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The northern Californian coast is home to hippies, microchips and cable cars – in short, it’s home to the gloriously eclectic and somewhat eccentric San Francisco. Fly to San Francisco with Qatar Airways and our partners and you’ll discover a city that has its own unique personality and a laid-back, relaxed vibe (this is the birthplace of the 1960s hippie movement, after all).
San Francisco is also the home of 21st century innovation, with the thousands of high-tech businesses clustered around Silicon Valley to the south of the Bay area. Take a flight to San Francisco and discover a city that dances to its own beat, and welcomes visitors from all over the world.
A great way to pack in several attractions for a reduced cost during your trip to San Francisco is to buy a CityPASS. This gives you entry to the California Academy of Sciences, a Blue and Gold Fleet bay cruise, the Aquarium of the Bay or the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the Exploratorium or the Legion of Honor and the de Young Museum. Alternatively, the Go San Francisco Card also provides access to a wide variety of attractions, including sightseeing and Bay tours, museums and even the Conservatory of Flowers. With the City PASS you can also enjoy unlimited transportation on trolley buses, streetcars, and Cable Cars.
One of the most iconic symbols of San Francisco is the Golden Gate Bridge, which can be particularly photogenic in the early morning Bay mist. The Golden Gate Park is home to many of the city's attractions, but one particular attraction worth checking out is the incredibly beautiful Oriental Gardens, which are especially glorious in the spring. The San Francisco Bay is also home to Alcatraz Island, the former maximum security prison that is now open for tours.
Other popular tourist attractions include Fisherman’s Wharf, which is home to several museums and shopping areas and is right near popular Ghiradelli Square. Lombard Street, commonly found in movies, is another must-see as it is often referred to as the “world’s crookedest street.”
San Francisco is also popular for its popular counterculture history. No neighbourhood was more at the centre of this movement than Haight-Ashbury. Still popular among visitors and locals alike, stop by the area where you will find boutiques, record stores, and more.
A trip to San Francisco introduces you to a much more bohemian and laid back America. There’s nothing the locals love doing more than simply enjoying the sunshine in Golden Gate Park. But if you’re feeling a little more adventurous then head out of town and into Yosemite National Park to explore a slice of US wilderness.
During certain times of the year you can go out whale watching, as pods of blue whales travel past the Bay and on to their breeding grounds in the north. Alternatively, get airborne with helicopter rides over the Bay for a truly memorial experience. And of course, nobody can leave San Francisco without at least one ride on the cable cars!
Over the centuries many different nationalities have travelled to San Francisco and made it their home. The result is a culinary fusion of different flavours, and in particular Asian cuisine.
Chinese food is a big influence throughout San Francisco, although whatever your preferences you’ll be well served, as there are more restaurants per capita in San Francisco than in any other US city. For just-caught fresh fish head down to Fisherman’s Warf, where you can watch the local fisherman land the daily catch and try some freshly made clam chowder, a local speciality.
While there are plenty of Malls in San Francisco, the shopping experience here is much more eclectic. So if you’re travelling to San Francisco for some retail therapy, prepare to have your preconceptions of American retail challenged. There are far more ‘Mom and Pop’ stores in San Francisco, and if you want the most interesting trinkets and momentos then Fisherman’s Warf or Union Square are the places to check out.
There are also plenty of flea markets (particularly on Sundays) throughout the city where you’ll find a great selection of antiques and vintage clothes. For more upscale boutiques, head for Union Street, Hayes Street around Octavia, Fillmore Street around California street, and Chestnut Street in the Golden Gate area.
Flights to San Francisco arrive at San Francisco International Airport, approximately 16 kilometres south of the city. Expect lengthy security queues, particularly in the summer months.
Visa restrictions for entry into the country will depend on your country of origin, length of stay and whether your trip is for business or pleasure. So before you fly to San Francisco please check the visa and passport requirements.
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