Things to do in San Francisco

Big but manageable, San Francisco is a city that looks best from the outside. Accordingly, many of the top things to do in this Californian city take place in the great outdoors like basking in the sun and taking in the bay views. At the top of that list is the city's most famous landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge, which you'll find is actually more orange than gold. Also on the bay, the infamous Alcatraz Island and jail of the same name continues to lure travellers with legends of some of the US's most notorious criminals.

Even the transport in San Francisco is all part of the experience. Catch the city's iconic cable cars to the Castro district where the area's long-standing gay community has morphed the neighbourhood into a trendy hangout of cafes, designer stores and bars for all persuasions. Then there is Haight-Ashbury, home to 1967's Summer of Love, the previous home of Janis Joplin and a hub for counterculture ever since its hippie days. Get your hipster on at Amoeba Music, embrace a Rockabilly style at one of the vintage stores on Upper Haight Street, or snap a picture-perfect moment outside the pastel-coloured 'Painted Ladies' - an actual architectural term for the US's grand Victorian- and Georgian-style houses.

Other 'hoods to check out in San Fran include the Latino hotspot of the Mission District - right near the Castro - plus tourist fave Fisherman's Wharf. Sure, it's cheesy and busy, but you'll take your boat to Alcatraz from here so you may as well check it out. You'll also find awesome chocolate, chowder, crabs and even sea lions sunbathing on the piers at Fisherman's Wharf too. Seems like even the marine mammals love basking in the sun in San Francisco!

Read more about our favourite things to do in San Francisco below.

Golden Gate Bridge

From the time it was built in 1937 up until 1964, the Golden Gate Bridge was the world's longest suspension bridge, measuring 1,280 metres long. Today, it is an icon of San Francisco and one of the world's most recognised bridges.

Alcatraz Island

Both an island and a notorious prison, located off the coast of San Fran, Alcatraz has long been associated with some of America's most notorious criminals but has also had many other incarnations worth exploring on a tour.

Haight-Ashbury

Taking its name from the intersection of Haight and Ashbury Streets, the Haight-Ashbury district is home to San Francisco's famous hippie heritage dating back to the 1960s with vestiges you'll still encounter today.

The Castro

Originally an Irish working-class area known as Eureka Valley, the Castro evolved into a gay-friendly neighbourhood in the 1960s following the Summer of Love and remains a cultural hotspot of San Francisco.

Golden Gate Park

Located in the centre of San Francisco, Golden Gate Park is a massively popular spot with visitors and locals alike with heaps of amenities including lakes, art museums, gardens and an open-air plaza for concerts.

Lombard Street

Filled with more twists and turns than a Tarantino flick, San Francisco's Lombard Street is famous for its steep gradient and white-knuckle hairpin turns earning it the title of the crookedest street in the world.

Mission District

San Francisco's oldest neighbourhood, Mission District, is also home to the city's Latino community. Think vibrant culture, eclectic street art, authentic eats and loads of great shopping.

M.H. de Young Memorial Museum

Located within Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, this comprehensive collection of American, European and African art and artifacts is not to be missed by art lovers or history buffs.

Fisherman's Wharf

This popular San Francisco hotspot on the water is famous for crabs, chowder, sourdough and chocolate. Oh, and there's sunbaking sea lions, museums and plenty of shopping and attractions too!