What's the coolest thing to do in San Francisco

San Francisco Free

Last updated: September 30, 2020

Unfortunately, most travelers only have 1, 2 or 3 days in San Francisco and good advice is often expensive. If you can then fall back on good planning on site, you will have a lot of fun and see and experience many sights in no time.

Below I have listed and briefly described the 10 most popular activities for you. On special request, there are now also paid activities in addition to the free activities. Free and paid offers are now in balance and I have noted separately where you can find special offers.

Top 10 activities

Golden Gate Bridge

It is the landmark of San Francisco and for many a dream comes true when they can walk across this bridge once in a lifetime ...
Crossing in both directions, on foot and by bike, is (still) free! By car, the bridge toll for entering the city is US $ 8 and can only be paid electronically.

For the 2737 m long crossing you need about 45 minutes from the Welcome Center in front of the bridge (without a break). After crossing the bridge, please go right into the north parking lot. On the way to the viewpoint you will see a staircase on the right side that leads under the Golden Gate Bridge on the other side to further viewpoints in the Marin Headlands.
More information about the most beautiful bridge in the world at: Golden Gate Bridge

Cable cars

A ride on the cable car on one of the 3 lines is part of every visit to San Francisco!
The one-way trip now costs US $ 8. You can get the tickets at the CableCar kiosks at the turntables at the start and finish stations or more cheaply via the MubiMobile app. You can also get the MUNI passport here

A MUNI passport for one day costs (via the app) only US $ 13 and with it you can use the city's public transport, i.e. bus, metro, tram and cable cars for a whole day and you can do that, as often as you want! NEW: Without the use of a cable car, this pass costs only US $ 5
More about the Muni-Passport at: Public Transport

Fisherman's Wharf

In the north and directly on the bay, the former fish market stretches from the Aquatic Park Pier in the west to just before Pier 35 in the east of Fisherman's Wharf. Bay Street delimits the wharf to the south.

Pier 39, with its many restaurants, cafes and the famous sea lion colony, is probably the most famous part, but Fishermans Wharf has much more to offer. That's why I recommend a walk along the Bay to explore this part of San Francisco.

Everyone should know that the prices where there are a lot of holidaymakers are always "a bit" higher. It doesn't cost anything to look at it and if you want to buy, eat or drink something there, then that is entirely up to you ... I have also eaten there myself, and not badly. It was a bit more expensive than "in the country" but it was also in a very special corner of San Francisco ...
More information about the former fish market at: Fishermans Wharf


The former prison island is now one of the most visited places in the city. Large boats (ferries) take you from Pier 33 to the landing stage at the former prison. The price for a visit to the prison island including the audio tour (also in German) is US $ 38.50. You can get tickets either at the ship dock at Alcatraz Cruises, LLC at Pier 33 or over the Internet.

I now recommend booking tickets online in advance at any time of the year. So you are always on the right side, you save standing in line at Pier 33 and the disappointment when it says again: sold out / sold out

You can book various combinations for your Alcatraz ticket including a boat trip there and back as well as the audio tour at: Tiqets online.
More about the prison island at: Alcatraz

San Francisco on foot

The best way to get to know a city is to explore it on foot. San Francisco is not a very big city and is wonderful to experience on foot.

Here, too, it depends on your own taste and that is different for every person. In the section "Walking through San Francisco" I have worked out a few suggestions that show you how you can "walk" the city in one, two or three days.

Since San Francisco is very "hilly" and it is very steep up and down a few times, I advise you to take a look at the "local public transport" section ...
More about my suggestions under: Walking through San Francisco

Hop on, hop off bus tour

In my opinion the best and cheapest way to visit over 60 of the most beautiful sights in the city. This tour can be booked for a day or two.

Here I would definitely book the 2-day tour as the panorama light ride with the crossing of the Bay Bridge and the visit to Treasure are included for only a small surcharge. The price also includes a trolley ride through Sausalito and 3 guided tours on foot through the city.
More about San Francisco's most popular city tour at: Hop on Hop off

Lombard Street

The particularly steep section that every visitor would like to see or drive on can be found between Hyde Street and Leavenworth Street. Originally the gradient there was 27º and in 1923 it was eased by serpentines.

