Auto Europe

  • Contact Our Reservation Specialists
    Car Rentals Worldwide
    Alamo Rental Car
    Avis Car Rental
    Budget Rental Car
    Dollar Car Rental
    National Car Rental
    Sixt Rent a Car
    Car Rentals Worldwide

    Blog Search


    Searching Blogs......

    10 things to see and do in San Francisco

    This list of the best things to see and do in San Francisco will help you prepare routes through the most beautiful city in the United States, making the most of your time. The city of San Francisco falls in love at first sight for its location around a bay and its European style, away from the noisy and chaotic big American cities. In addition, its mild climate and good cuisine make it an essential stop on any trip to the Western United States. Crossing the Golden Gate, visiting the Alcatraz jail, strolling through the Castro and Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhoods, reaching the Twin Peaks lookout, or taking the historic streetcar are just some of the reasons to visit this city of steep streets and hills. Based on the four days we spent in the city, during our trip through the National Parks of the Western United States, we wrote in Auto Europe this guide to San Francisco; we have made this list of the 10 essential places to see in San Francisco. We started!

    1. Golden Gate

    Visit San Francisco with Auto EuropeThe Golden Gate, inaugurated in 1937, is the symbol of the city and our favorite place in San Francisco. This huge orange bridge, 227 meters high and almost 3 kilometers wide that crosses the San Francisco Bay, has appeared in many films, photographs, and lists of the most beautiful bridges in the world. To get the best views, you have to reach several viewpoints located around the Golden Gate, and if you are lucky and there is low fog, the views can be breathtaking. One of our favorite lookouts is Battery Spencer, which you can find by crossing the bridge in the direction of Sausalito and going up a small hill to the left. From this viewpoint, you will have fantastic views of the bridge and the city, with the bay in the background. Another great place to get a closer look at the Golden Gate and walk across the bridge is Battery East, located just before entering the bridge on the right. You can also get to Crissy Field, a perfect park for a picnic overlooking the bridge from this area. Our last recommended viewpoint is Baker Beach, a farther but no less spectacular point. Another good way to see the Golden Gate is by booking this San Francisco Bay boat tour or taking the Go San Francisco Card, which includes two different cruises and more than 28 city attractions.

    2. Fisherman's Wharf

    Fisherman's Wharf is the old port and fishing district, restored to become one of the most famous places to visit in San Francisco. To get to this neighborhood, you can take one of the city's historic trams and start the route savoring a delicious ice cream at the Ghirardelli chocolate shop, the best known in the city. From this square, you can start touring the different piers, such as the Hyde Street Pier with several historic ships and Pier 45, which houses the SS Jeremiah O'Brien ship and the USS Pampanito submarine both from World War II. Before leaving this pier, do not forget to enter the Musée Mecanique, which has hundreds of old arcade machines inside. To finish the route through this neighborhood, you can spend some time at the famous Pier 39, an open-air shopping center, and a colony of sea lions. This area is also one of the best to try clam chowder, one of the most typical dishes of the city that consists of a clam chowder served in a round homemade bread.

    3. Alcatraz Island

    Alcatraz Island, located in the bay of San Francisco and known as La Roca, was a military fort to later become the most famous prison in the world. The jail operated from 1934 to 1963, and today your visit is one of the best experiences and things to do in San Francisco. This large influx of tourists and the small size of the island make it essential to book the entrance on this official website well in advance or book this tour of the city that includes the visit to not run out of place. To get to the island, you have to get on one of the boats that leave Pier 33 all day or one of those that leave at night to take a night tour of the jail. During the visit with an audio guide in Spanish, you can see different rooms and cells of the prison, such as the one where Al Capone was or one of the prisoners Clint Eastwood played in the movie "The Escape from Alcatraz." The visit, counting the boat trips, can take you about 3 hours.

    4. Castro and Haight-Ashbury

    The Castro and Haight-Ashbury neighborhoods are two great examples of San Francisco's longstanding diversity and freedom. Castro was one of the places where the most fought for the rights of the LGTBI community in the city and the acceptance of sexual diversity throughout the country. Among the neighborhood, highlights are the theater, the colorful streets around 18, the Victorian houses, and the old house of Harvey Milk, one of the great references of this community. Haight-Ashbury was the birthplace of the hippie movement in the 60s and another of the must-see neighborhoods in San Francisco. In this neighborhood, you will find all kinds of second-hand stores such as Buffalo Exchange, hippie style, and vinyl. Besides looking for a bargain, don't forget to find the home of the great Jimi Hendrix and take photos of the Victorian houses that are located in Waller Street, between Masonic and Ashbury, and at the intersection of Haight and Masonic.

