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Which one of these San Francisco bus tours is really the best? [Updated 2019]

Choosing the right San Francisco bus tour can be challenging, especially when there are hundreds of different San Francisco bus tours. These include a variety of styles of bus tours including San Francisco private tours, San Francisco movie tours, Muir Woods shuttle tours, or even a San Francisco hop on hop off tour. 

There are three types of bus tours to do in San Francisco. These include hop on / hop off, large (50+ people bus tours), and small minibus tours (under 30 people).

Because it is so hard, we decided to compare our most popular San Francisco bus tour with our competitors – Big Bus San Francisco, Vantigo City Tour, and Gray Line San Francisco.

We’ll be helping you choose the right tour for your visit and find out which tour is the best bus tour of San Francisco. In each of our San Francisco bus tours reviews, we’ll be comparing the most important factors of any San Francisco guided tour: cost, the tour length, SF tour bus, and the locations included on the bus tour. 

Today, we’ll be comparing two of the best San Francisco sightseeing bus tours, Big Bus San Francisco and Dylan’s Tours – both that are perfect for seeing San Francisco in a day. Before you grab a San Francisco tourist pass and hop on hop off San Francisco map, let’s see which of these San Francisco tour packages offers it’s travelers more and deserves the title, best SF bus tour.


Dylan’s Famous Tour

To be transparent, this is our very own San Francisco sightseeing bus. To be as objective as possible, we are going to stick to the facts – look them up yourself if you don’t believe us!

Dylan’s Famous Tour is a unique bus tour in San Francisco for a few reasons.

  • We only have local tour guides – perfect for learning the history of the Bay Area
  • We use minibusses – which are just what they sound like -small busses that are perfect for sightseeing the city. Don’t be crammed on a bus like sardines!
  • We offer three types of tours  – pick one based on what you want to see and how long you want to spend with us! 

This bus tour is perfect for people that want to make the most of their time in San Francisco and more importantly relax and let us handle everything!

Cost:

  • Starts at $89 for adults, $59 for kids. 3 Tour options available. 

Length:

  • Ranges from 3.5  hours to 7 hours (there are 3 famous tour options – just the City, City and Muir Woods, and City, Muir Woods, and Alcatraz)

TripAdvisor Rating:

  • #2 out of 151 outdoor activities in San Francisco
  • 5-star rating for San Francisco bus tours

Type of Bus:

  • We use only small passenger (around 30 passengers) minibusses. This gives us the chance to always have that small group feel – regardless of how busy we are!

Climb aboard and join us on our Dylan’s Famous Tour!

100% local guide?

  • Always! Most of our guides are born and raised right here in the San Francisco Bay Area. No headsets are required for this tour, making it the best bus tour San Francisco has.

See the all of the sights on a San Francisco bus tour

Where does it go?

  • Mission District Murals?
    • Yes. San Francisco guided tours often overlook this neighborhood. Locals know the Mission District for its thriving mural and street art community going back to the 60s. Our 100% local guides stop at their favorite murals during Dylan’s Famous Tour.
  • Twin Peaks?
    • Yes. Twin Peaks usually ends up being our guests’ favorite photo stop, and unfortunately, it isn’t on most other tours. From the top of this hill on a clear day, you’ll be able to see clear across the San Francisco Bay and out across the Pacific Ocean.
  • Haight-Ashbury?
  • Golden Gate Park?
    • No. You’ll have to ditch the tour bus and hop on our electric bike tour of San Francisco, the Original City Loop Tour ($109 for those 16 and up) for a guided tour of Golden Gate Park.
  • Mrs. Doubtfire’s House?
    • Yes, kind of. We don’t stop at Mrs. Doubtfire’s House, but we drive slowly through the intersection so you can grab some photos.
  • Golden Gate Bridge?
    • Yup. Dylan’s Famous tour is so special because we stop for photos beneath the Golden Gate Bridge at Fort Point. It’s about as close as you can get to the bridge without getting in the water. This part of GGB is not nearly as crowded as the more popular bus tour stop. More adventurous? Take a bike the Golden Gate Bridge tour where you will bike across the bridge!
  • Sausalito?
    • Yes. After exploring San Francisco, your local guide will drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and drop you off in downtown Sausalito. You’ll be able to enjoy a leisurely lunch along the waterfront where you’ll find stunning views of the Alcatraz and the San Francisco skyline. How do you get back to SF? Just head over to the Sausalito Ferry Terminal and catch a scenic ride to either Pier 39 or the Ferry Building in San Francisco.
  • Muir Woods?
  • Alcatraz?

