Alcatraz

Discover the chilling history of this onetime home to some of America's most dangerous criminals.

Alcatraz: Our most recommended tours and activities

San Francisco: 1-Hour Bay Cruise by Boat

1. San Francisco: 1-Hour Bay Cruise by Boat

Enjoy a 1-hour journey along San Francisco's historic waterfront and experience the thrilling history of the San Francisco Bay, with all the sound and glory it deserves. The 1-hour non-stop Bay Cruise takes you past the famous PIER 39 sea lions and along San Francisco’s historic waterfront, revealing the city’s fascinating skyline. Relax in comfort, with both indoor and outdoor seating, and enjoy a full narration describing major landmarks as you sail by. See sights like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the iconic San Francisco skyline as you go. Whether it’s your first time to San Francisco, or your 10th visit, the Bay Cruise is something you should experience at least once in your life. You will get a complimentary souvenir map, which is available in nine languages, and if you get hungry, there’s a full-service snack bar on board with food and drink available to purchase.

San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

2. San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

Cruise around the Golden Gate Bay on a boat tour. Enjoy informative commentary, see sights like Alcatraz Island, and purchase food and drink from the onboard bar. Launched in 1939 as part of the Golden Gate International Exposition, this 1-hour cruise has been a highlight of any visit to San Francisco for over 75 years. With 8-14 departures daily from Fisherman's Wharf, you will sail along San Francisco's breathtaking waterfront, under the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, and close to the notorious Alcatraz Island. Discover San Francisco's fascinating history, brought to life through audio commentary broadcast in 16 languages via personal headphones. Look out for wildlife along the way, including pelicans, sea lions, and even dolphins and whales. Sail past the lively neighborhood of North Beach, the famous swimming clubs of Aquatic Park, the historic vessels at Hyde Street Pier, and San Francisco Maritime National Park, before heading west towards Golden Gate Bridge. Enjoy views of Crissy Field and the lush hillsides of the Presidio, before cruising under Golden Gate Bridge. Steam back into the Bay, traveling past the wildlife reserves of the Marin Headlands, and the legendary town of Sausalito, once home to the 1960s’ flower generation. With Angel Island State Park to your left, cruise around the infamous Alcatraz. After a full hour of exciting sights, the barking sea lions at Pier 39 welcome you back to Pier 43 1/2. A full bar with drinks, snacks, and merchandise, including logo wear, is available at reasonable prices on board the iconic red and blue sea vessels.

San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

3. San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

Hop on board a boat and cruise around Alcatraz Island and other sights of San Francisco Bay on this round trip journey. Benefit from a straight-to-the-gate access ticket and informative commentary as you go. Cruise San Francisco Bay and sail under the Golden Gate Bridge on a 90-minute narrated tour by boat around Alcatraz Island. Skip the box office line and go straight to the gate with your ticket. See Alcatraz island from the water while listening to accounts of the chilling escape attempts and the notorious criminals that called Alcatraz prison home. Enjoy a cruise with food and drink available to purchase onboard. Cruise full circle around Alcatraz Island, allowing you to view every angle of this mysterious island, which housed famous inmates such as Al Capone, Billy Cook the Killer, and Clyde Johnson, whose escape attempt is legendary. Gain a clear picture of what life in this maximum-security prison was like when it was the most feared institution in the American penal system.

San Francisco: Waterfront Guided Tour and Alcatraz Ticket

4. San Francisco: Waterfront Guided Tour and Alcatraz Ticket

See the best of San Francisco on an English speaking walking tour and learn the history behind each turn from your guide. Take in the views of the skyline on your ferry to Alcatraz before exploring this notorious prison. Meet your guide at the north end of Fisherman's Wharf and start your experience by taking in the amazing views of the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz. Hear how San Francisco transformed from a sleepy village to a booming port city when gold fever swept the nation in 1849. Learn about the life of the Italian chocolatier Domenico Ghirardelli at the famous former chocolate factory in Ghirardelli Square. Stroll along the fog-lined waterfront and drool over the numerous stalls selling crab and clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls. Walk a portion of the historic Barbary Coast trail while your guide tells you about its colorful past. You and your group will then make your way to Pier 39 and admire historic ships in the harbor. Witness the colony of sea lions that have taken over many of its docks. Continue along the Embarcadero Promenade and learn about its evolution from a traditional maritime port to a modern urban waterfront filled with trendy restaurants and amusement piers. The walking tour concludes at Pier 33, where you will present your photo ID to receive your Alcatraz tickets. Board your ferry and enjoy a self-guided tour of Alcatraz upon the island.  Learn about the history of the cell house and its former residents with an award-winning audio tour available in multiple languages. You can expect to be done with the whole experience in the late afternoon.

