San Francisco is one of the most beautiful and inspiring cities in the world as the city is full of iconic sights, from the historic cable cars, the steep Lombard Street, the magical Golden Gate Bridge and America’s most famous prison on Alcatraz Island to fascinating neighborhoods like Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf. With its laid-back coastal lifestyle, San Francisco is one of our favorite cities we ever visited, so if you’re planning to go to San Francisco, be sure you don’t miss out on these 5 things to do in San Francisco.
First things first: make sure you book your tickets early in advance to secure your spot! The high season is from June-August and places per departure are limited. During these times, tickets can be sold out for weeks or even months prior to departure. So plan your visit for many weeks, or even many months in advance if you want to explore this spooky prison. You get there by taking the ferry via Alcatraz Cruises from Pier 33 and it takes you around 20 minutes to reach Alcatraz island. On your way to Alcatraz, you will be treated by dazzling bay views, the city skyline and the perfect Instagram spots to snap lovely pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge. As you set foot on “The Rock” (Alcatraz Island), step inside the open cells and discover the mysteries and the isolation the prisoners had. Walk around the guardhouse, explore the surroundings and again from outside you’ll enjoy beautiful views of San Francisco.
Alcatraz Audio tours start from $40
We recommend the audio tour on Alcatraz Island including a hop on hop off bus to explore the whole city.
We have to admit that Fisherman’s Wharf is really a tourist trap but it’s something you really need to see. Once it was the center of the fish industry, now it’s an iconic neighborhood home to restaurants, food stalls, souvenir shops, fishing boats and sea lions posing in the sun. A quiet touristy area, but fun to walk around and it offers you some good views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz
BEST TIME TO GO
Early in the morning with sunrise or in the afternoon with sunset
Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco
Part of Fisherman’s Wharf and most of the time the starting point to explore the San Francisco waterfront area, Pier 39 is a large outdoor shopping complex built on a pier. A lovely place with many waterfront dining restaurants, souvenir shops and home to the sea lion colony. It feels like you are walking through a theme park with the carousel and the attractions like Aquarium of the Bay. Next to the pier, you have the sea lions that are chilling all day and love to be photographed.
Pier 39, San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge
Visiting one of the most famous bridges in the world really stays a unique experience for everyone! Did you know that it does not owe its name to the color? The color is officially called ‘international orange’. When you are looking for the best postcard-perfect views, you need to cross the Golden Gate Bridge towards Sausalito, Marin Headlands and Battery Spencer.
Explore the city with the hop on-hop off bus
To Explore San Francisco take the Hop on Hop off bus and choose a 24 hour or 48-hour pass. Experience San Francisco with the wind in your hair, a camera in your hand and enjoy the beautiful views. With the HoHo bus, you choose where you hop on and hop off. Every half an hour a new bus will pass that same spot where you hopped off. Super easy and you have a good overview of the city in no time.
Prices start from $50
Get a 2-day pass for a hop on hop off bus and explore the city while enjoying the best views.
Now you’ve read all the best things to do in San Francisco, you might be ready to go. Following websites can help you plan the perfect trip: