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Holidays in San Francisco

Set on a peninsula on California’s north-west coast, the famously hilly city of San Francisco has a distinctive ‘village’ feel. There’s a vibrant social and theatre scene here; it’s the kind of quirky place where a ‘fog-calling contest’ might compete for attention with gala balls marking the opening of the symphony, opera and ballet seasons. From Union Square and North Beach to Japantown, you’ll find intriguing neighbourhoods at every turn.

18-20 °C

Best time to visit San Francisco: July to October, when it’s warmest.

11 hours

San Francisco International Airport (SFO), which is 13 miles south of the city.

Featured San Francisco holidays

San Francisco Marriott Union Square

San Francisco, San Francisco

7 Nights, Room Only
Hotel highlights

Combine beauty, fun, efficiency and a terrific location and you have the new San Francisco Marriott Union Square hotel. Sitting on the corner of Su...

What is included ?

  • ATOL Protection
  • Resort Service

£ 1650

Hotel Majestic

San Francisco, San Francisco

7 Nights, Room Only
Hotel highlights

Located in San Francisco (Civic Center), Hotel Majestic is convenient to Civic Center Plaza and Union Square. This hotel is within close proximity ...

What is included ?

  • ATOL Protection
  • Resort Service

£ 1181

Handlery Union Square Hotel

San Francisco, San Francisco

7 Nights, Room Only
Hotel highlights

Located at Union Square, the Handlery Union Square Hotel offers the perfect San Francisco lodging for vacationers and business travelers. As a fami...

What is included ?

  • ATOL Protection
  • Resort Service

£ 1524

La Luna Inn, a C-Two Hotel

San Francisco, San Francisco

7 Nights, Bed & Breakfast
Hotel highlights

With a stay at La Luna Inn, a C-Two Hotel in San Francisco (Marina District), you'll be minutes from Presidio Theater and close to Palace of Fine A...

What is included ?

  • ATOL Protection
  • Resort Service

£ 1006

The Mosser

San Francisco, San Francisco

7 Nights, Room Only
Hotel highlights

With a stay at The Mosser, you'll be centrally located in San Francisco, steps from Westfield Metreon and Museum of Craft and Folk Art. This hotel ...

What is included ?

  • ATOL Protection
  • Resort Service

£ 1023

Grant Hotel

San Francisco, San Francisco

7 Nights, Room Only
Hotel highlights

With a stay at Grant Hotel, you'll be centrally located in San Francisco, steps from Un-Scripted Theater Company and SF Playhouse. This hotel is cl...

What is included ?

  • ATOL Protection
  • Resort Service

£ 1024

San Francisco is known as ‘The City’ to the natives, but it feels like a mix of little villages thrown side by side. To the south is the up-and-coming Tenderloin; to the north the picturesque and serene Nob Hill. In the middle is Downtown, where The City hustles and bustles 24 hours a day, and you’ll find Union Square’s shops, theatres and the MoMa (Museum of Modern Art). Head north out of the centre to the buzzing Fisherman’s Wharf, to take in the fresh sea breeze and even fresher seafood.

Downtown San Francisco is wedged between Union Square’s upscale boutiques and the gleaming office towers of the Financial District; not to mention Chinatown, and the Civic Centre’s opera house, museums and libraries. Rise and shine early (or roll out a South of Market club) for breakfast with a side of people-watching.

Hotels in San Francisco’s Union Square are perfectly placed for all your shopping and city-hopping needs, via genteel cable cars. Set Downtown, this is where ladies of leisure come to lunch, and the suits of the Financial District and boutique shoppers criss-cross each other during rush hour.

Great for families (and a big hit with the local sea lions!), this waterfront district is all about seafood and sightseeing. Visit the Aquarium of the Bay in the bustling Pier 39 complex, whizz around on a Segway city tour, and catch the ferry out to prison-turned-nature reserve Alcatraz.

San Francisco sits high on the list of the world’s most iconic cities, thanks in part to its grand engineering emblem, the Golden Gate Bridge. The parks are popular hangout spots that offer some of the best views: head to Alamo Square Park, where the ‘Painted Ladies’ - a row of colourful Victorian townhouses - can be seen with downtown skyscrapers looming behind them. Get the ferry to the Alcatraz (aka ‘The Rock’) and visit the Walt Disney Family Museum for a glimpse into the mind of the man behind the mouse. For live-action animals, head to San Francisco Zoo.

