Why go to San Francisco?
Although it's not California's largest city, San Francisco is one of its most culturally important, known for its art, museums, fine dining and lively atmosphere. A visit to the City By the Bay can include anything from sailing and hiking to historical tours and wild street parties.
The majority of San Francisco's cultural institutions are located in and around Golden Gate Park. These include the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum and its daughter institution, the Asian Art Museum. Newer museums are located in the South of Market (SoMa) area, just a short walk from the train station on King Street. These include the Museum of Modern Art, the Cartoon Art Museum and more.
San Francisco's waterfront area is popular with tourists; attractions include watching the sea lions frolic along the piers as well as strolling along the waterfront with its colourful shops and vendors. History buffs can explore the World War II submarine USS Pampanito, while children and adults alike love the Exploratorium, an interactive science museum. The city's naval history is reflected in the many ships stored at the Hyde Street Pier Maritime Museum.
One of San Francisco's most famous attractions is Alcatraz Island. This island, once home to a military base, became a federal prison in 1933. Because of its position surrounded by the chilly waters of the San Francisco Bay, "the Rock" was home to some of America's most notorious criminals. Today, tourists can take a ferry to the island and enjoy a guided tour of the prison.
How far is the airport from city centre and which airlines fly to San Francisco from UK?
13 miles (21 km) south of the city is San Francisco's major airport, San Francisco International (SFO). Direct carriers from the UK to SFO include Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and United Airlines, but many other carriers fly via other airports including New York's JFK.
What’s the best way to reach city centre from the airport?
Getting into San Francisco from the airport is easy: Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) trains run from the airport into the city. Alternatively, travellers can take BART to the Millbrae CalTrain station and take a train to the station on the corner of 4th and King Streets. Buses link the airport, the city and points to the south.
What are the visa requirements for EU and non-EU nationals?
EU nationals don't require a visa to visit the United States under most circumstances, but they must clear the US's Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) in advance. Residents of other countries should contact their American consulate.
How to get around San Francisco?
Hemmed in by the bay on three sides, San Francisco is a very compact city. It is therefore good for walking or cycling, although it is very hilly. Bus and subway services are good, and a few of the historic "cable car" trams still run. Driving and parking in San Francisco can be challenging.
What’s the best time to visit San Francisco?
San Francisco is cool and rainy compared to warm southern California, but the climate is generally mild. Spring and summer are the ideal times to visit, but a light waterproof outer layer is worth packing at any time of year.