The Voya guide to the sparkling city of San Francisco, Northern California, USA.


San Francisco is the modern financial , commercial and cultural centre of California. It is surprisingly small with under 1 million inhabitants, and is only 47 square miles in size.
It has a diverse historical and cultural background, starting with the California gold rush, famously hosting the ‘free love’ hippy movements in the 1960s & 1970s, and on to become the birth place of the modern pride movement.

With a lot of Silicone Valley investment, San Fran has many exciting new creative, technological & cultural projects. Probably the most ‘green’ ethical city in the US, and has an influx of innovative start up businesses with smart entrepreneurs. Explore the new cool quarter, SoMa (South of Market) for creative stores and independent coffee shops, or spend some time at the acclaimed San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).


The seals basking in the sun on Pier 39.
Aerial view of the infamous island of Alcatraz.

Getting around the hilly city is very easy, even if you don’t want to walk, with multiple hop on/off buses, or even easier is Uber, which is also headquartered in San Francisco. Driving the roads yourself can be challenging, with its often narrow and steep terrain. So do take the cable cars in the center of the steep city for the classic San Fran experience. Despite the hills, the city is totally bicycle friendly, with some great cycle routes around the Golden Gate Park, which is also the place to go for the most spectacular viewpoints of the Golden Gate Bridge and you can even spot Whales here too!

Spend some time at San Francisco Bay Area, Fishermans Wharf, where there are some of the best seafood restaurants in the city, as well as some cool local craft breweries. Don’t forget to visit the seals, for some guaranteed entertainment, who reside permanently at Pier 39. Then head over to Alcatraz for some unique history of the most famous ‘in-escapable’ prison in the world, once home to the notorious gangster, Al Capone. But do try to book in advance, so you don’t miss out, as it has over 1.4 million visitors per year!


The Golden Gate bridge from a viewpoint on  Marshall beach.



San Francisco is perched on the edge of a cold current sea, which gives a year round light wind, resulting in chilly and sometimes foggy mornings. We do suggest having a knit cardigan or a light jacket even in the summer for these cool mornings and evenings.


Laid back American English.


The Golden Gate Park for its beautiful gardens and museums & then shopping at Union Square.


We like the Fairmont on Nob Hill, for classic American luxury hotel, Then the Four Seasons in Union Square for more modern luxury city living.


The sour bread chilli bowls from Boudin Bakery at Pier 39 are a perfect hearty dish against the cooling sea breeze.


Perfect for Spring & Autumn visits, we recommend packing the VEGA KNIT TOP for its stylish yet practical versatility. Styled here with the AZHA PANT, It is a contemporary but comfortable look that is perfect for visiting galleries or the windy side street cafes.