San Francisco: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus with Ferry & Alcatraz Tour

5. San Francisco: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus with Ferry & Alcatraz Tour

Get lots of choices for sightseeing in San Fransisco in one go — access to the hop-on hop-off city tour route with English commentary, a special night tour, a ferry ride with tickets to Alcatraz Island for a self-guided audio tour of the notorious prison. Benefit from audio guides available in a variety of languages at Alcatraz Island. With open double-decker buses and an English guide on each one, you can see just about everything and learn just as much. Get to all the most famous spots in the city. Pick out the ones that interest you as 48 hours is enough time to go back and visit your favorites again. The Official City Loop highlights include: • The Palace of Fine Arts• North Vista Point where you can take photos of Golden Gate Bridge• Golden Gate Park where you can enjoy the Japanese Tea Gardens• Haight-Ashbury district• San Francisco Downtown, Chinatown• The Civic Center• The Embarcadero• Fisherman’s Wharf• Barbary Coast• The Financial District and the Ferry Building Take the Night Tour to cover many of the attractions from the other routes, but with a whole new perspective. It is not hop-on hop-off and departs from Fisherman’s Wharf in the evening all year round with additional departures during the summer months.

SF: Alcatraz Ticket w/ 2-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Night Tour

6. SF: Alcatraz Ticket w/ 2-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Night Tour

See the best of San Francisco with this combined hop-on-hop-off ticket and Alcatraz Island visit. Explore the island of Alcatraz and enjoy 2 days of sightseeing with insightful commentary from a live guide. Tour the famous prison that has played a role in jailhouse folklore and the historic evolution of the West Coast. Learn more about the 14 unsuccessful escape attempts by over 30 prisoners and their fates. Your Premium Big Bus hop-on-hop-off pass is a great way to see the sights of San Francisco. Listen to commentary by live English-speaking guides, or enjoy pre-recorded audio commentary in 10 languages. Your 2-day ticket includes a full day of unlimited hop-on-hop-off and a 1-hour panoramic night tour. Explore one of San Francisco's most fascinating neighborhoods on a fun and informative walking tour of Chinatown. The tours are offered daily, and you can ask an agent for locations and time schedules. Also included are a bonus 1-hour bike rental (with the purchase of a 1-hour rental) and Players Arcade Drink and Game Tokens. Hop-on, hop-off tour stops include: Stop 1: Corner of Jefferson & Mason StreetStop 2: Holiday Inn Northpoint b/w Jones & ColumbusStop 3: Washington Square - Columbus & Union StreetsStop 4: Embarcadero Center - Corner Clay & Battery StreetsStop 5: Ferry Building - Market St b/w Stuart & Spear StreetsStop 6: Union Square South - Geary St across from Macy’sStop 7: Hilton Hotel - Corner Mason & Ellis StreetsStop 8: Civic Center - Fulton St b/w Larkin & Hyde StreetsStop 9: Alamo Square - Corner Fell & Pierce StreetsStop 10: Haight Ashbury - Haight & Shrader StreetsStop 11: Golden Gate Park - Music Concourse Drive Golden Gate ParkStop 12: Golden Gate Bridge- North Vista PointStop 13: Palace of Fine Arts - Richardson & Francisco StreetStop 14: Marina Neighborhood - Lombard & Fillmore StreetsStop 15: Lombard Street Corridor - Lombard & Gough StreetsStop 16: Union Square North - Post & Powell StreetsStop 17: Chinatown Gate - Grant and Bush StreetsStop 18: Portsmouth Square - Kearny & Clay StreetsStop 19: Pier 35 Cruise Terminal - The EmbarcaderoStop 20: Pier 39 Fisherman’s Wharf (then return to Stop 1)

