Solo Travel in San Francisco
San Francisco is one of those travel wish list places that you may have dreamt of visiting. This iconic city has been the home to many movies and is known for the Golden Gate Bridge. If you're searching for an American destination, one of the best places to visit is San Francisco, California. If you're planning a trip to San Fran, below is our guide on things to do alone in San Francisco, where to stay when you solo travel San Francisco and how to get around. Just read the relevant section or the full article for your San Francisco solo female travel.
N.b. By booking through this page for your solo trip to San Francisco you are helping to improve the lives of vulnerable girls about the globe. Thanks for helping.
- Solo Travel in San Francisco
- Things To Do in San Francisco Alone
- San Francisco Tours
- Best Area To Stay in San Francisco
- Where To Stay in San Francisco
- Getting Around San Francisco
- When To Visit San Francisco
- Plan a Trip To San Francisco
- Related Posts
Solo Travel in San Francisco
San Francisco is a reasonably safe city but as with any other city, there are areas that you may want to avoid. The Tenderloin is a colourful area with good nightlife and theatres but both this area and neighbouring Civic Centre are places to be careful in at night. There can be pickpocketing in the city and if you have brought a car, be aware of break-ins which are common.
There are a large number of homeless people in San Francisco especially within the Tenderloin area and you may be approached by panhandlers asking for money. If you are unsure whether to give them money, there is the option of donating to a homeless organisation.
Things To Do Alone in San Francisco
There are plenty of iconic sights in ‘Frisco‘ that you'll need at least 3 nights to explore the city (more if you want to see Alcatraz too). Here are our favourite must-visit places and things to do in SF alone.
The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is the most iconic part of San Francisco. It's like how you think of the Eiffel Tower when you think of Paris. Thus, you should make sure that you visit the Golden Gate Bridge in some way.
The best way to get to it is by walking to and across it. It should take you an hour to make a round trip to the bridge. However, that's not counting a leisurely walk where you stop and take your time on the bridge.
We mentioned earlier the need for a windbreaker because the ferry ride can be pretty cold and wet when you're headed to Alcatraz Island. Ensure that you bring your windbreaker with you when you go on a historical tour of the island. Also, make sure that you get a reservation as the ferry ride is a popular activity.
If you want an expansive view of San Francisco, you should make the trip up Coit Tower and admire the view from there. You can get a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and more from up there. The tower is a memorial for the brave volunteer firefighters who had perished during San Francisco's five significant fires.
One of the most popular solo things to do in San Francisco by yourself is to take a trip to Pier 39, especially if you want to spend a leisurely day admiring sea lions and eating at seafood restaurants. But there are also other things you can do at Pier 39 if you have plenty of time. For example, you can go on a whale tour, try the carousel, rent a bike, and even do wine tasting inside a boat.
Chinatown is a popular feature in many areas of the United States, but some are more popular than others. Aside from the NYC Chinatown, the Chinatown in San Francisco is also a famous fixture area. If you're craving Chinese food and want to enjoy a slice of Chinese culture while in San Francisco, there's no better place to go to than Chinatown.
The Mission District
The Mission District is known for its Chicano or Mexican-American community. If you want to have a taste of Mexican cuisine and experience the local nightlife or explore bookstores and galleries, this is the place to be! No wonder The Mission District is famous among hipsters.
Palace of Fine Arts
If you want to have a slow and relaxing day, there's no better place than the Palace of Fine Arts. The Palace of Fine Arts certainly looks like a palace or something straight out of a fantasy-romance novel. With its fascinating architecture and the lagoon as well, you'll feel like you're in a magical land. Plus, the entrance is free unless you attend any specific exhibitions or shows there.
Walking is one of the best ways to explore San Francisco but one noteworthy mode of transportation are the cable cars. Although they're not exactly a “place,” they're still a unique San Francisco feature. It's like your SF tour is not complete without riding the cable cars.
The Haight-Ashbury area may seem unassuming, but this area holds a lot of history. Aside from the many colourful Victorian homes to admire, you might also happen upon the Haight-Ashbury Street Fair. You can also explore different cafes and pubs while at Haight-Ashbury. It's certainly a place that will give off a youthful vibe that you can feel in the air.
