TL;DR: Driving your own car via the coastal route is the easiest way to reach Napa Valley in about 90 minutes. You can also take a ferry across the bay and connect to a bus if you don’t have a car, though the public transit option takes almost twice as long.
If the chilly San Francisco fog is getting you down, escape to the sunshine and glamor of Northern California wine country in Napa Valley– if only for one day.
The Napa region is home to rolling vineyards and some of the most famous wineries and restaurants in California, and it’s close enough to San Francisco to visit on a day trip or for a weekend.
Whether you’re planning to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge for a self-guided day of visiting wineries, prefer the views of the San Francisco Bay from a boat, or plan to take one of the guided wine tours, I’ve found the best ways to get from San Francisco to Napa Valley.
How Far is Napa Valley From San Francisco?
The distance from San Francisco to Napa Valley is 50 miles, which takes about an hour and a half to drive, depending on traffic.
Napa Valley is a region in Napa County that encompasses the towns of Calistoga, St. Helena, Yountville, Napa, and American Canyon.
Napa is at the south end of the valley, and Calistoga is the furthest town in the north.
Calistoga is 75 miles from San Francisco, which takes about an hour and 45 minutes to drive.
How Do You Get From San Francisco to Napa Valley?
There are several ways to get from San Francisco to wine country.
The most popular way is to drive, but you can also get there by light rail and bus, by taking a guided tour, or (at least for part of the way) by boat.
How Do You Get From SFO to Napa Valley?
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is south of downtown. You can connect to the rest of the Bay Area and beyond by taking Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) trains and buses, including Napa.
Alternatively, you can pick up a rental car from San Francisco Airport and drive yourself to wine country.
It’s also easy to book a rideshare from Lyft or Uber from the airport.
Driving to Napa Valley
Driving is the easiest way to get to Napa. It’s faster than public transport, and you can make your itinerary yourself, stopping whenever you like.
Napa is north of San Francisco, with the San Francisco Bay in between. You can take the east route or the west route to Napa, which both take about the same time.
I prefer the west route, which is the San Francisco to Napa Valley scenic drive and includes a trip over the Golden Gate Bridge. However, traffic can be a factor, so you may want to decide on the day of your trip.
Join Highway 101 heading north for the western route and drive over the Golden Gate Bridge. There is no toll to cross the bridge northbound.
Continue north through Mill Valley and San Rafael before taking Highway 37 east to connect with Highway 121.
At the junction between Highway 121 and 29, turn north toward Napa. Highway 29 will take you all the way through the rolling hills of beautiful Napa Valley.
The eastern route is often full of traffic on race days at Sonoma Raceway. Alternatively, cross to the East Bay over the Bay Bridge on Highway 80.
While it’s not as much of a scenic route, taking the Bay Bridge means you get to pass through the East Bay cities of Oakland and Berkeley.
Stay on Highway 80 through Vallejo, where you’ll see a sign reading 37 Napa/Novato – Auto Mall Columbus Parkway. Take the exit, then look for a sign for Highway 29 to Napa.
After that, you’ll have two options: stay on Highway 29 or take Highway 221 to get to Napa.
Both are scenic routes, so you can make a call based on traffic conditions or if you want to stop at specific wineries (Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Clos du Val, and Silverado Vineyards are along Highway 221).
If you want to turn the San Francisco to Napa Valley drive into a Napa Valley road trip from San Francisco, you could make stops along the way at the Golden Gate Bridge View Point, Sausalito, Muir Woods, and Sonoma.
Getting From San Francisco to Napa Valley Without a Car
If you don’t have your own car, you have a few options to get to Napa.
Buses to Napa Valley from San Francisco
Take the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) from San Francisco on the Richmond line. Get off at El Cerrito del Norte Station and transfer to the number 29 Redwood Park and Ride Vine Bus, which will take you up to Napa.
In total, this route takes about two hours. Note that it’s only available on weekdays, as BART is more for commuters than tourists.
Another train/bus option is to take the Amtrak train on the San Joaquins line from Oakland to Martinez, where you can jump on an Amtrak Thruway Bus Route 7 to Soscol Gateway Transit Center in downtown Napa.
