Last November I visited California for my very first time. Maybe because of the TV shows I have grown up with, maybe because of the sunshine and the exciting tech culture, California in general and San Francisco in particular have been on my bucket list for years.
During my three-week trip, I spent around 10 days in San Francisco and the remaining time in South California, visiting both San Diego and Los Angeles. While in SF, I worked for a week at my company’s HQ in Oakland – which left me with just one weekend to explore this beautiful city. The good news is that two days are just about enough to catch a glimpse of the magic of San Francisco and to visit its most iconic places. So, here you go with my two-day itinerary in SF.
Waking up early is not my thing (especially when I am jet-lagged) – so I woke up around 10 AM on my first day and left my Airbnb in the Mission at around 11 AM. The first thing I really wanted to see was the Golden Gate Bridge, of course. So I took the BART to Union Square and had a bit of a hard time figuring out which bus I should take. My tip is: BART to Powell Street and then take the #101 directly to the Golden Gate Bridge for some great views.
After taking a couple of pics of the bridge, stroll down to the shore and walk to the Palace of Fine Arts. The place is very beautiful and it is worth a visit.
From the Palace of Fine Arts, take the bus #28 and go through the Presidio to the Golden Gate Park. I have actually walked all the way through the Presidio, which is a nice workout, but honestly I wouldn’t do it again. In fact, I suggest you save your energy for the Golden Gate Park, which is nicer and big enough for you to lose yourself inside it. If I had to choose one highlight, it would definitely be the Japanese Tea Garden. The entrance is quite expensive, but it is worth it. The garden is tiny, but well groomed and the atmosphere is so relaxing. Get a cup of Japanese green tea and take a moment to enjoy the peaceful silence of the gardens.
Exit the park and, if you are feeling hungry, stop for a salad at Pluto’s. The place is quite small, but cheap for SF and you have the opportunity to put together your own salad, which is something I love. After the lunch-break, head to Haight Ashbury and have a stroll around the hippy district of San Francisco.
For your evening plans, jump on the bus #33 and head to the Mission district. There are plenty of bars and pubs where you can have a drink. I recommend going to El Techo, a Latin American pub and restaurant with nice drinks and a great rooftop.
Start off the day right at Fisherman’s Wharf. Have a look around the picturesque pier and don’t miss the sea lions.
If you have booked a trip to Alcatraz, you can take the ferry from here. If you haven’t, head to the iconic Lombard Street. The way is very steep, but from here (Russian Hills) you will have a great view of the city. Alternatively, go up the Colt Tower for some great pics. After that, take a nice, long walk along the ocean down to Pier 1. At Pier 3, stop for a great lunch at The Plant Café. They have a great organic menu and self-brewed Kombucha. I had the Avocado & Grapefruit Salad and it was amazing.
Walk down to Pier 1 and continue your culinary trip by visiting the organic market in the Ferry Building. Have a look around and taste some of their amazing products, be it wine, cheese or a green juice.
Leave the Ferry Building and cross the Financial District, heading to Chinatown. San Francisco has the biggest Chinese community outside Asia and its Chinatown is the oldest in the USA.
From Chinatown, walk down to Union Square for some shopping. If you love rooftops as I do, end your day with a visit at The View, a beautiful bar with a breath-taking view on the city located in the Marriott Hotel.
San Francisco is a great city – I truly loved its vibes, its amazing, healthy food and its vibrant culture. Also, I love the fact that – unlike L.A. – you can cruise this city by using its public transportation system. I am sure there are still many things I haven’t seen in SF and I really hope I will be able to visit again soon.