San Francisco is America’s most liberal, diverse and progressive city. For a country and a state so vast, and a city with so much going on, geographically it’s fairly small (under 50 square miles).
So how much do you need to budget? What can be left off your list of “to do’s” and what most certainly can not? Here’s our advice on how many dollars to budget for a trip to one of the buzziest, most colourful cities in the western world.
AVERAGE DAILY SPEND BY REAL TRAVELLERS IN SAN FRANCISCO: $108 per day
This reflects what everyday travellers tend to spend in San Francisco. Think mid-range – the likes of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge ticked off, a few cab rides, maybe a big night out, a nice lunch and a bit of shopping on the side. It doesn’t include the cost of hotels or car hire as these are often booked in advance.
- Eating Out: $49 per day
- Entertainment (bars, tours & attractions): $69 per day
- Transport: $23 per day
- Shopping: $60 per day
COST OF ENTERTAINMENT, BARS, AND OTHER ATTRACTIONS IN SAN FRANCISCO
Real Traveller Average Daily Spend: $69
- “WeSwapper’s favourite” Alcatraz Cruises – $35
- Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals – $68
- Golden Gate Bridge – free
- Golden Gate Park – free
- Haight-Ashbury – free
- Staff Pick – A game at AT&T Park – from $5
If you do one thing in San Fran, if you do one thing in California, if you do one thing in the US (maybe going a little OTT but you get the point) then go to Alcatraz! For a little over $30 you get ferried over to the world’s most famous jail. We would highly recommend the excellent audio tour narrated by former inmate and former prison guards. Honestly, this is really great. Don’t miss out.
Getting out a bike and cycling down the harbour and across the Golden Great Bridge is impossible to do without a huge smile on your face. Once over the other side, carry on going to the small town of Sausalito. Keep reading this guide and you’ll find a restaurant pick of ours in said town, too. The guys at Blazing Saddles do a fine job but there are numerous decent bike rental shops.
Golden Gate Bridge, possibly the most famous bridge in the world. You can get the train across, you can walk across, you can run across, you can drive across but we would recommend cycling. If you can time your ride over the bridge for sunset when you get the sun kissing off the ocean you’ll be very pleased with yourself indeed.
Visit the birthplace of America’s counter-culture Haight-Ashbury. This was the place to be in the summer of 1967, a.k.a. The Summer of Love, baby. Jimi Hendrix used to live here, Hippies used to live here, but then it got a little gentrified. It might not be as cool as it once was, but there are still tons great vintage shops, chic restaurants, dive bars and trendy cafe. Worth a visit, for sure.
If you get the chance, go catch the San Francisco Giants play baseball at AT&T Park. The whole city get behind the team and the atmosphere is something to savour. The stadium itself is surrounded by water on three sides too – well worth a visit.
COST OF FOOD AND DRINK IN SAN FRANCISCO
Real Traveller Average Daily Spend: $49 per day
- “WeSwapper’s Favourite” – Wipeout Bar & Grill – $32
- Pick for Brunch – Bacon Bacon – $10
- Super Duper Burger – $17
- Cocktail with a view – Top of the Mark (20 per cocktail)
- Glass of wine/beer in a bar – $6
- Coffee – $4.10
- WeSwap staff pick – Scoma’s of Sausalito – $40
Part of the reason for Wipeout Bar and Grill’s popularity is the restaurant’s prime location, Fisherman’s Wharf. FW is the main tourist hub down by the water and near the GG Bridge, it’s also where the boat over to Alcatraz leaves from. All this is not to say that Wipeout is a bad experience – the portions are huge and the prices are actually good considering the location. But you can do better, you just need to look.
Take a guess at the cuisine in Bacon Bacon? This uber trendy breakfast/brunch spot in uber trendy Mission should be on your list one morning. You can actually just by a small paper bag of bacon, a bit like you might get some chips in the fish & chip shop over here. Not one for people who don’t eat pork.
If you’re a fan off an upscale fast-food burger joint then you have to check out Super Duper Burgers. Put it this way, they don’t do the name a disservice. Pickles are free too which is a nice little touch.
Soak in spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline, Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge from the Top of the Mark penthouse lounge. Located on the 19th floor, this San Francisco restaurant provides a 360-degree panoramic view. You’re looking at €30 a drink but depending on your budget, it’s worth it for the view.
Scoma’s of Sausalito is our WeSwap staff pick from Liam who says: “I wonder consider going back to San Fran just for this chowder in an edible bowl”, they serve it in a hollowed our bread bowl which you can tear bits off and dunk in the soup whilst you eat.
COST OF TRANSPORT IN SAN FRANCISCO
Real Traveller Average Daily Spend: $23 per day
- Taxi into city from airport – $50
- Bus into city from airport – $2
- 24-hour bus fare $4.50
There’s lots to do, see and experience in San Fran AKA Frisco (take your pick) and refreshingly, a lot of it can be done on foot. Really, your feet are your best friends here. Many of the City’s most popular tourist destinations (Union Square, Chinatown, North Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf, etc.) are within reasonable walking distance of each other.
Frisco is also the birthplace of Uber so they’re easy enough to get. By the time you get out to the technology capital of the world, you might have the option of a driverless Uber.
Be aware, The steepness of streets can vary dramatically from block to block. You’ll burn some calories here
COST OF A SHOPPING TRIP IN SAN FRANCISCO
Real Traveller Average Daily Spend: $60
- Fillmore Street
- Union Square
The Aforementioned Haight-Ashbury is a cool place to pick up vintage clothes, wall art and other bits of unique Californian memorabilia – we would recommend a browse around the weird and wonderful shops there.
Fillmore Street is a cacophony of trendy, high fashion shops mixed with some more quaint one-off shops. Especially notable are some of the eateries and drinking establishments. To be honest there aren’t many bad ones. Have juice in the morning too. People are super fit and healthy here, juice bars and health food shops are plentiful.
Finally, we couldn’t leave off Union Square. There is everything you could possibly need from high-end to high-street and everything in betweeen.
This article is part of our Spending Money Guide Series and was last checked and updated: 15.03.2017. All travel, accommodation and entertainment costs are taken from the provider’s official website – but don’t forget to double check yourself first before you head off. Have you been to Orlando? Are these prices right? Any money saving tips you’d recommend? Let us know in the comments!
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