There is a lot to see and do in the hilly mega-city of San Francisco and I love every minute of my stay in both Oakland, which is right across the bridge as well as in the heart of San Francisco.

San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge already welcomed me dearly with its shimmering orange and red tones as I arrived in the late evening over sunset. I hope my little San Francisco travel guide will make it easier for you to wander around, so here are my 15 top things to see and do in the city! Let's dive right in, shall we?

#1 Visit The Golden Gate Bridge

This suspension bridge was built way back in 1933 and is a possibly one of the most famous US symbols recognized internationally.

It spans the Golden Gate, the one-mile-wide strait and connects the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay.

Aside from walking or biking across while enjoying the marvellous view, you can also take the hop on hop off bus which stops at Vista Point for a great view over San Francisco and the bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point

If you need some additional information or just want to eye-off some souvenirs, head inside Bridge Pavilion. Afterwards, you can head to the Round House Cafe next door to have a bite to eat.

#2 Get Spooky At Alcatraz

Alcatraz Island is one of San Francisco's greatest attractions as it was a former prison that is now turned into a National Park.

Alcatraz is known for holding notorious prisoners such as George Kelly and Al Capone. It can be a guessing game on how the weather will be on the island so better be prepared with a coat or umbrella just to be sure.

You can book an Alcatraz Tour where you cruise on the official ferry to the island. Be sure to book in advance as the cruises are often fully booked. There is an audio tour for the cell house part but the rest of the island can be explored in small guided tours or on your own.

If you want it to be spookier, you may want to get the evening tour instead to add up to that chilly feeling.

San Francisco Alcatraz

#3 Stay At The Beautiful The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel

Of course, when you are exploring San Francisco all day long, you will want to make sure you get a good night's sleep.

The best place to stay in the downtown area, so you can access all the attractions easily, is the beautiful The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel. From here you are close to Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street and Fisherman's Wharf. The stylish hotel, built in 1915, is renowned for its architecture.

The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel is a mixture of modern and old-world style design, housed in a stone building from 1915.

Just a few minutes away from the Union Square, you can enjoy your stay and sleep heavenly in some of their tasteful rooms.

Clift Hotel
Clift San Francisco
Clift Boutique Hotel SF

As you walk into the lobby, you are greeted with a dark glowing purple, which gives it an elegant feel.

The eclectic furniture collection and thirty-five-foot fireplace won't disappoint design-lovers eyes.

Experience the multi-purpose Velvet Room, the legendary Redwood Room, where you can taste creative menus and cocktails or relax at the English-club-style Living Room, complete with plush furnishings and leather chairs.

Clift Hotel SF
Hotel Clift Union Square San Francisco
CLIFT San Francisco

#4 Take In The Hustle Bustle Of Union Square

Not far from The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel, you will easily find Union Square, the commercial hub of the city, buzzing with life. All major department stores can be found around here, so prep yourself for some shopping. Restaurants, bars and nightspots are also to be found aplenty.

Or if you are up for a more cultural experience, head into Chinatown through the famous front gate.

#5 Ride The Cable Cars

You haven't been to San Francisco if you haven't ridden one of the famous cable cars!

Don't miss this unique way of transportation that will tour you around San Francisco steep hills. It will definitely be a memorable one riding a cable car since San Francisco is the first city to launch them 150 years ago and it's the world's last manually operated cable car system. Cool huh?

Be prepared to queue up, as it is a major tourist attraction, especially when starting at Market Street near Union Square.

Cable Car San Francisco
Riding the cable car in San Francisco
San Francisco Cable Cars

#6 Eat At Ferry Building Marketplace

A popular city landmark that has been transformed into a world-class marketplace. So listen up all you foodies!

There are plenty of shops and stalls for you to visit and buy some awesome food. Visit on the Farmers Market Day, which is held on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, as it is renowned throughout the entire US as one of the top farmers' markets to visit!

#7 Explore Golden Gate Park

The Golden Gate Park is considered as one of the greatest treasures of San Francisco due to it's vast and diverse connection to mother earth.

It's no question why 13 million people visit this urban park yearly. You can find lakes, playgrounds, monuments, trails, picnic groves, gardens, cultural spots, museums and other seasonal activities and events here.

With the space of 1,017 acres, I doubt that you'll find nothing to do.

Golden Gate Park SF

#8 Wander Through The Famous San Francisco Chinatown

Did you know San Francisco has actually four Chinatowns?

However, San Francisco's most famous and oldest Chinatown in the US is located along Stockton Street and Grant Avenue. So what can you do here?

