San Francisco is one of America’s coolest destinations. With its rickety cable cars, boutique shops and hipster neighbourhoods, the Californian city is mecca for edgy bohemians. The gorgeous weather all-year-round puts everyone in a happy mood. First timers might be surprised to learn that San Francisco is a remarkably cheap place to explore on vacation.
With some hot tips you can dine on delicious street food and ethnic bites for cheap. The alternative nature of the city means there’s no shortage of art exhibits, festivals and parades, many of which are inexpensive or free. Book a cheap hostel in San Francisco today and start exploring California without breaking the bank.
Sights and Sounds of San Francisco
Get up early and head over to Fisherman’s Wharf to watch the sea lions on Pier 39 and make sure you do it before the tourists arrive in their droves. Once you’re done then why not explore the 19th-century tall ships at the Maritime National Historic Park, before trying some Dungeness crab at a nearby restaurant.
If you prefer staying outdoors then bicycle rental shops are available all over the bay. From the Wharf you can cycle past major San Francisco attractions before arriving at the Golden Gate Bridge.
Afterwards you can explore the notorious Alcatraz Island and discover how the prisoners lived in Shutter Island conditions. Visitors can reach the island by ferry from Pier 33.
From whale-watching tours to crab restaurants, there are certainly no shortage of activities at Fisherman’s Wharf and it makes for essential viewing on any cable car tour of San Francisco. Remarkably cheap at $15 for a one-day travel pass you can climb the steep hills in a vintage fashion.
Downtown San Francisco
With a cable-car pass you can hang out in San Fran’s coolest neighbourhoods such as Hayes Valley. The historic centre has a rustic boutique charm and is perfect for anyone wanting to go on a bike tour with Streets of San Francisco.
Likewise hipsters will love Mission District, which has a gritty Latin flavour and flowering bohemian coffee shops. Edgy, creative and decorated by street art murals, the district is full of galleries and taquerias.
If you need to save money on vacation then San Francisco is brimming with food trucks and cheap eateries. From Mexican-Eritrean fusion to Indian burritos there is one thing you’ll never lack in California and that is street food.
Eating out in San Francisco
If you’re on a tight budget then check out the SoMa StrEat Food Park on 11th Street. Operating as the city’s first permanent food truck pod you can choose from up to ten food trucks for lunch and dinner. Like all street food markets, it becomes an outdoor nightclub with regular DJ nights taking place throughout the year.
The G Food Lounge is popular with Facebook employees and is situated between Bryant and Harrison Street. Offering a multi-purpose street food service, you can eat out for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the South of Market (SoMa) neighbourhood. Rotating their food trucks everyday you’ll never get bored of eating out in California.
Where to Stay in San Francisco
- Orange Village Hostel offers low cost accommodation to budget travellers throughout San Francisco. Wonderfully located in the city centre, it’s perfect for exploring nearby boutique shops and major tourist attractions. Dorms are available from €22.
- Green Tortoise Backpackers is super friendly and provides all guests with clean rooms, dorms and free Wi-Fi. It’s a great place to discover San Francisco on vacation and lies within walking distance of Fisherman’s Wharf. Dorms are available from €26.
- USA Hostels San Francisco is a charming boutique hostel offering guests an exclusive range of privacy pods, theatre and a yoga room. With free Wi-Fi and breakfast included in the price, its a popular choice with the travelling community. Dorms are available from €31.
- AAE Amsterdam San Francisco is super cheap and perfect for travellers on a tight budget. Always clean and providing guests with well kept dorms and rooms, the hostel is only a few blocks away from Union Square. Dorms are available from €17.