San Francisco is located on a peninsula in the state of California. The city is best known for the Golden Gate Bridge and the cable cars that run over the steep hills, but the city has much more to offer. Those who wish to visit the highlights of San Francisco should submit an ESTA application before travelling.
Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is perhaps the most famous bridge in the world. It is certainly San Franciscoʼs most distinctive structure. The suspension bridge spans the strait of Golden Gate, which connects the Bay of San Francisco with the Pacific Ocean. The bridge was opened in 1937 after a four-year construction period. Before then, it was only possible to cross the strait by ferry. Nowadays, more than one hundred thousand vehicles cross the bridge every day.
It is also possible to cross the bridge on foot or by bicycle. The best view of the bridge and the bay is from Vista Point, a viewpoint on the north side. With a bit of luck, the bridge will not be shrouded in fog, and you will also have a view of the city. On the south side of the bridge is Golden Gate Park, which is often compared to Central Park in New York.
The island of Alcatraz - also known as The Rock - is best known for its high-security prison, where the Mafia boss Al Capone was locked up. There have been several escape attempts from Alcatraz, but the prison itself claims that no prisoners have ever escaped. Since 1963, Alcatraz is no longer a prison and since 1973 it is a national park open to the public. Travellers who want to visit the island are advised to book tickets before departure, as the maximum number of visitors is limited. In addition to booking tickets, make sure you apply for your ESTA visa well in advance of your trip..
Union Square is the busiest area in San Francisco. This central square is named after the demonstrations and marches for the Union Army (the army of the Northern States) that were held here during the American Civil War. In the centre of the square is a 30-metre column with a copper statue commemorating Admiral Deweyʼs victory in the Spanish-American War. Today, the square is surrounded by shops, hotels and theatres.
Alamo Square Park
Those who wish to escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre can visit Alamo Square Park. From this park, you have a view of the so-called “Painted Ladies”, a row of pastel-coloured Victorian-style houses that are typical of San Francisco and have featured in many films and series. You may recognise them from the American television series Full House.
View of the Painted Ladies from Alamo Square Park
Fisherman’s Wharf is the perfect place to visit for a restaurant or café. It is the old sailors’ quarter, which has turned into a tourist centre with numerous shops, restaurants and street artists. The busiest part of the district is Pier 39, where you can see California sea lions in the marina.
A ride on the cable car is a must during a stay in San Francisco. The San Francisco Cable Car is the only manually operated tram in the world that is still in use. The trams are a symbol of San Francisco and have been declared a moving monument. There are three tram lines you can take: The Powell-Hyde line (from Powell Market via Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf), the Powell-Mason line (from Powell Market to Ghiradelli Square) and the California Street line (from east to west through the cityʼs business district, via Chinatown). To learn more about the history and technology of the cable car, visit the Cable Car Museum.
For a trip to San Francisco, an ESTA or visa is necessary. Most tourists meet the requirements of the ESTA and do not need to apply for a US visa. Because the ESTA is much easier, cheaper and faster to apply for than a visa, it is recommended to always apply for an ESTA if you meet the requirements for this travel authorisation. The ESTA can easily be applied for online, while a visa requires an appointment at the US embassy. After submitting the application and paying the fee, the ESTA will be sent by email within 3 days.