SFO vs. OAK – Which Bay Area Airport Should You Choose?


When you are visiting San Francisco, you have two main options available to you. One is to go to San Francisco International Airport, which is located south of the downtown area, and the other is to go to OAK, or Oakland International Airport across the Bay.

Which one is best to go to? Does it matter? When visiting San Francisco you want your trip to be as stress-free as possible, which is why we have created this easy guide to help you settle the SFO vs OAK debate once and for all.

San Francisco (SFO)

The San Francisco Airport serves the international community, so if you are traveling to San Francisco from out of the USA, this is the airport you will likely be flying in and out from. It is located just 13 miles south of the downtown area, and though it has three main terminals, it is easy to get around, as you can tell from looking at the SFO Airport Map.

This airport is a major gateway to those in Europe and Asia, and also serves domestic flights. Some of the benefits of flying into and out of the SFO airport include:

Great to Get You to the Downtown Area

Our E-Z location in San Francisco is conveniently located just a short shuttle ride from the SFO airport, meaning you can easily get to the downtown area of San Francisco or to your hotel direct. It typically takes less than 30 minutes to drive. When visiting San Francisco and the surrounding area, renting a car is a must.

Great Airport Features

On top of a great location, the airport itself has some great features to help keep you happy and entertained while you wait for your flight. Every airport has shopping and restaurants nowadays, but SFO also features:

Spa and Baths

You can take a shower for thirty minutes here, or you can get pampered at a spa. This is the best way to travel fully relaxed and pampered.


Enjoy yoga while you wait for your flight.

The Wag Brigade

American airports have begun to trial therapy dogs as part of their services to the public, and SFO is one of them. The Wag Brigade is a team of therapy dogs that you can pet while you are waiting for a flight.

Rotating Art Exhibits

Spend time while waiting for your flight by enjoying the art exhibits spread throughout the terminals. They rotate so that there is always something new to look at.

Oakland (OAK)

On the other side of the bay is OAK Airport, or Oakland International Airport. This airport is located 10 miles south of Oakland and can be used by travelers to San Francisco. This is the smaller airport, and getting from OAK to San Francisco can be a hassle. Though we don’t have a location at this airport, you wouldn’t want to drive from here anyway, as the traffic on the Bay Bridge is notorious.

Less Chance of Flight Delays Due to Weather

The plus that works in OAK airport’s favor is that it is plagued by less foggy weather that San Francisco is known for. That being said, they are also less prepared for delays.

Rotating Art Exhibits

Like SFO, OAK also has rotating art exhibits.

Convenient if Staying In Oakland

If you are saving money on your visit to San Francisco by staying at a location in Oakland, then OAK airport can be ideal.


Flying into the San Francisco area depends on many factors.

Not Much Difference in Price

Though the assumption is that it is cheaper to fly to OAK, this isn’t often the case. The price difference might be only a few dollars, rather than the hundreds in savings you were hoping for. These are generalizations, however. You might find a great deal flying to OAK, or be surprised by a great deal flying to SFO. If budget is your concern, always check both and try to be flexible on which specific dates you fly out on.

Each Approx. 30 Minutes Away from San Francisco Downtown

Without traffic, it takes approximately the same amount of time to drive to the downtown area of San Francisco. As noted before, however, the Bay Bridge can and does back up quite often with traffic, especially during rush hour.

San Francisco is a great place to explore, but with its notorious hills, you will want to rely on either public transport or on a rented vehicle of your own. By renting a vehicle with us from SFO, you will be able to enjoy so much more of the area, like visiting Sequoia National Park.

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