Bus vs Minibus: Battle of the San Francisco City Tours

Posted on May 31, 2018 |

Choosing the right San Francisco day tour can be difficult. Especially when there are HUNDREDS of tour operators to choose from.

In our newest blog series, we’ll be breaking down the best bus tours in San Francisco to help you choose the right one for your visit. We’ll be comparing the most important factors of any San Francisco guided tour: cost, tour length and which must-see locations are included on the tour.

Today, we’ll be comparing popular San Francisco guided tours from Big Bus San Francisco and the 100% local Dylan’s Tours.

Big Bus SF’s Classic Ticket Ticket vs Dylan’s San Francisco & Sausalito Tour


Big Bus San Francisco’s Classic Ticket

 

Cost:

$55 for adults, $42 for kids 5-15.

 

Length:

24 hour ticket.

 

TripAdvisor Rating:

#93 of 310 Tours in San Francisco

Only 52% of reviews are 5 stars

 

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 an audio tour. In that case, we suggest hopping off 😉

 

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.

 

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. Their stop for Golden Gate Park, is 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. In fact, most San Francisco bus tours completely 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 photos of the bridge.

 

Sausalito?

No.  Big Bus SF has a different line, the Green Route, that takes travelers to Sausalito. This requires an upgrade to their San Francisco Bus Tour 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.


Dylan’s San Francisco & Sausalito Tour

 

Cost:

$75 for adults, $59 for kids under 11

 

Length:

About 3 hours

 

TripAdvisor Rating:

#3 of 151 Outdoor Activities in San Francisco

92% of reviews are 5 stars

 

100% local guide?

Always! Most of our guides are born and raised right here in San Francisco Bay Area. No headphones required because Dylan’s Tours doesn’t use audio tours.

 

Mission District Murals?

Yes. This neighborhood is often overlooked by San Francisco guided tours. Despite that, The Mission District is known by locals for the thriving mural and street art community going back to the 60s. Our 100% local guides stop at their favorite murals during Dylan’s San Francisco & Sausalito Tour.

 

Twin Peaks?

Yes. Twin Peaks usually ends up being our guests favorite photo stop that they had never heard of before! 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?

Yes. Our tours stop right at the intersection of Haight and 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 ($99 for those 12 and up) for a guided tour of Golden Gate Park.

 

Mrs. Doubtfire’s House?

Yes, kinda. We don’t actually stop at Mrs. Doubtfire’s House — but we drive *really* slowly through the intersection so you can grab some photos.

 

Golden Gate Bridge?

Yup. Dylan’s San Francisco & Sausalito 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.

 

Sausalito?

Yes. After exploring San Francisco your 100% 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?

No. But, Dylan’s most popular San Francisco bus tour Famous Tour ($109 for adults and $69 for kids under 11) continues from Sausalito on to Muir Woods. Or, for a more economical route you can catch the public Muir Woods Shuttle for only $3.

 

Alcatraz?

No. If you only have a couple of days to see Alcatraz, Muir Woods & Sausalito, take a look at our ultimate two day trip in San Francisco Dylan’s Alcatraz & Famous Tour ($159 for adults and $149 for kids under 11).


Who do you think offers the best tours of San Francisco? If you think it’s Dylan’s Tours, then be sure to sure a very special discount code MINIBUSORBUST on our website for 10% off most San Francisco and Muir Woods tours.

Don’t forget to check out our blogs on the Best Muir Woods Tours and the Best Alcatraz Tours!

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