From San Francisco to Napa Valley: A Local’s Guide (Driving, Train etc.)

An aerial view of a highway in california.

Believe it or not, getting from San Francisco to Napa Valley is super easy and absolutely stunning, no matter which mode of transportation you use! I’m here as your local guide to break those down for you

This famous drive across the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin County and beyond is perhaps the most dramatic, stunning, visited scenic route in the States.

So, let’s go explore California’s wine country!

If you are in a hurry

The San Francisco Bay Area and the surrounding towns are stunning and popular, so be sure to book your tours and hotels in advance. And, if you’re pressed for time, take a peek at my top 3 choices below:

And here are the best hotels: North Block Hotel (luxury), The Ritz Carlton San Francisco (mid-range), Cambria Hotel Napa Valley (budget)

San Francisco Bay Area and Napa Valley are approximately 2 hours drive from one another. So you can recognize the stops and sites we talk about, I’m including a map below to make things easier for you! 💁‍♀️

If you’re trying to whittle down the best neighborhoods to stay within San Francisco as the starting point of your trip to Napa Valley, check out our article on the 7 best areas of town.

How far is Napa Valley from San Francisco?

A road leading to san francisco with the words to san francisco written on it.

The actual distance from San Francisco to Napa is approximately 50 miles (80 km) by car. It’s a scenic drive that takes 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic and your starting point in San Francisco.

If you choose to drive, your journey begins with a scenic drive across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. 🌉

How do you get from San Francisco to Napa Valley?

A road in the middle of a green field.

You have many options for modes of transportation that will get you to Napa. From driving, cruising, and taking the bus or train to flying, everything is possible!

Depending on whether you want the autonomy of designing the journey of your choosing or you’d rather be a part of a group excursion, you can decide what option makes the most sense for you!

If you’re asking my opinion – take a tour, 100%! We’re talking wine country, gals! Who wants to be a designated driver for the day? Not I. 🍷

There are so many wine tours to choose from you have no reason not to!

Driving from San Francisco to Napa Valley

A view of san francisco bay from the top of a hill.

Driving from San Francisco to Napa, you’ll have the opportunity to stop along the way – and I recommend you do! If you don’t have your own car, you can rent one from Rentalcars, a rental car company I sincerely recommend.

After leaving the city, your journey will take you through the idyllic Marin County and the quaint town of Sausalito, known for its absolutely stunning charm and outdoor activities.

Stroll along Sausalito’s waterfront, visit charming boutiques, or enjoy a meal at a waterside café.

Continuing on your drive, you’ll reach downtown Napa with its vibrant culinary scene, boutique shops, and lively nightlife.

You’ll love exploring all the Napa Valley wineries, with many tasting rooms and vineyards nearby.

Stop in Yountville, a culinary hub with Michelin-starred restaurants like The French Laundry, the most mouth-watering meal you will ever eat!

Make time for St. Helena, known for its charming Main Street and boutique wineries, you can visit the wineries and then continue on your Napa Valley drive.

And then, your trip can conclude with a relaxing soak in the natural hot springs of Calistoga at the northern end of the valley.💆

Taking a boat from San Francisco to Napa Valley

A boat docked in front of a clock tower in san francisco.

Okay, taking the ferry from San Francisco to Napa Valley is such a cool, unique, and scenic way to visit the Northern California wine country.

Head out from the iconic San Francisco Ferry Building (map), located in downtown San Francisco, where you’ll board the ferry. As you pull away from the dock, you’ll get stunning views of the Bay Bridge and the city skyline!

After about an hour’s ride on the water, you’ll arrive at the Vallejo ferry terminal, a short distance from Napa Valley by bus (see route) or Lyft.

Enjoying a train and bus ride to Napa Valley

You can also take a train and bus to Napa from San Francisco!

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) (see schedule) from San Francisco to the Soscol Gateway Transit Center in Vallejo will get you super close.

From there, you’ll transfer to the Vine Transit bus service (see map & schedule), which operates routes in Napa County.

Shuttle options from San Francisco Airport to Napa Valley

A man is opening the door of a car.

You can also shuttle between San Francisco Airport and Napa!

You’ll love this private shuttle option, which will take you from San Francisco International Airport to Napa in your own private, air-conditioned vehicle.

You also can choose from the Napa Valley Airporter and Evans Airport Shuttle with pickup and drop-off locations at San Francisco International Airport. They both provide transportation to multiple destinations in Napa Valley.

Tour from San Francisco to Napa Valley

a couple walking through a vineyard

Of course, another great option for traveling from San Francisco to Napa Valley is on a guided tour! These tours lead to the heart of Napa Valley, renowned for its world-class wineries.

There is nothing better than sitting back and relaxing, heading over to East Bay, taking in the rolling hills in both Napa and Sonoma, and indulging in the impeccable wine tastings without having to dish out individual wine-tasting fees!

There are tons of options for tours, so I narrowed the best 3 down for you!

