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San Francisco skyline

- © Frederic Prochasson / 123RF
San Francisco
San Francisco

One of the most European of American cities

San Francisco in short

Built on some forty hills, this former fishing village was able to develop thanks to gold mining and the arrival of the Panama Canal. Now a rich and prosperous city, "The City" was the birthplace of the hippie movement and has been a haven for the homosexual community since the 1970s. Busy, idyllic and incomparable, San Francisco has many wonders to discover, starting with the Golden Gate Bridge and its bay, the famous Victorian villas and the Haight-Ashbury district where the children of the Peace & Love revolution grew up.

San Francisco

- © Canbalci / 123RF

Last articles

2 days in San Francisco, between urban life and nature
San Francisco

2 days in San Francisco, between urban life and nature

San Francisco: a bustling city with inexhaustible energy. A kingdom where technology reigns supreme, it's also where counter-cultures flourish like nowhere else in the United States....

The must-sees

All the must-sees

How to get there?

Flying is undoubtedly the quickest and most direct way to get to San Francisco, which has an international airport located 22km south of the city centre. A word of advice: book early!

San Francisco

✈️ Flights to San Francisco

San Francisco is easy to reach from the UK. 11h30 flight on average from London.
From
£323
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Where to stay?

The city is the Californian birthplace of the boutique hotel concept. Far from the standardised rooms of hotel chains, this concept offers designer rooms. Expect to pay between $100 and $200 for a mid-range room, although prices vary widely. Worth knowing: The 16% tax on San Francisco hotels is not usually included in the estimates.

Our 5 favourite hotels in Union Square, San Francisco's liveliest district
San Francisco
Our 5 favourite hotels in Union Square, San Francisco's liveliest district
Union Square is located in the heart of San Francisco, between the financial district, the Civic Center and the South Market district. Designed in 1901 and renovated in 1990, the district...

Practical information

Safety

San Francisco, like the United States in general, poses no great danger to travellers. However, wandering around at night, on foot alone, remains inadvisable. The same applies to carrying valuables or large sums of money. In San Francisco, where walking is much more spontaneous than elsewhere, it's best to avoid the Soma (South of Market) and Mission areas at night.

Formalities and visas

Since January 2009, nationals of visa-exempt countries have been required to apply online for travel authorisation (ESTA) at least 72 hours before departure. This authorisation is valid for two years or until your passport expires.

If you have an old-style passport, you will need a visa, as this type of passport is not machine-readable and therefore not secure under U.S. regulations. However, you can use it until its expiry date. But note that the tourist visa will cost you 70 pounds. The United States requires an individual passport, whatever the age of the traveller. Babies (even a few months old) and children must therefore have the same passport as adults (or an individual visa if the child is included in the passport of one of the parents who has a visa).

Because of the attacks of 11 September 2001, security checks are more numerous and longer for travellers to the United States. Don't forget to allow a little extra time at the airport. Many airlines fly to San Francisco, most flights are direct from London and generally take 11 hours.

Currency

The currency is the US dollar (USD), the rate of which can fluctuate quite widely (small denominations are preferable). It is divided into 100 cents. There are plenty of exchange offices, but rates are higher at airports than in town. All the major towns have plenty of cash dispensers and 24-hour banking machines, so you can withdraw cash anywhere with any international credit card. Banks are generally open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. It is important to bring cash with you, particularly for tips and markets!

Transport

San Francisco is one of the few American cities where getting around on foot is possible and highly recommended. The city also has a good public transport network that makes it much easier to get around the different districts. Fares start at just $2.50 for a single journey on the metro, and $2.75 for buses, trams and cable cars. There are three types of passes: the MUNI passport, the Clipper card and the MUNI monthly pass.

  • MUNI passport: unlimited travel on all MUNI transport, including cable cars, for 1 day ($23), 3 days ($34) or 7 days ($45).
  • Clipper Card: rechargeable card valid on all networks. The card costs $3 and can be used for journeys of up to one hour.
  • MUNI Monthly Pass: unlimited travel on the entire MUNI network, including cable cars, for one calendar month. It costs $78 at full fare and $39 for children.

Health

No specific vaccinations are required, but very good insurance is strongly recommended (care and repatriation costs), in the event of illness or accident, given the high cost of medical care in the United States. To contact the emergency services, dial 911 (police, fire brigade, ambulance). Mandatory vaccination against Covid 19 was lifted on 11 May 2023.

Good to know

The prices of products displayed in shops are always exclusive of tax. State tax, in this case 7.75%, must be added. An additional local tax may be applied to hotels in certain towns, for a total that may vary from 11% to 14%. Prices quoted in the service sector (restaurants, taxis) always exclude a tip: it is customary to add a 15% tip to the price quoted. When paying by credit card, you should add the tip yourself and make up the final bill before signing.

What to eat

The Californian family business In-N-Out Burger. is older than McDonald's and, since 1948, has opened 216 establishments in three American states. All you'll find here are burgers, fries and milkshakes, prepared on site every day using fresh ingredients. There are no freezers or microwave ovens. Great food! We recommend the restaurant at this address:

📍 333 Jefferson St, San Francisco, CA 94133, United States

lightbulb_outline Editor's tip

There are a few things you need to know to make your journey as comfortable as possible: American plugs differ from European and UK plugs. So remember to take adapters with you. Another important thing to know is that in a restaurant you must wait for the head waiter to show you to a table, otherwise the waiter might simply ignore you.

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