San Francisco Travel Guide
Once the centre of the counter-culture movement of the sixties, San Francisco is now one of the world’s technology powerhouses and a hub for start-up companies. Although you'll no longer find Janis Joplin or the Grateful Dead singing to sold-out crowds, the laid-back liberal atmosphere remains. Suits and ties have since been replaced by fleece jackets and tennis shoes in the city’s Financial District.
San Francisco is known for its distinctive neighbourhoods and tourist areas. Hitch a ride on a cable car as it hauls you over the city’s steep hills to Fisherman’s Wharf. Here you can try fresh seafood or a bowl of creamy clam chowder. Browse bohemian bookshops and soak up some music history in Haight-Ashbury. Stroll through Union Square for some serious shopping, or hang onto your hat as you walk along the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.
The attractions here are as diverse as the weather. Experience the city’s multiculturalism in Little Italy or Japan Town. Enjoy a walking tour of North America's largest Chinatown. Along the eastern seafront, stroll along the Embarcadero, where you can dine while enjoying views over the bay or grab some fresh produce at the farmers’ market. Wander through the 1000 acres (405 hectares) of Golden Gate Park. Board a ferry for a trip to the seaside village of Sausalito. Don't forget your jacket. Even on the sunniest day, it can be cold out on the water.
For a change of pace, head to Pier 33 and jump on board a tour to Alcatraz Island. Listen to fascinating, personal accounts of life at one of the world’s toughest prisons or wander around the grounds and the old cellblocks. Tours are popular, so it's best to book in advance.
Weather in San Francisco can change by the hour and from one neighbourhood to the next. For the best chance of sunny weather, visit between September and November. Winter means wind and rain, but also the best deals on accommodation. The city is crowded in summer for festivals such as the San Francisco Pride Celebration and Parade in late June. This is one of the biggest celebrations of diversity in the country.