A Travel Price Comparison for California Big Sur vs. San Francisco for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Big Sur or San Francisco?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Big Sur and San Francisco can help you decide which place is right for you.

Where Should I go: Big Sur or San Francisco?

Big Sur

Big Sur is the 90-mile stretch of the California Central Coast which runs from the Carmel River in Monterey County south to San Carpoforo Creek in San Luis Obispo County and 20 miles east into the Santa Lucius Foothills.

However you look at it, California's Central Coast is beautiful and undoubtedly a huge tourist trap. If you're not willing to fork over big bucks for overnight stays on coastal hotels, be prepared ahead of time with your camping gear and get ready to go off the beaten track to avoid crowds as best you can and save your wallet.

While the weather in Central Coast is overall, mild and temperate, between 50 and 70 degrees year-round. The highs and lows during the year are in August and January, respectively, with dry summers and wet winters, making April through October the best times to visit but be warned: there will be crowds.

San Francisco

San Francisco is a beautiful city that is famous for it's picturesque neighborhoods, liberal character, and stunning location on the bay. Some people describe San Francisco as the United State's most "European City." This title most likely comes from its compact development and its easy walkability. It also has no shortage of parks and public spaces where you can pass some time. The city sits on the end of a peninsula and offers stunning views of the blue bay, rolling green hills, and the striking Golden Gate Bridge.

Which city is cheaper, San Francisco or Big Sur?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Big Sur is $0.00, while the average daily cost in San Francisco is $175. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Big Sur and San Francisco in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Big Sur $132
    San Francisco $106
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Big Sur $264
    San Francisco $212
Compare Hotels in Big Sur and San Francisco

Looking for a hotel in Big Sur or San Francisco? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Big Sur


Hotels in San Francisco


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Big Sur Hotel Prices and San Francisco Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Big Sur -
    San Francisco $13

Typical Local Transportation prices in San Francisco

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in San Francisco:


  • Taxi to SFO
    $45
  • Golden Gate Bridge Toll
    $6.00
  • Alcatraz Tour
    $30

Hired Cars and Shuttles in San Francisco

Also for San Francisco, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Transfer from San Fransisco City To Carmel-by-the-Sea.: $450
  • Private transfer from SFO to or from Sacramento (SUV): $400
  • Private Airport Transfer From SFO to San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf: $395
  • Private Airport Transfer from SFO To Carmel-by-the-Sea.: $370
  • Napa Valley 1-Way Transfer to/from the San Francisco Airport: $310
  • Private Airport Transfer from SFO to Yountville, Napa Valley: $300
  • Private Airport Transfer From SFO to Napa Valley: $270
  • SFO Roundtrip Airport Hotel Transfer: $267
  • Private Airport Transfer from SFO to Sonoma Valley: $255
  • Private Transfer from SFO to Napa: $235
  • Oakland to San Francisco Downtown Round Trip Chauffeur Driven Airport Transfer: $200
  • Private Airport Transfer from SFO To Walnut Creek.: $200

Is it cheaper to fly into Big Sur or San Francisco?

Prices for flights to both San Francisco and Big Sur change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Big Sur -
    San Francisco $32

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in San Francisco

For San Francisco, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • San Francisco Virtual Food Tour with Local Guide: $15
  • Traveling Spoon Pad Thai and Papaya Salad Private Online Cooking Class: $25
  • Chinatown Walking Food Tour: $75
  • Cooking with Ale: let's make Tiramisu - private groups: $80
  • San Francisco Food Tour: Ferry Building and Ferry Plaza Farmers Market: $80
  • American Cooking Class in San Francisco with a Local near Golden Gate Park: $82
  • San Francisco Chinatown Food Tour: $89
  • Russian Hill Gourmet Food Tour: $97
  • I Can't Believe I Ate My Way Through Chinatown - Food Tour: $98
  • Mamaz Social Food Arepa Class and Dinner: $100
  • Private Tour: Secret Food Tours San Francisco: $103
  • Hayes Valley Gourmet Food Tour: $108

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Big Sur -
    San Francisco $37

Tours and Activities in San Francisco

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for San Francisco.

  • 1 Day Hop-On Hop-Off Tour: $55
  • 1-Hour Golden Gate and Lombard GoRide Scooter Tour: $54
  • 1HR San Francisco Chinatown and Downtown GoCar Tour: $71
  • 2 Day Hop-On Hop-Off Tour: $79
  • 2-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Tour & Alcatraz: $150
  • 2-Day Muir Woods and Wine Country Tour from San Francisco: $569
  • 2-Day San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour + Night Tour: $79
  • 2-Day Yosemite National Park Tour from San Francisco: $499
  • 2-Day Yosemite National Park Winter Tour from San Francisco: $589
  • 2-day Monterey & Yosemite Small Group Tour from San Francisco: $495
  • 2HR Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard Loop GoCar Tour: $131
  • 2HR Golden Gate Bridge and Presidio GoRide Scooter Tour: $82

For more ideas for your next trip, check out The Best Museums in San Francisco, The Best Outdoor Activities in San Francisco, and Things to Do In San Francisco on a Rainy Day.


Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Big Sur -
    San Francisco $15

Sample the Local Flavors in San Francisco

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in San Francisco:

  • San Francisco Bar Hunt: Soul of San Francisco Bar Crawl: $12
  • San Francisco North Beach Pub Crawl: $60
  • Wine Tasting on the Bay: $70
  • Half-Day Sonoma Wine Tour: $100
  • Shore Excursion: Napa and Sonoma Ultimate Wine Tasting Experience Full-Day Tour: $135
  • San Francisco City & Wine tour: $140
  • Chariot wine tour: $145
  • From Full-Day Sonoma Valley Wine Tour: $149
  • Viticulture with Charm: Sonoma Valley Wine Tour from San Francisco: $149
  • Small Group Redwoods and Wine Country Trip Including Wine Tasting and Cave Tour: $152
  • Small Group Muir Woods with Napa & Sonoma Wine Tour: $169
  • The Perfect Blend: Napa and Sonoma Combo Wine Tour from San Francisco: $169


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Big Sur and San Francisco, we can see that San Francisco is more expensive. And not only is Big Sur much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Big Sur would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Big Sur and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in San Francisco would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in San Francisco than you might in Big Sur.


When is the best time to visit Big Sur or San Francisco?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Big Sur or San Francisco in the Summer?

Both San Francisco and Big Sur are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. Also, many travelers come to San Francisco for the beaches, the hiking, the city activities, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences.


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Big Sur is around the same temperature as San Francisco in the summer. The temperature in Big Sur is usually 63°F (17°C) in July, and San Francisco stays around 63°F (17°C).

In July, Big Sur usually receives less rain than San Francisco. Big Sur gets 0 inches (1 mm) of rain, while San Francisco receives 0.1 inches (2 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Big Sur 63°F (17°C) 
    San Francisco 63°F (17°C)

Should I visit Big Sur or San Francisco in the Autumn?

Both San Francisco and Big Sur during the autumn are popular places to visit. Furthermore, many visitors come to San Francisco in the autumn for the hiking trails, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area.


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In the autumn, Big Sur is around the same temperature as San Francisco. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Big Sur in October are around 62°F (17°C), and San Francisco is about 63°F (17°C).

Big Sur usually gets less rain in October than San Francisco. Big Sur gets 0.6 inches (14 mm) of rain, while San Francisco receives 1.3 inches (33 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Big Sur 62°F (17°C) 
    San Francisco 63°F (17°C)

Should I visit Big Sur or San Francisco in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Big Sur and San Francisco. Furthermore, most visitors come to San Francisco for the museums, the shopping scene, the theater shows, and the cuisine during these months.


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In January, Big Sur is generally around the same temperature as San Francisco. Temperatures in Big Sur average around 51°F (11°C), and San Francisco stays around 50°F (10°C).

In January, Big Sur usually receives less rain than San Francisco. Big Sur gets 2.3 inches (58 mm) of rain, while San Francisco receives 3.8 inches (96 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Big Sur 51°F (11°C) 
    San Francisco 50°F (10°C)

Should I visit Big Sur or San Francisco in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Big Sur as well as San Francisco. Additionally, the spring months attract visitors to San Francisco because of the beaches, the activities around the city, and the natural beauty.


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Big Sur is around the same temperature as San Francisco in the spring. The temperature in Big Sur is usually 56°F (13°C) in April, and San Francisco stays around 58°F (14°C).

Big Sur usually gets less rain in April than San Francisco. Big Sur gets 1.1 inches (29 mm) of rain, while San Francisco receives 1.2 inches (31 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Big Sur 56°F (13°C) 
    San Francisco 58°F (14°C)

Typical Weather for San Francisco and Big Sur

Big Sur San Francisco
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 51°F (11°C) 2.3 inches (58 mm) 50°F (10°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm)
Feb 53°F (12°C) 1.8 inches (47 mm) 54°F (12°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
Mar 54°F (12°C) 2.1 inches (55 mm) 56°F (13°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
Apr 56°F (13°C) 1.1 inches (29 mm) 58°F (14°C) 1.2 inches (31 mm)
May 59°F (15°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm) 60°F (15°C) 0.2 inches (5 mm)
Jun 62°F (16°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 62°F (17°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm)
Jul 63°F (17°C) 0 inches (1 mm) 63°F (17°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm)
Aug 64°F (18°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 64°F (18°C) 0.1 inches (1 mm)
Sep 64°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (6 mm) 66°F (19°C) 0.3 inches (7 mm)
Oct 62°F (17°C) 0.6 inches (14 mm) 63°F (17°C) 1.3 inches (33 mm)
Nov 56°F (13°C) 1.8 inches (45 mm) 57°F (14°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm)
Dec 51°F (10°C) 2 inches (51 mm) 51°F (11°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm)


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Big Sur vs. San Francisco Travel Comparison

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