Should I rent a car in San Francisco?

I am planning a trip to San Francisco. This will be my first time visiting the city. Is renting a car in San Francisco a good idea?

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Answer provided by
Matt Nightingale
Answered on Apr 26, 2022
It sounds like you’re planning a great trip! San Franciso is a great city to see—but not so much to drive. Driving there can be very stressful, so you may not want to rent a car in San Francisco. Steep hills, confusing parking rules, and a hectic network of one-way streets can leave even the best drivers traumatized.
Also, talk about expensive—overnight parking will cost you $30 to $50 per night, and parking near tourist spots will set you back $12 to $15 per hour.
The good news is that there are several transportation alternatives in San Francisco that you can take advantage of, such as:
  • Public transit: The MUNI is a great transit system including buses, light rail trains, and the historic San Francisco streetcars.
  • Cycling: San Francisco is very cyclist-friendly. You can rent a bicycle and not have to worry about being ticketed or towed.
  • Hop-on hop-off tours: Hop-on hop-off tours allow you to jump on and off double-decker buses at your leisure as they wind their way through San Francisco’s tourist areas.
  • Rideshares: San Francisco is the birthplace of the rideshare companies. Grab an Uber or a Lyft and leave the driving to someone else.
If you do decide to rent a car in San Francisco, you’ll want to make sure you have the best possible car insurance. The car rental company will offer you insurance, but you may already be covered by your policy.
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