post getting from SFO to the city on how we suggest getting there. It’ll be cheaper than the cost of a car rental and hotel parking.
It’s really easy to navigate the city via walking, public transit (not just cable cars!), and Uber/Lyft.
See our post about getting around San Francisco without a car.