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San Francisco

Holidays in San Francisco

This city puts the ‘u’ in unique

With beautiful open spaces, a bridge that’s the envy of the world and charming harbour-side towns, The City by the Bay is a sight to behold. Union Square’s shopping, Alcatraz Island and a stunning Golden Gate Park make for an offbeat city that refuses to blend in.

We fly to San Francisco daily

11 hour flight
M T W T F S S
London Heathrow
Connect from other UK airports

You can also fly from Aberdeen or Edinburgh on one of our partner airlines.

Hotels in San Francisco

Retrieving our hand picked hotels...
San Francisco cable car

San Francisco and West Coast tours

There is no better way to experience the West Coast than with a tour. Start with a guided tour in San Francisco to absorb the must-see highlights of the city and nearby National Parks. More of an adventurer? Take to the open road with a self-drive tour and immerse yourself in all things West Coast at your own leisure.

Free Car Hire

USA and Canada car hire

Rev up your motor, set the sat-nav and make sure you’ve got a tin of sucky sweets in the glove box — we’re heading off along the highways and byways of the USA and Canada

Partnered with Alamo/National, we’re able to offer you car hire in over 280 locations within North America and Canada with award winning service, plus:

  • Free Additional Driver in Fully Inclusive package  
  • 2-hour grace period
  • Online check in to speed up the pick up process
  • Gold Plus package which includes Child Seats, GPS, tank of fuel, underage driver fees, 3 additional drivers
  • Free one ways within Florida and within California, free one ways between California and Nevada and Arizona
  • Free Ski racks
  • Reps and dedicated area in Orlando

Essential information for San Francisco

Local time
-8hrs
Currently
Language
USA flag
American English
Currency
US Dollar $
Official currency of the United States
Flight information
11h
San Francisco (SFO)
Direct flight
Getting around
San Francisco is one of the few places in the world where people can ride on a national historic landmark. The cable cars are the world’s last permanently operational manually operated cable car system, and are the most convenient way to get around. Be sure to stop off and visit the Cable Car Museum for a look at the powerhouse behind the machines.

Do I need a visa?

To travel to the USA, you will need an ESTA visa. Please make sure that you have this approved at least 3 days before you head off on holiday.

Find out more about Travel Visas here »

Why visit San Francisco with Virgin Holidays?

Stay local in the Golden City

San Francisco has it all. Iconic landmarks and a fascinating history draws visitors from all around the world. If you prefer to travel off the beaten path, we can recommend experiences you might not see in the tourist guides. Experience San Fran like a local and fall in love with the city by the bay.

Book your California road trip with us

San Francisco is a great base to explore western USA. We have hotels across California and beyond, for every stop you make, allowing you to book your whole holiday with us. Whether you're heading to Monterey, Yosemite National Park or down the Big Sur scenic highway, we've got it covered.

Your holiday is protected

Our people on the ground know how to look after you – and they do. Nothing is more important to us than your holiday happiness and safety. So we make sure our hotel partners are up to scratch.
And, as you’d expect, we’re ATOL and ABTA bonded.

Discover the city by the bay: San Francisco Highlights

Grab your love beads, dust off your caftan, and paint a peace sign on your cheek, we’re heading to San Fran baby, yeah! Okay, so actually, you can forget all that, because one of America’s most iconic destinations left its Summer of Love reputation behind a long time ago, and is now a 21st century hot-spot for trendy travellers. It’s still rebellious, but it does it digitally. And it’s turning into one of the best foodie paradises on the West Coast, too.

The enormous tech industry just up the highway in Silicon Valley has provided San Francisco with a new generation of pioneers, trailblazers, and visionaries. That means there’s an explosion of cool bars, trendy restaurants, and boutique hotels popping up left, right and centre, making San Francisco one of the best spots to holiday in northern California. You’re right in the middle of wine country, and you’ve got iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate bridge, the wonderfully wiggly Lombard Street (complete with no less than eight hairpin bends), and the imposing Alcatraz Island to explore.

Our San Francisco holiday packages are designed to put you right in the middle of all this uniquely Californian lifestyle. It’s genuinely one of our favourite destinations in the world, and one visit is never enough. So hop onboard a streetcar named Desire, hold on tight, and let’s take a look at San Francisco in all its crazy glory.

San Francisco is packed with great places to stay. With a decision to make between boutique and big name, and city centre or beachside resort, choosing is not always easy. To help you out, we’ve suggested some of our favourite places to stay on holidays to San Francisco.

Hotel Triton: The Triton definitely feels like a San Francisco hotel. It’s colourful, cool, and just a little bit crazy – and we love it. Situated in the heart of the downtown area, it’s a bohemian hotel that specialises in style. Your shopping can be picked up from various Union Square boutiques for you and spa treatments can be ordered right to your room. Did we mention there’s a complimentary wine hour each evening?

Kimpton Buchanan Hotel: slap-bang in the heart of the city, you’ve got Chinatown, Pacific Heights and The Fillmore all within walking distance of the Kimpton Buchanan Hotel. It’s ultra-chic, full of vintage touches that give it a distinctly boutique feel, and serves one of the best breakfasts you’ll ever taste.

Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf: just two blocks from the cable-car turnaround point, the Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf is a family-friendly hotel packed with great features, including its own heated swimming pool. Fancy a trip over to Alcatraz? You’re just two minutes from the ferry.

If you want the luxury to get ramped up to an eleven on your holiday to San Francisco, check yourself into one of our many luxury hotels for some serious pampering.

The Argonaut Hotel At Fisherman’s Wharf: with a nautical theme and a flawless level of service, this quirky yet incredibly luxurious hotel is perfect for romantic couples. Premier rooms have amazing views of Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island.

W San Francisco: this is a very, very special hotel. The W San Francisco is a no-expense-spared, 5-star hotel complete with bespoke spa treatments and rooms that have their own (uniquely San Franciscan) rating from ‘Wonderful’ to ‘Extreme Wow’. This is upscale Californian hotel living at its best.

The Marker Hotel: The Marker Hotel is opulent - Art Deco beauty on the outside, and stylish, ultra-chic sophistication on the inside. The lobby welcomes you with a floor-to-ceiling grand fireplace, and a marble staircase that just begs to be sashayed down! You’re right in the most fashionable quarter of the city too, just minutes away from theatres and restaurants.

There’s so much to see and do on San Francisco holidays that it’s difficult to know where to begin. Not to worry, we’ve got a few ideas to get you started.

  • Go and watch the Giants: The San Francisco Giants, the city’s famous baseball team, are one of MLB’s best, and play at the fantastic AT&T Park. Situated right next to the water, big home runs send balls flying into the Bay, where dozens of kayaking collectors compete to retrieve them. It’s a great day out (just don’t say, “It’s a bit like rounders, really, isn’t it?” to any of the Giants fans).
  • Take a cruise to Alcatraz: - not for the faint hearted, a tour of the infamous Alcatraz prison is a spooky experience that will put your nerves to the test, but also teach you a lot. Great for kids and adults alike, the cruise across the Bay is also a great highlight of the experience. So, don’t forget your camera to take some epic shots of the city from the water.
  • Visit the Golden Gate Bridge: - want the most atmospheric photo of San Fran? Head down to the Golden Gate Park early in the morning, point your camera towards the bridge, and watch the world’s most recognisable bridge slowly emerge from the mist.
  • Shop ‘til you drop at Pier 39: right on the waterfront is this shopper’s paradise, stuffed full of great little boutiques and super-trendy eateries. It’s still got that hippy vibe, but the quality of the jewellery and clothes in particular is seriously high-end, not home-made and tie-dyed.
  • Make the most of the art scene: San Francisco has always been famous for its cultural contributions, so it’s no surprise it’s home to some of the best art museums and galleries in the country. The Museum of Modern Art, the Asian Art Museum, and the de Young Memorial Museum are all must-visits for art lovers.
  • Cherry Blossom festival: for two weekends in April the city is filled with the sight and scent of cherry blossom. It’s a wonderful celebration of spring in traditional Japanese style, complete with sushi, rice paper folding, drumming, and parades.
  • Hunky Jesus: this is definitely a very different (and uniquely San Franciscan) take on Easter Sunday. The morning’s for the kids, but the afternoon’s shenanigans are much more adult-themed!
  • Carnaval: May sees one of the biggest multicultural festivals in California. Parades, dancing, and some amazing street food is on offer.
  • San Francisco LGBTQ Pride Parade: it’s big, it’s bold, it’s fabulous, and it’s insanely colourful! The Pride Parade is one of the most friendly and inclusive of all the city events, and everyone is welcome.
  • Public transport: San Francisco has one of the most extensive and efficient public transport systems in the whole of the United States. Encompassing buses, trams, the Metro and commuter rail services, the city’s transportation network will get you anywhere you want to go. A payment card, known as the ‘Clipper Card,’ can be used to pay for all forms of public transport.
  • Cable cars: no holiday to San Francisco would be complete without at least one journey on the city’s iconic cable cars. Not only are they a part of the city’s history, but they’re handy for getting up all the steep hills!
  • Car: renting a car for the duration of your stay is a good idea if you want to explore other parts of California or head up to the mighty forests of Oregon. We’ve teamed up with several reputable car hire companies to provide you with the best deals possible.

San Francisco is a foodie’s dream city. If you fancy fresh seafood, head to the waterfront. Good Chinese food? Wander down to the city’s large Chinatown neighbourhood. Here are a few of our top restaurants to whet the appetite.

  • Nopalito: Mexican food is incredibly popular throughout the country, but particularly so in California. Nopalito utilises fresh, local ingredients to put a San Francisco spin on this slow-cooked cuisine. We recommend the traditional and oh-so-tasty pozole rojo.
  • Del Popolo: San Francisco is home to a whole host of quirky restaurants, many of which can be found in entirely unexpected places. Del Popolo used to be one such restaurant (it started life as a glass-sided food truck with a fully functional pizza oven in the back). It’s now put down some roots and become one of the best pizza places in the city.
  • Kin Khao: renowned for the wide variety of international foods available, San Francisco’s culinary scene is full to the brim with great Asian food. However, Kin Khao might just be the best. A beautifully original take on Thai cuisine, Kin Khao’s chefs take dishes from all over the country and reproduce them in their smart, simple restaurant in Tenderloin.

