Top attractions in San Francisco
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 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.
2. 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.
3. 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!
4. 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...
5. San Francisco Bay Bridge
...But the San Francisco Bay Bridge is a strong contender for that accolade when lit up at night!
6. 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.
7. 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!
8. 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.
9. 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!"
10. 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 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
- USD ($)
- Time Zone
- UTC (-08:00)
- Country Code
- Best time to visit
- Summer, Fall
Other Sightseeing Options in San Francisco
Want to discover all there is to do in San Francisco? Click here for a full list.
What people are saying about San Francisco
Is a amazing place to visit and our tour guide kimmy makes it joyful and enjoyable into the napa and sanoma Valley with amazing views and great tasting wines is a place you must see and experience for your self you will enjoy every moment and have a amazing experience... See you again kimmy and thanks again for good times... Luis & Luisa LULU
We took friends from out of town to see San Francisco and the Bay. The Bay cruise, with guided narration, is an excellent way to orient visitors to the city and the Bay. They enjoyed sailing under the Bay Bridge and circling around Alcatraz the most.
Dara Mihaly, our tour guide was knowledgeable and friendly. She provided a great experience with historical information that was fascinating. I would highly recommend her for any tourists.
We went as a group of 13, ages 2-40. We all had a good time. The bar/snack bar, was open, people out of our group were respectful of everyones space and overall we had a really fun time.
The sightseeing is beyond description. Our guide was very respectfull, funny, and worked the extra mile to make sure we all had a great time. You can tell this is not his first rodeo.