San Francisco

San Francisco

The towering Golden Gate Bridge at sundown, steep streets with the rattle of the cable cars: when you hear the name San Francisco at least one of those images springs to mind.

A few little facts

The city on the west coast of the US State of California is particularly characterised by the 43 hills across the city. To be able to get across these sometimes extremely steep hills, the cable car was built in 1873. The old fashioned carriages can only be seen in this city today, where they have become part of the fabric of the city. With a comfortable top speed of 15.3 km/h, they are perfect for a relaxed trip through the city streets as you soak up the atmosphere.

Things speed up on Lombard Street between Hyde Street and Leavenworth Street on Russian Hill with a gradient of 27%. The street therefore descends in 8 hairpin corners. Anyone going down here by car should hold on tight! And it is also worth seeing anyway, as the red brick street is lined with vibrant flowers that are particularly beautiful when in bloom in the summer.

Shopping time

If you want to take a breather for a moment, head to Union Square, one of the tourist centres of “Frisco” as tourists tend to refer to the city. There are shops and restaurants as well as palm trees and green lawns, which are perfect for relaxing on. If you prefer vibrant and gaudy colours then you’ll love Chinatown. The narrow streets are home to the largest Chinese community outside Asia! You can find exotic foods, souvenirs and much more there.

Ghirardelli Square is also great for shopping, where the former chocolate factory in the old red brick building has much more than just chocolate on offer, or pay a visit to the New People shopping centre. This shopping centre in the heart of Japantown will make you feel like you’ve been transported to a Japanese city with its anime cinema, Japanese cafes and shops with Kawaii clothing.

Art & culture

The Haight-Ashbury district is a stark contrast with its incredible Victorian houses that remind you of American series of yesteryear. Many of these often colourful and ornate houses unfortunately fell victim to one of the large earthquakes that have hit San Francisco in past years.

Would you rather see the diverse city from above? Coit Tower, a viewing tower in the north east, is a good option. The Twin Peaks in the south also offer an impressive view at a height of 270 m. The public are not allowed to go up the Transamerica Pyramid, but it is still worth a visit. The skyscraper forms a point at the top, as if it really could scrape the sky.
There is another sightseeing attraction right on the coast, namely the port district of Fisherman’s Wharf. Along with lots of shops, street artists and excellent fish and seafood restaurants, you can also visit Pier 39 with its fairground rides and an aquarium. By the way, don‘t be surprised if you hear a strange grunting and squealing sound and notice a fishy smell – over 1,000 sea lions have been living on the jetties here since 1989 and have become a real attraction.

You can also head to the famous Alcatraz Island from Fisherman’s Wharf. Until the 60s, the island had a high security prison, where such renowned gangsters as Al Capone were imprisoned. Many parts of the prison are now open to visitors. Tip: the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park awaits you back in the port district. This combination of a maritime museum, academic library and a historical fleet is definitely worth seeing!

Do you like trying things out yourself? Then head over to the Exploratorium. This science museum is all about learning through interactive media. Touching and experimenting is encouraged!
For example, you can try and feel your way through a maze in the dark. Fans of traditional museums can enjoy contemporary art ranging from photography to sculptures in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and then afterwards admire the city skyline from the brilliant roof garden.

Fitness & fun

A trip to San Francisco would not be complete without visiting THE landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge. Why not rent a bike and ride across the bridge? That way you can stop whenever you want to enjoy the view and take some great photos! The bridge also has a namesake, the Golden Gate Park, which is actually even bigger than Central Park in New York! But it needs to be spacious because in addition to expansive park areas and gardens there are also lakes, countless sports facilities, lots of museums and an aquarium.

Local specialities

After all that sightseeing you will surely be in need of nourishment. At Louis‘ Restaurant American diner you can munch on French fries, burgers & co right on the coast whilst watching the waves breaking on the beach. The diverse population of San Francisco, ranging from Japanese and Russian to German, Italian and Indian, means that there are all sorts of delicacies on offer all over the city.
During the “Off The Grid” event numerous food trucks with all sorts of tasty treats gather at changing locations so that you can try a bit of everything. At Fisherman’s Wharf you can also try one of the city’s specialities, crab soup in sourdough bread. The soup is served in a hollowed out sourdough loaf.

Good to know

To avoid the masses of tourists and long queues, travel in the off-peak season outside of summer. That way you can also avoid the thick fog that often blankets the city in summer. Swimming is not particularly recommendable due to the cool temperatures of the ocean and the strong currents.

Incidentally: if you keep your eyes open you can find a number of locations that you will already know from films, because blockbusters such as The Incredible Hulk and The Pursuit of Happyness were filmed in San Francisco!