Today there are 10 curves at this point and a staircase has been created for pedestrians. Only when you have walked up or down one of these stairs do you know how steep this street is. After all, anyone can shut down ...

Everyone should visit the most famous and crooked serpentine in San Francisco.
Find out more at: Lombard Street

Bike tour to Sausalito and back by ferry

Bike tours are becoming increasingly popular in San Francisco, and bike rental stations are springing up like mushrooms. In the meantime, however, the quality has established itself and the wheat has been separated from the chaff. You can book bike tours as guided tours and enjoy the commentary of the tour guide.

However, you can also do your bike tour on your own and organize your day and the tour as you want.

A particularly nice route is to drive from Fisherman's Wharf past the bay and over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and from there take the ferry, past the skyline of San Francisco, back to the pier.
More about this under: Bicycle tours

Painted Ladies in Alamo Square

Many of these wooden houses were destroyed in the earthquake of 1906 by the fires that caused it. Some of them survived the devastating earthquake, have been lovingly restored and painted in a wide variety of colors.

Alamo Square is directly opposite. This is a small park that invites you to linger for a short while because of its tranquility.

If children are on the tour, one parent can visit the children's playground on the corner of Steiner St. and Grove St. with the little ones while the other takes photos.
More about the Painted Ladies at: Alamo Square

Segway tours

Segway tours are becoming increasingly popular in San Francisco. The tours, accompanied by official tour guides, are already being offered for most of the "corners" of the city.

With the now large range of tours with a Segway through San Francisco, you should take a closer look before you book your tour. A sensible tour includes a free introduction with a training session. The helmet should also be included in the rental price.

More about this under: Segway tours

Coit Tower

Telegraph Hill is to the northeast of San Francisco. This is a small hill on which there is an observation tower that is modeled on a fire engine. From up there you have a wonderful view of the bay and the city.

Admission to the Coit Tower is free and it's worth going there just for the murals ...

In the tower there is a small elevator with which you can take (for 9, - US $) to the top of the observation tower. From there the view is of course a lot better ...
More on this under: Coit Tower

Sightseeing flights over San Francisco

Looking at San Francisco from lofty heights is something special. I will probably never forget my first helicopter flight over and under the Golden Gate Bridge. I almost forgot to film because of the enthusiasm ...

You can book your sightseeing flight either by helicopter or with a small propeller plane. Either way, the result will be unforgettable!

You can find a good offer for a helicopter flight of 20 minutes in connection with a 4-hour sightseeing bus tour at TicketBar
More about my first helicopter flight at: With the helicopter over San Francisco

Golden Gate Park

It's bigger than Central Park in New York City. With a width of 800 meters and a length of 5 kilometers, it is one of the largest inner-city parks in the world.

There is the Asian Art Museum and the California Academy of Sciences with the associated Natural History Museum, the Morrison Planetarium and the Steinhart Aquarium. Here, however, an entrance fee has to be paid.

This also applies to the beautiful "Japanese Tea Garden". Little trick: Admission is free every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. So if you go in shortly before 10:00 a.m. on these days, you don't pay anything and can stay after 10:00 a.m. ...
More at: Japanese Tea Garden

Boat tour of the bay

She has been the star of the San Francisco Bay for over 75 years. There are between 8 and 10 departures every day, depending on the season. The drive through the bay takes about 1 hour. The path also takes you under the Golden Gate Bridge and around the prison island of Alcatraz. The audio tour (also in German) is included in the fare.

Enjoy the ride with great views of the city skyline, Aquatic Park, the historic ships at Hyde Street Pier before heading west to the Golden Gate Bridge. Get a glimpse of Crissy Field and the Presidio hills from the water before cruising under the Golden Gate Bridge ...

Because of the light conditions and the souvenir photos, I recommend that you book the trip for the afternoon. Then the skyline is in the light of the sun shining on it and looks particularly beautiful.

