The Best Views of San Francisco

Last updated on:
Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). Read the full disclosure policy here.

I don't know about you, but whenever I visit a new city, I always make it a mission to get at least one really great shot of that city's skyline. It must be the small-town, country girl in me that's always fascinated by the fact that other places even HAVE skylines (because we certainly don't have them in rural Ohio…).

And, even though San Francisco isn't a huge city, it DOES have a pretty recognizable skyline, with the 853-foot Transamerica Pyramid at its center.

So, as I wandered through San Francisco's various neighborhoods over the course of a week, I kept an eye out for the best places from which you can see the city's signature skyline.

The best views of San Francisco

These are 5 of my favorite views of San Francisco:

5. Twin Peaks

If it's all of San Francisco you want to see, head up to Twin Peaks on a clear day (which of course is sometimes easier said than done in SF, where fog and clouds often shroud this lookout point). I was lucky enough to hit up the City by the Bay during a week of uncharacteristically sunny and warm weather, and so got quite a good view from Twin Peaks.

Cost: Free

4. From Alcatraz

If you're heading out to explore Alcatraz island, make sure to also look over your shoulder back toward San Francisco a few times. The island is only 1.5 miles from downtown, meaning you can get a great view of the skyline from the ferry and the island itself.

Cost: $28 to visit Alcatraz

RELATED: The Two Sides of Alcatraz

3. Coit Tower

If it's the quintessential San Francisco skyline photo you want, head to the observation deck of Coit Tower, situated atop Telegraph Hill. You can get here by car or bus or, if you really want a challenge, by the Filbert or Greenwich steps. Inside the tower are some amazing WPA murals, and the views from the top on a clear day really can't be beat.

Cost: $7

2. Alamo Square Park

If it's a slightly different view of the city you want, be sure to visit Alamo Square Park. Most people come here to photograph the famous line of Victorian houses known as “the Painted Ladies,” but if you stand at the highest point of the park in front of these houses, you can snap a fantastic photo with the San Francisco skyline in the background, as well.

Cost: Free

1. Dolores Park

My favorite spot to view the city from is fairly unconventional. In fact, many visitors to San Francisco probably don't even know about it. Located in the heart of the Mission District, Dolores Park doesn't really look like it would give you great views of downtown. But simply walk to the highest corner of the park and turn around to be surprised. I loved this spot most because it seemed the most “San Francisco” to me. Only here can you find this many people out sunbathing on a Wednesday afternoon.

Cost: Free

Want to explore San Francisco on your next visit? Check out these awesome tours from Urban Adventures:


Which of these views is your favorite? Do you know of any other great ones in San Francisco?


Best views of San Francisco


"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

Join the ADB Community!
Sign up here to get exclusive travel tips, deals, and other inspiring goodies delivered to your inbox.

As Seen On

As Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen On