San Francisco – best views to take a picture

 San Francisco – best views to take a picture

San Francisco, can you get any bad shots of this amazing city? It doesn’t seem likely with postcard views from every angle along the many hillsides, coastline or bay front offering dynamic views of San Francisco and the entire Bay Area. There is no shortage of scenic spots around the city with some incredible view to enjoy and photograph. Sometimes the best part of seeing something spectacular around the city is when you discover these views just by accident. But if you really want to get the best views to take a picture in San Francisco you have to go to these scenic spots and get your cameras ready to capture some of those amazing photos.



Best Place to photograh in San Francisco

Best Place to photograph in San Francisco

Killer views around San Francisco

Even scenic vistas looking into the city from a close distance like Treasure island, will present San Francisco at its best with a panoramic skyline, iconic city attractions and its stunning bay front. Below is a shot from Treasure island from the Bay Bridge looking into downtown San Francisco and a scenic bay front view from the Treasure Island.



San Francisco bay bridge scenic image



San Francisco

Ah yes, another beautiful sunny day in San Francisco

San Francisco panorama

Nothing beats climbing up one of the city’s many hills for the views. Photographing the city from any of the scenic hillsides on Twin Peaks, Bernal or Corona heights or even from Dolores park will offer breath-taking panoramas of the entire city. You’re bound to get postcard perfect views and gorgeous captures (except on foggy days) when you  explore any of the hill-top vista points in the city. Spend some time enjoying the views first when you arrive, and then scout the area and frame the shots that you want to highlight. A little time spent working on your composition, angles and camera technique will guarantee better results. When you take the time to enjoy and see all the details around the landscape, you’ll have a better overall experience and this usually translates into a better photograph that tells its own complete story.


San Francisco panorama

San Francisco panorama





Panoramic view from Dolores park

Panoramic view from Dolores park

Sunris or Sunsets in San Francisco

Preparing early for sunrise or sunset photography can lead to exquisite and dramatic images, it’s worth the effort in getting to a scene ahead of time.  Researching and planning ahead for ideal places that capture the ‘golden hour’ with beautiful light is always the ideal situation. On a clear day, sunrises forming directly east and behind the city skyline creates a dazzling and golden light illuminating the entire city. Sunsets overlooking the Golden Gate bridge, or the coastal areas around Lands End to Ocean beach affords gorgeous views during the twilight hours.

The result of spending some time in the right place during the golden hour with iconic landmarks, cityscapes or panorama are definitely worth the effort in arriving ahead of schedule. Below are examples of sunrise and sunset shots in various locations around the city.


San Francisco sunrise landscape, California


San Francisco bridge views

What’s a shot of San Francisco without one of its iconic bridges included into the mix? You can’t go wrong with any shots with the Golden Gate or Bay Bridge with skyline views of the city, the challenge is in trying to create a unique  or different approach with your own perspective and presentation.  Maybe capturing an image of the bridges during sunrise or sunset will convey a different mood to the city that you may want to express in your photographs. Sunset is a magical timeframe to be outside and walk along the city’s bay front area to capture some magical shots. Here’s a photo below of the Golden Gate bridge at Crissy Fields in the Marina district.


Sunset Golden Gate

Sunset Golden Gate

It seems like the city has no bad places to take a photograph especially when you see it from different angles and directions. All the iconic vistas are easy to spot along the city’s amazing skyline when you take it from a distance or with panorama shots.  Where to find inspiration? Try one of the many vista points of the city, on a hill, in a skyscrapers, or even along the bay front with magnificent views of the city and bay front. You’ll always be inspired if you take a little effort to visit the city and look at it from different vantage points, experiment, or use different camera techniques. The killer views will always be there for you to worth your magic!

Do you have any other ideas or places to take an incredible shot of San Francisco or the Bay Area? Please share with us in the comment section below.

Best places to photograph series

If you enjoyed this post, please check out my other best places to photograph series from around the world.

Best places to photograph Budapest, Hungary

Best Places to photograph in Sedona, Arizona

Best places for views and photograph Tokyo, Japan

Best places to visit and photograph Girona, Spain

15 Stunning views of Prague

The most photo worthy spots in Split, Croatia



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22 Responses to San Francisco – best views to take a picture

  1. Nik From Oz February 10, 2015 at 6:09 pm #

    Beautiful and informative website Noel.

