Plane and Automobile, and train and ship. there is an International Airport there with flights to all parts of the world.
Walking, cable car, bus or the Bart. Parking is sometimes hard to find and expensive, the hills make biking a physical fittness test. The Subway or Bart is very clean, quick and efficent. You can go to Berkly, Oakland and other places.
From the UK most of the major airlines fly out daily. (10-11hrs! drink lots of water)
I would recommend you hire a car if you wish to venture to the outer districts south of market and of course the East Bay (Oakland) and Marinn County.
The famous cable cars ($2) are really cool (we do not have them in the UK that's why I'm so excited!) and are great for travelling north to the sights.
From Market street or the Transit station you can pretty much catch buses to many destinations for a dollar. Good service I found.
San Francisco (city/downtown) is not that big really and there is no need to take a cab to say Golden Gate Park and then back into town. Maybe only use cabs at night.
Fly to San Francisco airport - SFO. There are quite a lot of direct flights there or via LA and other gateways.
If you're staying in the centre, walking and using the cable cars may suffice - the public transport in SF is very good, especially the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) light rail system.
San Francisco is blessed with neighbourhoods built on rolling hills covered in bucolic and ornate houses. This beauty is both a blessing and a curse. It offers a soothing, neighbourly feeling that makes you want to explore it as much as possible. The WOSRT way to do this would to rest a car... especially one with a manual transmission. Although it maybe tempting to cruse around the twists and turns of the city in a sleek forest green convertible, I highly recommend keeping driving to a minimum, otherwise you may find yourself drifting uncontrolably backwards down a steep hill. Instead try the good old-fashioned walking or the historic cable cars. The trolleys will offer a sense of historic style and a relatively safe alternative to driving.
Airport shuttles from SFO are abour $14-$17 and Cabs are $35 or so to downtown SF.
MUNI for within the city. Includes light rail, buses, cable car. You can buy 1,3,7 day passes.
BART for crossing over to Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond, Freemont, etc. East Bay cities.
CalTrain to get to south bay like Palo Alto, Mountain View, San Jose, etc.
Getting a rental car is a good idea if you plan to take a nature tour. Especially in hard to reach areas like Marin County where public transportation isn't so great or well developed.
Maybe it's raining, or you've made plans to visit The East Bay, or do The Wine Country...But if the plan calls for a day in The City, spare your car, park that rental, whatever you do don't drive.You can walk, cycle, underground Muni Metro, or BART, taxi, cable car, street car, or catch a funky Muni bus around SF, in a relatively short amount of time. In and around San Francisco, you will see all types of alternative transportation being utilized. Many other forms, I didn't mention..be creative, .whichever means you choose, please don't drive...you'll see more !
SFO-San Francisco International is a great airport to fly into. There are many shuttle buses that run to the downtown area and it has a helpful Traveler's Aid desk with maps and such.
SF is an easy city to get around by foot, bus, BART (subway/underground/metro), and of course, cable car. As American cities go with public transportation, SF has the best I've ever used. Driving is easy to if you're used to city driving and parking was not too bad (of course I'm used to parking in New York City).
The best way to get around downtown San Fran is by foot, subway (BART), trolley, or bus. You can even skateboard or bike if you're adventuresome - there are lots doing it.
If you're looking to get out of the city, rent a Mustang convertible and travel up the coast, north of the Bay Bridge, or down the peninsula. There are beautiful forests to the south and wine vineyards north.
(Picture: one of the many trolleys in San Francisco - they're not all red!)
So, there is no gateway from the rest of the world that is actually located in the city of San Francisco. The airport is about a 30 minute drive south. The Amtrak station is located across the bay in Oakland (Emeryville actually). Well, I guess there's probably some sort of Greyhound terminal in San Francisco, but if you're coming on Greyhound, you have my advance apologies.
Fly into San Francisco Internation Airport or take the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit System) if you are visiting from a neighboring area such as Oakland or Berkley.
I recommend not renting a car for visting San Francisco unless and until you plan to take a day trip (even then check out your other options). Parking in San Francisco is expensive and scarce. Driving in the crowded areas is not for the faint of heart, especially if you are not familiar with where you are going. And if you drive you will have to keep your eyes on the road and miss seeing all the great sites you can take in. Walking is the very best way to see the city if you are in reasonably good shape for hiking. Buses and trollies can take you anywhere else you want to go, or if you get tired of hoofing it on foot.
Major international airport, accessible freeways. BART trains run from around the Bay Area or you drive into the city. The drive to and from Golden Gate Bridge ($3 toll into SF) is a must and coming intoThe City via the Bay Bridge ($2 toll) is also magnificent... provided it's not foggy!
Cable cars, of course. There are electrical trolleys (only up and down Market Street), buses (also electrical) and Muni (SF's train reputable for problems.) BART trains also run within The City but not to every neighborhood. Parking is mission impossible. However, it's always fun parking on a steep hill. Try that one! And remember... cars are parked bumper to bumper.
Of course there are multiple ways of getting to the city. You can go through the San Francisco International Airport, drive, walk, etc.
One of the most popular ways to trave throughout the city is by trolley. San Francisco is known for these cable cars. They are very efficient for transportation. Don't try to talk to the conductors however, they seem to have some kind of chip on their sholders. I don't mean that they are all rude, it's just that you should becareful who you talk to at all times.
Fly in, and take public transportation or van/taxi service into town from the airport. If you stay outside of the city (S. Peninsula, East Bay, Marin, etc..) take a bus, Caltrain, or BART into town. It isn't worth the hassle of driving.
Riding a cable car is fun, but the lines are usually quite long at the more popular stops.
The rail system (bart) is very good. I took a train out to Bay Fair shopping centre without any trouble at all - very easy to follow. The Caltrain runs between San Fran and San Jose.