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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: 1-Hour Bay Cruise by Boat

2. 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.

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

3. 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 Vista Helicopter Tour (15-20 minute tour)

4. San Francisco Vista Helicopter Tour (15-20 minute tour)

Take in an aerial view of San Francisco and the Bay Area with the Bell Jet helicopter. Choose between 3 departure times and pickups at Union Square, Nob Hill, or Fisherman’s Wharf. Relax on the ride to the launch pad. After a safety briefing, climb aboard and see a vista of the world-famous city.   Admire the city's landscape and see landmarks like Alcatraz Island, the Transamerica Pyramid, the Ferry Building, Ghirardelli Square, Coit Tower, and AT&T Park. View both the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge; if you're lucky, fly over and under the Golden Gate Bridge. Throughout the 15 to 20-minute flight, enjoy inspiring background music and live narration from your pilot. After touching down back at the launch pad, you will be transported back to your original departure point.

Alcatraz Ticket & Streets of San Francisco E-Bike Tour

5. Alcatraz Ticket & Streets of San Francisco E-Bike Tour

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 at 11:00. On this 4-hour bike tour you’ll explore the back alleys of North Beach’s Little Italy and have up-close views of the iconic Transamerica Pyramid Building. See Barbary Coast and San Francisco’s historic supper clubs. Find out how the neighborhoods have transformed from scandalous to sparkling.  You’ll ride around the Giants’ Oracle ball park, and into the culturally rich Mission, Castro, and Haight Ashbury neighborhoods. See ever-changing street art and the locals that rule each area and make each community unique.  Cruise Nopa and take in the charming Painted Ladies of Alamo Square before visiting the Civic Center. Ride through Polk Gulch, which is San Francisco’s original gay neighborhood, and finish your ride at Aquatic Park. The tour ends at festive Fisherman’s Wharf. Important note: All bike tours take place one day prior to your selected Alcatraz departure. The date and time selected on your confirmation is for your Alcatraz tour on the second day.

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

6. 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.

San Francisco: City Tour and Alcatraz Entrance Ticket Combo

7. 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

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: Waterfront Guided Tour and Alcatraz Ticket

9. 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.

1-Day Hop-On Hop-Off City Tour

10. 1-Day Hop-On Hop-Off City Tour

The Official city tour begins in Fisherman's Wharf heading towards the ferry building, then downtown Union Square. Go on a shopping spree with the top brands in the world and take lots of pictures with the heart of San Francisco. The tour will then continue to the Civic Center which houses the City Hall, Opera House and Symphony Hall. Moving on, you will be at Alamo Square with the world famous attraction 'painted ladies' (Victorian houses) and taken back in time to 'Summer of Love' at Haight & Ashbury. Next stop will be Golden Gate Park which holds the California Academy of Sciences, De-Young Museum, Japanese Tea Gardens, Conservatory of flowers and many more attractions. From here, you will be taken to the most iconic attraction of San Francisco, The Golden Gate bridge. Don't forget your cameras to capture the great views of the bridge, Alcatraz Island and the Bay. On the way back to downtown, you will pass The Palace of Fine Arts. Continuing through Van Ness Ave, down to Chinatown with lots of restaurants and souvenir gift shops, bustling cultural shops and the famous Chinatown Gates. At the end of your tour, you will return to the Fisherman's Wharf area with Pier 39, San Francisco Dungeons, Aquarium of the Bay, Madame Tussauds, etc.

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

4.4 / 5

based on 2,863 reviews

This was a fantastic insight into San Francisco history. Our guide Eric was incredibly knowledgeable, and fun, keeping the whole walking section of the tour interactive. He gave us clear instructions on what to do once we left him to head over to Alcatraz which was so useful. Alcatraz itself was fascinating, the self guided audio tour was brilliant and well worth doing. I would highly recommend this trip.

Our cruise was towards the end of the day and I admired the staff. They were still welcoming and helpful. We enjoyed listening to all of the historical information as we were seeing the landmarks. There were pauses in the recording at just the right times so we could enjoy and reflect on what we were seeing. I had family guests here from Nebraska and I was so happy how successful this endeavor was!

No complaints… Daughter and I bought tickets ahead of time… All the information disseminated beforehand was accurate… The Cruise itinerary is great for a first time visitor or like us ; people who’ve already seen the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Would highly recommend!

We just rode around the bay and saw the golden gate and surrounded the Alcatraz island two time. It was a really fun experience

It was very easy to purchase the tickets on GetYourGuide very efficient when we got there and very entertaining