    I have been lucky enough to be given a months work in San Francisco. Being a super keen photographer, I found your site and found the Tips for photographing SF very enlightening.

    Perhaps we could meet up sometime during my stay for a a bit of a walkabout and some photography?
    I’ll be there most of March and the beginning of April when my spouse will also be joining me.

    • Noel February 10, 2015 at 6:19 pm #

      Thanks but I’m off to Hawaii for a few months for a variety of events, so I won’t be able to meet, have a fantastic time in the city!

  2. Penny June 29, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    Great shots Noel. Really beautiful. If you are ever in Dallas, I’d love to connect on a photo walk.

    • Noel June 29, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

      Hey Penny, maybe we can connect someday in a really exotic destination!

      • Penny June 30, 2013 at 2:19 am #

        That would not be Dallas. 🙂 but yes it would be fun to meet up,

  3. Leigh McAdam (@hikebiketravel) June 29, 2013 at 5:00 am #

    Love each and every one of your photographs. I think the variety of angles and the different times of the day make the photos stand out. Great blog you’ve got and now my first time visiting.

  4. The Tablescaper June 27, 2013 at 1:03 am #

    Just gorgeous, from every angle.

    I host a weekly link party called “Oh, the PLACES I’ve been!” The link goes up at 7pm EST on Thursday. I hope to see you then!

    – The Tablescaper

  5. gregory urbano June 26, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    Fort Point, the top of the Coit Tower and the deck of the liberty ship were my highlights, San Fracisco is gorgeous no matter where you are standing though!

  6. Mary {The World Is A Book} June 20, 2013 at 10:19 pm #

    These are absolutely gorgeous shots, Noel! I loe that you were able to capture San Francisco from so many vantage points without its famous fog rolling in. Love your sunrise/sunset shots. Thanks for all the great tips you incorporated too.

  7. InsideJourneys (@InsideJourneys) June 20, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    Absolutely stunning, Noel. San Fran and the Bay Area provide such a lovely canvas.
    You reminded me of some photos I took of Bay bridge years ago. Hmmm, now I’ll have to go look them up.

  8. muzachan June 20, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

    Beautiful photos 🙂

  9. Life Images by Jill June 20, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    stunning views Noel. I particularly like the view straight up and over the bridge, and the sunset of course is a winner.
    Have a wonderful week, and thanks for stopping by my blog last night. It was great to meet up with you through Travel Photo Thursday. I have never been to San Francisco, so thanks for taking me there.

    • Noel June 20, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

      Hi Jill,
      thanks for connecting and commenting on my post, appreciate it

  10. cindy@thetravelgal June 20, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

    Angel Island! Casual visitors don’t go there, bu the views of the city are great and the island itself is wonderful for photography. Love your pictures -really gorgeous.

  11. budgettraveltalk June 20, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

    San Fransisco seems familiar because it is portrayed in so many films, yet these photos really show just how beautiful it is. To be able to easily find different view points is fantastic. That is the good thing about hills 🙂

    • Noel June 20, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

      So true on finding different vantage points and creating your own story, thanks for connecting

  12. travelnwrite June 20, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    You are so correct about time of day and shooting photos; and you illustrated it so strikingly! Beautiful shots of this iconic West Coast city. And thanks for stopping by TravelnWrite today!

  13. calculatedtraveller June 20, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    I agree San Francisco is a Photographer’s Dream Location! I have a photo that I took while our cruise ship was sailing under the bridge. It’s really interesting how the light hits the bridge. The steel looks totally different depending on what side of the bridge your are on…

    • Noel June 20, 2013 at 11:52 am #

      thanks for sharing Mary, there is alot of great places to take a photo and on a cruise ship sounds excellent.


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    […] Find a hilltop anywhere in the city and you will get some pretty far out views. This includes popular tourist spots like Twin Peaks and Diamond Heights. Also consider visiting local favorite spots like Corona Heights, Delores Park or Bernal Heights in the Mission district. Take a drive or walk up to any of these hilltops and bring a picnic and you’ll be amazed with the magnificent panoramic views of the entire city. Hint : come up during sunrise or sunset and you will rewarded with a colorful show during this timeframe. Check out this recent post I did on places to take pictures of the best views in San Francisco here. […]

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I look forward to hearing from you and continuing our discussion with any comment you would like to add

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