I’ve had the pleasure of visiting San Francisco a couple of times during the last 3 years.
It’s a beautifully located city and the approach when arriving by air is stunning! The bay and the city… Alcatraz island and the famous Golden Gate Bridge.
THE BEST WAY TO GET TO SAN FRANCISCO
Transport from SFO airport into town is easy.
There are plenty of taxis and it costs roughly about 55-65 usd to the citycentre area / Union Square.
The train service from the airport to town is called bart (Bay Area Rapid Transit) . It runs about every 15th. minute, a single ride ticket is about 9,- usd. and it takes approx. 30 minutes. If you’re going to the city centre, Powell Station is just between Union Square and Market Street.
The most popular areas to stay in is the area around Union Square and the area around Fisherman’s Wharf.
I personally prefer the Union Square Area and have so far stayed in some different hotels (Hilton Union Square, Parc 55, Marriott Marquis and Hotel Nikko San Francisco – the favourite by far).
Getting around town is easy and can be an excellent exercise…. as seen in movies and on tv, there are plenty of hills going down…and up! I love walking around the city and especially from Union Square towards Fishermans Wharf, taking different routes.
If you’re too tired or too full (lots of yummy eateries along the way…) when going back, there are of course plenty of taxis as well as cable cars and busses.
The weather in San Francisco is totally unpredictable. Due to the location and the winds around the bay, the weather often change several times daily and it’s always a good idea to carry a sweater and/or a warm pashmina in your bag cause you just never know…..
Foggy mornings are normal and temperatures can drop many degrees instantly.
THE MUST DO’S
A beautiful walk across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, is about 7 kilometres. I’d recommend a taxi to the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center and from there you can start your walk towards the charming small town of Sausalito.
It’s also possible to rent a bicycle and bike across the bridge and to Sausalito.
Walking across the famous bridge is amazing…. And views are stunning!!!! I love, love, love it!And be prepared to stop maaaaaany times to take pics and selfies and more pics…
Be careful when you reach the other side of the bridge though as part of the road towards Sausalito is narrow and there’s no pedestrian side walk.
Sausalito town is a true, idyllic gem with lots of charm and lovely restaurants along the waterfront. From Sausalito, you can take the ferry back to San Francisco Ferry Building. This is a beautiful boatride with great views of the bridge and Alcatraz.
I can highly recommend a lunch at The Trident , it’s right on the waterfront with great views of the bay from tables outside as well as inside.
The ferry leaves about every 1,5 hrs and the ride takes 25 minutes. The ticket is about 12 usd. And…. you can bring your bike along.
The visit to Alcatraz…. was so much better than what I ever had imagined… After all the movies, stories and the histories told… it’s another must-do when in San Francisco!
Make sure you book your tour well in advance on the official website, Alcatraz Cruises . There are several options to choose between.
We did the night tour, which was amazing! There’s a limited number of tickets for the night tour so again, book well ahead your visit!
The boat ride is beautiful as well in the evening with a beautiful view of the Golden Gate bridge, Bay Bridge and of course, Alcatraz itself.
The audio tour (incl. in your ticket), “Doing time: The Alcatraz Cellhouse Tour” is outstanding, as well as award-winning.
You walk around the prison as you listen to facts and former prisoners telling their stories. The tour is breathtaking and you feel like you’re really “there” yourself. Very, very impressive and can’t remember another audio tour anywhere else that comes close to this one.
The night tour leaves around 6 pm and costs about 45 usd/adult.
It’s worth every single penny!
Walking the streets of San Francisco is one of the things i enjoy the most when in town.
Not only do you get to see a lot, it’s also great exercise if you choose some of the hilly streets from Union Square toward Fisherman’s Wharf 🙂
From Union Square, I’ve walked along Powell street, Mason street and Taylor street down to Fisherman’s Wharf area and Ghirardelli Square (the chocolate square…)….
It’s a less than 3 kms walk… but walking up and down and back to Union Sq, you’re quite tired when you return.
I can also highly recommend a walk on California Street from the financial district – walk west.
San Francisco’s China town is amongst the biggest in the world and located just under a kilometer from Union Square. A walk here is also a must-do!
THE SHOPPING in the city centre is excellent – all shops are very concentrated in the areas around Union Square and Market Street.
I love Macy’s on Union Square (do remember to get your tourist discount card), Nordstrom Rack on Market Str. (cause they acknowledge I’m a shopping genius), Victorias Secret on Powell Str., Levis original shop on Market Str., Westfield Centre on Market Str…. and a lot more…… 🙂
There’s so much deliciousness in this town and just to mention a few… :
The Franciscan Crab Restaurant is a favourite and despite the name, they not only do seafood.
Location is beautiful at pier 43 1/2 overlooking Alcatraz.
The menu book is so impressive I had to bring a copy home with me…….
The Cheesecake Factory is an all-time favourite when in the US! I simply LOVE it!!! More than 250 yummy dishes!! The glamburgers, the salads, the tuna tataki, the Vietnamese summer rolls, the shrimps with pasta and, of course, the cheesecakes….More than 250 yummy dishes!!
The one in San Francisco is located on the top of Macy’s and the elevator ride itself is great…. 😉
Scoma’s is a classic, located at Pier 47. Heavenly fish and seafood – and if you’re dining with a meatlover, meat is also available 🙂
Great food and excellent service! Definitely a must-eat-place in town.
There’s also a Scoma’s in Sausalito.
Pat’s Café (Taylor Street , off Columbus Ave.) is amongst my absolute favourite breakfast places in the US. The perfect place on your morning walk to enjoy a typical American breakfast…. Food is so fresh and tasty and portions are (of course) huge! Love this place!
The Old Siam (201 Ellis Street) is a small Thai restaurant serving amazing food and is very good value for money. I you stay around Union Square / Ellis Street / O’Farrell Street, it’s the perfect place for take-away dinner/lunch. I love the food and portions are very generous.
The Stinking Rose is a gorgeous place serving garlic in almost all dishes…. You can even have garlic ice cream 🙂
Garlic roasted meat, garlic roasted seafood, garlic pasta….. All delicious and very reasonably priced.
Puccini and Pinetti is a lovely Italian restaurant that serves yummy food. They also have a really good bar menu with delicious bitings ((crab cakes…..truffle fries…uhmmmm…) and there’s Happy Hour daily from 3 pm – 6 pm.