The Ultimate San Francisco Guide to help you plan your trip!
I’ve always loved San Francisco. I dreamed about visiting this hilly city since I was 15, watched the famous TV Detective Monk while pictured myself strolling the beach with the view of the Golden Gate Bridge stretched in front of me. Almost twelve years later I finally made it there with tears in my eyes from the excitement and happiness! San Francisco is a city of two faces. You never know which one you’ll meet – misty mornings can blossom into sunny days, or turn into a drizzly and wet duvet. But it doesn’t matter because they both show you San Francisco and its unconditional beauty. This city on hills has so much to offer for every traveller around the world seeking a new adventure, inspiration or food experience. It is easily accessible from the UK via a direct flight from London for less than £300 return. I’ve prepared everything you need to know about San Francisco in this Ultimate San Francisco Guide!
(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you do buy the items or book the hotel via these links, I will earn a small commission. This is at no extra to you, but it helps me to run this blog 🙂
When to visit San Francisco
In my opinion, the best time to visit San Francisco is in September. It is considered the warmest month of the year because of the Indian Summer. Mornings and evenings can be quite chilly and hazy, but we were lucky as we had beautiful weather all four days. It is also quieter because the summer holiday is over and kids are back at school.
Where to Stay
Located near Union Square, each room has a sink, and dorm rooms also have backpack-sized lockers for each guest.
Hostel set in a 1920’s boutique and complete with a bar on site. Offers 24/7 staff and features plenty of private and dorm rooms, all en suite.
Most popular San Francisco hostel for the 4th time in a row.
Tip 1: Always pack a padlock when you are staying in a hostel! You will get an allocated locker where you keep all your essential documents and expensive items.
When I went there together with Carl and our friend Kat, we stayed in a quirky vintage hotel near Wharf called San Remo – a mixture of an Italian style and vintage. The bathrooms are shared (it was also my very first experience with communal showers and toilets) and for my surprise, they were all kept clean. The rooms can be small especially if there are more than two of you, the walls are thin, but the hotel is gorgeous, staff helpful and because of its incredible style I would stay here again and again! Book San Remo here
Everybody knows the Travelodge chain and this one is located near Fisherman’s Wharf.
Bar, gym and a hotel in one!
San Francisco is suitable for everyone. It fulfills everyone’s needs and expectations. For those who are looking for a top-nosh service or want to spend money on their business credit cards, look no further than below list detailing the more expensive and noble hotels.
Boutique hotel, over-sized rooms, great neighbourhood and Certificate of excellence TripAdvisor 2018.
Omni San Francisco
Hotel was initially built as a bank back in 1926. Italian marble in the lobby, luxurious fabrics, and crystal chandeliers.
Experience San Francisco from the top of Nob Hill.
Located atop San Francisco’s prestigious Pacific Heights neighbourhood, this hotel offers a welcoming atmosphere with well-connected hosts who perfect the art of gracious and personal service.
Book your perfect stay in San Francisco now:
Tip 2: When visiting San Francisco, always pack extra layers and wear comfortable shoes. Unless you are coming during the Indian Summer – then summer dresses are a must!
Things to do
We visited San Francisco for almost four full days, and sadly it wasn’t enough for me. I am already planning to come back to do everything I missed out on! Find out more about things to do in San Francisco in this Ultimate San Francisco Guide!
1. Golden Gate Bridge
Of course, this is a must do. San Francisco without Golden Gate Bridge is like London without the Big Ben, or New York without the Statue of Liberty. But to make this experience even more authentic, I recommend hiring a bike from the Fishermen’s Wharf and cycle along the Marine Boulevard, alongside Crissy Field East Beach, across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito town. On the way back you jump on the ferry with your bike and enjoy the spectacular view! Cost of Ferry from Sausalito to San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf is $12.50 for an adult. Bike rental can be anything from $25 depending on the type of bike and accessories.
2. Fisherman’s Wharf
Bear in mind, this place can get very, very busy! Nevertheless, it definitely should be on your list together with visiting Pier 39 to watch sea lions – the most iconic animals! This spot is excellent for those with kids.
From 1936 to 1963 Alcatraz was one of the most notorious prisons in the whole of America. After that, it earned the nickname “The Rock.” Some of the most famous prisoners kept in Alcatraz were Al “Scarface” Capone and the “Birdman” Robert Stroud. If you feel brave, book a night tour.
Tip 3: If you are planning to visit Alcatraz, make sure you book it in advance. Make your life easier; I included a link ready for you to check the best tours: https://www.partner.viator.com/en/72943/travel-tips/San-Francisco/ttd
4. Sunset at Coit Tower
One of the best sunset views over San Francisco. Located in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood, the tower gives you a panoramic view of the city and the bay. Be ready for a hike. Going on top of the Tower will cost you $8.
5. Golden Gate Park
With over 3 miles and 1000 acres of public land, this is the fifth most visited park in the entire US. We went there on a perfect Sunday afternoon, chilled out on the grass, had ice cream, hot dogs and enjoyed watching a live band playing on the stage. It is also home to Japanese Tea Garden (you pay for this attraction $), Golden Gate’s Flower Conservatory or Academy of Science.
If you love Chinese food and fortune cookies, this is the place is for you! Bear in mind that it gets hectic especially over the weekend and Chinese celebration days.
7. Painted Ladies
Located near Alamo Park, Painted Ladies proudly stand side by side since 1960. These are private houses, so don’t expect a tour inside, unless you rent one now available on AirBnb! Check it out here.
8. Lombard Street
The most famous street in San Francisco. There is no else to do, it’s just the perfect spot for all those Instragammable pictures!
Some of the best tours:
It is all about the food
It doesn’t matter if you are vegan, vegetarian, or pescetarian, if you are looking for a Slovakian restaurant, Chinese TakeAway or Italian pasta. San Francisco DOES have it all. No KIDDING.
My number one in SF was a Czech restaurant near the Transamerica Pyramide called Café Prague. I do love good Slovakian food, and this place didn’t disappoint. The price varies from $18 for traditional goulash to $26 for a roasted duck, and worth every penny.
Home of traditional American breakfast and much more.
Compact and modern cafe serving not only breakfast but also smoothies. When we went there, it was very busy and people were queuing outside.
Fantastic and friendly service, food is excellent, can wholeheartedly recommend.
A dining in ’50s style San Francisco.
I love food on the go, and when I discovered hot-dogs for $2 and chicken rolls 5 for $1, this is what I ate pretty much all the time. Plus a massive can of beer for $3.
Fresh, local seafood.
Does a pizza need a description? Didn’t think so.
…and is all about happy hours!
What to pack San Francisco
Layering – I learned my lesson when I bravely put a dress on with only a small cardigan on top! It can be warm during the day, but also hazy, wet, windy and cold when the sun goes down even on a sunny summer day! If you are coming during the Indian Summer – definitely pack some cute summery dresses and flat sandals!
San Francisco is one of a kind and if you have a chance to go there, do not waste it. Plan accordingly and enjoy yourself. Thank you for reading my Ultimate San Francisco Guide!