Napa & Sonoma wine tour – you’ll love this full-day wine tour that takes you to several rolling vineyards in both Napa & Sonoma. It also includes a stop in the historic town of Sonoma for wine tasting, which is a cool bonus.

PRICE: from US$140 per adult

Private Napa & Sonoma wine tour – this excellent tour is good for up to 6 people, taking you on a private, customized journey visiting Napa Valley.

PRICE: from US$670 per group

Napa Valley tour for wine lovers – this small group guided tour of Napa Valley takes you to a few picturesque Napa wineries for wine tasting and wonderful photo ops!

PRICE: from US$300 per person

Book your Napa Valley guided wine tours

Flying from San Francisco to Napa Valley

a car parked next to an airplane

Another really neat option is flying from San Francisco to Napa Valley!

This typically involves taking a short domestic flight from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Napa County Airport (APC), also known as Napa Valley Airport.

Flights typically cost between US$200 – US$600 round-trip, and the flight takes only 30 – 45 minutes.

Rideshare from San Francisco to Napa Valley

A man and woman are sitting in the back seat of a car.

You also have the option to ride share from San Francisco to Napa; however, I don’t recommend it.

It’s really pricey, like over US$400 round-trip, and you don’t even get a guided tour or wine out of the deal!

If you’re still insisting on the rideshare option, you can download the Uber or Lyft app to your smartphone and set up an account. Make sure your location services are enabled.

Getting around Napa Valley

napa valley train

You have some options for getting around when you visit Napa Valley: car, tour, rideshare, or the famous wine train!

If you’re interested in the Napa Valley Wine Train – I’m a huge fan and say GO FOR IT! Choo choo! 🚂

This awesome adventure includes lunch and a real, authentic locomotive, complete with era-appropriate decor, bellhops, and delicious food and wine.

If you have the time and want to visit wineries, head over to Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, one of the oldest and most historic vineyards in Napa and my personal favorite! Try their Cabernet Sauvignon – it’s what dreams are made of!

I love this Napa winery! But you can find more stunning must-see wineries in our dedicated article.

If you’re smitten with Napa and want to stay overnight, we have a lengthy list of top hotels & areas for you to rest your pretty little head. 👑

🚞 Best transportation option:guided tour
🍷 Best wine tour:full-day Napa & Sonoma wine tour
🤩 Most beautiful winery:Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
💰 Best free activity:Sausalito

Where to stay in San Francisco & Napa Valley

When you visit Napa & San Francisco Bay Area, you can choose to stay in San Francisco for your entire stay, or stay in Napa Valley for a couple of nights as well! I’ve given you the top options for each destination in every price range.

collage of 3 images with a couch next to a large window, bedroom and vintage lounge

Luxury (US$750 and up)

  • Four Seasons Hotel at Embarcadero – this luxury option in downtown San Francisco is all opulence, with bay-view rooms, 5-star service, and impeccable on-site dining.
  • North Block Hotel – located within walking distance to the famous The French Laundry, this hotel has phenomenal, giant bathtubs in every room, lavish king-sized beds, and a crystal clear outdoor swimming pool.

Mid-Range (US$450 – US$600)

  • The Ritz Carlton San Francisco – marble baths, on-site fitness center, and perfect location near Fisherman’s Wharf, this mid-range hotel is everything you’d want in a downtown pad.
  • Archer Hotel Napa – this mid-range option in the heart of Napa oozes wine-country vibes with a stone and wood lobby, intricate in-room decor details, and the most comfortable linens you’ll ever sleep on!

Budget (up to US$300)

  • Chateau Tivoli Bed & Breakfast – everything about this quaint San Francisco B&B is magical, from the decor to the service – you will love staying here!
  • Cambria Hotel Napa Valley – you’ll love this budget option close to the Napa Valley Wine train, with an on-site restaurant, state-of-the-art fitness center, and business center needs, as well.

FAQs about traveling from San Francisco to Napa Valley

couple riding in a car over the golden gate bridge

🚘 Where should I stop between San Francisco and Napa Valley?

Sausalito and Sonoma are all great stops between San Francisco and Napa Valley.

🚢 How do I get from San Francisco to Napa Valley without a car?

Without a car, you can get from San Francisco to Napa Valley by car, tour, train, by air, or by ferry ride.

🌲 Is the drive from San Francisco to Napa Valley pretty?

Yes! The drive from San Francisco to Napa Valley is filled with rolling hills, picturesque vineyards, and bright California sunshine.

🍷 Can you do a day trip to Napa Valley from San Francisco?

Yes! You can definitely make a day trip to Napa Valley from San Francisco, fitting in sightseeing and visiting wineries.


friends in a car on a road trip

There are so many options and modes of transportation to get you from San Francisco to Napa Valley. No matter which one you choose, you’re going to have an amazing time!

Okay, before I let you go, remember that the Bay Area is super busy, so you’re going to want to secure your hotels and activities by booking in advance.

When you get back from your trip, I’d love to hear the details – and exactly how you arrived at Napa from the big city!

Aloha & safe travels,

Hayden G.

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