Generally, San Francisco experiences mild winters and dry, sunny summers. Spring, summer and autumn are all pleasant times to visit, with warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine.

  • June to August: San Francisco summers are typically defined by dry days, pleasant temperatures and those magical misty mornings. Average highs reach 30°C.
  • September to November: September and October are actually San Francisco’s hottest months, due mainly to the fact that the city’s mist begins to clear. Highs of around 32°C can be expected.
  • December to February: if you prefer it cooler then take a winter break in the city, with temperatures between 7-15°C.
  • March to May: spring is gorgeous in San Fran, with temperatures of up to 20°C.

If you’ve always imagined yourself riding cable cars up and down the San Francisco hills, celebrating as you cross the Golden Gate Bridge, or wandering the streets of historic Haight Ashbury, make it a reality by checking out our San Francisco hotels and holiday packages now.

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I'm due to travel to a country that may have travel restrictions!

If you are booked to travel to one of the countries below today and tomorrow, please do not go to the airport - we will contact you.

Any customers travelling to one of these destinations in the next 15 days will be contacted at least 24 hours before departure to discuss options.


Destinations with current travel restrictions

  • All of USA and Canada
  • Jamaica
  • St Lucia
  • Dubai
  • Tel Aviv
  • South Africa
This applies to me, but I'm not departing in the next 15 days

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Travelling before 30th April

If your holiday destination isn’t currently affected, but you would like to discuss your options, please complete our call back form and we will contact you within 7–10 days.

Request a callback


Travelling after 30th April

We ask that you don’t contact us at this time due to the dynamic situation and so we can support customers travelling in the imminent future. Continue to monitor our Covid-19 (Coronavius) travel updates page, our social media and the Foreign and Commonwealth travel advice page for latest advice.

Should your holiday destination become subject to travel restrictions, we will contact you at least 24 hours before departure to discuss your options.

Travelling to a destination with travel restrictions, but not in the next 15 days

If you're travelling to a destination with travel restrictions, but not in the next 15 days, please get in touch with us via WhatsApp or SMS.

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Your holiday may be affected by the government’s travel restrictions

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office UK have advised against all but essential travel. Depending on when you are due to travel, your holiday may be affected.

You’ll be away before you know it

Your next holiday is only a click away - Our website has thousands of hand-picked options ready to book. But if you need more help, just let us know.

Your holiday will not be going ahead as planned

Due to the ongoing situation regarding COVID-19, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office UK have advised against all but essential travel before 26 April 2020.

We’re flexible with your holiday plans

If you were due to travel before the end of May 2020, you can postpone your holiday to a later date or even choose a different destination instead.

You’re good to go


In line with the advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office UK, all trips booked from June onwards are unaffected.

Rebook your holiday


We’ve sent you a voucher that is valid for the full value of your cancelled holiday. When you rebook, we’d like to gift you with 4,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles too. 

But there’s no rush. To redeem your holiday voucher on a new booking with us, just give us a call any time before 31 July 2020 and quote your old booking reference.

Please bear in mind our wait times are currently longer than usual due to high demand.

We’re here when you need us


If you’d like to travel with us sometime in the future, just give us a call and we’ll find a great holiday for you (and gift you with 4,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles as a thank you). 

If you'd prefer to simply cancel completely, we understand, and we will refund you in full. You'll just need to give us a call. Refunds will be successfully returned in approximately 45 days.

Please bear in mind our wait times are currently longer than usual due to high demand.

Your holiday is in safe hands


No need to contact us. Be assured, that if the situation changes, we will contact you as soon as this happens with the options available to you.

Change it up


You can postpone your holiday to travel any time before 31 December 2021, and even choose a different destination. We won’t charge you to make these changes and our Service Team are there to help – just give us a call.

Please bear in mind our wait times are currently longer than usual due to high demand.

Your holiday is in safe hands


Your holiday is scheduled to depart as booked. Continue to pay off your holiday balance with the assurance that your money is fully protected through ATOL. Be assured, that if the situation changes, we will contact you as soon as this happens with the options available to you.

The choice is yours


No problem! To amend your holiday dates, just give us a call. Any amendments to your booking can be made for £50pp, and our Service Team can help you decide on dates, or even a different destination.

Please bear in mind our wait times are currently longer than usual due to high demand.

Register yourself as away from home


If you’re abroad and your flight home has been cancelled please let us know, as relief flights will end soon.

Register as away from home

Alternatively, call our UK Duty Office on +44 0344 472 9646 (option 3) to discuss your options for getting home.

Book online


Looking for inspiration? Explore our destinations and holiday types and save your faves to your very own Wishlist

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Looking for inspiration? Explore our destinations and holiday types online and save your faves to your very own Wishlist

If you’re ready to book but can’t find the information you need on our website, just call our travel experts who will be happy to help.

To redeem your holiday voucher on a new booking with us, just give us a call and quote your old booking reference.