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Alcatraz: Tours & Tickets

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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 3,610 reviews

Great way to experience the highlights of San Francisco!!

Tre' was a great tour guide and very helpful for us beginners learning to ride. The folks there are fantastic! After the tour was over and i had returned back to Pier 39, i realized i left some belongings in the segway. I called and they were just closing but the lady that answered the phone was very pleasant, located my stuff and creatively came up with a way for me to retrieve them after hours. THANK YOU VERY MUCH for going out of your way. Great business, highly recommend reserving your tour of San Francisco with San Francisco Electric Tour Company. The 2nd part of the combo was a tour of Alcatraz. That was fantastic! Spent 3 hours there and didn't see it all. Would recommend an extra hour there and see if you can move your segway tour a little later. Great time in San Fran.

Incredibly fun way to see some San Francisco sights.

Starts with a helpful practice session to learn to operate the Segway - pretty easy to learn and surprisingly quick to get comfortable once we were out on the road. Our guide, Melanie, kept our group safe and provided constant and entertaining commentary through headphones they provided. Melanie was outstanding! She gave us information and told us stories about the places we saw, and took photos of our group (posted later so we could see and download). She had a great sense of humor and a wonderfully outgoing personality. This was a really fun activity for both me and my teenage daughter. Highly recommend!

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 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.

Wonderful city tour combined with the Alcatraz tour was a great day!

Antonio was a wonderful tour guide and very accomodating. He took us to many sights and we were impressed with how much he showed us! He was very knowledgeable about the city and its history. I would highly recommend Antonio and his tour service. The Alcatraz tour was good -- the audio tour was excellent and was narrated by former prison guards and inmates. Very informative.

San Francisco City Tour with Visit to Alcatraz Reviewed by

Things to do near Alcatraz