San Diego

Historic Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego

San Diego characterises a typical Southern Californian beach city: with year-round sunshine and surf, a superb coastline with miles of sandy-white beaches, easygoing inhabitants, and a wide variety of world-class family attractions tourists, long-time vacationers and would-be residents can't help but be drawn to 'America's finest city'.

Although California's third biggest city with an ever-increasing population of more than a million, San Diego prides itself on its conservative small-town ambience, with very little of the pollution, highway congestion and raciness of Los Angeles. In 1769 a Spanish missionary by the name of Father Junipero Serra established a Catholic mission and fortified settlement in what was later to become San Diego; it was the first permanent European settlement on the West Coast of the United States. It remained a village backwater until, with the bombing of Pearl Harbour during World War II, the US Naval Fleet Headquarters was relocated to San Diego Bay and the booming of wartime activity transformed it into a thriving city.

The city is a vibrant collection of colourful neighbourhoods and communities. It has award-winning restaurants, trendy shopping districts, attractions such as the world-renowned San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld, and a dynamic downtown district that includes the city's historic Gaslamp Quarter. There are numerous indications of its Mexican and Spanish heritage in the traditional architecture, typical Mexican cuisine, and strong links with the town of Tijuana just across the Mexican border.

San Diego is also rich in art and culture, and the city boasts the largest urban cultural park in the US, with beautiful gardens and Spanish architecture featuring 15 museums, art galleries and theatres to be found in Balboa Park. More than 70 miles (113km) of beaches around the city offer superb surfing and beach activities and provide the perfect introduction to this accessible and laid-back city.

Staff Tip

“San Diego is such an amazing stop on your Californian adventure. Having fun in San Diego doesn't require a lot of money; in fact, many things to see and do here are absolutely free. With 70 miles of beautiful beaches, near-perfect weather year-round, and a variety of magnificent settings countywide, San Diego offers a fun and inexpensive getaway during all seasons of the year. My favorite thing was visiting La Jolla Cove and see the magnificent sunset on the ocean. La Jolla Cove is one of the most spectacular natural settings in the world.”

Amanda Hynes, San Diego

San Diego Specials and Highlights

San Diego
Historic Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego
from €1839
Halloween on the High Seas Baja Cruise from San Diego
A trip on the Disney Wonder is guaranteed to be a highly enjoyable experience for the entire family as it mixes the pleasure of a cruise holiday with some Disney magic.\r\nThere is somewhere for everyone to relax and cool down with Goofy’s, Mickey’s and the Quiet Cove pool being designated for ...