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See the best of San Francisco
Cable cars in operation
Golden Gate Bridge visitors
10 million annually
San Francisco is a little odd – but let’s face it, that’s all part of its charm. It’s got the twistiest street in the world, its own resident sea lion colony and a former prison flocked by tourists. You can have a very fun holiday here – whether you’re with family or friends, or going alone, on your first visit or your fifth.
San Francisco is one of California’s most visited cities. It’s permissive, relaxed and has great sights. This brilliant city is very walkable – but it’s more fun to take the cable car – especially over the infamous hills. You could stay on Nob Hill or Russian Hill to be near Lombard Street, famously known as the world’s crookedest street.
From here you can easily head down to the seafront for a stroll on the popular Fisherman’s Wharf – a place where you can buy crab chowder to go and watch the sea lions that have taken up residence on its docks. San Francisco’s enormous, longstanding Chinatown is one of the most established neighbourhoods in the city. Roam around, then settle down for dim sum, picking your dishes from a roving push cart.
Whether you want to organise a last-minute city break, or the holiday of a lifetime, it starts when you book your British Airways flight. Add a hotel in the city – and a car for exploring beyond the bay; and before you know it, you’ll be navigating San Fran like a local. Check out our holiday packages and prepare to start feeling San Franciscan.
San Francisco might be one of the richest cities in America, but you don’t have to shell out to stay here. Use our handy budget planner to pick the right San Francisco hotel and Bay Area activities for you.
San Francisco is not short of great-value eats. Coffee shops are where you’ll find cheap meals – head over to Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers on Post Street for what some say is the best cheeseburger in town.
Take the number 39 bus from Washington Square up to the Coit Tower (a 67-metre white stone tower which can be spotted from most places in the city) then walk down Telegraph Hill – back to the waterfront.
Check into Hotel Zoe near San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, near many of the city’s top sights. It’s a smart hotel with a nice lobby, and charming fire pits in the backyard mean that you can spend the evenings socialising after sightseeing.Book a stay
Head to Chinatown for lunch – the best include Bung Shanghai on Jackson Street and Hong Kong Clay Pot on Grant Avenue which specialises in, you guessed it, clay-pot cookery.
Walk from Chinatown to Mason Street and visit the Cable Car museum, around a ten-minute walk. This free museum gives you the history, and has some fine examples, of San Francisco’s cable car.
Looking for a real treat? Check in to The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco. Housed in a magnificent landmark building, this five-star hotel makes a wonderful location from which to get to know San Francisco.Book a stay
Reserve a table at Commis in Oakland. With two Michelin stars, the chef at this California-meets-Thailand restaurant is revitalising the local food scene. Reservations can be tough but it’s well worth it.
After dinner head back to the Nob Hill district and have a night cap at Top of the Mark bar, in the Mark Hopkins Hotel – this iconic bar has fabulous views of San Francisco.
San Francisco is perfectly located for exploring California’s best bits: Napa Valley, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park, San Jose and Big Sur. They’re all nearby – so, it’s time for a road trip. Add car hire to your flight with British Airways – with 24-hour support, multiple drop-off points and no hidden costs, it’s the easiest way to get the holiday you want.
Pick up your car at over 5,000 locations with our dedicated car hire partners, Avis and Budget
Roadside assistance, 24-hour customer support and ATOL protection as standard
All mandatory charges are included, plus Executive Club Members collect Avios on every rental
The public plaza Union Square is in the midst of downtown San Francisco’s upmarket department stores. It’s busy and bustling – but first-time visitors are often taken aback by the homeless population in the area. There are heaps of hotels around that capitalise on the abundance of sights and shops in the district, such as Hilton Union Square. Nearby you’ll find Neiman Marcus and Barneys, plus museums like the Museum of Ice Cream – pure Instagrammer bait – and the longer-established San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
San Francisco’s touristy waterfront is a pleasure to visit. Fisherman’s Wharf encompasses much of the waterfront – including Pier 39, an area that’s great for shopping, strolling and watching sea lions sunbathing on the platforms below the pier. From Fisherman’s Wharf you can get a ferry over to Alcatraz, viewable across the bay, or Angell Island. Stay at Hotel Zephyr in the area so you can fully explore the popular surrounding restaurants: eat crab chowder on the pier or chow down on chocolate at Ghirardelli Square.
Nob Hill is where you’ll see historic buildings and experience traditionally ‘classy’ San Francisco: think swanky cocktail lounges, upmarket restaurants and hotels like the Fairmont. Go to the beautiful Huntington Park (don’t miss its replica of Rome’s Fountain of the Tortoises), and The Masonic, an iconic concert venue that is a wonderful example of mid-century architecture. The free Cable Car Museum is also nearby, where you can see some of San Francisco’s colourful retired trolleys.
Head south from Union Square and you’ll reach SoMa. ‘South of the Market’ is all converted warehouses and gritty regeneration. It spans a large area that includes the Civic Center, the Yerba Buena gardens, and, on the eastern edge, Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants – the area’s beloved baseball team. Stay at the three-star Cova Hotel near Union Square and Little Saigon.
Downtown San Francisco, with its earthquake-proofed skyscrapers (such as the striking Transamerica Pyramid), is known simultaneously as the Financial District and Downtown. Chinatown nudges this area from the north west, and the Ferry Building sits to the east on the waterfront. It’s a pretty building that holds a farmers’ market. Read more about San Francisco’s neighbourhoods.
Whatever type of San Francisco holiday you are looking for, you’ll discover lots of places to go and things to see. Here are our top five suggestions of things to keep you busy:
With more than 3,400 restaurants in the area, you won’t be short of places to satisfy your appetite, whatever type of food you prefer. Here are some of our ideas from in-the-know locals:
Go beyond the city
Turn a great trip into an epic adventure with our multi-centre holidays which allow you to combine destinations and take in not just one but two, three or even four amazing cities. Book your flights, hotels and car hire with us all in one go – it’s easy and you can hire a car in one location and drop off in another when you book via Avis. We fly direct between London and five California destinations, including San Francisco and Oakland, San Jose, San Diego, and Los Angeles.Customise your trip
Discover the best San Francisco deals and save, when you combine your flight, hotel and car hire. We have a wide selection of hotels to choose from. Plus, earn bonus Avios when you book your San Francisco holiday with us.
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