Getting there & away
Ferries are the slowest and most expensive, but undoubtedly the most enjoyable, way of traveling between San Francisco and Oakland. From San Francisco’s Ferry Building, the Alameda-Oakland ferry (510-522-3300) sails to Jack London Sq about 12 times a day on weekdays and six to nine times a day on weekends. The trip takes about 30 minutes, and the one-way fare is $5.50; buy tickets onboard. Ferry tickets include a free transfer, which you can use on AC Transit buses from Jack London Sq.
Regional company AC Transit (510-839-2882) runs convenient buses from San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal, at Mission and 1st Sts, to downtown Oakland and Berkeley and between the two East Bay cities. A score of buses go to Oakland from San Francisco during commute hours (fares $3.50), but only the ‘O’ line runs both ways all day and on weekends; you can catch the ‘O’ line at the corner of 5th and Washington Sts in downtown Oakland.
If you are out late at night and want to get between San Francisco and Oakland, the ‘A’ line runs hourly between the Transbay Terminal and the corner of 14th St and Broadway.
Between Berkeley and downtown Oakland (fares $1.50) take bus 15, which runs via Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, or bus 40, which travels along Telegraph Ave between the two city centers. Bus 51, which runs along Broadway in Oakland and then along College Ave in Berkeley, is less direct but has some handy stops, including Rockridge, the UC Berkeley campus and the Berkeley Marina.
Greyhound (510-834-3213; 2103 San Pablo Ave) operates direct buses from Oakland to Vallejo, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Rosa and Sacramento (the San Francisco terminal has many more direct-service options). The station is pretty seedy.
From San Francisco by car, cross the Bay Bridge and enter Oakland via one of two ways: I-580, which leads to I-980 and drops you near the City Center; or I-880, which curves through West Oakland and lets you off near the south end of Broadway. I-880 then continues to the coliseum, the Oakland International Airport and, eventually, San Jose.
Oakland is a regular stop for Amtrak trains operating up and down the coast. From Oakland’s Amtrak station (510-238-4306; 245 2nd St) in Jack London Sq, you can catch AC Transit bus 58, 72 or 73 to downtown Oakland, or take a ferry across the bay to San Francisco.
Amtrak passengers with reservations on to San Francisco need to disembark at the Emeryville Amtrak station (510-450-1081; 5885 Landregan St), one stop prior to Oakland. From there, an Amtrak bus will shuttle you to San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal.
Oakland International Airport (510-563-3300; www.flyoakland.com) is directly across the bay from San Francisco International Airport. Arriving in or departing from the Bay Area through smaller Oakland can make good sense, as it’s usually less crowded. Note that Southwest Airlines flies into Oakland, not San Francisco.