San Francisco travel tips

The city is such a hive of activity, so the best San Francisco travel tip is to make sure you flesh out a solid itinerary before you fly. This way, you’ll hopefully get to tick off all the high-priority items on your to-do list! Preparation really is key, and the same can be said for any trip to the United States. Planning ahead with your Flight Centre Travel Expert will help you make the most of your time abroad. In the weeks leading up to and during your San Francisco holiday, it’s important to stay informed about any safety concerns and events occurring in the United States.


Visiting San Francisco as a short-term tourist? You'll most likely be eligible for admission for up to 90 days on an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). If you'd like to stay longer than 3 months (and who wouldn't in San Francisco?), you'll need to get a visa before you arrive.


As you'd expect, San Francisco uses the US Dollar (USD). The actual note/coin breakdown is slightly different to what we're used to in Australia, with pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and half-dollar coins, and values of $1 or more existing as banknotes. Check online for the current AUD-to-USD exchange rate.

San Francisco food

San Francisco food is a true melting pot of cultural cuisine. Mexican, Chinese, and local seafood are the most popular and widespread dining options. If you have dietary requirements, simply speak to your waiter and the venue will most likely be more than happy to accommodate. In a city as progressive as San Francisco, gluten-free and vegan cuisine are both easy to come by as well.

Tipping in San Francisco

Tipping is a common custom in San Francisco and is standard practice throughout the United States. Hospitality salaries are considerably low, so waiters and other service people rely on receiving tips of about 15-20% of each bill. It's also courteous to tip a similar percentage for taxi drivers in San Francisco.

Electrical plugs and voltage

Unlike our diagonal-pronged 240v electrical outlets, the United States uses horizontal-pronged 110v outlets. To charge your phone or use your laptop while travelling in San Francisco, you'll need to invest in a suitable adapter. You can buy one before your flight, though you won't have much trouble finding one among the many shops of San Francisco if you forget to do so.

Language in San Francisco

San Francisco's official language is English, as with the rest of the United States. The Bay Area is also home to a diverse mix of secondary dialects, prominently a variety of Chinese dialects such as Taishanese and Cantonese. San Francisco also has rich culture of local ‘slang', which to English-speaking travellers will be simple enough to understand when used in conversation.

San Francisco airport

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is the primary commercial airport servicing San Francisco, located 20km south of the downtown area. SFO also services flights to major metropolitan areas across the Unites States. The airport features a number of security and immigration checkpoints and screening areas, which are operated by the Transportation Security Administration.