Welcome to the city that defines freedom – welcome to San Francisco! As the symbol of the city – Golden Gate Bridge – embraces the city with open arms, connecting its shores, it is in the same way that numerous nations, religions and languages are connected in this city in harmony, welcoming newcomers and tourists with same warmth, shining with its heritage of golden rush, with golden bridge and golden wine to toast to freedom of choice, freedom of speech and freedom of existence, mixed in a plethora of sounds, smells, tastes and colors. And, as the famous songs says: If you’re going to San Francisco be sure you wear some flowers in your hair
Cost of Living:
When to Visit
March – May Mild weather and low hotel prices. Many festivals are held, such as the International Beer Festival, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival and more.
June – August Nice weather, rising room rates and a variety of summertime festivities. The North Beach Festival, the Fillmore Street Jazz Festival and the Outside Lands Music Festival are only some of the events taking place these months.
September – November Best time to visit; the weather can be warmer now than it is in the summer. Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival is a two-day festival held in September where you can taste Ghirardelli chocolates and different types of wine.
What seemed like an impossible mission in 1872 when a railroad magnate Charles Crocker envisioned it, it became a possibility under wizardly capable hands of engineer Joseph Strauss in 1921. After years of fund raising and battles for its construction, the Golden Gate Bridge finally opened in 1937. This magnificent art-deco suspension bridge was the first bridge constructed on the ocean, and named one of the seven civil engineering wonders of the United States by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1994. It is believed to be the most photographed bridge in the world.
The best way to enjoy the bridge, besides crossing it on foot or on a bike, is to embark on a several cruises available in the bay. That way you can experience some breathtaking views, especially during sunset, take wonderful photos and all the while enjoy brunch or a glass of champagne. More information at www.hornblower.com or www.callofthesea.org
Once notorious federal prison, Alcatraz island is a popular tourist attraction in San Francisco Bay. It is located on an island about 2km from the shore, and its first building served as a lighthouse, later turned into a military fortification, after which it became military and at the end a federal prison. There are movies and TV shows depicting famous escapings from once thought inescapable prison, which makes this attraction even more popular for visiting. There are several tours available, you can bring your own lunch to the dock and it is highly recommendable to dress warmly, since the weather on the island can be unpredictably cold and windy. For more information about tours and ticket packages visit www.alcatraztickets.com or www.alcatrazcruises.com
Open: Daily (check the ferry timetable on the site)
Closed: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day
Day Tour (ferry plus audio tour):
Adults (age 18-61): $37.25/Juniors (age 12-17): $37.25/Seniors (age above 62): $35.25/Children (age 5-11): $23/Children (age under 4) Free; Family tickets available
Night Tour (ferry plus audio tour):
Adults (age 18-61): $44.25/Juniors (age 12-17): $43.25/Seniors (age above 62): $41.25/Children (age 5-11): $26.50/Children (age under 4) Free; Family tickets available
If you can’t find tickets online, you can always come directly to the counter very early in the morning before they open, and wait in the line. They always have some tickets kept for last minute customers but they are very few, so the earlier you get there, the better.
These museums seem to go as one since buying the ticket for one goes for visiting the other in the same day. Together with Legion of Honor, de Young Museum is one of the Fine Arts collections exhibiting Impressionist Masterpieces, Matisse, Klimt and others, besides housing a large collection of American, African and Oceanian art and artifacts. It is best known for its textile collection, and housing popular museum touring exhibitions such as King Tutankhamun’s Tomb, Olmec stone heads, Teotihuacan etc. Legion of Honor houses artifacts from all over the world witnessing 4000 years of human history and culture, as well as various themes exhibitions during certain periods and seasons. For more information about exhibits, tickets and hours visit https://deyoung.famsf.org/
Open: Tuesday-Sunday 09:30AM-05:15PM
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is the reason why San Francisco is considered to be the most important city in contemporary art world. Although museum exists since 1935, this huge, new gallery space is open in 1995 and renovated in 2016, and it is home to numerous exhibitions and permanent collection presentations located on seven floors and separated by themes: permanent collection of paintings and sculptures, galleries for art on paper and California art are on the 2nd floor, The Pritzker Center for Photography is on the 3rd floor, as well as the beginning of the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, which ends on 6th floor, and 7th floor is home to contemporary and media arts. For more information about exhibits, tickets and hours visit
Open: Friday-Tuesday 10:00AM-05:00PM, Thursday 10:00AM-09:00PM
