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San Francisco - Melting Pot of Cultures

San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the USA. It is known for the majestic red Golden Gate Bridge, which is often shrouded in fog - like the rest of the city. The many steep streets, the multiculturalism and the hip party scene give the city a special charm.

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Geography - The City by the Bay

San Francisco is a big city at the US West Coast in the state of California. It has an area of 600.7 km², 121 km² of which are land area, and has about 805,000 inhabitants. The metropolitan area, called "Bay Area", even has a population of 4,335,391 people. San Francisco is a mid-sized city like Frankfurt am Main and Amsterdam. It constitutes the south-western border of San Francisco Bay. That is where the region got its name. Travellers can reach the city using the Golden Gate Bridge in the north or Bay Bridge in the est. San Francisco is famous for its many hills. They give the city with the steep streets its charm. Another typical feature is the Transamerica Pyramid. The climate in San Francisco is Mediterranean but due to the cold California Current, the temperatures are a bit cooler. The warmest months are September and October. An interesting phenomenon, which mostly occurs in the morning, is the formation of a gigantic fog bank, which makes the Golden Gate Bridge an extremely popular postcard scene.

Victorian houses at Alamo Square

Culture - Multiculturalism and Victorian architecture

The city was founded in 1776 and named after Francis of Assisi. Around 1848, the city experienced an immense boom caused by the beginning of the gold rush. It was the origin of the name "Golden Gate". In 1906, San Francisco suffered from a massive earthquake and the fire caused by it destroyed almost the whole city. Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge were completed in the 1930s. They made the city more easily accessible and caused another burst of growth. Today, San Francisco does not attract gold diggers any more but a great number of tourists. The most popular destinations among travellers are the piers, especially Fisherman's Wharf. You can eat out there and buy various souvenirs. The Ferry Building (also called "Port of San Francisco") with its shops, restaurants and the Farmers Market is equally popular. From Coit Tower, you have a breathtaking view of the whole city. The Painted Ladies, a row of six Victorian houses at Alamo Square, are a popular photo scene as is the Palace of Fine Arts. One of the city's main attractions is Chinatown, the greatest Chinese quarter outside of China. San Francisco is generally an impressive mosaic of different city districts. Besides Chinatown, Russian Hill, Nob Hill, Haight-Ashbury, Pacific Hayes and the Castro District are of interest to tourists. The latter is known as an LGBT quarter, which is apparent from the many rainbow flags and stickers at the street lights.

Chinatown San Francisco

Experience - Fisherman's Wharf, Lombard Street and Golden Gate Park

You reach many of San Francisco's sights on foot. A great starting point for sightseeing walks is the Union Square, which is a theatre, hotel and shopping district. It accommodates shopping centres such as Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy's. From there, you can walk along Powell Street or Stockton Street towards the piers. Once you reach Sacramento Avenue, you see Chinatown on your right and the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi in Vallejo Street. Walking on, you soon see Lombard Street, the curviest street on earth, on your left. You should stray from the track here and climb Lombard Street. The ascent is rather exhausting, as is the case with most of San Francisco's hills, but the view is worth it. When you get to the pier, you are at Fisherman's Wharf, which offers numerous shops, restaurants and attractions. One of these attractions is Ghirardelli Square. A special highlight is a car ride over the Golden Gate Bridge. Golden Gate Park in the west of the city is one of the greatest inner-city parks in the world and accommodates many attractions such as the Japanese Tea Garden, the de Young Museum, the Conservatory of Flowers, the California Academy of Sciences and San Francisco Botanical Garden. Culinary specialities are sourdough bread and clam chowder.

The curviest street in the world

Activities - Up and down the hills in a cable car

San Francisco has a lot to offer to active holidaymakers. Travellers can, for example, rent a bike at the pier and explore the city on cycling tracks or cross the Golden Gate Bridge. In addition, the city has some of the most beautiful and challenging golf courses on earth. Golden Gate Park is a very popular meeting point for recreational athletes. You can do archery, go fishing, horseshoe pitching, play tennis, Frisbee, go discus throwing, jogging, go for walks or ride a Segway here. A trip to San Francisco is not complete until you have taken a ride in a cable car. This is a memorable experience, especially when you can stand on the side of the car. Another adventurous experience is a trip to Alcatraz, which was used as a prison until 1963. Holidaymakers learn more about the island's history on a visit to the former prison. It shows you how the inmates lived here.

Cable car with Alcatraz in the background

Information

The best way to arrive in San Francisco is by plane. Oakland International Airport and San Francisco International Airport are not far away and are connected to the city centre by the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). Within the city, you can use the Muni Rail Lines and a number of buses to get from place to place.

San Francisco is an excellent destination for a city trip. Besides numerous cultural sights, it offers opportunities for going shopping, eating out and being active. Its different quarters, the impressive architecture of the houses at the side of the steep streets and the thick screen of fog make the city a unique destination.

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