Say hello to San Francisco! If you’re looking for your next travel destination that’s filled with stunning landscapes, wondrous architecture and iconic landmarks, this destination should definitely have a spot on your travel bucket list ?
Also known as ‘The City by The Bay’, this gem of a destination in Northern California is a must-visit for anyone making a trip to the United States. Curious about what you can see, do and eat in this charming city? Read on to find out what this itinerary has in store for you!
Day 1: Arrival in San Francisco
- Once you arrive in San Francisco International Airport, make your way to the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and board the Antioch train that’s bound to one of the four San Francisco downtown stations (Civic Center, Powell Street, Montgomery Street, Embarcadero). Take the 30-minute train ride that'll take you straight into the heart of the city.
- Check into your accommodation and get ready to explore San Francisco!
Explore Fisherman’s Wharf (3h)
- The first stop on your San Francisco adventure is the waterfront neighbourhood of Fisherman's Wharf. Once a docking site of more than 400 fishing boats, Fisherman's Wharf is now one of the city's most popular attractions that is constantly bustling with both locals and foreigners alike.
- Home to various cool spots like Pier 39, Ghirardelli Square, Anchorage Square, the National Maritime Museum and Hyde Street Pier, immerse yourself in the colourful mix of sights, sounds and smells.
- For a Muslim-friendly meal here, make your way to Boudin Bakery and have a taste of the popular clam chowder sourdough bread bowl. With the perfect amount of cream and hearty chunks of garlic potatoes, this dish will certainly fill you right up!
Head over to Pier 39 (1.5h)
- Make the most out of your time here by heading over to Pier 39 where you'll find over 50 one-of-a-kind shops selling everything from clothes and sports gear to jewelry and classic San Francisco gifts. Let your inner shopaholic shine as you peruse through the stores and treat yourself to a wonderful shopping experience
- #HHWT Tip: Don't miss out on exploring the upper level as half the shops are located there. It's also a quieter part of the pier, so you'll be able to shop peacefully while getting great views of the ocean.
- Besides the shops, you'll be able to find the iconic sea lions of San Francisco here as well! As you stroll along the pier, spot these pinnipeds lazing on the docks below and barking the afternoon away.
Take a tour of Alcatraz Island (2-3h)
- Located 2km from Fisherman's Wharf, it's time to take a tour of Alcatraz - the once infamous prison island which is now part of the Bay Area's 80,000-acre Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Nicknamed 'The Rock', this island housed
- To get to Alcatraz, head over to Pier 33 (also known as Alcatraz Landing) and take the Alcatraz Cruises for about 20 minutes. As another one of San Francisco's highly popular tourist attraction, make sure to reserve your tickets in advance to ensure you'll get a spot on the cruise.
- Once you've reached the island, you'll be given a short orientation by a National Park Service representative. After the brief , feel free to roam Alcatraz at your own pace and visit some of the island's highlights such as the Recreation Yard, the Gardens of Alcatraz, the ruins of the Warden's House and the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast.
- While there are no formal tours for a visit to Alcatraz, an audio tour is available for the cell house section which can be purchased upon your arrival on the island or with your ferry ticket.
- #HHWT Tip: The weather can be unpredictable on Alcatraz, so it's best to dress in layers to prepare for yourself for the different weather conditions.
Admire the iconic Golden Gate Bridge (2.5h)
- Start your day bright and early by heading to San Francisco's most iconic landmark - the Golden Gate Bridge! Opened in 1937, this amazing suspension bridge has become a popular symbol of the city and is one of the most recognizable pieces of architecture around the world.
- From downtown San Francisco, board the Golden Gate Transit buses (10, 70, 92, 93 and 101) that'll bring you to the south side of the bridge. Once you're dropped off at the toll plaza, take a short walk to the Golden Gate Bridge.
- As you begin your second day in the city with a gorgeous view of the bridge and a sun rise backdrop, make sure to whip your camera out and snap some photos of the breathtaking scene.
- If you're looking to capture more pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, make your way to several viewing spots that'll give you different dramatic views of the bridge. Crissy Field is a highly frequented site where most visitors go to for a panoramic view of the bridge. Besides its stunning San Francisco Bay views, it also offers picnic areas, warm beaches and easy hikes - so, there's plenty to look forward to at this recreational paradise!
- For an up-close view, head to Fort Point that's accessible via the Marine Drive at Crissy Field. Here, you'll be able to admire the structural details of the bridge.