N.b. If you’re planning on staying a few days, consider purchasing a San Francisco CityPASS from $75 which includes tickets and options to the city’s main attractions including a Bay cruise.
San Francisco Tours
Get Your Guide – If you're unsure of what to do alone in San Francisco, Get Your Guide helps you to find top-rated activities and day tours in worldwide destinations including San Francisco. Choose from a Golden Gate Bay cruise, an ultimate San Francisco electric bike tour, or Alcatraz tickets and Chinatown walking tour. Some of the tours require a minimum of 2 people but there are plenty to book as a solo including a Lake Tahoe 3-day camping tour, a trip to Muir Woods, the Giant Redwoods and the town of Sausalito. It’s really simple to use. Just check the reviews, price and availability then book online.
* Check all Get Your Guide tours, prices and availability for San Francisco
Viator – Viator is similar to Get Your Guide. They are an American company and a tour platform with more than 345,000 tours and worldwide activities. Choose from an Alcatraz Island and San Francisco grand city tour, a Big Bus San Francisco hop-on hop-off open top tour, or a sunset catamaran cruise on San Francisco Bay. They also include a San Francisco CityPASS from $75.00. Read my Viator review or click the link below for all their tours.
* Check all Viator tours, prices and availability for San Francisco
Day Trips From San Francisco
Many of us enjoy a glass of wine when we're on vacation, so since you're travelling to San Francisco, it would be a mistake not to go to the wine region on a wine country tour. You can even go on a trekking trip in the wine regions. But if you want to explore Napa Valley without sweating, you could consider booking a day tour such as this one.
If you’re searching for some company to explore the USA with, Intrepid Travel is a responsible travel company that offers active tours within San Francisco and its surrounding area. Choose from a 6 day walk Yosemite National Park adventure or a California Sonoma getaway, cycle Napa Valley and Sonoma in a week or join an under 30’s tour and travel from LA to San Francisco over 11 days.
Explore the Wild Western USA over 11 days or San Francisco to Vegas visiting parks, canyons and valleys over 9 days. On each tour, you share a room with someone of the same gender or you can pay extra for your own room. Intrepid operate a flexible booking policy so you can change your travel plans up to 21 days before departure. Read the review here or click on the link below for all tours. * Click here for San Francisco itineraries, prices, and start dates
Best Area To Stay in San Francisco
San Francisco is a vibrant city with many neighbourhoods that are great for solo female travellers. As well as Union Square, which is great for shopping and also a transport hub making it easy to get to places from here, I've listed other recommendations below. As with any city, avoid walking alone late at night and be aware of your surroundings.
Nob Hill: This neighbourhood is known for its luxurious hotels and high-end restaurants. It's centrally located and has excellent public transportation options.
Russian Hill: This neighbourhood is situated on a hill with stunning views of the city and the bay. It's also home to Lombard Street, the “most crooked” street in the world.
Marina District: This neighbourhood is popular among young professionals and has a lively atmosphere with plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops.
Hayes Valley: This neighbourhood is known for its trendy boutiques, art galleries, and cafes. It's a great place to stay if you're looking for a more relaxed vibe.
Pacific Heights: Known for its beautiful Victorian homes and stunning views of the city, Pacific Heights is a quieter neighbourhood that's great for solo travellers who want to explore on foot.
Where To Stay in San Francisco
San Francisco has so many options for places to stay. You can find international chains such as the Hilton and InterContinental, 2-star travel inns, motels, and hotels from 3-star to 5-star. Plus there’s Airbnb which offers rooms in San Fran with a local as well as rental accommodation in San Francisco on a short-term basis. You can stay in a private room in a local's house or rent their whole apartment.
If you're looking to meet others, consider a hostel but look for evening activities to make it easier to mingle with others. I stayed at the Hi Hostel Downtown and didn't find it very sociable so choose a smaller one if you want company.
Below are our recommended solo female-friendly accommodations as recommended by our Girls about the Globe community. For all other accommodations in San Francisco, click on the link below.
