Mark Twain famously said that everyone loves two cities: their own and San Francisco.

It’s a beguiling place, this city by the bay, with a multicultural population reflecting its maritime past, facing out into the Pacific Ocean. The Golden Gate Bridge is an inevitable draw, as is the grimly fascinating former prison on Alcatraz Island, The California Academy of Sciences is just one of several fine museums, while districts such as Chinatown and Haight-Ashbury connect with different aspects of San Francisco’s past – and present.

Things to know before you go

  • San Francisco’s maritime climate means that it is susceptible to coastal fog and mists, but they sometimes burn off during the day and they do give the city a haunting beauty while they last.
  • San Francisco has some of the steepest hills you’ll find in any city anywhere. If you’re looking at a map to get from A to B, remember that the route may have its ups and downs.
  • Don’t plan on driving in San Francisco. If you take a car, leave it at your hotel. Finding street parking is almost impossible, and the numerous one-way streets present challenges.

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About the author

Mike Gerrard

Green Valley, Arizona

Mike Gerrard is an award-winning travel writer specialising in European and US destinations. He writes for numerous websites as well as publishing several of his own travel sites.