If you are looking for a quick tip on where to get the best views of San Francisco for your photo gallery, below are three places that are free (or almost free) to visit. I’m sure you’ve heard that Alcatraz has the best views of the city, but for that you require a bit more planning as it requires advanced booking, and it costs money. I also added a few of my own snaps to this article, just to illustrate what even a very basic camera and a very basic camera user can capture from those locations.
Here are the three locations for best views of San Francisco:
- Twin Peaks
- Treasure Island
- Golden Gate View Point
Twin Peaks – Best View of San Francisco and Both Its Bridges
The Twin Peaks hill is conveniently located in the middle of the city and not far from other attractions, so you can easily put it in your itinerary. If you don’t have a car, you can get there using public transport, The bus 37 (Corbett) will get you closest to the destination, but you will still need to walk a bit uphill to get to the summit, and it’s definitely worth the effort. You can get that bus at the Castro St. Metro station. From Twin Peaks summit you can see one of the best views of San Francisco, the whole of bay with the islands, both the Bay bridge and the Golden gate bridge, and if the day is sunny you can see Oakland as well. Here’s a morning shot of the Golden Gate bridge, still wrapped in mist that I took from Twin peaks:
Treasure Island – Best View of San Francisco at Night
I went to Treasure Island in the evening for some night skyline views. The great thing about this location is that you can also enjoy the beautifully lit Bay Bridge in its whole evening splendor. Park at the very beginning of the island, and sit on one of the benches that are along the waterfront. Bring a warm jacket, as it can get windy and chilly. I can easily imagine “a glass of wine and some cheese” type of evening picnic on that location too. You can access it by car from San Francisco going towards Oakland on the Bay bridge and taking the Treasure Island/Yerba Buena exit. If you are using public transportation, use the MUNI 25 bus line.
Golden Gate View Point (Hawk’s Hill) – Best View of Golden Gate Bridge With the City as the Background
If you are crossing the bridge by car, then you definitely must also go to this spot. Exit the road after the bridge and follow the signs for Hawk’s Hill. There are several stops along the Conzelman Road from which you can take the photos, each one offering a different angle of both the bridge and the city and the bay behind it. I suggest an afternoon visit there, as the light falls on the bridge from your back and its color is spectacular. Also, a very early morning visit can be exciting with the rising sun behind the city and the bridge wrapped in mist. In both cases, check the weather before you go, because you want a clear day for the best photos. Parking can be a bit tricky, as this is a popular spot, but there is a lot of circulation of people, so with a bit of patience you will soon find a spot to park the car. If you’re lucky you may see bigger boats passing under the bridge too.
Below is the map with the three locations to get the best views of San Francisco, for your convenience. Also, if you need more info on the public transportation network in San Francisco, visit https://www.sfmta.com/.
In case you have other spots for best views of San Francisco to suggest, I’d be happy to add them to the list!