San Francisco Sightseeing cruises

Our most recommended San Francisco Sightseeing cruises

San Francisco: 1-Hour Bay Cruise by Boat

1. San Francisco: 1-Hour Bay Cruise by Boat

Enjoy a 1-hour journey along San Francisco's historic waterfront and experience the thrilling history of the San Francisco Bay, with all the sound and glory it deserves. The 1-hour non-stop Bay Cruise takes you past the famous PIER 39 sea lions and along San Francisco’s historic waterfront, revealing the city’s fascinating skyline. Relax in comfort, with both indoor and outdoor seating, and enjoy a full narration describing major landmarks as you sail by. See sights like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the iconic San Francisco skyline as you go. Whether it’s your first time to San Francisco, or your 10th visit, the Bay Cruise is something you should experience at least once in your life. You will get a complimentary souvenir map, which is available in nine languages, and if you get hungry, there’s a full-service snack bar on board with food and drink available to purchase.

San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

2. San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

Cruise around the Golden Gate Bay on a boat tour. Enjoy informative commentary, see sights like Alcatraz Island, and purchase food and drink from the onboard bar. Launched in 1939 as part of the Golden Gate International Exposition, this 1-hour cruise has been a highlight of any visit to San Francisco for over 75 years. With 8-14 departures daily from Fisherman's Wharf, you will sail along San Francisco's breathtaking waterfront, under the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, and close to the notorious Alcatraz Island. Discover San Francisco's fascinating history, brought to life through audio commentary broadcast in 16 languages via personal headphones. Look out for wildlife along the way, including pelicans, sea lions, and even dolphins and whales. Sail past the lively neighborhood of North Beach, the famous swimming clubs of Aquatic Park, the historic vessels at Hyde Street Pier, and San Francisco Maritime National Park, before heading west towards Golden Gate Bridge. Enjoy views of Crissy Field and the lush hillsides of the Presidio, before cruising under Golden Gate Bridge. Steam back into the Bay, traveling past the wildlife reserves of the Marin Headlands, and the legendary town of Sausalito, once home to the 1960s’ flower generation. With Angel Island State Park to your left, cruise around the infamous Alcatraz. After a full hour of exciting sights, the barking sea lions at Pier 39 welcome you back to Pier 43 1/2. A full bar with drinks, snacks, and merchandise, including logo wear, is available at reasonable prices on board the iconic red and blue sea vessels.

San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

3. San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

Hop on board a boat and cruise around Alcatraz Island and other sights of San Francisco Bay on this round trip journey. Benefit from a straight-to-the-gate access ticket and informative commentary as you go. Cruise San Francisco Bay and sail under the Golden Gate Bridge on a 90-minute narrated tour by boat around Alcatraz Island. Skip the box office line and go straight to the gate with your ticket. See Alcatraz island from the water while listening to accounts of the chilling escape attempts and the notorious criminals that called Alcatraz prison home. Enjoy a cruise with food and drink available to purchase onboard. Cruise full circle around Alcatraz Island, allowing you to view every angle of this mysterious island, which housed famous inmates such as Al Capone, Billy Cook the Killer, and Clyde Johnson, whose escape attempt is legendary. Gain a clear picture of what life in this maximum-security prison was like when it was the most feared institution in the American penal system.

San Francisco: California Sunset/Twilight Boat Cruise

4. San Francisco: California Sunset/Twilight Boat Cruise

Enjoy sunset views as you sail on beautiful San Francisco Bay. See important landmarks, including Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. In the winter months, take in the serene twilight views instead. Along the way, view numerous National Historic landmarks and San Francisco sights, including Coit Tower, the Transamerica Pyramid, St. Peter, Paul's Church, and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. As the sun begins to set over the Marin Headlands, cruise past Alcatraz, Angel Island, and the shorelines of Tiburon, Belvedere, and Sausalito. Watch the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean, as you sail west towards the Golden Gate. On your way back to Fisherman’s Wharf, see many more famous sights, including the Presidio, the Marina District, and Fort Mason.

