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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

    1. 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

    2. 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

    3. 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 "Whitey" Bulger

    4. 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

    5. 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!

Planning Your Visit

  • 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!

Other Sightseeing Options in Alcatraz

Want to discover all there is to do in Alcatraz? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Alcatraz

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 3,406 reviews

My friends & I really enjoyed this experience. However, I must say...if you get even slightly sea sick...this is not for you! The boat is on the smaller size, which my friends and I enjoyed more because it felt more intimate. There was an indoor portion with a tiny bar where you could get wined up and an outdoor portion that wrapped around so you could admire the views. The boat was a bumpy ride, but personally we loved that part. It made the experience more fun for us. Also, the views were AMAZING. You could see the pier, Alcatraz, the city buildings, and the Golden Gate Bridge. The wine was NOT included in the tickets (except for the sunset option), but we didn't mind paying. People there were nice, and one of the guys there was eager to talk and share his knowledge about the sites. My group had a good time and would recommend this experience for those who like the ocean, boats, and an up close view of the bridge. Just be warned: might be good to bring a jacket...even if it's summer!

This cruise was great! The crew made this trip absolutely amazing. They even offered to take pictures for everyone in front of the golden gate bridge and we got to see a beautiful sunset. 10/10 would recommend

Great time! The crew was wonderful and they knew all the best view spots! Classic boat and wine choices were terrific! We will come back!

So fun! Beautiful views. Awesome boat and crew. Definitely bring warm clothes. Thanks for having extra jackets!

Great package of bike tour and Alcatraz. The whole family really enjoyed both days. Highly recommend.