You can find a little bit of everything in sunny but foggy San Francisco. Internationally renowned – check out San Fran for shopping, arts, culture and fun. Perhaps the most inclusive city in the States, you will come across a whole host of personalities when wandering the city by the bay.
There is so much to see and do in San Francisco. Spend some time checking out the famous landmarks of San Fran or visit the infamous Alcatraz. Shop in the different neighbourhoods across the city and chow down on some Clam Chowder on Pier 49.
Hostel/Budget rates – Dorms can be found from $27 – $50 a night, whilst private double rooms in a decent location starts around $80.
Midrange Hotel rates – $70 – $120 for a private room in a good location, with chain hotels and motels.
Luxury Hotel rates – $150 + for spacious and well decorated rooms in great locations with chain hotels.
Transport – Renting a car will cost between $50 – $70 a day or $170 – $300 a week, plus tax and an extra charge if under 25. Standard fares for buses are $2.25 with tickets that can be purchases onboard. Cable car tickets cost $6 and can be purchased from the conductor or at the car turnaround kiosks. We took full advantage of the CitySightseeing Hop on – Hop Off buses, with 2 day ticket costing $54, whisking you to all major sights of SF. Taxi fares start at £3.50 and $2.75 for every mile.
Average cost of food – Many hotels offer some type of breakfast which is always helpful, if not, a bagel or breakfast burrito from cafes or fast food chains cost around $4 – $9 per person. Lunches range between $10 – $20 per head at a sit down cafe or lunch time menu in downtown San Fran. Dinners will set you back around $40 – $80 for two, depending on area of restaurant. Check out chinatown for some delicious but cheap eats. Beers, cocktails and wines are rather pricey, costing upwards of $5, though cheaper options can be found in convenient stores.
Where to stay
Hostel/Budget – HI San Francisco Downtown Hostel is located near some of the best spots of SF, near Union Square where many tour companies and buses begin. Dorm beds start at $46 whilst double private rooms start around $120. For those wishing to be nearer the sea, check out HI’s Fisherman’s Wharf Hostel with dorm beds starting at $39.
Midrange – Chain hotel, Red Coach Motor Lodge is a popular choice for budget tourists, with rooms start at $99, this place can be found in the Civic Centre area just a ten minute drive from Golden Gate Bridge and the Fisherman Wharf area. Union Square Plaza Hotel can be found near Union Square, surrounded by some great pubs and restaurants. Rooms start at $109 for this great location.
Top End – My recommendation for couples and families is the Super 8 Union Square. Located near the famous Union Square and a few blocks from the Powell Street cable car stop, the Super 8 offers clean and spacious rooms in an ideal location. The staff are incredibly friendly and helpful with rooms starting at $178. For those looking for a hotel nearer the sea, check out Travelodge by the sea. Rooms start at $204, just a few minutes walk from the cable car stop, taking you to popular attraction Lombard street.
How to get there
Fly – Many tourists arrive at San Francisco International Airport, where you can jump on the BART people mover to downtown SF for $8.65. Taxis will cost between $40 – $55. Some may arrive at Oakland International Airport, where you can jump on the BART people-mover from terminal 1 to Coliseum Station, where you can change over to trains to downtown SF or grab a taxi costing $60 – $95 to San Fran.
Bus – A new bus terminal will be complete 2017, connecting San Fran to the world, until then it is best to catch a Greyhound bus or the like.
Train – Amtrak trains from across the west coast serves Emeryville Amtrak station just outside of Oakland, where you can then catch a free shuttle to San Francisco Ferry Building and Fisherman’s Wharf.
Cycling is a popular option for tourists on a budget, with bike racks on Muni buses and many wanting to cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge, though the steep hills can be a struggle. Ferries are a popular choice for those wanted to check out Alcatraz and Golden Gate from the waters; Alcatraz cruises offer ferries to and from the prison every half hour but book a time slot online in advanced as these book up quick. Blue and gold fleet ferries is a great choice to take in a different perspective of San Fran. Some may wish to rent a car whilst in San Francisco but be aware that parking is difficult and expensive; especially in downtown SF; plus you should check with your hotel if they have parking availability. If you are a UK citizen remember to bring both parts of your driving license and check the rental companies policy on international rentals. Buses and cable cars can get you around the city, although rather slow in rush hour. We found the city sightseeing bus a great option to get across SF, with routes serving Golden Gate Bridge, downtown SF and across the piers. Taxis are a good choice to catch the early morning Alcatraz cruise or after a late night out, fares start at £3.50 and $2.75 for every mile.