San Francisco: Bridge to Bridge Cruise

5. San Francisco: Bridge to Bridge Cruise

See both the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on a single boat tour with personal headphone audio included. Explore San Francisco's famous landmarks, history, natural history, architecture, and Native American culture on board this unique bay cruise. During the 90-minute round trip cruise you'll depart from Fisherman's Wharf, one of the city's busiest tourist attractions. From there, sail under the Golden Gate Bridge. Completed in 1937, the Golden Gate is one of the world's most famous and beautiful bridges, and was at one point the largest suspension bridge in the world. Cruise past Alcatraz Island, once home of one of the world's most infamous prisons, and take the chance to enjoy the stunning San Francisco waterfront. The boat will pass along the harbor before heading under the colossal San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Then it's time to head back to the charming city of San Francisco by the sea.

San Francisco: Golden Gate Bridge Catamaran Cruise

6. San Francisco: Golden Gate Bridge Catamaran Cruise

Experience the beauty of San Francisco Bay on a round-trip catamaran cruise. Take in San Francisco's breathtaking skyline as you sail by Alcatraz Island and under the Golden Gate Bridge. Feel the breeze and keep a look out for sea lions. Admire your surroundings from a protected viewing area, or live on the edge and stand on the canvas trampoline nets with the waves beneath your feet. Pick up a helpful navigation guide providing information about San Francisco's landmarks as you sail past many of them. Make this experience complete by taking the helm from the captain and steering the catamaran yourself. This sail is the perfect activity for kids as well as kids at heart. The captain and crew are always there, happy to snap a photo or answer your questions about the sights of San Francisco. If all this excitement makes you hungry or thirsty, you’ll find snacks, soda, beer, and wine available at the cabin's snack bar.

San Francisco: Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown & Bay Cruise

7. San Francisco: Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown & Bay Cruise

Start your tour near the Ferry Building with a view of what was once one of the busiest ports in the world. Then catch an iconic San Francisco cable car from a favorite stop and learn what makes this very unique public transport so special. Disembark atop Nob Hill and learn about the industrial tycoons who built the city as you wander through Huntington Park. Visit the beautiful gothic interior of Grace Cathedral. Enter the bustling neighborhood of Chinatown, the largest Chinese enclave outside of Asia and the oldest Chinatown in North America. Taste fresh fortune cookies and see hidden landmarks like the Tin How Buddhist Temple as you learn how the neighborhood went from being a seedy red-light district to one of the most vibrant enclaves in the city. For a little treat, pop into the legendary Golden Gate Factory for an insight into the art (and logistics) of fortune cookie making. Receive a special custom-made cookie to take home. Also get advice on where to eat if you want to come back to try the world-famous dim sum. Then, visit Lombard Street, called the "most crooked street in the world", Fisherman's Wharf, and Ghirardelli Square. See Fisherman’s Wharf, explore the old docks, and smell the fresh bread in the famous Boudin Bakery.  Take a pause at Ghirardelli Square for a sample of famous chocolate. After this, continue on to your final highlight of the day — a gorgeous bay cruise of the historic waterfront. Relax and tune into the included audio device to hear some fascinating tales. Admire beautiful views of the San Francisco skyline in every direction and sail past the famous Pier 39 sea lions, right under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz Island (the closest you can get without booking a ticket), a perfect end to a San Francisco day.

San Francisco Bay Sunset Cruise by Luxury Catamaran

8. San Francisco Bay Sunset Cruise by Luxury Catamaran

Take a relaxing 90-minute round trip boat trip onboard a luxury catamaran. See sea lions, famous sights, and sunset views of San Francisco as the sun dips below the Bay. Sail by Alcatraz Island, under the Golden Gate Bridge, and past Sausalito. Search for the famous Pier 39 sea lions and other kinds of sea life playing in the ocean. Cruise along the shore, gazing on the city skyline as you watch the magnificent sunset. Relax with a complimentary drink on board either a 55- or 65-foot catamaran. Both come complete with a protected viewing area, providing panoramic 360-degree viewing, in addition to canvas trampoline nets for the more adventurous who want to experience the sights in the bracing open air.

