The Best Walking Tours in San Francisco

san francisco walking tour

When we think of travel in the modern American city, we think of the car. Wide, multi-lane highways and vast interstates are heading off into the distance.

The red glow of taillights and stop signs. And that is fine if you need to get somewhere in a hurry.

But if you want to really explore a city like San Francisco, there is no better way to do so than on foot.

But there are so many walking tours to choose from. This short compilation of three of the most popular walking tours in the city will help you to make your mind up which one is for you.


Golden Gate Bridge Walking Tour - (Journey)

golden gate bridge walking tour


When you hear the words Golden Gate the next word that springs to mind is …bridge.

It is that famous. It should be one of the first places to explore when you get to San Francisco.

But a walk without a knowledgable guide is just a walk.

What you need is an expert. An expedition leader.

Someone who combines education with entertainment. Facts with fun. Stories with statistics. The guide you are looking for is Journey founder and tour guide CJ.

You could spend a day in and around the Bridge, but when you wish to cram a lot into a short space of time, this is the tour for you.

It takes in the bridge itself and the Welcome Centre but also the coastal trails around and under the bridge. This is a short tour at only an hour.

It is perfect for those who want to find the best locations for great photography. And while you explore the region CJ will explain the stories relating to every aspect of the bridge's history.

You will learn about its construction. You will learn about the legal battles it faced. You will hear about the challenges of weather and the wind and the water.

The tour proves that education can be exciting. The information is delivered in the most fun way from a guide passionate about his subject matter. It's a busy and informative hour.

At only five dollars, it will seem like an absolute bargain.


San Francisco Native Original Tour -  (San Francisco Native Tours)


If this is not your first time in the city, you may be looking for something off the tourist trail.

The best way to get to know a city is to walk it like a native. And that is precisely what the Native Original Tour offers.

The guide books might give you a comprehensive list of great attractions and well-known landmarks.

Only a tour like this will allow you to appreciate the city like a local.

At four hours this is a tour for the reasonably fit and mobile.

However, frequent stops and food breaks undoubtedly ease the load. The tour includes culture and cafes. It passes below iconic skylines and along bustling streets.

Passing through Downtown and North Beach, Jackson Square, and Chinatown, this is a street view of the city.

It also allows ample opportunity to sample fantastic, everyday street food. Everything from dim sum to pizza to pastries.

It also gives you a chance to experience the city from the heart of its neighborhoods.


San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour - (Victorian Home Walk)


The various buildings of a city are like clues to its vibrant past.

Learn how to unpick those clues, and you will unravel the cultural history of the place. And that is precisely what this architectural walking tour aims to do.

To examine the clues laid down in brick and mortar, the very knowledgable Jay will take you through a mix of locations. From the more obvious destinations to the hidden gems. 

Union Square and the lesser know Japantown kicks things off.

From there, you will visit everything from filming locations to Victorian-era houses. The exclusive mansions of Pacific Heights and of course, the Golden Gate Bridge.

It is a tour that offers a wealth of information but makes it fun too.

It covers the more academic aspects of building and architecture but also revels in the gossip stories of those who lived there too.

If you want to understand how the city evolved structurally, this is the tour to take.



So, which is the best?


That depends on what you are looking for. Each of the tours chosen cover very different aspects of the city.

Journey offers an insight into one of the most famous landmarks in just San Francisco.

Perhaps the most famous landmark in the whole of America. The tour is the shortest at 1 hour and by far the cheapest at $5.

The Native Original Tour sits at the other end of the spectrum.

At four hours, it is the longest of the three. With tours starting at around $60, it is the most expensive. Though still relatively good value for money compared with similar tours.

The Architectural Walking Tour sits between the two. Two hours and about $30 gets you on board. The tour is perhaps geared more towards the historically-minded adult than the kid or casual tourist. That said, it does offer a unique insight into the city from a very different perspective.

So, let's answer the question. Which is the best?

Without taking anything away from the other two tours, it is Journey who takes the top spot.

In purely practical terms, it is the best value for money. They do fit a lot into the hour. It is an excellent opportunity to make fantastic photographic memories.

This means that whether this is your first time or fifth, there is always something new to be gained from the trip.

And if you are a first time visitor to the city, then this has to be your first trip. And if you are going to visit the bridge, there seems to be no better company to do it in than with Journey. Not to mention their fun and infectious main man.