How to Visit San Francisco on a Budget

San Francisco is an amazing city with rolling hills, cable cars, unique neighborhoods, and beautiful views of the Bay. Visiting the city can be costly, and the high prices of activities and accommodations may keep some travelers away. However, you can still experience all the city has to offer on a budget. You just need to know about affordable attractions, restaurants, and hotels before you go.

Thing to Do

Bike Ride

San Francisco is a great city for walking tours. San Francisco City Guides are a great way to get to know the city and learn about its history. They offer tours near all of the city’s famous sites, including the Japanese Tea Garden and Nob Hill. These tours are run by local volunteers, and admission is free. It is polite to tip the guide at the end of the tour though.

Walk or bike across the Golden Gate Bridge. The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most well-known landmarks in the United States, and a must-visit destination for all travelers to San Francisco. A drive across it doesn’t give you enough time to enjoy the views. Plus, walking or biking is free. Check to see when the bridge is open to pedestrians.

The city is home to a number of awesome museums. Admission is always free at the Cable Car Museum, the Cantor Arts Center, the Randall Museum, and the SFO Museum. Most of the other museums have paid admissions, but many offer days when entrance is free. The Bay Area Discovery Museum is free the first Wednesday of the month, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is free on the first Tuesday.


Image source Alcatraz: dhilung

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Alcatraz, the former prison, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. Admission there is free, but visitors will need to buy a ferry ticket to get to the island.

In the summer months, there are several popular music festivals with free admission. The Stern Grove Festival host concerts every Sunday throughout June, July, and August. Weekly concerts are also held in the iconic Golden Golden Park. The park is worth a visit even if you’re not interested in the music.

The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park is located in the Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood. Visitors can see the historic ships docked on the pier and check out the exhibits at the visitors center for free. Nearby, travelers will find San Francisco’s famous sea lions at Pier 39.

Yerba Buena Gardens is another must-see destination with no entrance fee. Located near downtown, the gardens have a unique showcase of public art. Theater lovers will enjoy San Francisco Free Civic Theatre, which host performances throughout the city. Free Shakespeare in the Park offers performances on weekend evenings during the summer months.

Places to Eat

Kabuto Sushi

The city has a lot of expensive restaurants, but there are also many affordable spots that serve delicious food. Chapeau! offers a great deal on genuine French cuisine in a charming atmosphere. Check out Kabuto Sushi for great sushi at an affordable price. They have 90 different options on the menu, so there will be something to suit everyone’s taste. If you’re craving seafood, head over to the Alamo Square Seafood Grill. This restaurant offers sophisticated dining at amazingly low prices.

Places to Stay

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Younger visitors will be pleased to find a number of hostels in the city where they can board for under $40 a night. For a budget hotel room, Union Square is an ideal location to look. Check out HostelBookers to find the best affordable hotels in the city.


I’m offering public relations, communications and image counseling in everyday life and I have a PR agency – PRwave INTERNATIONAL. I am passionate about reading, blogging (I also have a blog in Romanian) and traveling. Follow me on Twitter - @violetaloredana (Romanian) and @TravelMoments.

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