Big Bus San Francisco’s Classic Ticket

Big Bus San Francisco is your classic hop on hop off sightseeing city tour that you have seen in all major cities. This tour stop at some of the best locations around town. The best part is that this allows you the most flexibility with your schedule! 

This tour is perfect for the person that wants to explore the town on their own and their schedule. 

Cost:

  • $35 for adults, $42 for kids 5-15.

Length:

  • 24-hour ticket.

TripAdvisor Rating:

100% local guide?

  • Only if you’re lucky! Big Bus San Francisco sends out every other bus with a live tour guide. So you run a 50/50 chance of hopping on a bus with a headset audio tour. In that case, we suggest hopping off 😉

Where does it go?

  • Mission District Murals?
    • No. The Big Bus is, well, big. Too big to effectively maneuver through this beloved neighborhood to explore all the hidden murals, so it is not included in their bus tours of San Francisco.
  • Twin Peaks?
    • No. You won’t find any double-decker tour buses rolling up the hill to see the incredible views of San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the East Bay from Twin Peaks.
  • Haight Ashbury? 
    • Not really. The Big Bus SF stop to explore the Haight Ashbury is a one-mile hike uphill to get to the actual intersection of Haight and Ashbury.
  • Golden Gate Park?
    • Yes, kind of. This hop on hop off San Francisco tour stops outside of Golden Gate Park, not actually inside the park. The stop has now been relocated to just outside of the park on Fulton and 8th Ave.
  • Mrs. Doubtfire’s House?
    • No. The house from one of Robin Williams’ most iconic movies is off-the-beaten-path of typical SF tour routes. Most San Francisco bus tours skip over this part of town.
  • Golden Gate Bridge?
    • Yes. Big Bus San Francisco has stops for photos at each of the parking lots for the Golden Gate Bridge. These are the most popular (aka most crowded) stops for pictures of the bridge, and you will most likely not be the only Golden Gate Bridge tour bus there. 
  • Sausalito?
    • No. Big Bus SF has a different line, the Green Route, that takes travelers to Sausalito. To visit Sausalito, you will have to pay for an upgrade to one of their most popular San Francisco Bus Tours  Deluxe Ticket which is $75 for adults and $54 for kids.
  • Muir Woods?
    • No. Big Bus San Francisco offers a separate Muir Woods tour which is $65 for adults and $42 for kids 5-15.
  • Alcatraz?
    • No. Big Bus SF offers a separate Muir Woods & Alcatraz Tour that is $150 for adults and $110 for kids 5-11.

Vantigo City Tour 

Vantigo Tours is a unique tour company which allows you to explore san Francisco without feeling like a tourist. Their tours take you through the famed district with views of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, Twin Peaks, and some other storied landmarks. 

Cost:

  • $85 for adults, $45 for kids 5-11

Length: 

  • The city tour is three hours. 

TripAdvisor rating:

  • #3 of 167 of food & drink in San Francisco (they provide a brewery tour)
  • 5-star rating for San Francisco bus tours

Type of bus:

  • Vantigo has two fully restored vintage 1971 Volkswagen Type 2 Transporter Buses. These buses will give a unique, lively, lighthearted, and authentically experience. 

100% local guides: 

  • Vantigo provides tours focused on a local experience but unfortunately do not guarantee a local guide during their tours. 