You’ll need to get BART from downtown to Oakland, so this route involves three changes. It does run seven days a week, however.
Unfortunately, there is no direct train to Napa from San Francisco.
San Francisco to Napa by Boat
Buses and trains are not your only option for getting from San Francisco to Napa– you can also take a ferry across the bay.
This route starts from the San Franciso Ferry Building at the Embarcadero. Take the Vallejo Ferry from Gate E and enjoy views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and the Bay Bridge on your hour-long trip in the fresh air.
Once you land at the Vallejo Ferry Terminal, you can hop on a Vine bus to downtown Napa at the Vallejo Transit Center, just a block away.
The bus takes another hour and a half to get to downtown Napa.
Uber/Lyft from San Francisco
Ride shares are everywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area, so this is an easy way to get to wine country if you don’t have a car.
The cost will be around $100 in an Uber or Lyft, and higher if it’s a popular time of day or you opt for one of the premium ride options.
Although $200 is a lot to pay for a round trip, it will save time compared to public transit.
You also have the freedom to go wine tasting and not worry about who will be the designated driver.
There is one downside to this plan, and that’s getting back. Finding an Uber or Lyft in San Francisco is no problem, but tracking one down in downtown Napa could be trickier. Expect a longer wait for your ride back to the city.
San Francisco to Napa Valley Shuttle
Instead of a rideshare service, consider a private transportation option like booking a taxi, limousine services, or a chartered shuttle.
This way, you are guaranteed a ride back at the end of the day.
Pre-book a private transfer from San Francisco International Airport in an SUV (up to seven passengers) or a comfortable sedan (up to four).
Napa Valley Tours That Leave From San Francisco
The easiest way to get around Napa Valley from San Francisco is on a guided Napa Valley wine tour. The tour will pick you up from your San Francisco hotel, drive you to Napa Valley, and take you to the most popular wineries for wine tastings.
By taking a tour, you don’t need a designated driver and don’t have the hassle of renting a car.
On this six-hour private limousine tour, they will chauffeur you from your hotel in San Francisco to the best Napa Valley wineries, including Castello di Amorosa, Domaine Carneros, and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.
You can also set your own itinerary on a customized six-hour SUV tour for groups of up to six.
If you’re not visiting Napa Valley as part of a group, join a small-group tour for wine tasting instead.
On this full-day excursion, hop on a luxury coach from downtown San Francisco to visit three wineries and Sonoma Plaza for lunch.
Flying to Napa From San Francisco
There are two airports nearby Napa: Sonoma Airport and Napa County Airport (often called Napa Valley Airport.)
Charles M. Schultz Sonoma County Airport (STS), to give its full name, is located in Santa Rosa, 30 miles northwest of Napa. There are no direct flights from San Francisco, as it’s a very close distance.
Napa County Airport has no commercial flights, but you can land in your own aircraft or charter a flight.
Read our complete guide for more information on the closest airports to Napa Valley.
How to Get Around Napa Once You’re There
The Napa Valley region is easy to get around once you arrive. If you’re driving, it takes about 40 minutes to go north on Silverado Trail or Highway 29 to the spa town of Calistoga.
If you’re not taking your own car, you have several options to explore Napa Valley.
Options for Getting Around Napa Without a Car
Napa Valley Wine Trolley
The Napa Valley Wine Trolley is a unique Napa Valley wine tour. Ride in a hand-built replica of a California Street cable car to visit wine-tasting rooms where you can sample delicious Napa wines.
The six-hour guided tour picks up guests from downtown Napa and visits three wineries for wine tasting. The tour includes lunch, but wine-tasting fees are extra.
Expect to pay around $30-$40 per tasting. Or, if you decide to visit the picturesque Castello di Amorosa for a seated tasting, be prepared to pay around $60 per person.
Napa Valley Wine Train
The Napa Valley Wine Train is a historic, restored train that runs in a 36-mile loop between downtown Napa and St Helena, stopping at wineries along the way.
It goes above and beyond the standard wine tours– you will also be treated to a four-course meal in a luxury, vintage setting as you glide past the lush vineyards of California’s wine country.
Another great way to get around Napa is to take one of the many group wine tours available.
