Alcatraz

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

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Alcatraz: Our most recommended tours and activities

San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

1. 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: Alcatraz Tour w/ 2-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Ticket

2. San Francisco: Alcatraz Tour w/ 2-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Ticket

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: Waterfront Guided Tour and Alcatraz Ticket

3. San Francisco: Waterfront Guided Tour and Alcatraz Ticket

See the best of San Francisco on a city 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 Bay: Sail & Jail Boat Cruise & Alcatraz Ticket

4. San Francisco Bay: Sail & Jail Boat Cruise & Alcatraz Ticket

Experience the beautiful San Francisco Bay on a 1.5-hour catamaran cruise. Take in San Francisco's breathtaking skyline as you sail by Alcatraz Island and under the Golden Gate Bridge. Feel the Californian breeze in your hair and keep a look out for sea lions in the bay. The first part of your combination tour is a ferry ride and visit to the notorious Alcatraz prison, which served as a federal penitentiary from 1934 to 1963 and housed infamous criminals like Al Capone and Robert Stroud, the Birdman. Take the award-winning 45-minute Cellhouse audio tour and hear the tales of those who lived Alcatraz. This tour brings history to life through the recounting of tales from correctional officers and prisoners. Then, go on a catamaran cruise and view your surroundings from a protected viewing area, or you could really live on the edge and stand on the canvas trampoline nets with the waves beneath your feet. Pick up a helpful navigation guide providing information about San Francisco's landmarks as you sail past. Complete the trip by taking the helm from the captain for a chance to steer the boat yourself: it's the perfect activity for kids as well as kids at heart. The captain and crew are always there, happy to snap a photo or answer your questions about the sights of San Francisco. If all this excitement makes you hungry, there are snacks, soda, beer, or wine available at the cabin's snack bar. So come and see San Francisco's skyline like never before on this incredible sailing adventure. Please note that the catamaran cruise does not stop at Alcatraz Island. You will receive a separate ticket to board the ferry from San Francisco's Pier 33 to Alcatraz Island.

San Francisco: City Tour and Alcatraz Entrance Ticket Combo

5. San Francisco: City Tour and Alcatraz Entrance Ticket Combo

Enjoy an approximately 4-hour guided tour of San Francisco. At each stop, you’ll have the chance to get off the bus and see the sights. Along the way, your fully narrated tour will show you San Francisco as you’ve never seen it before. Tour the city from the Bay to the Ocean, with photo stops at key locations. Enjoy great views and visit famous attractions, including the Golden Gate Bridge. Stopping at Twin Peaks will give you a breathtaking 360-degree view of the city from 1000 feet above sea level. Your tour begins in Union Square and ends in Alcatraz but along the way, you will take in the superb vistas of Alcatraz Island and San Francisco Bay on this comprehensive half-day guided tour. Alcatraz Island remains one of San Francisco's greatest landmarks — and now you can experience its chilling allure for yourself. Packaged with the Grand City Tour, this Alcatraz combo features an award-winning cellular audio tour and round-trip boat ride to ‘The Rock.’ Alcatraz Island Combo Tours require 11 days advance reservations (no day of Alcatraz combos available). This Grand City Tour and Alcatraz Package is simply a must-do for anyone visiting San Francisco for the first time.

From San Francisco: Muir Woods, Sausalito and Alcatraz Tour

6. 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: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus with Ferry & Alcatraz Tour

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

Get a huge amount of choice for sightseeing in San Fransisco in one go—access to the hop-on hop-off city tour route, a special night tour, and tickets to the Alcatraz Island for a self-guided audio tour of the notorious prison.  Audio guides are available in a variety of languages but the hop-on hop-off tour is only available in English. With open double-decker buses and a guide on each one, you can see just about everything and learn just as much. You can get to all the most famous spots in the city, and 48 hours is enough time to go back and visit your favorites again. 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 The 90-Minute Night Tour covers many of the attractions on the other routes, but with a whole new perspective. It is not hop-on hop-off and departs from Fisherman’s Wharf at 18:30 all year round with additional departures during the summer months.

