I'm reaching San Francisco (SFO) international terminal at 11:45am and have a connecting domestic flight at 10:45pm. There is no luggage transfer available and I will have to clear immigration and handle my luggage personally the full day. In such a scenario is it a viable option to try and visit a few off-beat places in San Francisco?

There's also the fact that I have about 36 hours in San Francisco later during my return journey, which is when I plan on taking some full day tour.

If a trip to San Francisco is viable during this 9 hour layover, what places can I visit?

  • 2
    Regarding luggage, see travel.stackexchange.com/questions/30572/… Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 5:22
  • There is a typo somewhere: 9 hours or 11 hours? Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 11:41
  • 11 hours. I corrected the title. Although I'd discount about 3 hours for clearing immigration at SFO and another hour before I board the domestic flight. So that's more re like 7 hours.
    – darnir
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 12:11
  • short answer - i'd say yeah, go have lunch or something. just go to union square, check it out, relax and have lunch somewhere trendy (perhaps in chinatown, just there).
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 12:17

1 Answer 1


First of all, arriving at 11:45am and departing at 10:45pm should be an 11-hour layover, which is quite a lot of time.

Quite a few of the popular tourist attractions are reachable by BART train without having to transfer. Also Nate already posted the link to the luggage storing information: How much to store luggage at SFO for 24 hours?

Popular places to visit are Union Square, the Embacedero up to Pier 39, and the Golden Gate bridge. For visiting the latter, you would need to take a bus or do quite a long walk - probably not so well-suited for an 11-hour layover.

The BART will take you about 1 hour each way, but you should have 7-8 hours in the city center then, which should be enough for a first look.

As a suggestion, take any travel guide and pick a few places that sound good to you close to Market street and close to the city center to visit. You can also walk from Market street to Little Italy, passing by Lombard Street, and walking back the Embacedero. You see quite a bit of the "real" San Francisco (i.e., where people live) in this way.

  • that sounds like a good plan. Though after security checks I'm assuming I have a good deal less than 11 hours. Would visiting alcatraz be a viable option?
    – darnir
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 12:36
  • 1
    The security checks are the reason why I wrote "7-8" hours in the answer (BART takes only 1 hour each way. For Alcatraz, count 45 minutes per boat ride, 15-20 minutes additional waiting, and 3-4 hours for the main part of the tour, but there is more to see on the Island. Typically, tickets for Alcatraz for the next hours (or days!) will be sold out, so if you want to do that, book online ahead of time (at the risk of losing the ticket in case your inbound flight is delayed).
    – DCTLib
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 13:04
  • Yes, was going to comment - Alcatraz tickets are often booked out in advance, so it pays to check ahead,
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 13:15
  • For visiting the Golden Gate bridge directly from the airport, I recommend getting off at the Daly City BART station and catching the 28 bus, which takes you directly to the bridge. (About a 30-35 minute bus ride, longer if there is traffic.) You can hop on the 28 bus again after visiting the bridge (in the same direction of travel as before) and it will take you to Ghiradelli square, which is an interesting tourist spot and is rather close to Pier 39. This itinerary also works in reverse if you would like to visit the bridge last before returning to the airport.
    – nukeguy
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 15:57

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