The Ultimate Guide to Biking San Francisco

Planning a bike trip around San Francisco? There is no better warm-weather activity than spending the day on a luxury e-bike!

Locals find e-bikes are perfect for skipping traffic and navigating the city easily. Visitors discover that it’s the ideal way to get familiar with areas and have a deeper look at our different neighborhoods. In short, everyone loves San Francisco from the saddle of a good bike!

With the wind in our hair and the city at our fingertips, we love exploring San Francisco on a bike. Here is everything you need to know about biking in San Francisco.

person overlooking san francisco from a bike

Why We Love Biking in San Francisco

 

San Francisco is one of the most bikeable cities in the nation.

San Francisco regularly lands in the top 5 rankings of the most bike-friendly cities in the United States. The city has put a substantial amount of time and money into creating a seamless biking experience for the thousands of bike commuters and hobby riders throughout the city. Many busy streets have well-marked bike lanes, so you can get to most neighborhoods safely and efficiently. Feeling secure and confident on protected bike lanes makes for a great biking experience!

Get a closer look at San Francisco.

You can miss a lot of the city from the backseat of a fast-moving car. Biking San Francisco allows you to visit areas, pathways, and streets that are not open to cars or buses. From getting an intimate look at Presidio Park to witnessing a new view of the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll see more of San Francisco from the saddle of a bike!

It’s a more affordable tour option.

If you want to add something special to your San Francisco trip but are on a tight budget, a bike rental is a perfect activity. You can enjoy a full day of cycling through the city on a luxury e-bike for under $100 per person. 

You can take as many breaks as you like.

One of our favorite benefits of a San Francisco biking tour is that you can circle back and spend time at places that caught your eye during your initial car ride. With no need to find parking or stick to a schedule, biking through San Francisco means you can make as many stops or detours as you like!

Bikes are perfect for antsy people who don’t like sitting still during a tour.

Some people just aren’t made for bus tours, and that’s ok! A bike tour is a must-do for those who like to stay active while visiting a new area. And, with luxury e-bikes to explore with, it’s a win-win!

Some iconic sights are best seen by bike.

Like some desserts are best enjoyed with a scoop of ice cream, some city views are best experienced from a bike. For example, feeling the wind through your hair while you bike across the Golden Gate Bridge makes for a much more memorable experience than sitting in the back seat of an Uber. There are endless city views that are best seen by bike, and you can see them all with a full-day e-bike rental.

group on a sf bike tour

Best Ways to Bike in San Francisco

A Guided Bike Tour with Dylan’s Tours

After over 15 years of perfecting our tours, we are confident that our guided tours are one of the best ways to bike in San Francisco.

From gear and a local guide to extra activities, you get a lot for your money.

When you ride with Dylan’s Tours, the only thing you need to bring to enjoy a full day of biking San Francisco is yourself! Our guided tours include bikes, helmets, a knowledgable guide, and hours filled with fun in and around the city. Our City Loop Tour includes 12 different locations in the best neighborhoods and endless photo stops along the way. 

Many tours include a shuttle system to get you to and from the best bike routes.

We offer hybrid bike and bus tours so you can experience the best of both worlds! Explore the city via e-bike and experience Muir Woods in the same day on our Bike the Bridge with Muir Woods tour. Biking across the Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic San Francisco activity that cannot be missed. After taking on the bridge, you can rest in Sausalito for a lunch break and then hop on a luxury minibus shuttle for a Muir Woods adventure.

You don’t have to worry about getting lost.

Sometimes getting lost is a part of the journey. Other times, you just want to leave the planning and navigation to the experts. If you’re a newbie who doesn’t want to constantly refer to a map or worry about directions, a guided tour is the way to go. Our bike tour guides will lead the way, so all you have to do is follow along and have fun. You’ll also learn facts and stories about the city that you’d only get on a guided tour. 

A seasoned guide will take you to the best views and photo stops.

We’ve had several years to perfect our city bike tour route and it shows! Our San Francisco bike tour covers over 12 scenic views, interesting neighborhood stops, and iconic San Francisco hangouts, with several photo ops and breaks throughout. If you want to see the best of the city in a single tour, our Ultimate City Loop Tour is the perfect activity.

You get to learn about the city while you bike.

Having an expert guide on a bike tour provides more than navigation. On a guided bike tour, you’ll learn the history, stories, and facts about each unique neighborhood from a local San Francisco expert. You can discuss the aspects of the city that you find most intriguing and get your questions answered along the way. Let your curious side shine! Our guides love getting into the weeds on what makes our city special.

