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Book a holiday to San Francisco and you can spend time in one of the most distinctive cities the United States has to offer. Perched on the hilly northern end of the San Francisco Peninsula, this densely populated city is famous for its cable cars, iconic bridge, and bustling Chinatown district. With so much to see and do in the city and its surrounding area, one of the best ways to get around is by car.

Hiring a Car at San Francisco International Airport

San Francisco has its own international airport, which is about 30 minutes by car from the city centre. If you are coming into the city via this airport, you will find it easy to pick up your rental vehicle here. Several car hire agencies operate at the airport, including Budget, Avis and Thrifty; for more convenience, book your vehicle in advance, which you can do by using the Expedia search tool.

You should also find it straightforward to hire a car at the nearby airports of Oakland International and Mineta San José International, although the drive from these will take longer.

Hiring a Car in San Francisco

If it’s inconvenient for you to hire a car at the airport, it might suit you to pick up your rental vehicle once you have arrived in the city. You’ll find many of the city’s car rental agencies located in the northeast, close to popular tourist attractions such as Union Square and Chinatown. Hiring a car in San Francisco city centre can be wise if you only require a vehicle for a few days, or if you are moving on elsewhere instead of returning to the airport.

Getting Around by Car in San Francisco

Having a car in San Francisco gives you the freedom to explore the city at your own pace, get out to remote attractions, and take day trips to neighbouring cities and towns. Just bear in mind that since San Francisco is a busy city built on steep hillsides, there can be traffic and the roads can sometimes be tricky to navigate.

It can be a good idea to book accommodation that provides you with a parking space for the entirety of your trip, too, and spare yourself the trouble of looking for a parking space in the city. When you aren’t using your vehicle, you can hop on the city’s public transport network.

Things to See and Do in San Francisco

There are numerous attractions to keep you busy while you’re in San Francisco, the most famous being the Golden Gate Bridge, which connects the city with the beautiful Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Alcatraz Island, home to a historic former prison, is also a big hit with tourists and there are various ferries that will take you to this attraction (so you don't have to swim there, you'll be pleased to hear!). To make the most of your rental vehicle, though, drive south to San Pedro Valley Park (a 30-minute journey by car) or east to the vibrant city of Oakland.

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