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 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.

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 $172. 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. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Big Sur and San Francisco in more detail.



Accommodation

Double occupancy rooms typically run around $264 in Big Sur For nicer amenities and a premiere location, you can expect to pay a bit more.

The prices for places to stay in San Francisco can vary by date, location, and type. Generally, the average cost for accommodation per person is $103, while a typical double-occupancy hotel room for two people will cost around $206.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Big Sur $132
    San Francisco $103
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Big Sur $264
    San Francisco $206

Food

On average, meal and food prices in San Francisco cost around $32 per person, per day. While this price can vary widely by location, the type of restaurant, and the amount of food ordered, a typical meal often costs around $13.


  • 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
  • Lonely Planet Experiences: North Beach & Chinatown Food Tour: $66
  • North Beach and Little Italy Food Tour: $69
  • Mission District Walking Food Tour: $75
  • San Francisco North Beach 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
  • Farmers' Market & Ferry Building Food Tour: $82
  • 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

Local Transportation

San Francisco's transportation costs can vary by the type of transport chosen by visitors. Naturally, taxis and private drivers cost much more than public transportation options. On average, visitors spend $13 per person, per day on transportation in San Francisco.


  • 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
  • Carmel 1-Way Transfer to/from San Francisco Airport: $410
  • 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
  • Private One-Way Airport Transfer: $220

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.





Entertainment

Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in San Francisco can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $37 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.


  • 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-Day Small-Group Napa Valley Tour for Wine Lovers: $209
  • 1-Hour Golden Gate and Lombard GoRide Scooter Tour: $54
  • 1.5-Hour Waterfront Mini Segway Tour: $55
  • 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-Hour San Francisco Bay Happy Hour & Cocktail Cruises: $35

Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages can often be a significant portion of a traveler's budget, and the costs can vary greatly from person to person. In San Francisco, the average amount that a visitor spends on alcoholic beverages per day is $15.


  • 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
  • 3-Hour Pub Crawl in San Francisco: $18
  • San Francisco North Beach Pub Tour: $58
  • San Francisco North Beach Pub Crawl: $60
  • From Tri-Valley Half-Day Wine Tour: $75
  • Half-Day Sonoma Wine Tour: $100
  • San Francisco City & Wine tour: $115
  • Shore Excursion: Napa and Sonoma Ultimate Wine Tasting Experience Full-Day Tour: $135
  • Napa & Sonoma Full-Day Wine Tasting Tour with Optional Lunch: $135
  • Full-Day Muir Woods with Napa and Sonoma Wine Tour: $135
  • Chariot wine tour: $145
  • Viticulture with Charm: Sonoma Valley Wine Tour from San Francisco: $149


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.

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Big Sur vs. San Francisco Travel Comparison

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