Where does it go?

  • Mission district murals?
    • The tour does not include a stop in the mission district.
  • Twin peaks?
    • Yes! The Vantigo city tour includes a nice photo stop at the famous twin peaks.
  • Haight Ashbury?
    • Yes, the bus drives through the neighborhood and includes a stop in the Haight and Ashbury street.
  • Golden gate park?
    • Yes, the Golden Gate Park is a must-see, and so Vantigo included it in their city tour.
  • Mrs. Doubtfire house?
    • No, the tour doesn’t mention a stop at the house.
  • Golden gate bridge?
    • For sure! Vantigo takes you to a spot where you can see the complete view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Sausalito?
    • No, they do not provide tours to Sausalito.
  • Muir woods?
    • No, Vantigo tours do not go to the Muir Woods. If you want to explore the beautiful Muir Woods, you would have t book another tour at another tour company.
  • Alcatraz?
    • No, they do include a complete view of Alcatraz in their city tour, but to go to the island, you would have to upgrade your ticket to a combo ticket. This upgraded ticket is $129 for adults and $75 for kids 5-11.

Gray Line San Francisco

 

Another big competitor is Gray Line San Francisco. For the comparison with Dylan’s Famous tour, we are going to talk about Gray Line’s ‘Grand City Tour.’ This tour is quite similar to Dylan’s Famous Tour. Gray Line also offers other tours that will take you to places outside of the city, such as Yosemite and Napa. This tour stays in San Francisco.

Cost:

  • $58 for adults, $33 for kids 5-11.

Length: 

  • Four hour narrated tour

TripAdvisor rating:

  • #95 of 462 of tours in San Francisco  
  • The Grand City Tour has 48 reviews on TripAdvisor and has a 4-star rating. Out of those 48 reviews, nine of the previous guests voted for a poor or even terrible rating. 
  • 60% of the review ranked the tour five stars

Type of bus:

  • Gray Line uses big tour busses. The same kind you see on the hop on- hop off tours. Again, this makes the tour a bit crowded. 

100% local guide?

  • Gray Line offers tours around the world. While they might have some very knowledgable staff on their tours, they are not always local guides.

Where does it go?

  • Mission District Murals?
    • No. Same as for the Big Busses, the busses are pretty big. They can’t maneuver in this neighborhood as well as small busses can. That is why a lot of tour guides don’t come there.
  • Twin Peaks?
    • Yes. They stop at Twin Peaks for their guests to be able to see the 360-degree view of the city.
  • Haight-Ashbury?
    • Yes. They do take you through Haight-Ashbury to show the Victorian Homes.
  • Golden Gate Park?
    • Yes, they go to Golden Gate Park where they will point out seasonal flower displays and ride past windmills.
  • Mrs. Doubtfire’s House?
    • No. As mentioned before, many tour companies skip this part of town!
  • Golden Gate Bridge?
    • Yes, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of their stops.
  • Sausalito?
    • No. This tour only stops at San Francisco’s waterfront. If you would like to go to Sausalito, you will have to book a different tour.
  • Muir Woods?
    • No. This tour does not go to Muir Woods. However, they do have other tours that go there.
  • Alcatraz?
    • No. This tour only offers views of Alcatraz. But, same as for Muir Woods, they offer other tours that do go there.

San Francisco Bus Tours Recap

So there you have it! Four different bus tours in San Francisco but each is great for different types of tourists and sightseeing. The essential part of any trip is to plan ahead of time! No matter what you do, where you go, or what tour bus company you use to be sure to plan ahead and always buy tickets ahead of time.

During the season, many bus tour companies sell out!

However, you already know which one you would recommend! If you are interested, click here to view our tours or give us a call at (415) 932-6993.


Who do you think offers the best tours in San Francisco? If you think it’s Dylan’s Tours, then use discount code MINIBUSORBUST on our website for 10% off most San Francisco and Muir Woods tours. Learn more or book a Famous Tour now.