- Fun fact: Did you know that the Golden Gate Bridge has appeared in various films over the years? It has an impressive resume of movie appearances, from Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 psychological thriller "Vertigo" to the more recent action-pack movies like "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and "San Andreas".
Relax around Golden Gate Park (2h)
- Once you've had your fill of the bridge, make your way back to the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge and head to Golden Gate Park. Known for its beautiful gardens, top museums and vast green space, this place is the ultimate haven for a break from the bustling city streets.
Visit The Walt Disney Family Museum (1-2h)
- Continue your adventure with a visit to the Walt Disney Museum that's located within Presidio of San Francisco. For all lovers and die-hard fans of Disney, this attraction is right up your alley!
- Featuring interactive galleries, unique exhibitions, early drawings and listening stations among other things, immerse yourself in the life story of Walt Disney the creation of the Disney empire. Depending on the day of your visit, you'll also be able to catch screenings of Disney classics such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Cinderella (1950).
Visit Palace of Fine Arts (30m)
- Make a stop at another one of San Francisco's architectural landmark - Palace of Fine Arts. Situated on the eastern edge of the Presidio, this is a favourite location for locals to hangout, have photoshoots and even throw weddings!
- Take a peaceful stroll around the lagoon and don't forget to snap a photo of the Greek-style colonnades for an Insta-worthy shot ?
Have breakfast at The Halal Guys (1h)
- Kick off day three of your San Francisco journey with a meal at The Halal Guys. Starting out as New York street food cart, the brand now has chains all across the country and even several in Asia. Serving a menu of delicious chicken, gyros and falafel platters, enjoy the flavourful taste of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavours.
- #HHWT Tip: If you like a little heat in your food, don’t skip out on their famous white and hot sauce ?
Admire the charm of Lombard Street (1h)
- Once you're all fueled up, make your way to Lombard Street. Known as the "Crookedest Street in the World", this place is worth visiting for its unique streets that consist of eight sharp hairpin turns. Combined with Russian Hill mansions and a gorgeous landscape of flowers, the scenic street definitely deserves a spot on your Instagram feed.
- Whether you choose to enjoy the view from the bottom looking up or take in the view from the top that looks out onto San Francisco Bay, the Bay Bridge and Colt tower, you'll be impressed either way.
Explore Alamo Square (30m)
- Continue your journey of San Francisco's popular photography spots by making your way to Alamo Square's famous "Postcard Row" at Hayes and Steiner Streets. Also called "Painted Ladies" or "Seven Sisters", the group of seven identical and colourfully painted Victorian houses are a true visual treat.
Go window-shopping at Union square (2h)
- Catch a break from all the sightseeing and head to Union Square which is San Francisco's third-largest shopping area. The public plaza is one of the city's shopping epicenter and features luxurious hotels, high-end shops and even Macy's Union Square - the biggest department store west of New York City!
- Unless you're ready to splurge in the upscale stores that surround the area, browsing and window-shopping to your heart's content are perfectly fine ?
Ride the historical cable car (1h)
- End your day in the city by riding San Francisco's historical cable car! As one of the world's last manually operated cable car system, don't miss your chance of a memorable San Francisco trip as you journey through the city's neighbourhoods.
- From Union Square onwards, you'll be able to get a final look of San Francisco's gems such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Crissy Field, Palace of Fine Arts, Fisherman's Wharf and more!
Day 4: Day trip to Santa Cruz
- Spend your last day in the Bay area by making a day trip to San Francisco's neighbouring city - Santa Cruz. Only a one and a half hour drive away, unwind and relax in this charming town that offers laid-back vibes.
Stroll the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (2.5h)
- Take a relaxing stroll at Santa Cruz's Beach Boardwalk, one of the city's most classic attractions. Regarded as California's oldest amusement park, feel the nostalgic vibes of the walkway and enjoy the ocean breeze.
- While the entry to the park is free, you'll have to pay a fee if you want to go on the rides. Otherwise, continue your walk on the beach where you can lounge and bask in the pleasantly cool weather of this coastal part of town.
Go on a hiking trail at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park (2h)
- For a slice of nature, head to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park where you'll find a number of trails throughout the area. Centered around a 40-acre redwood grove, the oldest tree in the park is over 1,500 years old and 277 feet tall!
Time to head home
- It's time to bid goodbye to Santa Cruz as your Californian adventure comes to an end. Make the drive back to San Francisco International Airport and board your flight heading back home.
Now that you're armed with this San Francisco itinerary, all that's left for you to do is to pull out that calendar and schedule in your flight to California for an exciting adventure in the City by the Bay!