Price: Adults $25/Seniors (age above 65) $22/ Youth (age 19-24 with ID) $19/Children and teenagers (age under 18) Free
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Gallery is a center for multidisciplinary arts in San Francisco. At numerous exhibitions, performances, workshops, film projections and much more, visitors can explore, learn and debate about art, class, various social issues like race, gender, history, technology and more, but also rent a venue for various events. For more information about current exhibitions visit www.ybca.org
Open: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday 11:00AM-06:00PM, Thursday 11:00AM-08:00PM
Price: General admission $10/Children (age under 5) Free; Free admission on first Tuesday of the month
Formed and settled in the 1800’s by Italian immigrants, Fisherman’s Wharf grew into a waterfront neighborhood that became well known for its fishing boats, fish markets and restaurants that have been serving wonderful fresh seafood ever since. Nowadays it is one of the busiest and well-known tourist attractions with famous Pier 39 (the most popular entertainment center that includes restaurants, view attractions, bungee jumping and some other family attractions like mirror maze and game arcade), numerous seafood restaurants, shopping centers, museums, famous Ghirardelli Square (used to be a headquarters of chocolate factory but today is a venue with several high end shops and restaurants), Aquarium of the Bay and so on. For more information visit
Make sure to visit SS Jeremiah O’Brien Liberty Ship at Pier 45, which is a fully restored WWII Liberty ship, with abundance of interesting stories from its history of ferrying the troops across the seas. For more information visit www.ssjeremiahobrien.org
A few California sea lions began “hauling out” on PIER 39’s K-Dock shortly after the Loma Prieta earthquake hit San Francisco in October 1989. By January 1990, the boisterous barking pinnipeds started to arrive in droves and completely took over K-Dock, much to the exasperation of PIER 39’s Marina tenants. The Marina Staff turned to The Marine Mammal Center, an organization devoted to the rescue and rehabilitation of marine mammals, for advice about their new slippery tenants. After much debate and research, the experts from The Marine Mammal Center recommended that the sea lions stay in their newfound home. If you would like more information and see the Sea Lions live visit https://www.pier39.com/the-sea-lion-story/sea-lion-webcam/.
Chinatown is exactly what its name says – a piece of China in the middle of San Francisco. Every tourist should visit here, since this neighborhood offers a unique experience of Asian-American hybrid: numerous restaurants, street vendors, crowded streets, spicy smells and typical atmosphere of southern Chinese towns located in typical American city landscape. You can also visit Chinese Culture Center, Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company or Tin How Temple, and it is recommended to take the cable car, since it could be almost impossible to find parking spots.
Looking at the Financial District today, with its beautiful architecture from the beginning of the last century as well as marvelous contemporary steel and glass buildings, it is very difficult to imagine that once this was the place where gold miners came to measure their catch in small shops down in Montgomery Street. Aside from this curiosity, Financial District hides another gem: a ferry building renovated into hip place with restaurants and cafes, with beautiful tower that resembles the one on Seville’s Cathedral in Spain, located at the end of Market Street.
Cable Cars are a National Historic Landmark, and you should definitely take a ride to experience perks of everyday life in San Francisco; it is recommended to get a CityPass or a MuniPassport ticket for a day or more, since its price of $20 is more reasonable than one ride that costs $7. You can also visit Cable Car Museum if you’re interested in history of Cable Cars in San Francisco. More information at:
Union Square used to be a place where Union members that held pro-Union demonstrations and strikes in the early 1860s, but shockingly, nowadays it is an ultimate shopping area in San Francisco. It has a high-end look with performance areas, terraces with grass patches, and numerous hotels, department stores, fashion boutiques, restaurants, nightclubs, as well as galleries and a monument to Admiral Dewey’s victory at Manila Bay during the Spanish-American war in 1898.
Similar to Union Square, Union Street is also a place for high-end shopping and entertainment. But, this neighborhood is unique for its charming Victorian architecture setting, so besides shopping in famous bookstores, boutiques and other stores, you can enjoy side-walk cafes and the best restaurants with the wonderful view. This street is part of the famous Cow Hollow neighborhood, one of the top 5 neighborhoods in country recommended for young adults, with numerous gyms, yoga and spa centers, beauty parlors, sports bars, coffee shops and other popular venues. For more information visit www.unionstreetsf.com
Lombard Street is an east–west street in San Francisco, that is famous for a steep, one-block section with eight hairpin turns. The street was named after Lombard Street in Philadelphia by San Francisco surveyor Jasper O'Farrell. A lot of commercials have been made at this street and it is really worth it to visit.