Stop in to visit some of the temples like the Tien How landmark, visit the Chinese Historical Society of America Museum, definitely stock up on some delicious dim sum and other Chinese delicacies, and if you are up for it, try karaoke, or just enjoy roaming around the streets beyond the Dragon's Gate.

And did you know, Chinatown is one of the major tourist attraction of San Francisco, drawing more visitors annually than the Golden Gate Bridge?

#9 Fisherman’s Wharf & Pier 39

People often confuse themselves if Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 is just the same.

So, let me explain. Pier 39 is a part of Fisherman's Wharf. Pier 39 is popular among travellers from near and far and is the number one spot to see masses of cute sea lions.

From here, you can also join a cruise through the San Francisco Bay, savour on some of the best seafood in town or simply shop around the various little stalls.

Don't forget to take your camera as there are always some interesting street performers around here.

Pier39 San Francisco
San Francisco Pier39

#10 Enjoy The Views From Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks is the perfect spot to witness a 360-degree view of San Francisco, best to be enjoyed at sunrise or sunset.

On the top, you can find free parking, however, it is limited and you either got to get there ahead of all others or be prepared to wait a little when you arrive.

If you want a better view, you can climb the stairs and reach the top of one of the peaks. I was super lucky with the weather on my visit to San Francisco and Twin Peaks is best enjoyed on a clear day.

#11 Have A Picnic At The Painted Ladies

Alamo Square San Francisco

You are not actually going to sit down with real-life women, just to give you a heads up. The painted ladies are located at Steiner Street across Alamo Square Park.

This is a row of iconic Victorian houses which is also known as the Seven Sisters. You may know them from their appearance in a movie or two, most famously from the TV sitcom Full House.

Bring some snacks and have a picnic at Alamo Square Park and just chill and enjoy the view over the rooftops! There are some good coffee shops in some of the nearby streets as well.

#12 Hang At Ocean Beach & Have A Beer At Beach Chalet

Talk about being chill. If you easily tire yourself at the busy San Francisco life, you will definitely be at peace at Ocean Beach.

A different and refreshing breathtaking view of the ocean, away from the buildings and architecture, where you can just hang out and maybe grab a drink or two awaits at Beach Chalet.

As a restaurant and brewery in one, Beach Chalet is a great addition to visiting Golden Gate Park. If you come on a Friday, you may catch a live band playing.

#13 Explore The Hippie District Of Haight-Ashbury

A culturally formed neighbourhood from a place once home to cult leaders, singers, and revolutionaries.

Haight-Ashbury was made famous in the 60's by the hippie movement which made history. Once you're here, don't miss to check the Haight and Ashbury corner, the most famous place wherein 1967, thousands of young people, inspired by a sense of idealistic purpose and open-mindedness, celebrated the Summer of Love.

Check out The Booksmith, if you are a bookworm or drop by some of the alternative coffee shops, wandering the area, you will surely find things and places you never expected to see.

Haight-Ashbury San Francisco

#14 Explore The Mission District

Also known as “The Mission” or formerly the Mission lands is a lively and diverse neighbourhood in San Francisco with a touch of Latino and hipster vibes.

You will absolutely enjoy the nightlife, grab some cocktails or a beer at one of the many the bars, grab some burritos or indulge in ice cream.

Check out the vintage clothing stores or check out the street art before heading to Dolores Park, a people-watching spot like no other in SF.

#15 Palace Of Fine Arts – For The Instagram-Lovers!

Lastly, if Instagram is your thing, head to the Marina District and visit the stunning Palace of Fine Arts Theater, which was originally constructed around a small artificial lagoon for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in order to exhibit works of art.

This is one of San Francisco's most photographed attractions and you will see why as you arrive!

While a popular location for movie shoots, events and performances, you can definitely also just wander around the place, taking in the architecture and gardens.

You won't be disappointed, promised!

Ein von @shotzdelight geteilter Beitrag am

There are so many awesome things to do in San Francisco and I feel like I will be back to experience more of it.

Dare to wander off your planned adventures, you never know what you will find along the way!

Overall, history, culture, and fun are what San Francisco is made of, from the Golden Gate bridge, awesome old Victorian-style houses and beautiful neighbourhood architecture and sub-cultures, steep cable car rides, the chilling Alcatraz tour and a lot more!

Are you also planning to visit San Francisco soon?

Thank you to the beautiful The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel for having me stay. This article was written in collaboration with The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel San Francisco.

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