Rent Luxury E-Bikes for a Self-Guided Adventure

Want to keep your route flexible and guide-free? We offer half-day and full-day luxury e-bike rentals, so you can explore the city at your leisure.

Our team will help you find the perfect fit and feel safe.

The right bike fit can make or break your day in the saddle. Good thing our team is here to help! We see to it that every helmet, saddle height, and bike size is perfect to ensure each rider will be comfortable throughout their bike ride. 

Bikes are available from 9 am to 6 pm.

You can enjoy just a few hours of biking or use them as your transportation for the entire day! Our bikes are available from 9 am to 6 pm, but we also offer half-day rentals. When and how long you rent our bikes is up to you!

Safety equipment is included.

Safety is key to a successful day biking in San Francisco. We want everyone in your group to feel secure, confident, and oriented at every moment during your bike tour. When you rent our e-bikes, you also get a helmet, bike lock, and map! We ask that you always use your helmet when riding and lock your bike during breaks to protect your ride and your noggin.

Get detailed and excellent route recommendations.

You may not be going with a guide, but you have the expertise of our team at your disposal before you embark on your journey! Chat with anyone from Dylan’s Tours to answer questions or offer recommendations about your proposed bike route. You’ll head out with a plan in place and feel confident about how you want to tackle your tour.

Where You Should Go Biking in San Francisco

There are so many incredible routes to try when biking San Francisco. Here are just a few of our favorites!

San Francisco Guided Bike Tours

Ultimate City Loop 

Tour Length: 3 Hours

Biking Distance: 15+ Miles

If you want to familiarize yourself with the best of the city, the San Francisco City Loop E-Bike Tour will guide you through over 12 exciting neighborhoods, city views, and iconic must-sees while you learn about the city. Thanks to a luxury e-bike and several photo breaks along the way, you can bike the best of the city and still have energy for more fun after the pedal.

Bike the Bridge with Muir Woods

Tour Length: 8.5 hours

Biking Distance: Depends on group preference

Take a look at any online listicle of the best things to do in San Francisco, and one of the top suggestions will be to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge. Our Bike the Bridge Tour includes a self-guided cycle across this iconic bridge, but the fun doesn’t stop there! You can have lunch and stretch your legs while exploring Sausalito, then hop on our shuttle to visit Muir Woods. Spend over an hour exploring the towering redwoods at this national monument.

Popular Self-Guided Bike Routes

Fisherman’s Wharf to Sausalito

Route time: 2–4 hours

Biking Distance: Biker’s choice

As San Francisco’s most prominent tourist hub, Fisherman’s Wharf is a great place to kick off your San Francisco biking adventure. As you explore this area, you’ll pass through streets of unique establishments, bay views, and you may even see a seal or two. After getting your fill at the Wharf, head towards the Golden Gate Bridge for about 3 miles of magical bay (or bridge fog) views. 

When you make it across the bridge, it’s just a few more moments before you’re in the downtown Sausalito. This sweet waterfront town is the perfect rest stop for a snack, a park lounge, or a chance to soak up some sun.

Golden Gate Park Loop

Route time: 1-3 hours

Biking Distance: Biker’s choice

Golden Gate Park is one of the best city parks in the world to enjoy a bike ride. This park features a botanical garden, flower conservatory, tea garden, lakes, and many other attractions that make for great rest stops. With over 1,000 acres of public grounds to explore, you can spend hours pedaling through this park

Presidio Easy Loop

Route time: 2-3 hours

Biking Distance: 4.8 miles

Looping around Presidio Park is an easy route that is just under 5 miles and covers the park’s best scenes. You’ll pedal past the historic Main Post, coastal bluffs, and breathtaking views of the towering Golden Gate Bridge. Try the Presidio Promenade Trail for that famous Golden Gate Bridge underbelly and coastal scenery!

Angel Island Perimeter Road

Route time: 3-5 hours

Biking Distance: 6.2 miles

Want to take the road less traveled? Hop on a ferry and head to Angel Island for a bike ride around the entire perimeter of the land! Angel Island is a state park that offers a 6.2-mile biking loop with beautiful city, coast, and bay views. You need to pay a fee and take a ferry to the island, but it’s well worth the trip where you’ll enjoy fewer people and tons of waterfront views.

group of bikers at the palace of fine arts on a sunny day

San Francisco Biking Tips

You probably don’t need tips on how to brake or turn. Still, we have some helpful tips that can maximize your experience! 

