In scenic northern California sits the hilly city of San Francisco. Resting on the tip of a peninsula surrounded by the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, ‘San Fran’ is famous for its Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Prison. Not many cities in the world can rival the enjoyment that San Francisco holidays offer, and this Californian destination is often found on the bucket list of many an intrepid traveller.
San Francisco is sandwiched into a state full of natural attractions, captivating cities and stunning coastline, and you’ll find an entire world under one roof when you embark on holidays to San Francisco in 2017. Sport is a huge part of the city’s identity, while numerous cultural and historical avenues will further reveal San Fran’s character.
One iconic image of San Francisco is Lombard Street. The bizarrely-decorated and winding slalom street is one of the stranger attractions in the city, but watching tourists or locals attempting to safely navigate the spaghetti street is a strangely entertaining phenomenon.
Most popular hotels in San Francisco
Parc 55 San Francisco A Hilton Hotel
San Francisco, California
At a glance
- Currency: United States Dollar
- Language: English
- Time Zone: GMT +-8
- Average flight time: 11h 0m
When to go
(°C) Avg. High Temp
The ‘City by the Bay’, usually cloaked in fog, is also a world-class hub of culture, home of award-winning restaurants, historical landmarks, buzzing nightlife and lots more. Each and every area you encounter during your San Francisco holidays will be individual - from its food and music to its landmarks and atmosphere - offering a medley of continually changing sights, smells and sounds.
The Downtown area is full of life and colour, as well as being home to the majority of the city’s top attractions. Head up one of the city’s hills, such as Nob Hill or Telegraph Hill, for the perfect view of the city and the ideal romantic spot for an afternoon picnic, or stroll through the largest Chinatown in the States to enter a new world of cuisine, architecture and atmosphere. Wherever you choose to stay during your holidays in San Francisco, you’ll find yourself among captivating sights and an infectious atmosphere.
Wine and Dine
A San Francisco holiday definitely won’t leave you hungry. The city is one of America's best locations for organic, vegetarian and vegan dining. However, if you’re looking for meat on the menu, there are plenty of great restaurants to experience a good old American steak or burger.
As you would expect from this oceanside city, to get a real taste of the Bay you must head to PIER 39 in the San Francisco Port for some seafood. The pier is home to 14 restaurants that feature everything from hot clam chowder and sourdough bread bowls, which are a signature San Francisco dish, to delicious fresh oysters and cioppino at the Fog Harbor Fish House (which also has an outstanding view of the Golden Gate Bridge).
San Francisco is also a prime location to find decent Mexican food and Asian cuisine, thanks to the large Chinese community in the city’s Chinatown.
With a reputation as one of the best family destinations in the United States, make sure you choose to holiday in San Francisco. The San Francisco Port is a brilliant place to take the family. Not only will you be amazed by the cruise ships calling at Pier 35, you will also get to see some famous landmarks including PIER 39, the Ferry Building, Fisherman’s Wharf and AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants baseball team.
The city’s combination of exciting outdoor activities and interesting museums make your family holiday to San Francisco fun and educational in equal parts. Take your pick from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Asian Art Museum and the California Academy of Sciences. With over 1,000 acres of greenery and open space, the Golden Gate Park is free to the public and a great place to take the family, especially when the sun is shining.
Action and Adventure
A wealth of outdoor and adventure activities awaits you on your San Francisco holiday. From beaches to island ventures and street cars to boating, this city has it all. Head for the hills, just outside the city, and you’ll find incredible hiking and off-road trails. There are 220 parks in San Francisco, including beaches, many of which make up part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
If you want to stay in the city, try a bit of urban hiking on San Francisco's hilly terrain. Surprisingly, there are 42 hills across the city, connected by an unbelievable 400 stairways. When you’ve caught your breath at the top of one of the hills, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of San Francisco’s bay and bridge.
If you’d rather get in the water, head to the pier and jump in a kayak. You can then spend some time paddling around the bay and enjoy seeing San Francisco from a different viewpoint.
Life's a Beach
Even though Northern California doesn’t always get the warmth throughout the year, there are plenty of beaches to visit in San Francisco regardless of the weather. Ocean Beach is San Francisco's most popular beach, providing holidaymakers with fantastic panoramic views from the city's west side and great sunbathing spots. With 8km of peaceful sandy beach, you will find many of the locals here when the city gets crowded.
For something a little different, head to Aquatic Park to enjoy its urban beach. Located in the heart of San Francisco, the park’s beach has extremely soft sand and warmer waters than the ocean beaches.
San Francisco does have more secluded sandy spots that you can relax on, but if you want a real seaside experience, you can venture further out of the city where you will find Stinson Beach and Bolinas Beach.
Depending on what you’re looking for on your San Francisco holiday, the nightlife in the city can be completely laid-back or totally in your face.
San Francisco’s nightlife varies depending on which neighbourhood you’re in. The city’s diverse neighbourhoods range from the hippy Haight and the huge Chinatown to the glamourous Pacific Heights and Castro, where many of the LGBT community reside and where you will find many of the city’s gay bars.
From tasteful independent bars that serve impressive cocktails and establishments serving the best of locally brewed beers to wild all-night dance clubs, San Francisco nights have something for everyone. For the ultimate American night out, check out the Mission district for authentic dive bars filled with cheap drinks and jukeboxes.
If you want to go clubbing, the best area to go to is Soma. With DJs spinning late into the night, the pulsing music will keep you dancing all night.
There are countless wonderful sights to tick off your itinerary during a couples’ holiday to San Francisco, but to begin with it may be best to just stroll around the city and absorb the unique charm and character of this diverse city’s neighbourhoods. Of course, some areas simply can’t be missed. A trip to San Francisco without a few hundred photos of the Golden Gate Bridge is a wasted trip, while the world-famous prison complex of Alcatraz will help to fulfil your holiday dreams further.
Daytrips are a common theme in California, so make the most of the countless sights and destinations around you, whether you hit the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles or flock to the beaches of San Diego. Or if you are after a quieter Nor-Cal experience head up the coast to Bodega Bay or to the vineyard filled Napa Valley.
When the sun sets over the Bay Bridge, cosy up on a cool, foggy evening with a romantic candlelight dinner in one of San Francisco's plush restaurants.
San Francisco is a wonderfully cosmopolitan city thanks to its diverse culture. When the temperatures cool down, head indoors to a museum to find out more about the city on your San Francisco holiday. Each offers a glimpse into a different genre, and each is a great way to spend a few hours on holiday. For more American history, head to Fort Baker and the Marin Headlands. Abandoned fortifications litter the area, and some date back to the American Civil War. The whole family can get a 360-degree view of San Francisco. There are also spooky old tunnels to explore.
Music is massively ingrained into the identity of San Francisco, and you’ll encounter a continuing array of diverse genres and venues in which to catch some live sounds. Jazz is big on these streets, so catch a performance at one of the many jazz festivals or, better yet, during the city’s Mardi Gras celebration.