San Francisco International Airport serves the city and county of San Francisco, as well as the general San Francisco Bay Area in California in the United States of America. Located about 20km south of San Francisco (in a city called San Bruno), the airport is one of the busiest in the United States and sports 4 terminals – three of them are simply named Terminals 1, 2 and 3, while the fourth is called the international terminal. It is the largest international terminal in North America and – with California being a hotspot for earthquakes – is one of the largest buildings in the world to be built on seismic base isolators that provide a degree of earthquake protection.
To get from San Francisco Airport to the city of San Francisco, tourists can take the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) rail service directly from the international terminal of the airport (if you arrived from a domestic location, you take the AirTrain to get to the international terminal). The train arrives every 15 minutes or so, and takes only about half an hour to get to multiple destinations in downtown San Francisco.
If you are heading to San Jose, you can still take the BART as it connects to the Caltrain Commuter Rail at the Millbrae station, which connects to the city of San Jose. Otherwise, shuttles and shared vans are also available to take you to the city from the airport. Simply locate the shuttle area and tell a driver your destination so he can add you to the route of a shuttle going in the relevant direction.
It is advisable to pre-book your shuttle ride to minimize hassle.
What to see and do
With lush greenery, coastal scenery and interesting topography, hilly San Francisco is not just a popular tourist destination but also a very liveable city in itself. Once in the city, don’t forget to visit the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge – heralded as one of the top construction achievements of the 20th century – or visit the famous Fisherman’s Wharf for some fresh seafood at one of the many restaurants nearby, or amazing chocolate at Ghiradelli Square. If not, how about a boat ride to Alcatraz Island, once a federal prison for the most notorious criminals? You can visit the still-intact cell houses, mess halls, and even some scary ‘dark holes’.
And of course no trip to San Francisco is complete without a ride in the San Francisco Cable Car – one of the city’s most iconic tourist attractions – which takes you on a scenic aerial journey above the city for an unfettered look at its beauty. The world’s last manually-operated cable car system, the cable cars are the only mode of transport listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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