San Francisco: Luxury Brunch or Dinner Cruise on the Bay

7. San Francisco: Luxury Brunch or Dinner Cruise on the Bay

Choose between a buffet brunch or plated dinner during this luxury cruise on San Francisco Bay. Enjoy on-board entertainment as you pass by the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and other sights. Choose from the following two options: Champagne Brunch CruiseFeast on a decadent brunch with this good-morning getaway featuring free-flowing mimosas and sparkling wine. Sit back and munch on a buffet stocked with classic breakfast dishes, lunch entrees, and desserts. Experience live music and views of San Francisco Bay’s renowned sights as you unwind after a hectic week or celebrate a special event. Luxury Dinner CruiseEmbark on a date night with a delicious, dynamic twist. Marvel at the sun setting as the city lights twinkle from the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate. Then, feast on a 3-course sit-down meal, including appetizers, salad, a choice of entrée, and dessert, with live music playing in the background. Sample Brunch Menu:Early Risers• Breakfast pastries - assorted muffins and Danishes• Scrambled eggs - American cheddar cheese• Breakfast meats - applewood smoked bacon, pork sausage links• Breakfast potatoes - caramelized onions, red and green bell peppers• French toast - whipped cream, maple syrup Late Risers• Kale quinoa salad - quinoa, roasted red pepper, spinach, lemon oregano vinaigrette• Green goddess pasta salad - sweet peas, white beans, scallions• Caesar salad - romaine lettuce, aged Reggiano parmesan cheese, herb croutons, traditional Caesar dressing• Oven-roasted flounder - spicy tomato and white bean ragu• Kid's station - chicken tenders and French fries• Hand-carved strip loin - signature spice rub, horseradish crème, au jus (broth)• Hand-carved oven-roasted turkey - cranberry sauce• Pasta al forno - alfredo sauce, panko parmesan crust• Scottish smoked salmon display - cream cheese, shaved red onions, Roma tomatoes, capers Dessert• Signature dessert station - cakes, brownies, seasonal fruit Sample Dinner Menu:Starter (choice of one)• Watermelon and baby arugula salad - feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinaigrette• Signature seafood chowder - clams, flounder, potatoes, cream Main Course (choice of one)• Root vegetable fricassee - butternut squash, cauliflower, zucchini, grape tomatoes, gremolata, cauliflower coconut cream sauce• Broiled salmon filet with roasted tomato vinaigrette - lemon orzo, farm-fresh seasonal vegetables• Oven-roasted chicken breast with rosemary and thyme - roasted new red potato salad with scallions, haricot verts, creamy mushroom sauce• Braised beef short ribs with Fresno pepper demi-glace - garlic mashed potatoes, baby carrots, broccoli Dessert• Signature chocolate cake - creme Anglaise, raspberry coulis, candied pecans• Mixed fruit with strawberries - Madagascar vanilla and orange cream• New York style cheesecake - lemon mascarpone cream, blueberry compote

From San Francisco: Muir Woods, Sausalito and Alcatraz Tour

8. From San Francisco: Muir Woods, Sausalito and Alcatraz Tour

On this tour, travel across the Golden Gate Bridge and through the rugged coastal mountains of Marin County. Experience the magnificent views of the San Francisco Bay and valleys where the Coastal Miwok once lived. Stop at the Muir Woods Monument where ancient groves of giant redwoods tower over the Redwood Creek. As this tour allows more time in Muir Woods than any other tour group, enjoy being in nature underneath the massive trees as your guide educates you on the area. Next, visit the beautiful coastal town of Sausalito, which is a gorgeous Mediterranean-style village with quaint shops, art galleries and waterfront restaurants. Finally, head to Alcatraz Island with your roundtrip boat ride. Discover the history and secrets behind one of San Francisco's greatest landmarks with an award-winning cellular audio tour in 10 different languages.

