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Key facts for hiring a car in San Francisco
Car hire locations
There are 28 locations to hire a car from in San Francisco and the most popular is San Francisco Airport.
Hottest month: July (14°C)
Coldest month: January (10°C)
Not to be missed
Riding a traditional cable car.
GMT - 10
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Hire a car in San Francisco
San Francisco is one of the most progressive and trendsetting cities in the USA.
Constantly reinventing itself, the city has a dynamic energy that will change before your eyes. As a culturally eclectic melting pot and the heart of the virtual world, San Francisco will inspire you to push the boundaries of tradition.
Plus, its 43 signature hills, spectacular landmarks and natural surroundings make it a visually dramatic destination.
San Francisco is one of the top three cities in the U.S. for street art, and the Mission District exhibits nearly 500 murals alone – the largest concentration of street art in the world.
The edgy district is a lively outdoor museum, revealing the city’s commitment to free expression through vibrant strokes of paint. Here are a couple of key sites in the area to you won’t want to miss.
Founded in 1992, the Clarion Alley Mural Project is the first notable stop to make. Its modern artworks are often politically motivated, illustrating some of the city’s most controversial issues, such as inequality and affordable housing.
A collection of works covers every surface available between 24th and 25th streets. Over 30 artists have decorated the space since the 1980s, making it the oldest mural project in San Francisco. There are tributes to artists as well as significant activists.
Also known as the LGBTQ “capital of the world,” trendy shops reflect the neighbourhood’s stylistic zeal. At the area’s core is the famous Castro Theatre, a historic landmark showcasing independent films.
One of the nation’s largest Chinatowns. It has evolved into a tourist haven, overloading visitors with an array of sights, sounds and smells.
The area gained its fame for revitalising San Francisco’s music scene. Neighbouring Japantown, a walk down Fillmore Street will take you past The Fillmore, an acclaimed headquarters for musical performances.
The foundation of Japanese American culture and the oldest of the three Japantowns remaining in the U.S. today. There is no shortage of green tea, noodle bars, and sushi ready to be served.
Centred on one of San Francisco’s seven original hills, the district holds the reputation of being one of the city’s swankiest neighbourhoods. Ritzy hotels cast shadows over the vintage barber shops, chic cafes and the newest nightclubs.
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Money saving tips
As one of the most expensive cities in the USA, here’s some advice for a budget friendly trip.
- Eat during happy hour, around 4-7pm. Restaurants will knock off a few dollars, offering up great drinks and dishes without a hefty bill.
- Seek out free activities, like strolling across the Golden Gate Bridge. Union Square also has lots of free exhibits and performances.
- A San Francisco CityPASS will help you save 50 percent off admission at various attractions around the city.
- There are free walking tours throughout different neighbourhoods. It’s a great way to see and learn about San Francisco while getting in a good urban hike.
Best time to visit
Surrounded by three sides of water and cooled by sweeping winds, San Francisco has its own unique Californian climate.
San Francisco's trademark fog rolls in most often during the summer and the inland valleys are hot throughout the season. While the fog can add a romantic quality to the cityscape, if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, it is better to travel another time of year.
Spring and autumn are typically the sunniest. May and June or October and November are the best choice for steady weather and fewer tourists.
- San Francisco is a big biking city. Watch out for speedy bike messengers and frequently check your mirrors for cyclists.
- Parking is in short supply and can be very expensive in the city.
- If driving through the heavy San Francisco fog, remember to use your fog lights, never full beam.
- Driving all those hills can be a challenge. The trick is to drive a little faster rather than slower going up.
- Be aware that some modes of public transport, light rail and buses, have their own lanes while others move with traffic.
Points of interest near San Francisco
Muir Woods – 27km
The ideal spot for a woodland escape in a breathtaking forest just across the Golden Gate Bridge.
Pescadero Beach – 82km
The perfect city getaway, perfect for enjoying the California sun and sand.
Napa Valley – 92km
The heart of wine country, fantastic for vineyard tours and gourmet dining.
Sacramento – 115km
The capital of California, this city has a rich history dating back to the Gold Rush.
Eldorado National Forest – 234km
A vast wilderness of unforgettable views.
Yosemite National Park – 268km
Beautiful forest brimming with hiking trails, campgrounds and picnic areas.