Visiting San Francisco on a Budget

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Major U.S. cities can be pricey, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money to experience San Francisco’s charm. A little research on the internet and perusing local papers reveals a goldmine of free activities and entertainment to keep you busy on a budget.

San Francisco Accommodation

Hostel accommodation is the cheapest option for the budget traveler. San Francisco has some great hostels in prime locations. This includes:

Both hostels are located in great positions for exploring the Bay area.

Transit Options in San Francisco

If you have chosen wisely in your choice of accommodation, walking to the major attractions or to the nearest bus stop is your best option. Public transport is cheaper then renting a car, you avoid outrageous parking fees and is less stressful when exploring a new city.

Public transportation in San Francisco is the Bay Area Rapid Transport (BART). There is a trip planner on their website, which is very handy in planning your day and adult fares are only $1.75 per trip. When you board the bus, pay with the correct change and make sure you get a transfer. Transfers are good for 90 minutes from time of issue and can be used for changing buses or for your return trip.

San Francisco Attractions

  • Walk over the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco’s most famous landmark.
  • Check out Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 with street performers and the smell of fresh Clam Chowder and Sourdough bread. Visit Pier 39 and see the huge sea-lions that come into the area to rest and shelter from the sharks in the Bay. Some of the male adults get up to 400kg each!
  • Visit Coit Tower on telegraph hill with amazing views of the waterfront. Take the elevator to the top for a small fee.
  • Explore Golden Gate Park. With over 1,000 acres of park, it includes the Conservatory of Flowers, Japanese Tea Garden and the Academy of Sciences. The third Wednesday of every month is free.
  • Cruise over to Alcatraz and learn about the history of this unique prison for $26/Adult.

Cheap Eats

While down at Fisherman’s Wharf taste some of San Francisco’s famous Clam Chowder in a Sourdough bowl. This meal will seat you back $6 and is an experience in itself. Eating in Chinatown is also a cheap and tasty option. With so many restaurants to choose from and most meals under $10, you won’t go home hungry.


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