Not only do millions of travellers take cheap flights to San Francisco each year for holidays, it is also a popular world-class convention and conference destination. Summer months (June to August) are the peak season for tourism and business travellers, so be prepared for hotels near top sights such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, Haight-Ashbury and the colourful Chinatowns to be booked up early. The city comes alive in the warmer months with many festivals, street fairs and special events taking place. San Francisco has a Mediterranean climate with warm summers and mild winters, but summer weather can be changeable, with fog, wind and cooler temperatures, so always bring extra layers and a light jacket.
Winter (December to February) is the off season with winter temps hovering about the 15C mark, chill winds and more fog. Come armed with layers and wet weather gear too as the city gets everything from light rain showers, to torrential downpours. Some positive reasons to visit in winter are the ballet and opera seasons, you’ll find the cheapest flights to San Francisco and hotel rates are lower.
The best time to book flights to San Francisco is from September to November, when the city gets a late burst of sun, known as an ‘Indian Summer’, and the fog rolls away. This is the sweet spot for visiting as there are less tourists, better weather and good deals on hotels. Spring can also be a good time to visit before the peak season price hikes. Whale watchers will want to book flight tickets, as this is a popular activity at certain times of the year; for Grey Whales this is winter / spring, and for other whales; summer / autumn.
Flights from Sydney to San Francisco – 13 hours 40 minutes.
Flights from Melbourne to San Francisco – 16 hours.
Flights from Brisbane to San Francisco – 16 hours 05 minutes.
Flights from Perth to San Francisco – 19 hours 25 minutes.
Qantas and United Airlines operate regular direct flights to San Francisco from Sydney, or you can take a connecting flight from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane with airlines such as Air New Zealand (via Auckland), Hawaiian Air (via Honolulu) or American Airlines (via Los Angeles).
After your flight lands at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), there are several options for getting to the city. There is a direct rail link to the city from the airport BART station on the Departures level of the International Terminal. SamTrans buses run regularly into downtown San Francisco or anywhere else you need to go. Shared shuttles are available and don’t need to be booked before 11pm, and taxi zones are on outside the arrivals building. For accessing other terminals, the AirTrain is a free people-mover that connects all four terminals. San Francisco’s historic streetcars and cable cars are a great way to see the city as they access the most popular tourist destinations.