If you prefer to get around on your own, rent an e-bike and enjoy the fresh air on your tour of wine country.
You can find Uber and Lyft drivers in Napa who will take you to the surrounding wineries.
However, while cell service is fine in Napa, you may have trouble connecting to the app as you travel further into the valley.
Napa Valley Public Transportation
The Vine bus operates throughout the Napa region, connecting the cities of Napa with Yountville, St Helena, and Calistoga. The primary public transit hub for all bus routes is Soscol Gateway Transit Center in downtown Napa.
Although the bus does not stop at wineries like a wine tour, you could use it to travel to vineyards close to St Helena or Calistoga from your base in Napa.
If you plan to visit a Napa winery without taking guided tours, you may need to make a reservation ahead of time, as most wineries do not admit walk-ins.
FAQs About Getting to Napa from San Francisco
How long is the ferry ride from San Francisco to Napa Valley?
The ferry ride from the San Francisco Ferry Building to Vallejo Ferry Terminal takes about one hour.
You will also need to factor in the bus ride from the ferry terminal to Napa, which takes roughly 1.5 hours.
Can you make a day trip to Napa from San Francisco?
Yes, going on a day trip to Napa is a popular excursion from San Francisco. Many guided tours offer six-hour trips into Napa to visit wineries, or you could drive and create your own itinerary.
Is there a train that goes from San Francisco to Napa Valley?
Unfortunately, no. It would be amazing, but there is no direct way to go from San Francisco to Napa Valley by train.
However, the San Joaquins Amtrak route from Oakland stops at Martinez, which is close. Take an Amtrak Thruway Bus Route 7 three stops from Martinez to Soscol Gateway Transit Center in downtown Napa.
How much is an Uber from San Francisco to Napa Valley?
The cost of a rideshare to Napa depends on the time of day and other factors. But, in general, an Uber would cost around $100 to go from San Francisco to Napa.
Is Napa Valley worth visiting?
If you enjoy wine tasting, Napa Valley is one of the premier wine regions in the world, and you shouldn’t miss it.
But both Napa and the surrounding towns are worth visiting, even if you’re not a wine enthusiast. The Mediterranean climate, rolling hills, and vibrant towns make this region a draw for tourists from all over the world.
Instead of a wine tour, enjoy a meal at one of the many top-notch restaurants, take a dip in Calistoga’s hot springs, hike trails through lush redwoods, or take to the skies in a hot air balloon.
How much is the shuttle that goes from SFO to Napa?
No single-rider airport shuttles are available from SFO to Napa, but you can book a private transfer for your group.
What airport do you fly into for Napa Valley?
For international flights, most people fly into San Francisco International Airport or Oakland International Airport.
However, Sacramento International Airport is also nearby and has some international flights from Mexico, so it’s also worth considering.
For domestic flights, you can fly into any of the above, plus the Sonoma Airport. You can breeze through this small, regional airport quickly, and it has a lot of connections to West Coast cities.
How far are the Napa wineries from San Francisco?
Most Napa wineries are between 60 and 90 miles from San Francisco, which takes between 1.5 and two hours to drive.
What is the best way to get around Napa Valley?
The easiest way to get around Napa is by car or on a tour. If you drive, you have the freedom to stop and visit wineries whenever you like.
However, you obviously cannot drink and drive, so you won’t be able to drink at those wine tastings. A guided tour would solve this issue, allowing you to visit Napa without getting behind the wheel.
While you can visit Napa on public transit, getting there may take twice as long. There are also a few changes to make, so if you’re only visiting San Francisco and are not familiar with the area’s public transportation (or lack thereof), I wouldn’t recommend it.
Having said that, public transportation is the most economical way to get to Napa, especially if traveling alone.
You could get there for just over $20 instead of the $100+ cost of renting a car, taking a tour, or getting private transportation.
If you visit Napa by public transit, it will be easier to stick to the tasting rooms around Napa, or limit yourself to one or two wineries, rather than heading out to hop the wineries in the valley.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah McDonald is a travel writer based in the Bay Area. She writes for the national parenting website Red Tricycle and on her own family travel blog, Tiny Trailblazers. She loves exploring California’s outdoors and has a weakness for a national park gift shop.
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