Have I enough time in San Francisco?

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Lancashire. UK
245 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
I will be on QE from Southampton to San Francisco at the start of next year's WC. There is an overnight on board before disembarking and I have just one night in a hotel before my flight on the following evening. This means that I will have 2 full days and most of the final day to see the sights. My question is whether that is enough. I do not want to go to Alcatraz but want to see as much as I can of San Francisco. I am wondering whether to add on a couple more days but this is going to be expensive as I will have to pay a flight amendment fee and single supplement in the hotel. Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

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Melbourne, Australia
2,510 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
I think, if you plan well, you can see quite a lot of San Francisco in 2 full days. We were on QE for a world cruise segment and only had the one day and did quite a lot and we did see Alcatraz as well. We walked a lot! Planning is the key though. Research the kind of things you want to see the most and do your best. I would love to go back and see more. I should also say that you could always find more to see if you stay longer but only you can decide whether you want to pay more (flight amendment fees, etc) at this point.
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Previous cruises:
QM2 - Mediterranean Delights May 2009
QE - Aegean Introduction Nov 2010
Volendam - Pacific Treasures Feb 2012
QM2 - WC Segment SIN to MEL Feb 2013
QE - WC Segment SOU to HK Jan 2015
35 Posts
Joined Oct 2015
I live near SF so I would love to hear what you want to see to better answer the question but the short answer is that you can see a lot in 2 days. I love Coit Tower because it gives you a great view of the city. I also like to walk the Golden Gate Bridge (or bike across). I also like the ferry building, especially on Saturdays.Hotel location can make a big difference on how much you can see.

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Santa Cruz, CA
770 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
I live about an hour and a half from San Francisco - there's so much to see and do; with two and a half days, you will need to choose wisely. I suggest you look for a couple walking tours. They are not very expensive, and you can concentrate on areas that interest you. That should occupy a couple half-days, and will also give you ideas for additional places to visit in your free time.

This is a good start:

San Francisco, CA
1,025 Posts
Joined Nov 2002
Having lived in SF for 40 years, I can echo that you can see a lot. Also, let me add that it is as much a city of lifestyle and mood as of sights - so bring your walking shoes and work in time to stop for a meal or a drink.

Some things I'd probably skip
  • The view from Twin Peaks or the rotating restaurant at the Hyatt. (besides the aforementioned Coit Tower, I'd recommend cocktails at the Top of the Mark, or if you're up for a little hike [not bad at all] the next hill down from Twin Peaks, Corona Heights, via Roosevelt Way.)
  • Our art museums used to be totally underwhelming, but the SFMOMA downtown has recently come into its own (The deYoung has a new building but still a spottly collection, and the Palace of Legion of Honor is hard to get to.)
  • Fisherman's Wharf. San Franciscans regard it with the same enthusiasm as New Yorkers do for Times Square. ESPECIALLY avoid Pier 39.
  • Ocean Beach (Brrrrr!)
  • The Castro is historic and the walking tour is recommended to learn of its history, but otherwise it's just a few blocks of not-terribly-interesting bars and shops
  • I haven't taken one, but I'd think that the tour busses would be a no-go with the way traffic crawls in SF these days and because many streets and sights ban them. If the weather is nice, far better are the Bay tours. They cover the history of the city and all the sights on the water and they sail around Alcatraz and the bridges.
  • Lombard Street
DO see (semi-random list)
  • North Beach (Home of Beach Blanket Babylon, which is a hilarious revue that has been packing them in for 45 years or so - they keep it topical an fresh)
  • A walk along the Embarcadero at the foot of Market St. (a block or two is fine - also fits with the Ferry Building)
  • Dolores Park on a sunny afternoon. (Easy to get to on the J-Church metro and also close to the historic Mission Dolores)
  • ...and all sorts of stuff I can't think of now
S.W. England
646 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
It might be that when you dock in SFO, it will take some time to get off the ship because of custom procedures. I am afraid that this is a common thing when arriving in US from a foreign port. Last year on QV, I am sure it was past 11.00am before we could disembark in LA.
This is just something to be mindful of, but at least the ship berths right in the city of SFO, and you can easily walk to many places, and trams are in abundance.
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Oakland, CA USA
1,551 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
Mark did a good job with his reply. We live in Oakland just across the bay from SF, and I worked in San Francisco for 34 years. Still go a couple of times per week. In your short time, you can see a lot of the major sites, although plan your day well. You won't have enough time for the museums, for much shopping, or for far-flung sites, especially those out of town. Do eat well. Dining is one of the natives' favorite past times.
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Magnolia, Texas
1,244 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Having lived in SF a couple of times in my life, here are my thoughts. SF is a very picturesque city with lots to see. You can walk in the flatter parts of the city, but it can be very hilly as well. It has excellent public transport in the SF Muni (buses, trolleys and cable cars) You can buy a visitor pass for 1,3 or 7 days to use all of these). BART is the high speed subway (in SF) that can take you into SF Airport should you choose to use it. You prepay your ticket on Bart and some ticket machines accept credit and debit cards. You might also consider Grey Line tours which offers a variety of tours to some of the places already mentioned. Book Alcatraz tours before you leave as they fill up.

There is excellent shopping and dining in SF. Union Square has some of America's best stores, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Macy's and smaller shops. SF Center on Market Street has Nordstrom and Blooomingdales.

I will mention a couple of places to eat that I love and are very SF in style. Zuni Cafe on Market (Gough Muni Station) and Tadich Grill on California St. (2.5 blocks above Market) - go for a late lunch or early dinner it closes at 9:30 and it is very busy from 11 am to 1 pm. There are lots other places to eat as well,

One place I would avoid would be the Powell St. cable car turn around. The most aggressive panhandlers in the country rudely accost people on the street. The California Cable car line at Market and California is a lot easier to deal with.

All of the places and services I mentioned have web sites, you might look them as you are making your plans. Enjoy your couple of days in SF. Dress for cool weather and carry a brolly.
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85,194 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
We lived in the Bay Area for a few years and also return very couple of years.

I would add a couple of more days.

There is so much to see and keep in mind that you will be getting over jet lag.

I would try to have four nights there.

Santa Cruz, CA
770 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
Originally posted by Keith1010
We lived in the Bay Area for a few years and also return very couple of years.

I would add a couple of more days.

There is so much to see and keep in mind that you will be getting over jet lag.

I would try to have four nights there.

I don't understand why the OP would be getting over jet lag.
I come from a land down under
21,754 Posts
Joined Jul 2014
For me, nowhere near long enough, but I don't move too well and things take longer, got a mate lives about an hour away from San Fran who reckons ten minutes is way too long to be there, but then he hates crowds.
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