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Home of The Rock and Golden Gate Bridge, an iconic American city with a European twist. Fly to San Francisco and explore the hub of excitement, history and bohemian neighbourhood. Book your direct flight from London to San Francisco with Virgin Atlantic today.
Fly direct to San Francisco with Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines
What is it about San Francisco that captures the imaginations of so many visitors? Could it be its stunning views — the way that the Golden Gate Bridge peeks ever so photogenically through the blanket of fog? Perhaps it’s the city’s many hills, conquered by whimsical cable cars? It could be San Francisco’s cultural accolades: the city is home to groundbreaking institutions like the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Asian Art Museum, as well as selection of pretty public parks. And then there are it's restaurants. From casual taquerias in the Mission District to Michelin-starred fine dining, from its wealth of farm-fresh produce to the region’s world-class wineries,
Book your direct flight to San Francisco from the UK, learn more about the city's rich and varied cultural scene and explore the major landmarks that San Francisco offers. Virgin Atlantic offer daily flights from London Heathrow throughout the year.
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Discover San Francisco
Discover San Francisco
Must do recommendations
The Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco’s most iconic landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge may not actually glitter, but it still stuns.
The largest Chinatown outside of Asia, this dizzying neighborhood offers up an incomparable cultural experience.
Hop aboard a ferry and head to this infamous former prison, which once hosted the likes of Al Capone.
Ready to hang ten? Hit the waves with one of San Francisco’s beginner-friendly surfing schools.
Explore Haight-Ashbury or venture to the Mission District for a glimpse of the city’s open-air art scene.
San Francisco festivals
From Chinese New Year to Carnaval, be sure to time your trip with San Francisco’s vibrant festivals.
Food and drink
California grows much of the U.S.’s fruits and vegetables, which means its farmers markets are overflowing with fresh, fragrant, beautifully ripe produce. Sample the best of the bounty at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. In addition to the crates of tomatoes and perfectly sweet strawberries, you’ll also find artisan cheese makers, bread bakers, third-wave espresso slingers, and other vendors that are a testament to this city’s world-class culinary cred.
On the road
Just over an hour's drive from San Francisco you'll find Napa Valley. Not only is it a world-famous growing region which has produced wine since the 19th century, it is also full of amazing restaurants - catering for a range of tastes, from garden-to-table culinary delights to Michelin-starred cuisine.
Did you know?
- The fire hydrant at 20th and Church Streets is painted gold because it saved a large portion of the city from the devastating fires that followed the Great San Francisco Earthquake in 1906. If you’re visiting the city in April, be sure to swing by the fire hydrant on the 18th: it’s the anniversary of the quake, and the date on which the hydrant is treated to a fresh coat of paint each year.
- Not the most natural bedfellows, but denim jeans, cable cars, and fortune cookies were all invented in San Francisco.
- Per capita, San Francisco has the lowest percentage of children of any major U.S. city. It’s also the most expensive city in the U.S. in which to rent an apartment. Coincidence?
- The oldest building in this young city is the Mission Dolores, built in 1776. You can find the landmark in the now hipster-colonised Mission District.
- San Francisco is known for its steep hills, but it’s also home to the two curviest streets in the world (Lombard Street and Vermont Street).
San Francisco occupies a prominent place in popular culture that few other cities can match. Its literary heritage includes Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and other Beat Generation luminaries, while its homegrown musical stars include everyone from the Grateful Dead to Jefferson Airplane. And then there are those cinematic views around every corner. Get inspired for your San Francisco getaway with these multimedia recommendations.
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SF Sketchfest: This annual comedy festival was founded in 2001, and features a diverse line-up of stars from some of the nation’s best loved sitcoms and sketch shows.
Chinese New Year: Home to the largest Chinatown outside Asia, San Francisco celebrates the Lunar New Year in style, with a flower fair, community street fair and float-filled parade.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival: Hosted by the United Irish Societies of San Francisco, this annual shindig showcases Irish culture and heritage, and draws over 100,000 spectators to the streets.
San Francisco International Film Festival: Featuring a mix of full length features, documentaries, shorts, premieres and live performances, the SFIFF is the longest running film festival in the Americas.
Earth Day: The Earth Day San Francisco Street Fest takes place at Civic Center Plaza and includes a line-up of inspiring speakers and panel discussions alongside live entertainment, organic food stalls and a showcase of environmentally friendly products.
Bay to Breakers: Running for over 100 years, this colourful 12km road race begins at San Francisco Bay near the Embarcadero and finishes at Ocean Beach, where the breakers crash onto the shore.
Carnaval San Francisco: This popular annual event held over the Memorial Day Weekend celebrates the Mission District’s Latin American and Caribbean roots.
Haight Ashbury Street Fair: Celebrating the history of one of the city’s best known neighbourhoods, the HASF features live music, food stalls, arts and crafts and a family area.
Fillmore Street Jazz Festival: Its clubs were once home to performers like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitgerald. Today Fillmore Street hosts the largest free jazz festival on the West Coast, attracting tens of thousands of music fans over the Independence Day weekend.
San Francisco Marathon: With a course that takes in loads of city highlights – including the waterfront, the Presidio, and the Golden Gate Bridge – this is an ideal international marathon for race-loving tourists.
Outside Lands: Held in Golden Gate Park, this eco-friendly music festival draws big names every year, with past headliners including Radiohead, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Neil Young.
Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival: It’s all in aid of charity, so there’s absolutely no excuse not to eat as many sweet treats as you can. Look out for chef demonstrations, the ‘Chocolate School’, and the famous Ghirardelli Chocolate Earthquake Ice Cream Eating Contest.
Fleet Week: Visit U.S Navy military ships while they dock in the city, and witness the spectacular sight of the Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron as they fly in formation overhead.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: Spread across seven stages in Golden Gate Park, this wildly popular music festival is non-sponsored and totally free.
Dia de los Muertos: San Francisco’s Day of the Dead Procession began in the Mission District in the 1970s. The nighttime ritual sees thousands of face-painted, black-lace-clad participants take to the streets bearing mementos of cherished ancestors.
SantaCon: Yes, it’s technically a convention of Santas, though really it’s just a giant pre-Christmas pub crawl starting in Union Square. Want to take part? Full Santa garb is obligatory.
Weather and local info
What will the weather be like?
Before you set off, take a look at our San Francisco International Airport guide.
The flight time to San Francisco from London Heathrow is approximately 11 hours.
Visit our dedicated US visa page, where you'll find lots of useful information on the travel documents you'll need.
The currency in San Francisco is the US Dollar (USD).
There are lots of ways to get around San Fran. Visit the SFMTA website for information on taxis, buses, light rail, cable cars and more.
The electricity supply is 120 volts in San Francisco. Standard British plugs will need an adapter.