An international marvel, the 1.7-mile Golden Gate suspension bridge crosses San Francisco Bay and is the city’s most photographed icon. Alcatraz is one of the top attractions in San Francisco; the atmospheric fortress building offers grand city views from its rocky outpost. Formerly a place its prisoners would try to escape from, it’s now a world-famous destination for tourists (and birds). It’s said to be haunted – if you’re feeling brave have yourself shut into a solitary confinement cell to get a real feel for what life was like here.

Still clicking its fingers to 1950s Beat poets, and swaying to the vibes of the Summer of Love, it’s no surprise that San Francisco is dotted with iconic venues. Jazz and blues fans should soak up the atmosphere at Jazz at Pearl’s, Yoshi’s, and John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom Room. The Mission District, San Francisco's oldest neighbourhood, is also its hippest: Valencia Street has become a hotbed of new restaurants and music clubs offering everything from punk to funk. The century-old Great American Music Hall, in Tenderloin, is still one of the best places in San Francisco for seeing live music.

The popular Pier 39 leisure complex sprawls out over 45 acres of Fisherman’s Wharf, down on the seafront. Packed with restaurants and shops, it has stunning views over Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, and Alcatraz. Union Square offers all the retail therapy delights, from designer names to department stores like Saks and Macy’s. Noe Valley is a bit off the beaten path, and has eclectic shopping, unique restaurants, and almost-guaranteed sunny weather. The hills that bracket the area give it an aura of a village; it’s a friendly family neighbourhood brimming with home décor boutiques, toy stores and cafés.

Why choose Thomas Cook

With hotels available to suit every person and every budget look no further than Thomas Cook for your getaway this year!

  • Thousands of hotels to choose from
  • Dedicated online customer service
  • Over 175 years of travel experience
  • Award winning travel company
  • Thousands of destinations worldwide

SAN FRANCISCO is best for...

MUSIC LOVERS
Enjoy classic or cutting-edge venues in the home of American counterculture.

WINE BUFFS
Tour the famous valleys of Napa and Soma, and indulge in local food and wine festivals.

PARENTS
This upbeat, child-friendly city has lots of fun attractions for kids of all ages.


FAST FACTS

Language: The main language spoken in the USA is English.

Currency: The currency used in the USA is the American Dollar ($).

Local time: San Francisco is 8 hours behind GMT/UK time.

Fly to: San Francisco International Airport (SFO), which is 13 miles south of the city.

Flight time from UK: 11 hours.

Tourist Information: Further California tourist information can be found here.

Visa & Health: Before you travel click here for recommendations and advice on visas and health for your holiday to the USA.


WEATHER & CLIMATE

Temperatures: Around 8°C in the winter and 18-20°C in the summer.

Best time to visit San Francisco: July to October, when it’s warmest.

With its unique microclimate, San Francisco’s weather can look and feel very different across the city. Winter is generally cool and damp; summer and early autumn are pleasant and dry. Pack your layers - the temperatures rise and fall quickly, so optimistic bare legs on a sunny day can get quite a shock.


GETTING AROUND

By Muni: Run by the Municipal Transport Agency, you can ride the ‘Muni’ all over the city like a local. If you’re planning to visit attractions and museums, a CityPASS is a great choice.

By streetcar: Board an Historic Streetcar at any of its stops – the fleet of elegant bus-like vehicles come from all over the world.

By cable car: The quaint cable cars offer a fantastic way to see the city.

By bus and train: Buses run throughout the city, and the overground Light Rail and ‘Muni Metro’ underground service offer even more options for getting around San Francisco.


EVENTS

Film festivals On the must-see list are the Palm Springs International Film Festival in January, and September’s SoCal Independent Film Festival, in Orange County’s Huntington Beach.

Music and arts The ultra-cool Coachella Music & Arts Festival takes place in April. Look out for the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach from July-August, where clever performers and artists recreate artworks with staging, makeup and costume.

Sports Petrol-heads make their way to Fontana for the NASCAR Sprint Cup races in September. If you love your snow sports, head to Lake Tahoe for the U.S. Freestyle Championships at the end of March.


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