San Francisco: Muir Woods, Sausalito and SF Bay Cruise

9. San Francisco: Muir Woods, Sausalito and SF Bay Cruise

Embark on an exciting half-day trip to the beautiful Muir Woods National Monument, and the charming town of Sausalito. Hear informative commentary as you go, and complete your trip with a cruise on the Bay. Hop aboard your air-conditioned vehicle equipped with wi-fi and a restroom. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge and motor through the “Rainbow Tunnels” on Hwy. 101, Marin’s unique topography comes into view. Tidal flats along the bay segue into gentle undulating hills as they rise to meet Mt. Tamalpais, Marin’s 2,600-foot landmark. As your tour ascends Mt. Tam, breathtaking views abound at every turn. Descending into the valley toward Muir Woods, you will see a landscape that hasn’t changed since its original inhabitants, the Coast Miwok Indians lived here centuries ago. Spend 90 minutes in Muir Woods, the most time offered on any sightseeing tour program. Stroll along the Nature Trail along picturesque Redwood Creek, and through Cathedral and Bohemian Groves, filled with 500 to 800-year-old redwoods. Be sure to stop at the Visitors Center and Gift Shop. The next stop on your tour is beautiful Sausalito, a Mediterranean-like community with elegant hillside homes facing the bay and a unique colony of floating homes moored along the waterfront. You will have time to stroll Downtown Sausalito, a National Historic Landmark District offering many fine shops, galleries, and restaurants. Your return to San Francisco by motorcoach will be via the Golden Gate Bridge and through San Francisco’s Marina District. The final portion of your tour is a 1-hour cruise of the San Francisco Bay where you will sail by the famous Alcatraz Island and under the Golden Gate Bridge.

San Francisco: Muir Woods Trip and Golden Gate Bridge Cruise

10. San Francisco: Muir Woods Trip and Golden Gate Bridge Cruise

Journey to the majestic Muir Woods National Monument on a half-day tour from San Francisco. After meeting in San Francisco, drive north of the city to this stunning canyon. Enjoy the peace and solitude as you stroll among 1000-year-old trees, towering 260 feet tall. Experience awe and wonder as you wander through the redwood alleyways. On your return journey to the city, enjoy a scenic drive through the quaint seaside town of Sausalito. This Mediterranean-style village lies across the bay from San Francisco, and is famous for its incredible views. Explore the local boutiques and quaint cafes.  Then enjoy a 1-hour scenic cruise on the San Francisco Bay. Enjoy the views of the city skyline and Alcatraz Island, and admire the Golden Gate Bridge from the water. Benefit from audio guide commentary in 16 languages, to learn more about the city’s colorful history and famous landmarks. Look out for seagulls, pelicans, sea lions, and even porpoises and whales.

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Frequently asked questions about San Francisco

What top attractions are a must-see in San Francisco?

What are the best day trips and excursions from San Francisco?

The best day trips and excursions from San Francisco are:

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Other Sightseeing Options in San Francisco

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What people are saying about San Francisco

Had the loveliest day. Maggie is a kind, knowledgeable and easy going guide who manages to ensure you get a lot out from the 8 hours spent together. She’s got plenty of insider tips to take you off the tourist path which is great. The tour itself is a perfect balance of walking, using public transport and having rest breaks for anyone wondering how the day breaks down. The highlight was the boat cruise but I generally enjoyed it all. Thoroughly recommended. Ps. We did have a small group of solo travellers but I’m sure the tour would have been fine with a bigger group.

Had a wonderful time with my fiancé. It was worth it. I made reservations for his birthday. Took a lot of pictures. Will do it again.

We went with our two children age 11 and 8. Was a great trip. Fantastic views.

Great views. Free to roam around. So fun and so many photo ops!

Great experience, recommend everyone to at least one time.