San Francisco: Alcatraz at Night & Fisherman's Wharf Tour

8. San Francisco: Alcatraz at Night & Fisherman's Wharf Tour

Take a guided walking tour through Fisherman’s Wharf, taste some classic San Francisco treats, and visit Alcatraz at night, the best time to experience the former high-security prison. Begin your experience in the afternoon near Ghirardelli Square and weave your way through Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. Explore the lesser-known paths and see San Francisco's legendary cable cars. Nibble on fresh local bread and Ghirardelli chocolate as you watch the playful sea lions. Sail to Alcatraz and enjoy the popular attraction with very few people, as tickets are extremely limited. Get a short introductory tour with a park range. Hear stories from former inmates, correctional officers, and the children that once called Alcatraz Island home.  Wander the island on your own time and spot the city's lights shimmering in the distance before returning to the ferry.

San Francisco: Alcatraz Island and Guided City Tour

9. San Francisco: Alcatraz Island and Guided City Tour

Following pickup, enjoy a 30-minute tour of San Francisco's waterfront where you will see notable landmarks such as Embarcadero, Levi’s Plaza, and Fisherman's Wharf. Enjoy a brief coffee break at the Ferry Building. Next, make your way to Pier 33 where you’ll board the ferry to start your Alcatraz Island tour. Listen to an audio presentation featuring recordings of inmates and guards that worked and inhabited the island.  Enjoy 2-3 hours on "The Rock" where you will have time for a guided tour and some free time to explore.  Take one of the late-morning ferries to San Francisco so you can join for the afternoon portion of your day tour. Cruise along San Francisco’s waterfront and the Marina District, and then visit the Palace of Fine Arts. Explore the culturally rich neighborhoods of San Francisco. Learn about what made the Haight-Ashbury, Mission, and Castro districts what they are today and why they’re important to so many. After a slow drive through Nob Hill and Chinatown, visit the charming Italian neighborhood of North Beach. Finally, enjoy a trip across the Golden Gate Bridge and pause along the cliffs to admire the beautiful views of the “city by the bay”. Take in the spectacular beauty of Golden Gate Park before finishing your tour.

San Francisco: Golden Gate Bike Tour and Alcatraz Ticket

10. San Francisco: Golden Gate Bike Tour and Alcatraz Ticket

Explore San Francisco by bike and visit Alcatraz with this ticket for two tours over the course of two days. Take the ferry to Alcatraz Prison and uncover the prison's secrets on an audio tour. Enjoy a cycling tour to locations like Fisherman’s Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge. Cross San Francisco Bay on a journey to the notorious Alcatraz Prison by ferry. This world-famous prison served as a federal penitentiary from 1934 to 1963 and housed infamous criminals like Al Capone and Robert Stroud, the Birdman. Take the award-winning 45-minute Cellhouse audio tour and hear the tales of those who lived in Alcatraz. This tour brings history alive through the recounting of tales from correctional officers and prisoners. Your bike tour will take place the previous day 10:00 AM. Set off from Fisherman’s Wharf and enjoy a leisurely cycle for around 3 hours. You’ll be kitted out with a current model bike, front handlebar bag, lock, helmet, rear gear rack, and takeaway map – and then you’ll be ready to head out on tour! Follow the San Francisco waterfront with your guide, past Aquatic Park, Fort Mason, the Marina, and the Presidio, through Crissy Field and to Fort Point. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge on a wide bike path, and then proceed to Vista Point and on to Old Fort Baker. The cycling tour comes to an end in Sausalito where you’ll have time to enjoy the shops, the many art galleries, and the delicious food. You can return to San Francisco right after the tour ends, or you may keep the bike until closing hours and enjoy additional time exploring this fascinating area on your own. Important Note: All bike tours take place 1 day prior to your selected Alcatraz departure. The date and time selected on your confirmation is for your day 2 Alcatraz Tour. Afternoon Alcatraz departure times are allotted, and so will be confirmed to customers approximately 30 days before departure.

Frequently asked questions about Alcatraz

What are other attractions than Alcatraz that are worth visiting in San Francisco?

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.

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

4.4 / 5

based on 2,675 reviews

Solid tour that takes you to Muir Woods, breaks for a brief lunch in Sausalito and then drops you off at the ferry for Alcatraz. Our tour guide Charlie was great and very knowledgeable about San Francisco and the history of Muir Woods and drove those narrow and winding streets with ease!

Nice cruise around the bay. Very pleasant. Boat is big enough and open enough that no matter where you sit, you have a great view. Really cool going under the golden gate Bridge and seeing it from different angles. Highly recommend this activity.

Wonderful time, felt safe always. Family was speechless with the beauty of the scenery. Cold, layer up!

The tour gave us a great look around San Francisco and it was very easy to find and get on and off.

Enjoyed the city tour it was very informative and got to see loads in a short time .Very organised