    5. Painted Ladies, one of the places to see in San Francisco

    The city's most famous Painted Ladies, Victorian-style houses painted in various pastel colors, are located near Alamo Square Park. These seven houses, located between 710 and 722 Steiner Street, became very popular with the series "Forced Fathers." Also, from the top of the park, you can take one of the best photos of San Francisco, with the houses in the foreground and the silhouette of the city in the background. Although it is one of the places to visit in San Francisco, it must be borne in mind that the city had more than 50,000 houses of this same style before the 1906 earthquake, and many are still preserved throughout the city.

    6. Climb Twin Peaks, one of the best things to do in San Francisco

    One of the best things to do in San Francisco at sunset or sunrise is to climb Twin Peaks Hill, the best vantage point in the city. These twin hills, almost 300 meters high, offer panoramic views of the entire city, which allows you to see points such as the Golden Gate or Alcatraz on a clear day. We reached the top of the hill by car, although you also have the option of public transport and if you are very fit you can go up on foot or by bike. The best time to go up is one hour before sunset to see the sunset and how the city lights up.

    7. Golden Gate Park

    The Golden Gate Park, a green space 5 kilometers long by 1 kilometer wide, is another of the essential places to see in San Francisco. If you don't want to walk a lot, it is preferable to rent a bike or take the minibus that runs through the park to visit places such as the Japanese garden, Shakespeare's garden, the great Dutch mill, the rose garden, and Stow Lake, among many others. In addition, a community of coyotes and American buffalo lives inside the park.

    8. Other neighborhoods

    In addition to Castro and Haight-Ashbury, there are other essential neighborhoods to visit in San Francisco, such as:

    • Chinatown: it is one of the largest Chinatowns in the world in which the following stand out: Grant Avenue and Stockton Street, the Dragon Gate, and Portsmouth Square, a square where tai chi and board games are practiced.
    • Little Italy: in this neighborhood that has been shrinking over the years, you will find Italian shops and stores, many located on Columbus Avenue. In addition to eating at an Italian restaurant, don't forget to visit the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, where Marilyn Monroe was married.
    • Mission District: it is a neighborhood with a great Latino presence whose great jewel is the Mission Dolores church; it is the oldest building to see in San Francisco. In addition to this church, the many murals and graffiti in Clarion Alley, Balmy Alley, and the Woman's Building are worth seeing.
    • Japantown: The small Japanese neighborhood features a 5-story pagoda, Peace Square, and Japan Center, a shopping mall with Japanese shops and restaurants.

    9. Lombard Street

    Driving down with a car rental with Auto Europe Lombard Street, America's most curvy street is another of the best things to see in San Francisco. Situated between Hyde and Leavenworth, this short stretch of road has up to 8 hairpins and narrow turns that allow cars to negotiate a 27-degree incline. In addition to the curiosity of the section, being in an elevated position of the city, good views are obtained.

    10. Places to see around San Francisco

    There are several wonders to visit in the United States near San Francisco that are worth visiting if you have a half or a day, such as Sausalito and Muir Woods. Sausalito is a small coastal town located less than 10 kilometers away, which stands out for its art galleries, houseboats, and above all, for its relaxed and bohemian atmosphere. You can get to Sausalito by ferry, car, or even by bike. In the Muir Woods forest, located just over 10 kilometers, you can see the giant redwoods that can be more than 150 meters high and live for more than a thousand years.

    Visit San Francisco with Auto Europe

    Auto Europe: the worldwide leader of car rentalsIf you decide to visit San Francisco, we recommend renting a car from Auto Europe because we have been offering the best prices in every city and town in the world for more than 60 years. As a result, if you book your car rental with us now using the booking engine at the top of this page, you will automatically save 30% off the normal price. What are you waiting for? Check out Auto Europe's pricing right now!

    Blog Search