Start the day bright and early at Union Square. You could treat yourself to some tasty pancakes at Sears Fine Food, or do some window shopping, and then, although it might sound stereotypical, we think taking a walking tour is a great way to get a sense of a city. This one starts at 10 am takes you through important sites such as Chinatown and the Financial District, plus it’s a brilliant way for you to get your bearings.
You’ll be hungry after all that walking, so we suggest heading up to Little Italy for lunch, you can explore the lively streets and enjoy fabulous cuisine. Our favourite is Tony’s Pizza Napoletana.
In the afternoon make your way to Fisherman’s Wharf (if you’re feeling energetic, a detour of just a few blocks will take you to Lombard Street). Although a tourist hub, there’s a reason this area is so popular. Here you could visit Pier 39, go back in time at the Musée Mécanique or the Pampanito Submarine Museum, but without a doubt, if you haven’t been to San Francisco before, a trip to Alcatraz is a must! If you time it right, you’ll be able to enjoy the sunset of the Golden Gate Bridge on your way back.
There are also loads of restaurants at Fisherman’s Wharf where you could stop for dinner (we can never resist the spicy garlic crab at Nick’s Lighthouse).
If you don't want the day to end, why not catch a cable car (either line) and head back downtown for drinks and/or dancing. One of our favourite cocktail bars is Bourbon & Branch, near to Union Square, with a nostalgic, 1920s feel, or the SoMa (South of Market) area has loads of great clubs, including Monarch, Temple and Raven Bar.
Start your day checking out the Mission Dolores Basilica, and then afterwards you can explore the surrounding neighbourhood. If you're peckish, Tartine Bakery has great pastries, or if you're looking for something more substantial, Foreign Cinema has a great brunch menu (it's also the perfect spot for a hair-of-the-dog cocktail).
The area around Mission Dolores, known as Mission, is filled with vibrant street art, with many of its murals reflecting the neighbourhood's Latino roots. We suggest getting lost, wandering along the streets, taking in the vibe of the area. Balmy Alley is a particularly good place to check out the art, and if you’re hungry, the burritos at La Taquería are incredible (and well worth the wait).
In the afternoon, why not take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and head to the Golden Gate Park. You could easily spend a whole day here if you wanted to, with hundreds of paths to explore. Alternatively, you could visit the area of the park next to the beach, where you can see American buffalos, or if you’d rather, you could visit the California Academy of Sciences or the de Young Museum.
To end your trip on a high, literally, we recommend heading back to the Mission neighbourhood and enjoying dinner and a cocktail at the city’s most notable rooftop space, El Techo de Lolinda.
With this itinerary, you'll have done and seen so much in San Francisco that you might need another holiday to recover from this one!