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About San Francisco

Nestled in San Francisco Bay on the Californian west coast of the U.S., San Francisco is a metropolis burgeoning with art, culture, business enterprises and unrivalled scenery. Populated by over 800,000 residents, San Francisco welcomes tourists to its golden beaches, diverse architecture and iconic landmarks. Popular attractions include Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island and Fisherman’s Wharf.

Discover the spirited jewel of northern California with cheap flights to San Francisco! San Francisco is home to San Francisco International Airport (SFO), a 20-minute drive from town. SFO serves many airlines, including Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and KLM. Direct flights are unavailable from South Africa, but popular connecting flights depart from Cape Town and Johannesburg. Flight duration from Johannesburg to San Francisco is approximately 23 hours, 55 minutes.

Why visit San Francisco

iconic landmarks

Iconic Landmarks

San Francisco is teeming with both historical and modern attractions. Brimming with history, dating back to the Gold Rush, some of the city’s most iconic landmarks include Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the Palace of Fine Arts.

arts and culture

Arts and Culture

The city’s wealth of theatres, festivals, restaurants and live-music venues complements its flourishing arts scene and nightlife. Vibrant neighbourhoods like Chinatown, Haight, Mission and Castro-Noe Valley exhibit the melting-pot of cultures that characterise San Francisco.

outdoor treasures

Outdoor Treasures

Stroll through the picture-perfect gardens and parks, garnishing the city with colourful arrangements and scenic pathways. A climb up Twin Peaks will afford you panoramic views of San Francisco in all its glory.

General information

Essential details you need to know before your trip

Country United States of America
Currency US Dollar ($)
Exchange Rate 1 ZAR = 0.07 USD
Language English
Hub Airport San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Airline American Airlines
Time Zone GMT – 08:00
Travel Adaptor Type A / B

Best time to visit San Francisco

The ideal time to visit this gorgeous city is during the autumn sweet spot, between September and November. The summer tourist buzz will have quietened and hotel rates will be more affordable. With warm, sunny skies and undisturbed beaches, you can explore the city sites at your leisure. Be sure to catch the San Francisco Fringe Festival and Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival in September. During July and August, summer travel is at its peak, so places can become crowded with inflated prices. If you don’t mind the winter chills and heavy rain, between December and February is the cheapest time to travel, when flights and hotel rates are drastically reduced.

Weather & Climate in San Francisco

Average temperature (°C) & rainfall (mm) per month

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Low °C 7°C 9°C 9°C 9°C 11°C 12°C 12°C 13°C 13°C 12°C 10°C 8°C
High °C 14°C 16°C 16°C 18°C 18°C 20°C 20°C 20°C 22°C 21°C 18°C 14°C
Rainfall (mm) 115 86 81 35 8 4 1 2 6 33 78 88

Overview

“Fog City” as it is affectionately known, San Francisco is one of the most iconic cities in the United States. Renowned for its eclectic architecture, historic neighbourhoods and colourful arts scene, one day is not enough to explore the wonderfully diverse attractions this city has to offer.

Nonetheless, there are a few landmarks that simply cannot be missed. The state-of-the-art California Academy of Science is an architectural marvel with an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, and a four-storey rainforest all under one roof. See restored 19th-century ships lining the waterfront at Fisherman’s Wharf. The spectacular Golden Gate Park boasts a network of trails, encompassing a Japanese Tea Garden and the de Young Museum. Lincoln Park is another green oasis, home to the California Palace of the Legion of Honor – hosting an impeccable collection of paintings and sculptures. The orange icon gracing San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate Bridge, is an impressive sight to behold; while a trip to Alcatraz Island gives you a glimpse into the lives and times of some of America’s most notorious prisoners.

No trip to San Francisco is complete without riding in the historic cable cars, offering unrivalled views of the city. Unwind along Ocean Beach, with its golden sand and perfect sunsets. The juicy vineyards of Napa Valley are just a stone’s throw away!

Compare several airlines, and book your cheap flights to San Francisco online at Travelstart!

Visa & Customs

A United States Tourist Visa is required for South Africans travelling anywhere within the United States. You’ll need to ensure that your SA passport is valid for at least 6 months from the date of your return and that there are at least 2 pages free for stamps. Visa processing can take a few months, so leave plenty of time and ensure you have all the required documents.

For further information, see the Embassy website

The U.S. Embassy and Consulates are located in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

Health & Safety

San Francisco is a very safe city although incidents of petty crime do occur. Pickpocketing, and purse-snatching are common as in any other large city. Be careful on crowded Muni trains and buses, in heavily crowded areas such as Fisherman's Wharf, and during the busy holiday season. Some neighbourhoods to be cautious of include Bayview-Hunters Point, Visitacion Valley, Sunnydale, Potrero Hill, as well as the Tenderloin.

When hiking through the fields in the Bay Area, check for ticks as there is a high rate of Lyme disease, though it is treatable.

Cost of Living

ITEM CAPE TOWN JOHANNESBURG SAN FRANCISCO
Meal, inexpensive restaurant R 90 R 100 R 198
Domestic beer (0.5 litre draught) R 22 R 20 R 79
Cappuccino R 19 R 20 R 57
Taxi 1km (normal tariff) R 10 R 12 R 23
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) R 35 R 35 R 99
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