San Francisco is a diverse city that celebrates cultural diversity at every turn.
Today’s San Francisco is one of the world’s leading technology powerhouses and a hub for start-up companies. It’s a total contrast to its reputation as the heart of the counter-culture movement back in the Sixties, but the laid-back liberal vibe from back then still remains. Casual wear has long since replaced the tailored suits and smart ties of the city’s Financial District.
The Golden Gate Bridge springs to mind as one of San Francisco’s most famous monuments and is not to be missed. Walk along this feat of engineering for breath-taking views or hire a bike and cycle the sidewalks toll-free, at any time of day.
The undulating hills and cable cars that criss-cross the city are synonymous with San Francisco. A cable car is an ideal way to see some of the main sights like Fisherman’s Wharf, perfect for souvenirs, Chinatown, the largest outside of Asia, North Beach, formerly a Bohemian part of the city and Union Square with its excellent shopping.
The attractions here are as diverse as the weather. Stroll the Embarcadero, along the eastern sea front where you can dine accompanied by views over the bay or pick up some fresh produce from the farmers’ market. Wander through the 400-hectare Golden Gate Park. Jump on a ferry to the seaside village of Sausalito. Wherever you go, take some warm clothing with you as it gets cold out on the water, even on the sunniest days.
For a change of pace, head to Pier 33 and jump on a ferry to the notorious Alcatraz prison. Book two to three days ahead if you can, as tours tend to get booked up early. The Cell House Audio Tour gives an interesting insight into what life was like on the island known as “the Rock”, with recordings from former inmates and wardens.
The weather in San Francisco can change from one hour to the next and between one neighbourhood and another. For the best chance of catching some sun, visit the city between September and November. During the winter, you’ll experience wind and rain, but it’s also good for deals on accommodation. The city gets crowded in the summer, especially during festivals such as the San Francisco Pride Celebration and Parade in late June.