San Francisco on a Shoestring: A 3-Day Budget Travel Guide to the City by the Bay

Ali Sullivan
ITH Photos (9)

San Francisco on a Shoestring: A 3-Day Budget Travel Guide to the City by the Bay

Unlock the secrets to affordable travel in San Francisco. Discover budget-friendly attractions, dining tips, and hidden gems while exploring San Francisco on a shoestring budget. 


San Francisco is a city of dreams, offering iconic landmarks, cultural diversity, and a bustling culinary scene. But, let’s be honest, it’s known for its steep prices. However, with some careful planning and a stay at ITH Pacific Tradewinds Hostel in the heart of Chinatown, you can experience the best of the city on a budget. 


Here’s your ultimate 3-day San Francisco adventure that combines frugality, fabulous food, and fantastic experiences.

Day 1: Chinatown

Arrive in San Francisco and check in at ITH Pacific Tradewinds Hostel. Our hostel is not only a steal but is strategically placed by Chinatown, meaning you’ll have access to a treasure trove of wallet-friendly shops and dining options. Don’t forget to take advantage of the 10% discount at the restaurant downstairs. Spend your day exploring the vibrant streets of Chinatown, where you’ll find affordable dim sum, massages, souvenirs, boba teas, and more. You can easily spend an entire day wandering around and still stick to your budget. 

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Day 2: San Francisco Icons

San Francisco’s iconic landmarks are a must-see, even on a budget. Start your day by visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the world’s most famous suspension bridges. Next, head to Lombard Street, the “crookedest street in the world,” where you can enjoy the breathtaking views without spending a dime. Finally, explore North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf. For dinner, walk two blocks over to Godfather’s Pizza, where you can find delicious pizza by the slice; the pieces are massive in size. 

Day 3: Art, Nature, and More

Discover the city’s cultural side with a visit to free or low-cost attractions like the Asian Art Museum or the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). In the afternoon, dive into the city’s natural beauty in Golden Gate Park or hike the scenic trails at Lands End. Don’t forget to hit the beach or Hippie Hill for a relaxing sunset.


Evenings and Extras

San Francisco’s nightlife doesn’t have to be expensive. You can enjoy local happy hours and live music venues or simply stroll along the city’s lit streets. During your visit, you can save money by using San Francisco’s cheap and efficient public transportation system. Buses and cable cars can take you virtually anywhere. And don’t forget free and fun day trips; hop on a bus to Oakland or Sausalito, each offering unique experiences without emptying your wallet.


In a city where everything comes with a hefty price tag, finding budget-friendly options is a gem. And with a base at ITH Pacific Tradewinds Hostel, you’re not just saving on accommodation but also diving into the heart of Chinatown’s culinary scene. As they say, “The City by the Bay” can be the city of savings if you know where to look. So, come explore, savor, and enjoy San Francisco without splurging – it’s possible!

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