* To book, check prices or availability for all accommodation in San Francisco
HI San Francisco Downtown Hostel – $
This downtown hostel is only 5 minutes walk from Union Square with restaurants nearby. It is the only hostel in the city that has free parking and even its own theatre room. There is a kitchen so you can cook your own meals as well as a laundrette to wash your clothes. If you need to work there is a quiet room or you can hang out with others in the common area.
You can store your valuables in the lockers when you go and sightsee and they also provide free earplugs if you’re a light sleeper. Choose from a bed in a 4-bed female dormitory room, a 4-bed mixed dorm room, a queen room or a twin room with an en suite.
- Prices from £31/$44 USD per night for a dorm bed
- To book, check prices or availability for HI San Francisco Downtown Hostel
White Swan Inn – $$
For those who prefer to stay in a Bed and breakfast San Francisco, the White Swan Inn is in a great location near Union Square and only 10 minutes walk from Chinatown. Breakfast is included and rooms come with their own fireplaces, a mini-bar, a coffee machine and a flatscreen TV.
Join one of their curated walks or if you love books, just get cosy in the library and borrow a novel or two. The White Swan Inn has been named one of the 21 best hotels in San Francisco but if you are a light sleeper, be aware that the walls are thin so bring some earplugs. Choose from a deluxe king or queen room, or a luxury king room.
- Prices from £145/$205 USD per night for a dorm bed
- To book, check prices or availability for White Swan Inn
Palihotel San Francisco – $$
This 3-star boutique hotel is centrally located close to Union Square, and 5 minutes away from the BART station. The hotel has a nice vibe, there is a 24-hour concierge and the staff are all friendly and welcoming. Rooms come with a minibar and you receive a discount for the onsite restaurant if you choose to dine at the hotel. Choose from a queen room, a king room, a king suite or a superior suite.
- Prices from £166/$234 USD per night for a dorm bed
- To book, check prices or availability for Palihotel San Francisco
Getting Around San Francisco
Renting a car is not the best course of action in San Francisco. Since you're by yourself anyway, it would be more convenient to get around by going on foot or through public transportation. There is a metro system here and buses that run throughout the city. From Union Square to Fishermans Wharf by bus, for example, takes less than 20 minutes and costs $3 on the bus.
San Francisco is known for its cable cars, so you should take the chance to ride one when you're there. If you are planning on using public transport, you can buy the Clipper Card, a pre-loaded card that gives you access to the buses, metro, train and cable cars. Read more…
For those who prefer the freedom of the open road consider hiring an RV and driving yourself around the USA stopping in San Francisco on the way. As a solo traveller, you’ll have plenty of space for your accommodation, your own transport and possibly a kitchenette too.
RVshare allows you to compare RV rates from different brands and find local owners near you. In most cases, they deliver to a specific location or park, so the home-away-from-home will be ready and waiting for you on arrival. Plus, you can bring your pet! Prices start from $75 a night. * Book a campervan with RVshare
When To Visit San Francisco
You shouldn't assume that San Francisco has the same climate as the rest of California so prepare for San Francisco's weather. It's not all bright and sunny, and things can get chilly. The best time to go when you solo travel San Francisico is usually from September to November. This is when it is at its warmest and there are fewer people visiting.
Expect rain from December to February but whenever you decide to travel bringing a windbreaker and a jacket with you is essential when you're headed to San Francisco. You'll especially appreciate it should you ever plan on going on a ferry ride headed to Alcatraz. The chart below shows the annual temperature in San Francisco to help you plan your trip.
- Can I drink the water? Yes, the tap water is good to drink.
- Is tipping expected? Yes as tipping is part of American culture so you should tip everyone. In restaurants and bars tipping is expected between 10-25%, taxi drivers 10-15% and your tour guide 15-20%
- Fixed price or barter? Fixed price.
- Any ATMs? Yes.
- Which side of the road do they drive? The right-hand side.
- Good for vegetarians? Yes! San Francisco is one a vegan-friendly city and is good for vegetarians and vegans,
- Any seven wonders of the world? The Grand Canyon in Arizona is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Plan a Trip To San Francisco
Budget – $150 a day
Do I need a visa? Yes, for British Citizens and other nationalities.
The Best Time to Go – September
Events and Festivals in San Francisco