The City by the Bay: 24 Hours in San Francisco

San Francisco, one of North America’s most vibrant cities, is certainly worth a pit stop on any California itinerary. Whilst biding your time for a week or so is incredibly easy to do, if you only have a day to spare, there are plenty of ways to fill your time to see the very best of the city. Matt, from our administration team, guides us through the ultimate day in San Fran.

From the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to the giant redwood trees of Muir Woods and the infamous Alcatraz there is something for everyone in this diverse, scenic and cultural city. But even when you are strapped for time and want a true San Francisco experience, you needn’t worry about missing out on its iconic sights on a whistle-stop tour of the ‘City by the Bay’.

Kick start your day at the Ferry Building Marketplace, one of San Francisco’s most famous landmarks. The building is home to a world class food market which is home to a variety of artisan producers, making it the perfect spot for a light breakfast. If you’re looking for a sit-down brunch, you can’t beat Boulettes Larder, or for a grab-and-go joint, be sure to check out Blue Bottle Coffee for that early morning caffeine hit.

Having wandered the indoor market, head over to Pier 33 where you can catch a ferry to the notorious Alcatraz Island, the site of the infamous prison. Sitting on the top deck of the ferry will allow you to get some fantastic photos of the striking Golden Gate Bridge and the famed San Fran skyline, although it can be cold on the ferry ride so remember to bring a jumper with you! On your tour, be sure to visit the old prisoner yard for some great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and surrounding gardens which are home to an array of rare flowers and plants.

On returning from Alcatraz, take a walk along the waterfront to Pier 39. There’s no need to spend too long here but witnessing the cacophony of its barking sea lion colony is an experience you won’t forget! Having worked up an appetite, carry on to Fisherman’s Wharf for a delicious sourdough bread bowl filled with clam chowder at one of the many restaurants found along the waterfront. In my opinion, Alioto’s is second to none, but if seafood isn’t your thing there’s plenty on offer to satisfy all tastes.

Once you’ve finished lunch, head straight down Taylor Street to see the city’s traditional cable cars rolling past. Take a right and the famed hairpin turns of Lombard Street will come into view. Watch as cars snake their way tentatively down the crooked street before hailing a taxi to North Point Street and the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. Only a short journey away, the grounds of this magnificent structure are truly stunning and the ideal place for an afternoon stroll, looking out for wildlife in the lagoon.

Sunset should be just around the corner, leaving enough time to walk down to the coastline and along Crissy Field’s marsh for unbeatable views of San Francisco’s most iconic sight, the Golden Gate Bridge. Reaching Fort Point for sunset is arguably a perfect end to the day before retiring back to your hotel just in time for supper.

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