San Francisco
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Top attractions in San Francisco

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Top 10 things to do in San Francisco

Once known as the "Paris of the West," the gold-rush population boom made San Francisco a polycultural hub long before its Summer of Love. Here are some of the top attractions of this iconic west coast metropolis.

Alcatraz

Alcatraz

Alcatraz has had a colorful history but is most famous for being the prison that once held some of the US' most notorious gangsters, from Al Capone to Whitey Bulger.

Washington Square

Washington Square

The once-neglected Washington Square has evolved into an incredibly vibrant pocket of culture. It's now home to some of San Francisco's best restaurants and cafes.

San Francisco Bay

San Francisco Bay

San Francisco Bay actually consists of several bays, and its windy urban beaches make it a popular destination for sailors and windsurfers, as well as those just there for the scenery!

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Standing proud between the Bay and the Pacific, the Golden Gate Bridge is considered by many to be the most beautiful bridge of the industrial age...

San Francisco Bay Bridge

San Francisco Bay Bridge

...But the San Francisco Bay Bridge is a strong contender for that accolade when lit up at night!

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park

Inspired by New York's Central Park, the Golden Gate Park provides a leafy respite from the city, as well as attractions like the Academy of Sciences and Japanese Tea Garden.

Fisherman´s Wharf

Fisherman´s Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf is the touristic center of San Francisco. It boasts seafood restaurants that go back generations, as well as museums, parks, and its own sea lion colony!

Stow Lake

Stow Lake

Stow Lake is the largest and most scenic of the manmade lakes at Golden Gate Park. Its island, Strawberry Hill, offers spectacular downtown views over the treetops.

Alamo Square

Alamo Square

Explore San Francisco's more affluent side with a jaunt around Alamo Square. The neighborhood's hilltop park looks over much of the city, and don't forget its "painted ladies!"

Painted Ladies

Painted Ladies

The Painted Ladies are extravagant Victorian rowhouses which survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. It's astonishing to think so much of the city once looked this way!

Planning Your San Francisco Visit

How many days?

Some would say for as long as you can, so bear in mind that it's a big and busy city with plenty to see and do. First-timers should consider spending at least a week there if possible, though even that might not be enough!

Where to stay?

Which of San Francisco's neighborhoods is best for you depends on the nature of your trip. Fisherman's Wharf will meet all the immediate needs of a fleeting visit, though Union Square is a more neutral and relaxed jumping-off point for tourists. Other neighborhoods each have their own personality so it's worth putting in the research, but high-crime areas to avoid include Bayview, Hunter's Point, Sunnydale, and Visitation Valley.

How to get around?

"San Francisco has one of the world's most unique public transport systems. As well as buses and trains, the city is mostly mobilized by its historic cable-car network. Although newer trams do operate, visitors may want to ride one of the older ones for the novelty. Be warned though, notable routes such as the F-Market & Wharves line tend to get very crowded!
The city is also very bike-friendly,with extensive bicycle lanes and even bike lockers!"

Good to know

  • Language
    English
  • Currency
    USD ($)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (-08:00)
  • Country Code
    +1
  • Best time to visit
    Summer, Fall

Things to Do in San Francisco

Top Attractions in San Francisco

Cities in United States

Other Sightseeing Options in San Francisco

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What people are saying about San Francisco

Great tour. Awesome food. Very experienced and nice guide.

Very nice guide (Lauren) who knows a lot about China Town being a local. Great experience. We had a lot of fun and excellent food.

San Francisco: Chinatown Walking Food Tour Reviewed by Svenja, 05/08/2019

San Francisco wrapped in a 1-day package topped with a chocolate bow!

This was a wonderful experience packed with interesting information, beautiful sights, awesome music, and delicious chocolate!

San Francisco, Muir Woods and Alcatraz Tour Reviewed by Beth, 05/06/2019

Unforgettable and unique experience thanks to Rick!!

Rick really made the whole experience. He was laid back and extremely knowledgeable. It was clear that he has spent his whole life around planes and answered all our curious questions. We genuinely hope our paths cross with him again someday. The tour was so amazing that I'd not only recommend it to all of you out there, but personally want to bring people and take the tour again, just so I can show my friends how awesome it was and also get to experience it. I have confidence it'd be different every time. It certainly wasn't what I was expecting. I thought the tour would feel like it was made by a cookie cutter, but it was very personal and felt like a friend taking us out for a spin. Thanks for leading us there!! Rick - we kept your business card and will hopefully be in touch again!

San Francisco Bay Aerial Tour Reviewed by Emil, 04/30/2019

Condensed version of Yosemite in one day

Really wanted to experience Yosemite but I only had one day spare so this was perfect. However the time spent at Yosemite is shorter than time spent on the bus. Our tour guide josh was great and was quite entertaining. However we waited from 6.15-6.45 for coach to pick us up -30 mins delay for no reason as we saw the coach parked nearby. The ranch we stopped off at before Yosemite was wonderful and had great food. For dinner options were super basic and not nice really. Overall good experience however I don’t understand why the tour guide asks for a tip at the end as I feel they simply do their job and don’t go above and beyond.

This was a great way to see many things and learn a lot about the city

It was easy to find Joseph, our guide and he did a great job of explaining logistics. The group was not too big, not to small. I was traveling alone and this was a fantastic way to get out and see a lot. Joseph was a friendly and knowledgeable guide, intent on ensuring a great experience for all of us.