The Golden Gate Bridge is a must-visit during your stay in San Francisco. Read below for our tips on how to get to the Golden Gate Bridge.
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most famous bridges all over the world, and more than 10 million people visit this amazing bridge every year. When the bridge was finished in 1937, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.
Nowadays, most people recognize the bridge because of its color. But why is it not gold, like the name of the bridge? The bridge wasn’t named because of its color, but because of the Golden Gate Strait? This is the strait that connects San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Ocean.
Instead, the color is called “international orange”. It was actually meant as the base coat for the bridge but since it complements the natural surroundings perfectly and it enhances the bridge’s visibility in the fog the architect decided to keep the color.
Want to see it for yourself ? We will help you find out what the best way is to get to the Golden Gate Bridge!
How to get to the Golden Gate Bridge
Most of the time, driving to attractions in San Francisco isn’t a good idea. But there are several parking lots close to the Golden Gate Bridge which makes it very easy to get to by car. To access the parking areas, you have to take the last SF exit when you are driving on Presidio Parkway.
The closest parking lot to the bridge is the parking lot at the visitor’s center. Howeover, because this one is so close it fills up the fastest. If you do manage to get a parking spot, you have to pay a rate of $0,25 per 15 minutes.
If you like to hike or don’t mind walking a bit there are other options.
The first one is the Battery East parking lot. This is also a great photo spot so we really recommend trying to park your car at this lot. The lot is located just below the visitor center, and you don’t have to worry about a time limit or parking rate as the lot is free!
The last two options are to park your car at Chrissy Field or Fort Point. They both take a 15-minute walk to the bridge and are free parking with no time limit!
On the weekends, there is an extra option, if you are driving from San Francisco, you can follow the exit that says “Golden Gate National Recreation Area View.” This lot has a one time fee of $5!
The only problem with going by car to the Golden Gate Bridge is that the parking lots fill up pretty fast during peak season. This means you will have to arrive early or find another way to get to the Golden Gate Bridge.
If you don’t have the option to go by car or you don’t want to waste time looking for a parking spot, you can take public transit. Numerous buses will take you to the Golden Gate Bridge. If you are using Google Maps for directions, we recommend using the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center as the location.
The bus that drives you directly to the Golden Gate Bridge is Muni Bus #28-19th Avenue. This bus drops you off at the welcome center right in front of the bridge. You can catch this bus around Fisherman’s Wharf and from the Golden Gate Park. Make sure to check the route via the website.
From downtown San Francisco you have a few other options to get to the Golden Gate Bridge. You can take the Golden Gate Transit buses, which will stop at the toll plaza just in front of the bridge. Golden Gate Transit Bus numbers 10,70,92,93 and 101 will bring you there.
NOTE: these buses are different than muni buses so you will need a separate ticket for them. You can buy these when you get on the bus.
Hop On Hop Off Buses
If you already have tickets for a hop on hop off bus you can easily use them to get to the Golden Gate Bridge. Both Big Bus Tours and City-Sightseeing stop in front of the Golden Gate Bridge and can drive you to the other side of the bridge.
We think biking to the bridge is the most convenient way to get there. You don’t have to worry about parking, and you don’t have to pay the toll to cross the bridge.
Our bike shop is located in North Beach, and we have the perfect route for you to take to the Golden Gate Bridge. You can easily follow our Bike the Bridge route by biking to the waterfront and follow the bike path from there.
The bike path is mostly flat, but there is one hill close to the bridge. If you want to avoid this hill, we highly recommend renting an electric bike!
If you want to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, you will have to keep the following in mind. You have access to the East and West sidewalk of the bridge depending on the season. Make sure to check the schedule on the website before you head to the Golden Gate bridge.
TIP: If you bike on the East sidewalk, you have to yield to pedestrians. We recommend slowing down when you get to the towers since it is hard to see the pedestrians on those points.
NOTE: if you want to bike on the West sidewalk, you will have to press a buzzer to get access.
Want to add Muir Woods and Sausalito to your bike trip? Book our Bike the Bridge + Shuttle to Muir Woods tour for the easiest way to get there!
A few rules apply if you want to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. As a pedestrian, you are only allowed to walk on the east sidewalk of the bridge. You can access this sidewalk from 5 am-6.30 pm from November till March and from 5 am-9 pm from March till November.
If you want to walk to the bridge, we recommend walking from one of the parking lots or the walking trail that you can follow from Fisherman’s Wharf.
What to do once you arrive at the Golden Gate Bridge?
Take a tour
Once you figured out how to get to the Golden Gate Bridge, what do you do once you are there?