You can find very good offers at GetYourGuide and / or at Tiqets


San Francisco's Chinatown is one of the largest Chinese neighborhoods outside of Asia and is also one of the city's attractions. You can take a tour of Chinatown on your own or as a guided tour.

Even the streets are displayed in Chinese. From snake water to Peking duck, you can find it all here.

The Dragon Gate is at the south entrance of Chinatown at the intersection of Bush Street and Grand Avenue. As in all Chinese neighborhoods in the world, San Francisco is also part of the Chinese district. It is definitely worth seeing!

For all those who have booked a 2-day hop on hop off bus tour, a guided tour is included in the price, along with many other things.
More at: Chinatown

California sunset cruise

Experience the sunset on a boat tour of San Francisco Bay. In addition, the appetizer buffet, a drink, live music and the fantastic view of the skyline that is reflected in the light of the setting sun ... Heart, what more could you want.

On this 2-hour California Sunset Cocktail Cruise, you will experience a panoramic view of the sunset on San Francisco Bay that you will never forget. Imagine the sunset as you drive under the Golden Gate Bridge, to Sausalito, Tiboron and around Angel Island and Alcatraz.

The only thing left for me to do here is to remind you to ensure that your cameras are fully charged. Everything else will take care of itself ...
Bookable via GetYourGuide and / or at Tiqets

Twin peaks

One of the most famous and popular viewpoints in the city with the view of San Francisco from the Golden Gate to the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge.

At 300 meters, they are the second highest hills in San Francisco. The Spanish missionaries called them "Los Pechos de la Chola", in German "The Indian girl's breasts" because of their appearance.
The Twin Hills are one of the few places in San Francisco from which you can see the Pacific, the Bay, the skyline, Downtown, the Golden Gate and the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge at the same time.

You should definitely make your visit to the Twin Peaks dependent on the weather, because it would be a shame if you covered the way there for free in fog or hazy weather.
More on this under: Twin Peaks

Muir Woods & Sausalito Tour

About 20 km from San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway 101, heading north, is the Muir Woods National Monument. On the way over the wonderful panoramic road that leads to Mount Tamalpais State Park you always have a wonderful view.

On the way back, before crossing the Golden Gate Bridge again, I recommend a visit to the popular coastal town of Sausalito and its houseboat colonies.

You can do this tour on your own or book it as a guided tour in a group ...
Bookable via GetYourGuide and / or at Tiqets (the latter currently with a 10% discount)
Find out more at: Muir Woods

Haight Ashbury

If you're going to San Francisco. Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair ...
Here it is, the former hippie neighborhood of San Francisco. In the sixties this was the Mecca of the flower power movement. Today the beautiful old Victorian houses and the wall paintings and graffiti remind of a time that (unfortunately) no longer exists.

You can still feel a bit of all of this today when you stroll down Height Street, lost in thought ...

Let yourself go and go into the small side streets. Enjoy the beautiful old Victorian houses and dream of the flower power time ...
Find out more at: Haight Ashbury

Day trip - Monterey / Carmel

Monterey: I would start with a visit to Fisherman's Wharf and then continue on Cannery Row (the street of the sardines), which is also where the very well-equipped Monterey Aquarium is located, to Ocean View Blvd. to drive. From here it goes on the 17 Mile Drive to Carmel which is right next door. If your schedule allows it, you should definitely visit the aquarium!

Carmel by the Sea: is a very idyllic, fantastically beautiful little place with a special flair. Lots of shops, boutiques, restaurants, the Mission, 17 Miles Drive and the gorgeous beach. Doris Day ran her hotel here (the B & B Hotel Cypress Inn, which is still very popular today). Clint Eastwood was mayor here in 1980 and many American show greats have settled here.

In my opinion one of the nicest excursions you can do from San Francisco. The best offer is currently available at GetYourGuide because everything (Monterey & Carmel & 17 Mile Drive & Monterey Aquarium) is included in the price.
More about Monterey at: Monterey
More about Carmel by the Sea at: Carmel

* * *

If you like my site, you are a member of Facebook and you would like to recommend it to your friends, you are welcome to do so here.
Thanks a lot for this!