San Francisco is the city that delivers. There’s stunning bays, an impressive arts scene and a bright coloured bridge that makes the perfect backdrop to your photos. And while living in San Francisco might set you back a fair few dollars, experiencing this city doesn’t have to break the bank. So if you’re on a budget and deciding where to take a trip, San Francisco is a great option.

Here’s our top picks of the free things to do in San Francisco:

Follow the music

Tickets to a concert can often be expensive. But in this city, everyone is welcome to enjoy a free gig at Amoeba Music. A rather unexpected free thing to do in San Francisco, wouldn’t you agree? A huge record and CD store that was once a bowling alley, it’s a haven for music lovers. You can spend hours rifling through the $1 vinyl bins then kick back and enjoy a free show. Bands of all genres and sizes take part, with Billy Bragg, Karl Denson’s Universe and Violent Femmes on the recent line-up. Arrive early to bag yourself a good spot. Or if a DJ set is more your thing, head to Café Royale. A Parisian style café that hosts a variety of events and prides itself on its diverse calendar. There’s never a dull free evening in San Francisco.

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Day Tour – Red Route, Stop: Haight Ashbury

Enjoy the arts

There’s an art gallery at every turn in the streets of San Francisco and plenty of free shows waiting to be gate-crashed. And if you time your visit right, the openings and weekends are even more fun. Start your tour of the arts at 49 Geary, a multi floor venue with more than 10 free galleries. There’s local and international works to contemplate over, as well as intriguing installations. And on the first Thursday of the month the wine, popcorn and outspoken crowds also make an appearance. Next there’s Ratio 3, a contemporary art gallery based in the Mission district, Diego Rivera Gallery which houses the mural The Making of a Fresco Showing a Building of a City, and the Luggage Store Gallery whose objective is to bring the community together through art. A free thing to do in San Francisco that showcases the abundance of talent here.

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For 49 Geary Art Galleries:
Day Tour – Red Route, Stop: Union Square South

For Diego Rivera Gallery:
Day Tour – Red Route, Stop: Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf

For Luggage Store Gallery:
Day Tour – Red Route, Stop: Hilton Hotel

Walk along the bridge

A free thing to do in San Francisco that ticks off one of the most recognizable landmarks in the entire United States of America is a walk or cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge. Arguably one of the most beautiful bridges in the world, the views alone make this journey worthwhile. It measures 1.7 miles across, so you might want to catch a bus back, but along the way you’ll spot the stunning city from above and even Alcatraz. Wrap up warm as it gets pretty breezy up there and be sure to check the opening times to pedestrians before you set off. And if you reach the visitor’s center in Pressidio, you can learn all about the bridge’s history.

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Day Tour – Red Route & Sausalito Tour – Green Route, Stop: North Vista Point / Golden Gate Bridge

Spot the sea lions

The barking sea lions at Pier 39 has become the background noise of San Francisco. Along with their belching. Characters you can spend an hour or two watching as they sunbathe, canoodle and entertain. And visiting them is an absolutely free thing to do in San Francisco. Every year since 1990, over 1000 of them pitch up from January through to July. Not something you often see on your city break.

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Day Tour – Red Route, Stop: Pier 39 Fisherman’s Wharf

So there you have our recommended list of free things to do in San Francisco we insist you include in your itinerary. And now that you’ve managed to save so much money, why not splash out on a Big Bus tour and see all the city’s sights in style. With stops by all the landmarks and attractions San Francisco is famous for, you can hop off and explore more wherever you choose. For more inspiration on how to fill the rest of your time in this historic city, check out our guide to the Top 10 Things to do in San Francisco.