When you get to the bridge, you can choose to do a walking tour. There are a lot of free walking tours that will take you across the bridge and provide you with a lot of history and information about the bridge. These are our two favorites:
Free Tours By Foot Golden Gate Bridge Tour
Free Tours By Foot provides fun walking tours across the Golden Gate Bridge. They will take you to great photo spots and make sure you learn a lot about the bridge’s history and facts. Even though the tour is free, they do require reservations. You can easily do this via their website.
The tour is 1.5 hours in total, and the walk will be under a mile. Make sure to check their calendar to find out when the tours run.
NOTE: This is a “name your own price tour”. That means the tour is free and at the end of it you will decide how much the tour was worth it to you.
SF City Guides Golden Gate Bridge Tour
To join SF City Guides Golden Gate Bridge Tour the only thing you have to do is show up at the starting location mentioned on their website! No reservations needed and the best of all, their tours are entirely free!
SF City Guides offers a Golden Gate Bridge tour twice a week, one on Thursday and one on Sunday. Both will start at 11 a,m so make sure you arrive a few minutes before the departure time since you have to sign in on the sheet the guide brings. After signing up, the tour can start, and the tour guide will take you through the history of this icon for about 1,5-2 hours.
NOTE: Since SF City Guides is a non-profit organization, the guides do not accept tips, but they will hand out a yellow envelope where you can donate to City Guides if you want to.
Join Dylan’s “Almost” Famous Tour
Another great option is to join one of our minibus tours that will take you to the best views of the bridge and to the other side of it. We at Dylan’s Tours have created our Dylan’s “Almost” Famous Tour, this tour includes a trip through the city, multiple photo opportunities and we will bring you to the waterfront town Sausalito. You can eat lunch here and enjoy the beautiful town. When you are ready to head back to the city, you can easily take a ferry back and enjoy the views along the way!
If you are ready to expand this tour, even more, you can add a visit to Muir Woods! We will bring you to the woods after exploring Sausalito, and we will bring you back in the city after seeing the redwood trees. Check out our Dylan’s Famous Tour in the video below!
All of our tours are given by local tour guides, and they will provide you with all of their information and tips about the city. We might be a bit biased, but we think these tours are the best option to get to know the city through the eyes of a local!
Explore the best photo opportunities
When you arrive at the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge and are ready to take a walk and make amazing pictures, it is important to know where to do this best. We listed the best photo spots for you to make sure you end up with the best photos of the Golden Gate Bridge!
Battery East Parking Lot
An excellent spot to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge is from Battery East Parking Lot. This lookout point for the Golden Gate Bridge is easily accessible with a car, bike, or a bus, and it is also an option to hike to this point since there is a hiking trail that leads you to the Golden Gate Bridge. The Battery East Parking Lot is not as busy as other photo spots, which makes it even better.
We think that Marin Headlands is one of the best views of the bridge. You do have to cross the bridge for this one, but it is totally worth it! You can easily follow the signs uphill, and there is parking space available.
NOTE: if you cross the bridge and drive back to the city, you will have to pay a toll.
A more convenient way to get to Marin Headlands is to join our Dylan’s Famous Tour. After exploring the city, we will drive you to this incredible view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Another spot that has a different type of view is Fort Point. Fort point is located at the water level under the bridge so you can make amazing photos from here. It is very easy to access Fort point, just follow the signs when you are getting close to the bridge!
We also include this photo stop in our Dylan’s Famous tour!
Fort Baker is a little bit harder to get to, but you will be rewarded with a fantastic view. If you are planning on going to Sausalito, you can combine it with a visit to Fort Baker. Because you pass this lookout point on your way to the waterfront town, you can easily add it to the schedule.
Looking for the most convenient way to get from the city to Sausalito with a stop at Fort Baker? Check out our Bike the Bridge + Muir Woods Shuttle Tour in the video below!
Another great thing about Fort Baker is that most of the time, it is sunny, even when western park areas are very foggy.
Explore the Bridge’s Welcome Center
If you want to learn about the Golden Gate bridges history, this is the perfect place for you! The welcome center opens daily from 9 am to 6 pm and offers orientation and information services, exhibits and high-quality merchandise. The welcome center also showcases the original stainless steel Bridge “test tower” which is really cool to check out 🙂
Chill at the Roundhouse Cafe
Time for a break? Refresh yourself at the roundhouse cafe while you enjoy a fantastic view of the Golden Gate Bridge! This building opened in 1938 and is perfectly shaped to enjoy 360-degree views from the wheel-shaped cafe’s window walls. The cafe is open from 9 am to 6 pm so you will have all day to sip your coffee with the Golden Gate Bridge right in front of you!
There you have it. We hope you learned how to get to the Golden Gate Bridge.