San Francisco Bay Sunset Cruise by Luxury Catamaran

9. San Francisco Bay Sunset Cruise by Luxury Catamaran

Take a relaxing 90-minute round trip boat trip onboard a luxury catamaran. See sea lions, famous sights, and sunset views of San Francisco as the sun dips below the Bay. Sail by Alcatraz Island, under the Golden Gate Bridge, and past Sausalito. Search for the famous Pier 39 sea lions and other kinds of sea life playing in the ocean. Cruise along the shore, gazing on the city skyline as you watch the magnificent sunset. Relax with a complimentary drink on board either a 55- or 65-foot catamaran. Both come complete with a protected viewing area, providing panoramic 360-degree viewing, in addition to canvas trampoline nets for the more adventurous who want to experience the sights in the bracing open air.

San Francisco: City Sights, Muir Woods, and Alcatraz Tour

10. San Francisco: City Sights, Muir Woods, and Alcatraz Tour

Meet outside Fisherman’s Wharf at your chosen tour time. After a brief roll call, you’ll board the bus and travel to your first stop. Over the next 3 hours, you’ll be treated to stories about the neighborhoods, diversity, and geography of the area. You will exit the bus at several stops for photo opportunities and exploration. At the end of the adventure, you will be dropped off at Fisherman’s Wharf or North Beach, where you can enjoy a leisurely lunch and explore Lombard Street. You can also take in stunning views over the city from the Coit Tower or watch Pier 39 infamous sea lions. Your guide will recommend restaurants and must-see locations during your break. After lunch, walk over to Pier 33 to depart for Alcatraz. Upon arriving to Alcatraz Island you will take the official tour and have the opportunity to explore additional exhibits at your convenience. Lastly, return by ferry from Alcatraz back to Pier 33 where you are free to enjoy the rest of your evening. Here are the places you will explore (photo stops noted by *): • Alcatraz* - Used as a federal prison between 1933-1966, Alcatraz housed some of the most dangerous criminals of the time, including Al Capone, James "Whitey" Bulger, and George "Machine Gun" Kelly. Featuring unbelievable views of the San Francisco peninsula, a visit to the island is essential when in town • Fisherman's Wharf - One of San Francisco's most popular destinations - from beautiful old shipyards to Boudin's Bakery and of course, the sea lions of Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf has it all • Fort Point* - Located just beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point gives you a front-row seat to the San Francisco Bay. This former military fortification was used during both the Civil War and World War II • Golden Gate Bridge - Declared one of the 10 wonders of the modern world, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most recognized symbols of San Francisco • Pacific Heights* - Offering one of the most scenic outlooks in all of Northern California, Pacific Heights is home to Billionaire's Row, featuring the estates of politicians, tech titans, and other San Francisco celebrities • Chinatown - Boasting the largest Chinatown in the United States, this 24-block mecca is bustling with energy, amazing food, and unique shops that give this area its charm • North Beach - Voted as one of the USA's ten great neighborhoods, North Beach is best known as the home of Little Italy. From delicious restaurants to authentic sidewalk cafes and bakeries, you will feel the charm of San Francisco as soon as you arrive • Haight Ashbury* - The origin of the hippie culture and the birthplace of the “Summer of Love.” From the stunning Painted Ladies to the homes of music’s favorite 60’s bands, this district started the counter-culture movement across the USA • Tenderloin - Nestled near downtown San Francisco, the Tenderloin neighborhood continues to resist gentrification, all while spearheading the local arts movement. It’s a must-see in our modern-day city • Golden Gate Bridge - Declared “one of the 10 wonders of the modern world,” the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most recognized symbols of San Francisco

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Frequently asked questions about Alcatraz

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How can I visit Alcatraz?

Possible ways to visit the Alcatraz:

To enter Alcatraz, you need to have a ticket or be part of a guided tour.

Other Sightseeing Options in Alcatraz

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What people are saying about Alcatraz

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 4,717 reviews

Dylan, guide and driver of our tour was exellent, explained a lot about history, wider circustances and also about today´s San Francisco...

We went with our two children age 11 and 8. Was a great trip. Fantastic views.

Great views. Free to roam around. So fun and so many photo ops!

Great experience, recommend everyone to at least one time.

Great experience. Wear warm clothing if weather is cool.