How Long You Should Expect to Bike

To hit everything on your San Francisco views bucket list, you should set aside a good chunk of time for your biking experience. Our San Francisco bike tours take anywhere from four to six hours. We factor in time for a leisurely cycle pace, several photo ops, and time to listen to exciting stories about the city. You’ll find that this length is just long enough to feel accomplished without getting tired of being in the saddle.

What Kind of Bike is Best for You

Don’t get stuck on a standard bike if you’re planning some big hill rides!

We will always recommend e-bikes for biking in San Francisco. We use Rad Power bikes during our guided tours, so our groups can enjoy steep hills and long rides without getting tired or overworked. These e-bikes are also available to rent for your own self-guided adventure. We even offer free test rides!

What to Wear on a Bike Tour

Even from neighborhood to neighborhood, San Francisco weather can change dramatically. This phenomenon is called microclimates, and San Francisco is known for this. For example, you can experience a temperature difference of up to 10°F (12°C) in a short 5-minute bike ride. Prepare for microclimates by wearing several layers, so you can shed or add clothing as needed!

What to Bring on a Bike Tour

Preparing for a day of cycling? While Dylan’s Tours will provide essential items like a bike, helmet, map (or guide), and bike lock, there are other helpful things to have on hand to ensure an optimum day of biking in San Francisco. We recommend:

  • Water bottle (at least one per person)
  • Good biking shoes
  • Clothes that are easy to move and sweat in
  • A windbreaker and a water-resistant layer
  • Gloves 
  • Sunglasses 

Most Bikeable Areas in San Francisco

Staying in the best bikeable areas in San Francisco will save you from unwanted hills and dull areas. That’s where we come in! Our guides will take you everywhere you want to be on a bike and nowhere you don’t. When you’re biking with Dylan’s Tours, you have an e-bike. From hilly Pacific Heights views to long stretches of Golden Gate Park, it’s all easy-peasy with a motor assist. 

If you’re renting a bike for the day, we offer a detailed map of the city to avoid getting lost. You can also ask any of our team members for excellent biking advice.

San Francisco bike tour through Golden Gate State Park

Top Things to Do & See on a San Francisco E-Bike Tour

Best SF Views to See by Bike

Golden Gate Bridge

Of course, The Golden Gate Bridge should be at the top of your list of San Francisco sights to see by bike. No matter how many times you drive across this iconic bridge, it will feel like an entirely new experience when you cross it by bike. Whether you have fantastic views of The Bay or bike through the famous San Francisco fog, experiencing the Golden Gate Bridge by bike is a must-do!

Aquatic Park

Aquatic Park is found near the end of the Hyde Street cable car and is a historic national monument where you can find the cleanest beaches in California. Take a quick stop to enjoy the beach and watch some bold open-water swimmers take their daily dip.

Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine Arts is a lovely stop for people who appreciate classical Roman and Greek art and architecture. The peaceful gardens, serene pond, and romantic columns make for a fantastic place for a quick photoshoot.

Painted Ladies

Are you a fan of the sitcom Full House? Then you’ll love this San Francisco bike tour stop. Right on Alamo Square, this line of beautifully-colored Victorian houses is an iconic sight locally labeled as “Postcard Row.” Take a break on the grass and pretend like you’re an extra on the classic TV Show!

Painted Ladies San Francisco

Best Stops on a Bike Tour

Golden Gate Park

We’d consider Golden Gate Park one of the best San Francisco biking spots to enjoy as a tourist. Cycle past the carousel, ferris wheel, Japanese Tea Garden, and vibrant tulip plots on flat, easy-to-navigate pathways. With interesting sights and beautiful bike break opportunities to explore on every path, you’ll have a blast biking through this large park. 

Haight-Ashbury

Travel back to where the hippie movement started by cycling through Haight-Ashbury! You’ll get to spend time in the neighborhood that several famous musicians and the counterculture movement called home. This is a great San Francisco biking destination with tons of vintage clothing boutiques, Victorian houses, record stores, and people watching to explore. 

A Pre or Post-Golden Gate Bridge Coffee

Are you just finishing up a chilly Golden Gate bike ride or about to embark on the trip and need a boost? Grab a soul-warming cup of joe at The Warming Hut or Round House Cafea great way to start or end a journey feeling warm and cozy from the inside out. 

