Known as the City by the Bay, San Francisco is arguably the most cosmopolitan and bohemian city in America. You’ll be enamored of its beautiful hilly streets lined with eclectic architecture, providing beautiful views of the bay and the famous Golden Gate Bridge.
San Francisco (Spanish for "Saint Francis") was founded on June 29, 1776 when colonists from Spain established a fort at the Golden Gate and a mission named after St. Francis of Assisi a few miles away.
The California Gold Rush of 1849 brought rapid growth, making it the largest city on the West Coast at the time. Surrounded by the rugged Pacific coast, fascinating Silicon Valley and bountiful open roads, San Francisco is the perfect launch pad for your road trip around California. But it is also one of the most exciting cities around and not one to be missed.
Immerse yourself into the urban buzz of the city, taking in the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, charming cable cars, the intriguing former prison on Alcatraz Island, and its colourful Chinatown distrit. Then, escape to scintillating Sonoma’s wine country to sip bio-dynamic wines, sample delicious organic food and take in the stunning scenery.
Things to do
Browse our amazing range of holidays in San Francisco
A stylish hotel with a nautical feel to reflect its position on Fisherman’s Wharf, The Argonaut is a fantastic base from which to explore the city of San ...see more
The grand Fairmont San Francisco sits on the top of the exclusive Nob Hill with fantastic views over the city and beyond.
Rooms are elegant ...see more
The Galleria Park Hotel is a stylish boutique hotel in a great location, just a few blocks from fantastic shopping in Union Square and a short cable car ...see more
Hilton Union Square
The Hilton San Francisco is a large and stylish hotel with a great downtown location in the heart of the vibrant entertainment district.
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Holiday Inn Fisherman's Wharf
The Holiday Inn is a classic hotel with an excellent location in the heart of the popular Fisherman’s Wharf neighbourhood of San Francisco.
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W San Francisco
An ultra-modern hotel, W San Francisco is located in the SoMa district with plenty of shopping and entertainment on your doorstep.
Rooms have ...see more
Top tips for visiting San Francisco
1. San Fran is compact
• One of the great things about visiting San Francisco is it is geographically small – only 49 square miles and compact. Consequently, it is very easy to see and do a great many things in a short period of time.
2. Know the weather
• Many San Francisco tourists don't realise how cold it can get in summer and dozens of cheap sweatshirt shops are thriving on their ignorance. Maybe you wanted a souvenir shirt anyway, but your trip will be more comfortable if you know that the average low in June and July is in the mid-50s°F (10-15°C) or that's it's sunnier in October than in May.
• San Francisco is famous for its fog - especially in the summer - while Los Angeles is known for its consistently sunny, coastal climate.
3. Go car-free!
• It's not just an environmental statement, it's a smart choice. San Francisco is small and most tourist sights are close together, so you don't need one to get around. Even worse, some hotels charge more than the price of a nice lunch just for parking. Pick a hotel in a convenient area (Union Square or Fisherman's Wharf), use public transportation or taxis and rent a car for just one day if you want to take a side trip.
4. Get on the cable car faster
• Don't stand in the endless line at the stop on Hyde just below Ghirardelli Square. Instead, head to Mason and Bay Streets, where lines are much shorter. You'll end up at Union Square on either line. If you just want to ride for the fun of it, get on the California line where California Street intersects Market near the Ferry Building and get off at the top of the hill in Chinatown. The big hill on this route is a thrill and crowds are much smaller.