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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

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

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

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

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.

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

Using a tour is the best way to see city

Our guide was very professional and gave us a lot of interesting facts about that we would not have known if we had not done a tour.

San Francisco Grand City Tour with Alcatraz Ticket Reviewed by maureen, 06/25/2018

City Tour a Little Bit short, Alcatrac on your own

Tour was OK Even so no Goldengate Bridge crossing made, Even so a Bridge toll included. No lunch provided (Even so mentioned in Get your Guide Text) Afterwards on Special demand a Voucher was given. No City Hall stop. Total time was 3.15 hrs Theo just dropped off at the Ferry for Alcatrac, which left more than 2 Hours later. Luckily the weather was good weather and I remembered from an earlier visit, that there are nice attractions close by, so we used the time at Pier 39, to watch the sealions and have a good seafood lunch. At Alcatrac we Spend 2 hours and the audioguide in German language was very good.

Great tour with all the important things of San Francisco!

Tourguide Willy was real friendly and knew a lot about San Francisco. We had a very nice day!!

Alcatraz tour and GoCar excellent, just a little problem

The Alcatraz tour was perfect, we collected the tickets the same morning at Pier33 and we attended the tour straight away. The GoCar experience was funny. We just had a problem with the GoCar company and the activities included. Although it wasn't my fault, the GoCar company didn't deal with that and they were rude to me. Once returned home, I emailed the GetYourGuide company asking to clarify the problem we had and they explained to us it was a problem related to the update of the description page. They offered us a nominal refund. I recommend this combo anyway!

Alcatraz Combo Full-Day Adventure Package Reviewed by Andrea, 09/02/2017

Alcatraz was good but you need 4 hours to do it properly.

Great location but the birds ruin it. Faeces everywhere as its illegal to move them on from this registered wildlife sanctuary. Do something about this as it really puts a downer on the experience. The smell is that bad!!!!

Things to do near Alcatraz