Although San Francisco really has to be considered a small city by American scale, it is still one of the most famous cities in the United States.
For many years, San Francisco has been America’s first choice when it comes to big city holidays. Many travelers will stubbornly claim that no cities are more beautiful than San Francisco, a location that is even more beautiful thanks to the towering Golden Gate Bridge that stretches across the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay.
In the strait you will find the legendary prison island of Alcatraz, just outside the lively Fisherman’s Wharf. San Francisco is known as a liberal city, where a large and exuberant gay community lives side by side with America’s largest Chinatown.
Most cities claim it in their tourist ads, but San Francisco actually has something for everyone, whether you’re traveling with kids, good friends or a romantic love vacation.
If you want to experience the United States at its best, you should definitely consider a visit to California’s fourth largest city – but still the most popular!
Get to know San Francisco
San Francisco was founded by Spaniards in 1776, with a fortress where the Golden Gate Bridge originated, and a mission station named after Francis of Assisi. After a few decades as part of Mexico, California became American in 1846.
The population doubled in one year after the gold rush in 1848, and today the city has grown to become home to nearly 800,000 people. Still, it is only the fourth largest city in California, after Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose.
In April 1906, San Francisco was almost wiped out by a powerful earthquake that killed thousands of people and made over half of the city’s 400,000 residents homeless. The city burned for days after the quake. No major metropolis has been hit harder by a natural disaster in modern times.
- Abbreviation: SF
- Country: United States
The tourists’ favorite area is Fisherman’s Wharf, and along the harbor you have great views of both San Francisco Bay with Alcatraz and the Golden Gate. You will see sailboats and yachts on the water, while street performers and jugglers perform around you. Don’t miss the sea lions that lie and sunbathe on Pier 39. There are also plenty of dining, drinking and entertainment options on Fisherman’s Wharf. The disadvantage of the area is that it is a tourist trap with almost constant crowds, and the area’s eateries have the most expensive prices in the city.
Lombard Street and Downtown
Take a tour of San Francisco’s steepest street, Lombard Street, which has a slope of 40 degrees. You’ve certainly seen eleven car chases here in action movies, but it’s only when you’re here that you realize how steep it actually is. Particularly striking is the stretch between Hyde Street and Leavenworth Street, where the street zigzags.
As a tourist, you must of course try San Francisco’s historic old trams, or cable cars.
San Francisco’s central areas (known as Downtown), not many years ago, had a bad reputation, such as a place where homeless, criminals and drug addicts stayed. But the city council has done an excellent job in recent years of upgrading the area into a pleasant place for everyone. Shops have reopened in previously closed, dilapidated buildings, Union Square has become a meeting place for families and young people, and the walk along the harbor has given palm trees, green markets and restaurants.
One of San Francisco’s more distinctive neighborhoods is The Castro, which has unofficially become the hometown’s international capital. Here, multicolored flags are waving outside most houses and bars, and the house’s facades are often painted in clear, bright colors.
In the 1920s the area was known as Little Scandinavia, because of the many Nordic immigrants who had gathered here. Castro’s centerpiece is 18th Street and Castro Street, where it abounds with specialty shops, bars, galleries and bookstores. Take with you Pink Triangle Park, a memorial to the 15,000 gay Holocaust victims, and Harvey Milk Plaza, which is dedicated to the first openly gay man to be elected to an office in the United States. Every June, a big Gay Pride Parade is held, which attracts around half a million people each year.
Haight-Ashbury once had the same status among the world’s hippies and flower children, as Castro now has among the gays of the United States. During the Summer Of Love in 1968, this was the place to be. There are still a lot of incense-scented stores selling batik shirts, Ganesh figures and hookahs in Haight-Ashubury, but times have changed. You will also find modern clothing and shoe stores, internet cafes and trendy restaurants in The Haight, which is most commonly referred to as the daily talk.
Golden Gate Park
We also mention Golden Gate Park, a huge green park of over 4 km² that stretches from downtown areas to the sea. Here are over a million trees, a flower conservatory, a golf course, a small lake, a museum, a botanical garden, a Japanese tea garden and a small herd of bison that have been in the park since the 1890s. Every weekend, over 75,000 people visit the park, which is the third most visited park in the United States.
You should note that even though San Francisco is located in California, the climate is considerably cooler than that of big brother Los Angeles, where it seems to always be sunny and summer. The tourist shops’ bestsellers are warm sweaters to visitors who have miscalculated the city’s temperature.
Facts about San Francisco
San Francisco is California’s fourth largest city. The city is also Northern California’s cultural and commercial center. It is not without reason that tourists love this city!
|Religion||No official religion, but 78% are Christians|
|Time Difference||California is nine hours behind the Norwegian winter time, in summer time ten hours|
|Currency||Dollar. Credit cards like Visa, American Express, Mastercard and Diners are very common, and ATMs can be found almost everywhere.|
|Tips||Most people who work in service in the United States have salaries based on tips. It is common to give 15-20% at the restaurant, in taxis, hairdressers, etc. Some eateries may have service stated on the bill.|
|Embassy||The Norwegian Embassy in the United States is located in Washington DC, but in San Francisco you have a Consulate General at 20, California Street; 6th floor, with telephone +1 415 986 0766-8.|
|Tourist||Pier 39 at Beach Street and Embarcadero.|
|Electricity||110 / 120V. Both two- and three-point connectors are common, so bring an adapter with you if you want to bring along electrical items.|
|Holidays and Holidays||Most US holidays such as Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day and even Martin Luther King Day are moving. The exception is Independence Day, July 4th.|
|Visa||Not required for Norwegians if you have the new type of machine-readable passport. From 2009, you must register your arrival on an electronic system on the Internet at least 72 hours before arriving in the United States. Read more about this on the Travel Plan’s visa pages.|
|Vaccinations||No vaccines are required.|
|Water||Can be easily drunk from the tap.|
|Nearest major cities||San Jose, Sacramento, Oakland.|
|Safety||Little crime of violence, although some neighborhoods are more charged than others. Police are clearly visible in the street scene, and frequent and thorough security checks on tourist attractions and airports will, for many Norwegians, manifest themselves on the verge of paranoia. But for good reason.|
List of San Francisco Acronyms
The most commonly used abbreviations about San Francisco is SF which stands for San Francisco. In the following table, you can see all acronyms related to San Francisco, including abbreviations for airport, city, school, port, government, and etc.