Planning a trip from San Francisco to Big Sur? If you can, grab a car, choose a self-guided tour of Big Sur and hit the road yourself.
You can rent a car here.
Trust me, nothing tops the thrill of cruising down Highway 1, with the freedom to pull over for impromptu picnics, hikes, scenic selfies, and stretches of stunning coastline.
But rolling through Big Sur on a tour is still a solid plan B.
There is a range of fantastic guided tours that got you covered and you get to see all the iconic sights without the need to navigate.
The most important thing is that you get to experience the wonder of Big Sur, however you choose to get there.
Below are my top picks to help you get from San Francisco to Big Sur and experience its magic.
My Top Pick: San Francisco To Big Sur Tour
Carmel, Monterey and Big Sur Tour
3-Day California Coast Tour: San Francisco to Los Angeles
Best 3 Tours From San Francisco To Big Sur
1. Carmel, Monterey and Big Sur Tour
⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 10 hours | ✅ Book it!
This is a small group tour for up to 4 people. It starts at 8 am at your chosen location and ends there as well.
Since it’s only a 4 people tour you can create your own itinerary or simply follow the recommendations of the guide. It’s a perfect tour for those who want to avoid the hassle of organized bus tours.
You’ll explore Carmel, Monterey and Big Sur in one day.
Keep in mind that it’s a 10 hour tour and food and drinks are not included, so you may want to bring some snacks.
Guest review: “My husband and I are first time visitors to CA and Marciano treated us like royalty on our visit to Big Sur, Carmel, and Monterey! First off, in this time of COVID-19 this is a perfect private tour for those who want to explore the scenery down the Pacific Coast Highway. Our first rest stop (I believe in Santa Clara) had a little food shop. I highly recommend the warm banana nut bread. Marciano was a very attentive guide and even made an unscheduled stop at Pacific Grove. The coastline contained pinkish-purple flowers and the views were stunning! Monterey was a great stop with a walk along the pier where you can hear the seals in the water. I even picked up inexpensive hand crafted jewelry from one of the outside vendors. The town of Carmel was very quaint and the beaches lovely with the bluest water I’ve seen thus far! The views from Bixby Bridge is worth the price of admission! Marciano was the best! He guided us along the way, and was an expert on taking panoramic pictures! I want to also thank Ed who was very responsive in answering all my questions. I highly recommend this tour!” – Tashawna_U (Read more reviews)
2. Private Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur Day Trip from San Francisco
⭐️ RATING: 4,6/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 9 hours | ✅ Book it!
This tour is maximum 6 people. It also includes pick up and drop off at your selected point. You can be picked up rom all locations in San Francisco, Marin or Silicon Valley.
Bottled water and snacks are included in the price.
You’ll see Shark Fin Cove, Monterey, Carmel by the Sea, Bixby Bridge and more.
Guest review: “A great trip from San Francisco to Big Sur in a single day. Pep knew a lot and she was a considerate, interesting guide for adults. My people were complaining about the nasty weather in which we started and ended our trip. But Pep told us that the weather clears out on the shore and she was right. We could admire the breathtaking views Big Sur was offering, and enjoy a delightful lunch at a picturesque little restaurant in Carmel with a stroll after lunch.” – Tamas_H (Read more reviews)
3. 3-Day California Coast Tour: San Francisco to Los Angeles
⭐️ RATING: #/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 3 days | ✅ Book it!
If you have more than just one day to explore Californian coast and want to go from San Francisco to LA, this is the perfect tour for you.
It is a 3 day ONE-WAY trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles. So keep in mind that the return trip is not included in the price, however you can pay a separate $60 fee for a 6 hour drive back to San Francisco.
It is a small group tour, limited to 8 people.
You’ll be picked up from your place in San Francisco.
You’ll get to experience Monterey, Cambria, Hearst Castle, Solvang, Santa Barbara and enjoy the views of Big Sur. You will have free time in each city you visit. You’ll finish the trip with a train ride from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles already pre-booked for you.
Tickets to Monterey Bay Aquarium and Hearst Castle are included as well as 2 nights of accommodation and meals as per itinerary.
Guest review: “Have no words for this beyond superrr experience!! Everything was just perfect ! From our tour guide Adam to alll the beautiful spots we stopped at ! Adam made sure everyone was most comfortable … n had the best time of their lives ! I loved the 17 th mile drive …Carmel .. the drive to Santa Barbara thru Big Sur was truly wonderful … Adam made sure we didn’t miss a thing he stopped at all the spots to take pictures etc .. Both the hotels in Monetary and Cambria were really Niceee!! Adam had already checked us into the hotel before we reached there tooo smooth I must say ! Our train from Santa Barbara to LA was also prebooked by Adam and in our mailbox well in advance !! Kudos to Adam he made it a totally unforgettable experience for us ! It was a small group tour and we were only 5 of us !! It felt like we had hire our own private vehicle!!! Thank you Adam n thank you Viator! I would totally recommend this trip to one and allll 💯” – 455shanus (Read more reviews)
Hopping on a tour is another way to explore Big Sur. If you’re short in time – choose the first tour. If you have 3 days and want to go to Los Angeles as well tour #3 is for you.