Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or a longer trip to the City by the Bay, you can look forward to gorgeous views of the Golden Gate Bridge, absolutely amazing seafood, and tons of Instagram-worthy scenery. If you aren’t driving to the Bay Area, chances are you’ll be flying into one of the area’s three main airports. Make your trip perfect from start to finish with this guide to everything you need to know about the airports in San Francisco.

San Francisco International Airport

The biggest airport in Northern California, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is the gateway for both international and domestic passengers. This is a major hub for United Airlines, though American Airlines, Virgin America, Alaska Airlines, and JetBlue Airways also serve this airport. From SFO, you can reach destinations ranging from Los Angeles to Miami to Hong Kong to Amsterdam. Find out how to get to SFO, what to do at the airport, and where to stay nearby.

How to Get To and From San Francisco International Airport

No matter where you’re planning to spend your time in the Bay Area, you’ll have tons of transit options to and from SFO. The free AirTrain connects directly to the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system. From the SFO BART Station, you can access just about any neighborhood in San Francisco or the East Bay. If you’re heading south to San Jose, use the Caltrain commuter rail for quick access to Silicon Valley.

Prefer to take a taxi directly between your hotel or Airbnb and SFO? Taxis are available right outside arrivals areas, and the average tab to San Francisco is $55. A handful of ride hailing services also operate from designated areas of SFO, and their cost tends to be a bit cheaper than a taxi.

If you can’t resist getting behind the wheel, you’ll find tons of rental car options at SFO. Just head to the Rental Car Center, which is a stop on the airport’s free AirTrain shuttle.

San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in San Mateo County.

What to Do at San Francisco International Airport

To get around SFO, you can ride the AirTrain from point to point. If you’re just trying to get around within the domestic or international terminals, you can also hoof it.

You’re definitely going to want to set aside extra time to spend at SFO because that will increase your chances of running into the Wag Brigade! That’s right, SFO has a crew of about a dozen pups whose sole job is to fill your trip with furry fun. Once you’ve gotten your fill of doggie snuggles, do a little shopping for organic cosmetics, handcrafted jewelry, or local goodies.

If you’re looking for a little inspiration, you’ll find tons of opportunities at SFO. Go check out one of the many art exhibitions hosted by the SFO Museum, peek back into history at the Aviation Museum & Library, or meditate in the Berman Reflection Room.

Want to grab a bite before or after your flight? Take your pick from local restaurants like Andalé, which serves up Mexican cuisine, or the 24th & Mission Taco House, which has tons of tasty tacos.

Best Hotels Near San Francisco International Airport

If you’re just in San Francisco for a night or you have to catch an early flight in the morning, grab a hotel right near the airport. The Aloft San Francisco Airport features a hip design, free Wi-Fi, and a free shuttle. Also nearby, the Westin San Francisco Airport has a pool, a great gym, and comfy beds. Just south of SFO, the Hilton San Francisco Airport Bayfront has a free airport shuttle, pet-friendly rooms, and even an Executive Lounge.

Oakland International Airport

Just across the San Francisco Bay, Oakland International Airport (OAK) is a great pick for budget travelers and folks who would rather chill in Berkeley than hang out in Haight-Ashbury. Budget airlines like Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Allegiant Air all serve OAK. From here you can easily get to Portland, Phoenix, San Diego, Honolulu, and even New York. Make sure you know how to get to OAK without wasting a second and check out where to stay nearby.

How to Get To and From Oakland International Airport

Like SFO, OAK has tons of transit connections. The Oakland Airport BART station is just seconds from Terminal 1 baggage claim and just a few minutes’ walk from Terminal 2. From there, you can easily access just about anywhere in the Bay Area.

OAK also has designated taxi and ride hailing service pickup areas, so you can take your pick based on cost and availability. If you’d rather drive yourself, head to the Rental Car Center, which is just a shuttle ride away from the main terminals at OAK.

What to Do at Oakland International Airport

If you have some time to kill at OAK, stock up on Oakland sports gear or See’s Candies, a sweet local treat. In Terminal 1, grab a soy latte at Starbucks or some Tex-Mex at Chili’s Too. In Terminal 2, get a craft brew from Gordon Biersch or Pyramid Ale Taproom, a slice from California Pizza Kitchen, or a cinnamon-sugar pretzel from Auntie Anne’s.

Best Hotels Near Oakland International Airport

Need to rest your head near OAK? Get a room at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Oakland Airport, which boasts free breakfast and Wi-Fi. Stay on the north side of OAK at the Hampton Inn & Suites Oakland Airport-Alameda, which has a brand new bar and rooms with all the comforts of home. Go upscale at the Hilton Oakland Airport, which features an outdoor pool and a free shuttle to OAK and the nearest BART station.

San Jose International Airport

Located on the south side of the Bay Area, San Jose International Airport (SJC) couldn’t be more convenient if you’re planning to check out Silicon Valley. A mix of domestic airlines, like Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines, serve this airport, as do several international airlines, like Aeroméxico, Air China, All Nippon Airways, and Lufthansa. That means you can fly anywhere from Chicago to Shanghai to Guadalajara to Tokyo from here. Find out how to get to SJC without added hassle and book a great airport hotel.

How to Get To and From San Jose International Airport

Take your pick from public transit options at SJC. Take the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) Airport Flyer to the Santa Clara Caltrain station, where you can pick up the Caltrain or the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) train. Or stay on the VTA light rail to access San Jose and the rest of the Bay Area.

If you want hassle-free door-to-door service between SJC and your Airbnb, a taxi might be your best bet, but note that $15 is the minimum fare from the airport. Ride-hailing services like Uber, Lyft, and Wingz can pick up passengers from both Terminal A and B, too.

If you’re planning to explore the whole Bay Area, renting a car is probably a smart choice. Head to the Rental Car Center, which you can reach on foot from Terminal B or by shuttle bus from Terminal A. You’ll find major rental companies like Hertz, Budget, and Sixt here.

Want to make sure your trip to the Bay Area is as green as possible? You can even walk or bike to SJC, but note that there aren’t any bike share stations at the airport.

What to Do at San Jose International Airport

There’s so much to do at SJC that you might want to budget a little extra time to explore the airport. Relax in massage chairs throughout the airport, scope out the robots at the kid-friendly iPal Playground, or tune in to the airport’s public art program audio tour to learn more about all the cool creations on view. Head to the Power Suite to charge your devices and crank out a blog post or two or take yourself on a self-guided tour of the art throughout the terminals.

Load up on carbs with a bagel sandwich from Einstein Bros. Bagels or a sandwich from Brioche Doree, or get some healthy eats at Fresh Attractions or Jamba Juice. If a frozen yogurt craving hits, head over to Red Mango in Terminal A or Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt in Terminal B. If nothing but a glass of vino will do, grab a spot at the Santa Cruz Wine Bar in Terminal B.

Best Hotels Near San Jose International Airport

Whether your flight arrived late and you need a place to crash or you want to stay nearby to make your early morning flight stress-free, you can pick from tons of SJC airport hotels. The Vagabond Inn boasts budget-friendly room rates, an outdoor pool, and a Denny’s. Nearby, the Fairfield Inn & Suites San Jose Airport features huge rooms, free Wi-Fi, and free breakfast in the morning. The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel San Jose has freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, a sushi bar, and the biggest rooms in Silicon Valley.

Now that you’ve mastered the Bay Area airports, it’s time to start creating the perfect itinerary. From the most convenient flight to the best hotel to the most fun activities, plan every moment of your visit on GoDoTrip.