One of the top tourist destinations in the world, the city of San Francisco conjures several iconic images: the Golden Gate Bridge spread across the blue waters of the Bay, the grey fog hanging over the city, and the historic cable cars chugging up and down the city's many steep hills. The city boasts over 50 hills within city limits, with many neighbourhoods named after the hill on which they sit, including Nob Hill and Russian Hill. To avoid some of the steeper hills, look for accommodation in the Financial District or Union Square. Hotels in the city are generally expensive, but there are several hostels in San Francisco for those on a tighter budget.
Though San Francisco is situated on the coast of California, the climate is very different to the Southern area. The city sees moist, mild winters and dry summers with temperatures rarely rising over 24 degrees Celsius. The city's unique position, surrounded on three sides by water, accounts for the famous fog and cool winds that keep summers on the chilly side. For slightly warmer temperatures and a better chance of bright sunny days, many tourists opt to visit during the pleasant months of September and October. No matter when you come, pack layers for the fluctuating temperatures - while one side of the city is covered in fog the other might be warm and clear - and comfortable shoes for tackling the hills.
Thanks to an influx of immigrants from around the world, San Francisco is also one of most multi-cultural cities in the US, with large Asian and Hispanic populations. And the city is known for being very gay-friendly; there are hundreds of gay bars to choose from, particularly in the Castro neighbourhood, America's oldest and largest gay neighbourhood. Among the top attractions in the city are the former prison at Alcatraz, the shops at Fisherman's Wharf, the Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), Chinatown, and the San Francisco Opera, the second-largest opera company in North America.