Alcatraz
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Alcatraz: Tours & Tickets

See all tours & things to do in Alcatraz

Top sights in San Francisco

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The most famous prisoners in Alcatraz history

Alcatraz is home to a Civil War military garrison, seabird colonies, and the West Coast's oldest working lighthouse. But if its walls could talk, they'd give a whole lot away about some of America's most dangerous criminals. Here's a quick overview!

Al Capone

Al Capone

Perhaps the most famous gangster of all time, Capone eventually ended up in cell 181 where, by most accounts, he was unable to cope with prison life.

Robert Franklin Stroud

Robert Franklin Stroud

The "Birdman of Alcatraz" actually became a respected ornithologist at his previous prison, Leavenworth. Alcatraz wouldn't let him keep animals!

Mickey Cohen

Mickey Cohen

Harvey Keitel won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Cohen in "Bugsy." It was a fitting tribute to a man who invented every Hollywood mobster cliché!

James

James "Whitey" Bulger

Before he was one of America's most feared crime bosses, the notoriously brutal Bulger spent three years in Alcatraz. The bogeyman of Boston is currently incarcerated in Florida.

Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin
Photo: Derek Key @Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin

In 1962, these three cracked an intricate plan thought to be the only successful Alcatraz escape attempt. What happened to them after that is anyone's guess!

Our insider tips

How to get there?

You can only reach Alcatraz by ferry, which sets off from Port 33 on the Embarcadero.

Best time of year to visit?

Alcatraz gets quite foggy during the summer months, so you'll experience the best weather at the end of spring or beginning of fall. May and June are ideal for bird activity.

Best time of day to visit?

It only really matters if you want to spend the whole day there, in which case you'll obviously want to get there as early as possible! There are a limited amount of people allowed on the island, which keeps crowds from getting out of hand - so be prepared to wait.

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    Ferry departures from 9AM daily.
  • Is it expensive?
    Ticket prices vary, from $30 for adults.
  • Will I need a guide?
    Experience Alcatraz as part of a hop-on hop-off tour of other San Francisco sights like the Golden Gate Bridge, and save money - there'll be a guide giving you all the information you need for every destination.
  • How to get there
    As Alcatraz is an island, the only way of reaching it is by ferry. You can do this on the F line of the Muni (bus).
  • Additional information

    • The island has some steep hills, so make sure to wear good walking shoes.

    • Bring a jacket or sweater - it can get chilly near the coast!

What people are saying about Alcatraz

Overall rating
4.5 / 5
based on 4,482 reviews

Could only have been better if the sun had shone, great cruise

A really enjoyable evening out on the waves with the boys in their really eat catamaran. 2I/C Mike made everyone comfortable while our English/NZ/US skipper took us for really great ride in spite of the pretty chilly grey rolling fog evening. The vessel is very well suited to the types of conditions found in the harbour and I think everyone had a good time even though the weather wasn’t really behaving. The guys have great personalities for mixing with everyone and had most people chatting and assisted with photos, the skipper even making one one of the younger customers experiences all the more exciting by allowing her her up into the wheelhouse to assist steering. A great experience and well worth the money. A highlight of not only our San Francisco trip but also our West Coast America experience, thanks guys. Zena, Auckland, New Zealand

Great way to spend a day in San Francisco and cover a whole lot.

This tour is a great way to see three iconic San Francisco landmarks in a day without feeling to hurried. Our guide. Eddie was great, particularly for the walk through Chinatown which is clearly dear to his heart. On this matter he was very knowledgeable, and we went back to sample his food recommendation which were very tasty. Doing Alcatraz and cable car trip in our own time was a good way of doing it. Only minor complaint was the limited directions on how to find the lower terminus of the California Street cable car. That could of been made clearer.

Alcatraz way cooler than expected, bus a great way to see the city!

Our bus commentator (not on every bus) was hilarious and informative. When we were on a bus without the live person, the recorded info was great to listen to as well. Doing the combo tour let us see alcatraz when tickets were sold out everywhere! Alcatraz was also a welcome surprise. So much cooler than anticipated. We listened to the audio and hopped back on the boat. Took about 1 hour. We were cramming our days so didn't have much more time to spend than that, but definitely worthwhile!

Alcatraz and Big Bus Premium 1-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Reviewed by

Alcatraz is Great; City Bus tour, not so much.

We purchased a bus tour and Alcatraz Island visit, it was the only way to get the Alcatraz tickets. The bus tour guide was informative but it is not a great way to see the city. Your are on a nice bus driving in the city, all you can do is peer out of the windows. Photos are nearly impossible to take, we did stop at Lands End, the Golden Gate Bridge out look and at the buffalo pen in Golden Gate park. I would prefer a Segway tour combination or some other tour options.

Great way to see plenty of San Francisco!

The Alcatraz tour was really well organised and very interesting especially the audio tour of the prison. The ticket for the bus was definitely worth the money as we got to see lots of the city and Sausalito. The guides were very knowledgeable and entertaining. The only criticism was the occasional long waits to get on the bus as they were very busy but the operators did their best to get everyone on as quickly as they could. I would recommend this tour.

Alcatraz and Big Bus Premium 1-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Reviewed by