San Francisco is one of the most fascinating cities in the United States. Its famous Golden Gate Bridge, the Alcatraz prison, its 19th century tramway and the Fisherman’s Wharf, Castro and Marina District neighborhoods are some of the major attractions of this Californian city, on the West Coast of North America.
With a population of 850,000 inhabitants, San Francisco is an icon of slow travel, with a relaxed, European-style pace of life that distinguishes it from other American cities with a frenetic pace, such as New York, Miami or Las Vegas.
As for accommodation, hotel values are cheaper than in New York, but you have to look hard to find good establishments (in the category of three) for less than $100 a night in the center of the city. In this article we will tell you where to stay in San Francisco and which are the best areas.
Best areas to stay in San Francisco:
Before listing the best areas to stay in San Francisco, here are some recommendations: finding a hotel at a good price in San Francisco is not always a simple mission.
Although the rates in this city are cheaper compared to other major American cities, the truth is that prices vary greatly depending on the neighborhood and the time of year you travel to San Francisco.
The best time to travel to San Francisco to find good lodging prices is during the coldest months (December to March). Those same values can double in high season (the summer and spring months), when airfare prices are also higher than during the rest of the year.
That said, most travelers agree that one of the best neighborhoods to stay in San Francisco is Union Square.
It is the very center of the city, in the heart of Downtown. It is a very lively area during the day and night, very well connected to other neighborhoods, full of restaurants and stores, under the gaze of the giant skyscrapers.
The offer of hotels in Union Square is very wide; you can find from budget hotels to super luxury accommodations. But you should know that most of the mid-range hotels in Union Square (with ratings of 7 or 8 points up on Booking) are around $100 to $150 per night, a rate that rises dramatically during the summer months.
Fisherman’s Wharf is the tourist area par excellence of the city which makes it the best area to stay in San Francisco. For that reason and as in Union Square, the hotel values are higher than in other neighborhoods of the city.
This area is full of restaurants and offers all kinds of services designed for tourists. Not only is it connected to most of San Francisco’s attractions, but it is also ideal for those traveling with children.
From here you can take the ferries to Alcatraz Island, one of the best places to see in San Francisco. Keep in mind that prices to stay in Fisherman’s Wharf are around $150 to $200 per night.
North of San Francisco, with splendid views of the great bay, is located Marina District, one of the most exclusive neighborhoods to stay in San Francisco. Most of the hotels in this area are expensive, with rates easily exceeding $200 per night, although a few cheaper options can be found during the coldest months of the year (January and February).
The main attraction of this area is the fantastic yacht harbor and unmissable views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Many tourists choose to tour the area by bicycle, starting from the harbor and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on pedals. Some of the most beautiful streets in the Marina District, where the best restaurants and boutiques are concentrated, are: Cervantes Street, Filmore Street and Marina Boulevard.
South of Market (SoMA)
Those traveling to San Francisco on a tighter budget will find good lodging options in South of Market (SoMA), an area located south of Union Square that is a great option to stay in San Francisco.
In addition to hotels, in this neighborhood you can spend the night in apartment-style accommodations.
Just be aware that some of the streets in SoMA can be dangerous at night, especially in the adjoining Civic Center and Tenderloin districts.
Those staying overnight in SOMA will be very well connected to other California neighborhoods and cities, as this is where the San Francisco Train Station is located.
Also located in this area is the magnificent San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which always has a full schedule of exhibitions.
Like the Marina District, Nob Hill is a very exclusive area to stay in San Francisco, where hotel prices tend to be sky high.
This central neighborhood, very close to Union Square, Russian Hill and North Beach, has sloping streets (therefore not recommended for older tourists or families traveling with children), with the famous Lombard Street as a major attraction.
It is an area full of boutique hotels, very elegant, surrounded by stores, restaurants, bars and cafes author, on Polk Street.
Castro is one of the best known LGBTQ+ neighborhoods in the world and another highly recommended area to stay in San Francisco.
It is a modern neighborhood, with a lively nightlife, where the gay community has a very strong presence, between Castro Street and Market Street, up to 19th Street. It is a highly recommended area to look for affordable accommodation in San Francisco, for its quiet and respectful climate.
Nearby is located the old hippie neighborhood of San Francisco, Haight-Ashbury (for some is one of the coolest areas of the city), which offers hotels, hostels and apartments at affordable values.
The Haight-Ashbury is home to the best vintage clothing stores and record shops, ideal for finding rarities lost in time. It is a bohemian and at the same time modern area, with the attraction of the old Victorian buildings.
Those looking for the best area to stay in San Francisco to party should choose The Mission.
Unlike the nightlife of Nob Hill or SoMA (where the most elegant clubs are located), The Mission offers a much more indigenous atmosphere, with live music venues, art galleries open all night and the best of San Francisco’s underbelly.
Being a neighborhood of Hispanic origin, this is where you will find the best Mexican and Central American restaurants in the city.