Pacific Heights

Did you know that you can bike to one of the most scenic overlooks in Northern California? Pacific Heights offers unobstructed city and bay views as the perfect reward for a particularly hilly area. You can explore “Billionaire’s Row,” scout out the “Mrs. Doubtfire house,” cycle past beautiful gardens, and explore the most upscale area in the city.

Sausalito

Did you make it across the Golden Gate Bridge? Then you now get to explore Sausalito, the adorable waterfront town just on the other side. This lovely little area tends to be a little warmer than the city, so you may be able to soak in some rays while pedaling along the water. Then, enjoy a snack or lunch break at one of several cute establishments to help fuel your continued adventure.

san francisco skyline as seen from sausalito

Common Biking Mistakes to Avoid

Not Using a Tour Company

If you’re a San Francisco newbie, navigating the busy streets and steep hills on a bike can seem too overwhelming to take on. But if you miss biking in San Francisco, you’re missing out on a great city experience.

If you’re feeling apprehensive about tackling a city biking experience, the best thing you can do is try it out on a guided bike tour with Dylan’s. With an experienced tour guide, you’ll be able to bike the best sightseeing routes while learning interesting facts along the way. Then, you’ll simply enjoy the experience without worrying about getting lost, missing the best sights, or feeling a little clueless about the context of the area. There are many terrific bikes tours we recommend.

Assuming a Standard Non-Electric Bike Will Suffice

Even the strongest of quads will welcome a little bit of assistance on the steep San Francisco hills. E-bikes are extremely popular in San Francisco because they allow you to see more, bike farther, and have still have energy afterward.

E-bikes have a powerful (yet totally quiet) motor, so you can propel up steep hills and long roads without ever breaking a sweat. They are as easy to use as standard bikes, so there is hardly any learning curve. We even offer free test rides, so you can try an e-bike before you commit.

If you hope to finish a bike tour of San Francisco and still have some gas in the tank to enjoy more San Francisco activities, using an e-bike is your best bet!

Getting Lost on a City Tour

Some roads in San Francisco are fun to bike on, and others are not. Don’t get turned around and end up on the latter! 

Getting lost while biking in San Francisco will always work out, but it can also add an unnecessary layer of stress or confusion to your day. To avoid this, pay attention to your mapped route and area markers before heading out.

The most dependable way to not get lost on your journey? Take a guided bike tour with Dylan’s Tours! All you need to do is enjoy the sights while you follow your seasoned bike captain through the best streets in San Francisco.

Not Wearing Gloves

San Francisco weather can go from sunny and clear to foggy and cold at the drop of a hat. But don’t let that stop you from taking a San Francisco bike tour! As long as you wear the right gear, you’ll have a blast in all types of weather. 

One of the most important pieces of gear to not overlook is a pair of gloves. Cold hands while biking San Francisco can be miserable, so keep those fingers toasty!

Not Stopping Enough

One of the best parts of biking in San Francisco is how easy it is to stop and admire an area. No need to find parking, which can take time and become a hassle.

On a bike tour, you can make frequent stops to get a closer look at great views, learn something about the area, or just take a well-deserved snack break. So make sure to enjoy that perk of choosing a San Francisco bike tour!

two kids on the back of an e-bike
row of black electric bikes lined up

What to Do After a Bike Tour in San Francisco

Our bike tours finish by early-to-mid afternoon, so you still have some daylight for fun things in San Francisco! Here are some post-bike tour activities we recommend. 

Enjoy an Afternoon Drink in North Beach

After pedaling, you deserve to sit back and people-watch while enjoying a good drink or snack. Luckily, there are tons of options right where you’ll drop off your bike or end your tour! The North Beach area is packed with fun and eclectic food and drink spots like Romolo or Sweetie’s Art Bar. Put your feet up and cheers to a morning well spent with your group!

Rest Up for Another Day of Exploring San Francisco

Visiting Alcatraz Island is one San Francisco bucket list item that can’t be done on a bike.

Here’s the good news: You can take an official Alcatraz tour with Dylan’s! Following an excellent overview of the city on a bus tour, you can take a shuttle up to explore Muir Woods for over an hour, reveling in the jaw-dropping old-growth redwoods. After the excursion into the woods, our tour bus will drop you right off at the Alcatraz ferry for an afternoon of escaping to the famous penitentiary. 

Ready to have a one-of-a-kind cycling experience in our city? Check out Bike the Golden Gate Bridge + Shuttle to Muir Woods or the San Francisco City Bike Loop to have a full, seamless day of adventuring and exploring!

group of bikers looking over the bay and the golden gate bridge