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San Francisco holidays

See the best of San Francisco

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Golden Gate Bridge visitors

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San Francisco holidays

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.

How to see San Francisco on a budget

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.


The Cova Hotel – in downtown San Francisco – is ideal if getting to know the heart of the city and the Bay area is on your list of things to do but you’re following a budget.

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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.

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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.

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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 fly-drive holidays

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.

Car Hire with British Airways

Pick up your car at over 5,000 locations with our dedicated car hire partners, Avis and Budget

24-hour support

Roadside assistance, 24-hour customer support and ATOL protection as standard

No hidden costs

All mandatory charges are included, plus Executive Club Members collect Avios on every rental

Make the most of your San Francisco holiday

With so much to see and do in San Francisco, it can seem a little overwhelming to know where to start, but with British Airways’ essential holiday guide you’ll soon have your own ‘to do’ list.

Where are the best places to stay in San Francisco?

Union Square

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.

Fisherman’s Wharf

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

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.

Financial District

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.

Cable car. ©FrankvandenBergh/Getty Images

Top five things to do in San Francisco

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:

Best places to eat in San Francisco

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:

  • Eat like a local
  • Head over to Oakland, its burgeoning foodie scene is well worth checking out
  • Enjoy some of the state’s finest cocktails: pick from one of more than 300 bars in the city
  • Head to the Ferry Building to taste cooking from up-and-coming chefs
  • Check out the growing number of San Francisco food trucks
Alcatraz Island. ©Alex_11/Getty Images

San Francisco multi-city holidays

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

Book your San Francisco holiday with us

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.

Low online deposits

Book early and secure your dream holiday with just a small online deposit

24-hour helpline

We have a dedicated team on hand 24 hours a day in case of any issues

ATOL protected

All our holidays are ATOL protected to give you complete peace of mind

Need a little help from our destination experts?

Make sure your next New York City break is truly unforgettable by talking to one of our North America travel specialists.
0344 493 0122
Open daily 07:30-22:00. Flight bookings made over the telephone incur a £10 booking fee per person, holiday bookings incur no fee.

Discover more of San Francisco

Kyndra Campbell.

Check out the eateries, shops and sea lions at Pier 39

Kyndra Campbell,  for British Airways

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