San Francisco is one of my favorite cities, and it offers an amazing array of skyline photo options. The standard Golden Gate bridge photo is the obvious choice if you want a postcard shot. However, many other spots offer inspiring views, and in this post I’ll list a few of my favorite stunning San Francisco skyline locations. Most of these shots will require getting up early and braving the cold morning winds in San Francisco.

Skyline from Pier 7 at Dawn

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Skyline from Pier 7 at Dawn © John Wulfert

The Transamerica building standing strong in the background, Pier 7 is one of the most picturesque piers in San Francisco. The lights that line the pier, combined with the wood plank walkway and benches create a relaxed mood that encourages you to sit back and take it all in. The mornings as the city comes alive provide a unique opportunity to capture this scene without fishermen or tourists crowing the scene. There are countless options for this skyline shot, and spending time here is one of the first things I like to enjoy when visiting San Francisco.

Hawk Hill San Francisco Skyline

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Hawk Hill San Francisco Skyline © John Wulfert

Hiking early in the morning to capture the Hawk Hill San Francisco Skyline, a headlamp comes in very handy. Watching the sun rise over San Francisco from this vantage point is unlike any other skyline view of San Francisco. It’s perhaps the best viewing point and outlook over the Golden Gate Bridge. Be prepared with plenty of clothing, because it’s cold up here, and very windy too.

San Francisco Skyline from Potrero Hill

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San Francisco Skyline from Potrero Hill

Potrero Hill in San Francisco is known for it’s sweeping views of the city and the bay.  It’s one of the sunniest neighborhoods in San Francisco, and insulated from the fog and chill that drapes most of the city to the west.  San Francisco from Potrero Hill is striking.  The highway that snakes into the city, with the famous Transamerica building peeking above the rest of the buildings.  You’ll need a long lens to get this picture, and be sure to bring pro glass due to the long zoom required here. There are numerous places to set up for this shot from Potrero Hill, so try all your options, but be careful if you’re on the edge of the street. Sometimes those cars come over the San Francisco hills at a fast clip!

Bay Bridge San Francisco Skyline

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Bay Bridge San Francisco Skyline © John Wulfert

The Bay Bridge San Francisco Skyline can best be seen from Yerba Buena Island on a clear night. There are numerous areas on the island to capture an image like this, but be careful because in some locations you will be trespassing and could get a ticket. The light trails over the bridge add to the scene, giving a dramatic motion and visually illustrating the busyness of the city. A strong and stable tripod is essential, along with a long pro lens to ensure the bridge and skyline are crisp.