San Francisco: Impresindible Guide

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The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, United States
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, United States - © Martin M303 - Fotolia.com

 

 

San Francisco: guide with the most important things to see and the best activities to do.

San Francisco is in the state of California and it is the thirteenth (13ª) most populated city in the United States with almost 809.000 inhabitants.

It has an area of ​​about 121 km2 and with the honor of being the second city in the United States in terms of quality of life.

It has two financial engines: the technology industry due to the proximity of Silicon Valley and the banking and financial sector, being the headquarters of more than 30 financial institutions in the country.

Founded in 1776 and developed thanks to the gold rush, today San Francisco has more than 800.000 inhabitants and is one of the most important tourist destinations in the United States.

Today the city where it is always windy is the California's technological, financial and cultural center, racing Los Angeles. It has been associated with alternative movements and is considered one of the most open cities in the United States.

How to get to San Francisco

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If you are traveling from Europe, South America or from some other part of the United States, it is worth the trip by plane to the city airport, called San Francisco International Airport. This is about 21 km south of San Francisco and receives flights from throughout North America, Asia and Europe. The most used routes from Europe to San Francisco leave from London (Heathrow), United Kingdom and Frankfurt, Germany.

To get from the San Francisco International Airport to the city of San Francisco, you can choose different methods of transport: train, bus, car and taxi.

Train: The San Francisco airport has a unique system, called BART, which connects the airport with the city of San Francisco and the San Francisco Bay.

Bus: About us SamTrans 2 offers routes (292 and KX) during the day from the airport to downtown San Francisco, the peninsula of San Francisco and Palo Alto. There is also a night line that covers a similar route, the 397 number.

Taxi: At the exit of the airport there is a taxi rank where you can take one that takes us to the center of the city. Normally, the taxi driver charges an 10% tip on the transport price.

Car: You can also rent a car from the airport, although this is only recommended for those who already know the area, otherwise it could lead to losses along the way.

How to get around the city

The road system of San Francisco It is one of the few systems that are not based on large highways crossing the city. Due to its location in a small bay, the roads of the city have a "European" style, with streets of few lanes that cross constantly.

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A good part of the population, some 40.000 people, use the bicycle as a method of transport to move around the city, since it has relatively enabled streets for it.

It is also recommended to use the public transportation to get around San Francisco. Almost one third of the population uses public transport on a regular basis, which is managed by the San Francisco Municipal Railway.

Public transportation in San Francisco is a mix between trolley car and buses. The tram system travels throughout the city, although in the center it does so underground so as not to occupy space on the roads, so it can be confused with a subway.

The Bus they operate throughout the city and cover even the outlying districts of the San Francisco Bay. In addition to these two systems, there is a train system that connects San Francisco with the south of the bay and the neighborhoods that are in that area, as well as nearby towns such as San José.

There is also a system of ferry It connects the bay from the main ferry station, called Ferry Building, and the 39 port (Pier 39) with Oakland, Vallejo and Marin County.

What to see and do in San Francisco

Lombard Street in San Francisco, United States
Lombard Street in San Francisco, United States - © Brad Pict - Fotolia.com
Probably one of the most well-known structures in San Francisco be its famous hanging bridge, finished in 1937 and portrayed in innumerable photographs. But that is not all that the city has to offer, and that is that its mixture of cultures makes it rich in activities to do during our vacations there.

The neighborhoods of San Francisco: The 39% of the population of the city is of foreign origin, where the Asians are closely followed by Hispanics. This makes the Chinatown of the city, popularly known as Chinatown, the oldest and one of the largest in the country. It is something worth seeing, since it seems that we change from one end of the planet to the opposite when entering Chinatown.

But Chinatown is not the only notable neighborhood of the city, and that is the historic city center, located in the northwest area of ​​the bay and bounded by the street Market Street, it is an area worth seeing. That's where the financial and commercial center of the city is located. In spite of being the historical district, we will not find many old buildings, since the city was founded around 1770 and suffered a very important and destructive earthquake in 1906.

Victorian style houses in San Francisco, United States
Victorian-style houses in San Francisco, United States - © Frédéric Prochasson - Fotolia.com

It should be noted that San Francisco is a city with a considerable number of hills, and each one of them usually hosts a neighborhood with the same name as the hill. It is worth visiting North Beach, where there is a purely Italian-style neighborhood, the Western Addition, which houses several Victorian houses that survived the 1906 and Haight-Ashbury earthquake, associated with the hippie movement and bohemian culture.

The green areas: San Francisco also has a large number of parks and beaches. Most of them are in the region known as the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The most notable park in the city is the Golden Gate Park, which occupies a large area. You can do a large number of activities in this park, as it has attractions such as a Japanese garden, the botanical garden of the city and a flower conservatory.

As for the beaches, there is the Ocean Beach, a beach popular with surfers, and Baker Beach, which is part of Golden Gate Park.

The museums: You can not leave aside the museums of the city, such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Palace of the Legion of Honor, with a good number of European relics, and the Young Museum, which has an anthropological collection of Oceania, Africa, North America and South America.

Alcatraz: In San Francisco is the famous Alcatraz high security prison. Although you can not make visits, you can take pictures of the island and the prison from various points in the city.

What documentation does it take to enter the United States?

Entry into the United States has become more difficult since the 11S terrorist attack. Fortunately, the entrance has not been limited, but simply more documentation is needed to travel to the country.

The necessary documentation to enter the United States is known as ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). This authorization, which becomes a visa, together with a passport with a validity date of a minimum of 6 months, is sufficient to enter the country.

There is a limit of stay in the country, and for ESTA to be granted, the traveler must prove that he is only visiting the United States on a temporary basis (maximum 90 days) and that he has sufficient funds to finance himself and live during that time.

Those people who have relatives in the United States, have some restrictions on the length of stay, and the period of stay may be extended to one year or more.

You can not enter the United States as an immigrant with the intention of working, as it is very controlled. The best option to go to work in the United States is to get the job from the country of origin and let the company process all the paperwork.

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