Western Addition is a neighborhood that came alive after Southern African-Americans populated it after the World War II looking for employment. Soon after, this quarter became famous for its bars and clubs, specifically jazz and blues clubs, and it has this vibe ever since. One of the most popular blues musicians John Lee Hooker and his Boom Boom Room marked this area as a must-see for all those who love and appreciate live funk, jazz & blues sets by top musicians.
Alamo Square is a residential neighborhood and park in San Francisco, California, in the Western Addition. Alamo Square Park, the neighborhood's focal point and namesake, consists of four city blocks at the top of a hill overlooking much of downtown San Francisco, with a number of large and architecturally distinctive mansions along the perimeter, including the "Painted Ladies", a well-known postcard motif. In American architecture, painted ladies are Victorian and Edwardian houses and buildings repainted, starting in the 1960s, in three or more colors that embellish or enhance their architectural details.
It is unimaginable to visit San Francisco and not taste the famous vine from Napa Valley. This part of the country is the golden vineyard area, and it is highly recommendable, especially if you are a wine lover, to take a day, or even a few days trip to Napa and Sonoma. Visiting for a few days will give you opportunity to enjoy the view, visit more than 400 vineries and pay a visit to hot springs for unique experience. For accurate information visit www.napavalley.com and www.sonomavalley.com
When you get tired of city crowd, do what every local does: visit Golden Gate Park. This magnificent urban park consists of several gardens, like Japanese Tea Garden, Garden of Shakespeare’s Flowers, Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden and Botanical Garden, and besides enjoying wonderful atmosphere of peace and serenity next to beautiful flowers, you can also enjoy sports activities or other attractions popular for families as well. You can go hiking, fishing, horse riding and biking, play baseball or golf, or many other things at this more than 1000 acres large park. Here you can also find the oldest playground in US and Herschell-Spillman Carousel built in 1914, or, in case of bad weather, stop by de Young Museum, Morrison Planetarium, Golden Gate Park Aquarium etc. For more information about events, activities, and visiting hours for attractions visit https://goldengatepark.com/
The Presidio was a military post, turned into a parkland rich in history and beautiful sceneries, from architecture to greenery and woods. It is popular among locals and tourists as a place with breathtaking views of Golden Gate Bridge and bay, ideal for walking through, enjoying scenery and restaurants, visiting museums, play golf etc. You can also enjoy sandy Baker Beach, or visit Lucas film studio and its famous Yoda Fountain, Walt Disney Family Museum, Civil War-era Fort Point and many other interesting places. For more information visit https://www.presidio.gov/
Muir Woods got its name after famous 19th century nature conservationist John Muir. It is a National Monument, since it is woodland that houses one of the first-growth redwoods, which once covered most of California’s coastal area. Some of these trees are more than 1000 years old. It is a special kind of tranquility and atmosphere that can be experienced by walking through this ancient wood, and this is definitely something everyone should do in San Francisco.
Seal Rocks is a natural habitat for seals and some birds. It is a small group of rocky islands located southern from the tip of the peninsula called Land’s End, scattered all the way down to the Cliff House. You can spy the animals and their natural behavior if you bring binoculars, and also enjoy their cries in the night, that are quite characteristic for San Francisco. If you’re lucky to experience nice and clear weather, you can see as far as 50km off the coast, to the Farallon Islands, also inhabited by sea lions.
Baker Beach is a very popular sand beach in San Francisco with the most magnificent view of Golden Gate Bridge and the most unforgettable sunsets on the ocean. Aside from taking some memorable photos or having ideal picnic on the beach, you can enjoy sunbathing, walking, jogging and other beach sports except for swimming, since riptides are dangerous swimmers are warned off by numerous signs.
Longer than Baker Beach, which is only 1,5km long, Stinson Beach has 5km of sand stretching alongside beautiful coast of Marin County. It is usually crowded on a sunny day, but it is very famous for its fine weather, since it can offer wonderful views even when it is foggy day on the rest of the coast. It is a popular spot for surfing, kite-surfing, kayaking, as well as beach volleyball, grills and picnics, and other outdoor activities. Remote from the city, it is an ideal place for a few days stay and relaxing from the city crowds. For more information visit the website www.stinsonbeachonline.com