San Francisco airport (SFO) is located just 29 miles from Oakland airport (OAK). But the two airport are located across the bay from one another, with a whole lot of water in between. There are no flights between these two CA airports so if you need to make a transfer, you’ll have to use ground transportation.
You can do this transfer several different ways and how you do it is dependent upon how much time or money you have to spend. We are here to help you with 4 practical ways to get from San Francisco airport to Oakland airport. And there is one way that we will mention, but that we don’t recommend.
If you are actually searching for how do do the reverse transfer, we have a different article on how to get from OAK to SFO. The advice is similar, but the individual airport logistics are very different.
Where to Catch Ground Transportation at SFO
San Francisco Airport is very large. It has a Byzantine ground transportation system and their interactive map doesn’t help much. So it’s best to decide in advance what sort of ground transportation you want to take from San Francisco airport to Oakland airport. Then, pay careful attention to the signage when you exit the arrivals area.
Here’s a cheat sheet for you:
There is one BART station. It’s located at the International Terminal. You can access it from any terminal by taking the free SFO AirTrain, which goes between the terminals. There is a Red Line and a Blue Line and either will work.
Rental Car Center
SFO has an offsite rental car center. You can get to it by taking the free SFO AirTrain. Be sure to take the Blue Line.
Shared Shuttle Services
Shared shuttle services pick up and drop off at the center island of arrivals for all terminals.
Pre-booked van service (more on that below), pick up in Courtyards 1 & 4 for Terminals 1 & 3, and at Courtyards A & G for the International Terminal.
You can catch a taxi in the “taxi zone” in the center island of the arrivals area at all terminals.
Uber & Lyft
Here’s where it gets really weird.
SFO does not allow a curbside pick-up from the arrivals area at Terminals 2 and 3. You’ll need to follow the signs that say “Ride App Pick-up” (not “Shared Ride Van”, that’s something different). These signs will direct you to the top deck of the short term parking garage, because of course, that’s the most sensible place to catch an Uber.
The international terminal has a more logical pick-up and drop-off in the center island of the upstairs departures area.
What’s the Fastest Way to Get From San Francisco Airport to Oakland Airport?
The fastest way to get from SFO to OAK is a taxi or Uber/Lyft. The route is 29 miles across the bay and will take 35 minutes (or up to 55 during rush hour). This is a good option if you’re in a hurry or have a lot of luggage.
Here are the rough costs for each:
- SFO to OAK using Uber: $55-65, using their estimator. But their unpredictable surge pricing will be more.
- Using LYFT: $65-70 using their estimator.
- To SFO by taxi: ~$100
Even though it’s more expensive, don’t rule out using a taxi to get to OAK. If you’re stressed about a tight connection, minutes matter. The taxi stand is located right outside of the baggage claim and there are nearly always taxis lurking around. For the ride apps, you need to get to the parking garage, then request and wait for a ride, which takes time during rush hour or if you are getting in very early or late.
What’s the Cheapest Way to Get from SFO to OAK?
The cheapest way to get between the two airport is on the Bart subway, but it will require two transfers. Take the Bart airport train to Daly City, then transfer to the green North Berryessa/San Jose line. Get out at the Coliseum stop and transfer to the OAK airport line.
The ride will take ~1:10, but you should build in an extra :30 of buffer time because the airport line runs less frequently than other Bart services. The ride will cost ~$17. You’ll need to purchase a Clipper Card for an additional $3. Alternatively, you can save the $3 and load the Clipper card onto your Apple or Google pay accounts, using these instructions.
This is a good solution for someone on a budget who is traveling alone. But if there are two or more people in your party, an Uber/Lyft would be the better option. Bart runs from 5am to midnight (and less frequently after 9pm and on weekends), so if you need to transfer outside of those hours, a taxi/Uber or shuttle would be better.
Is There a Shuttle to OAK?
Yes. You can pre-schedule the ABC Shuttle service or United. They offer a point-to-point service between SFO and OAK. At ~$100, it’s certainly not the cheapest option. And while you will likely have the van to yourself, it’s possible that you will need to share it with strangers.
One benefit of the shuttle service is that they start as early at 3am, which is well outside of the hours for public transportation. It can also work well if you have a large group.
Can I Take a Public Bus Between SFO and OAK?
In theory- but we don’t recommend it. It would require multiple transfers between three different bus services– and it would take forever.
An Out of the Box Way to Get Between the Two Airports
How about renting a car and driving yourself between the two airports?
This can work particularly well if you have a really long layover. Renting a car gives you control over your transfer and you can spend your layover doing something fun (like taking a nice walk in SF before getting back into a plane).
We spot-checked cost and availability and rental prices ranged from $65-114.
Renting a car does take more time to sort out paperwork at the rental counter. But if you are in a preferred customer program like Budget Fastbreak or Avis Preferred, you can breeze through. The SFO rental car center is located offsite and you can get to it on the Airtrain.
Airport Hotels for Overnight Stays
In case you have to do an overnight, here are a few options that are near either OAK or SFO.
- SFO Grand Hyatt: Nice lux hotel literally located at the airport with access to the terminals via Airtrain.
- SFO Hampton Inn: Well-rated and serviceable 3-star hotel with free breakfast and free shuttle service.
- OAK Holiday Inn: Well-rated and serviceable 3-star hotel with a pool and restaurant/bar.