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Alcatraz: Tickets and Tours

Step back in time and visit Alcatraz, the legendary island that has been one of the most notorious federal penitentiaries in US history and remains one of San Francisco's greatest landmarks nowadays.

Situated in the chilly waters of San Fransisco Bay less than two miles from Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz was the site of the West Coast’s first operational lighthouse. Said to be impossible to escape, it became then America's toughest prison, keeping some of the most dangerous prisoners such as Al Capone and Robert Stroud.

Also known as “The Rock”, the infamous Alcatraz prison shut down in 1963 due to very high operating expenses. Ten years later, Alcatraz Island was opened to the public. Today it welcomes more than one million visitors every year. Board Alcatraz ferry and discover one of San Francisco's most famous attractions.

How much do Alcatraz Island tickets cost?

The only way to visit Alcatraz and its legendary prison is by scheduling a ferry that takes you to the island. There you take a tour of its grounds. There are different options for Alcatraz tickets:

Alcatraz Early Bird Tour

The first Alcatraz Island tour of the day allows you to beat some of the crowds and get a firsthand account shortly after sunrise. The only scheduled departure of the day is at 8:45 am.

  • Adults: US$ 39.90
  • Juniors (12-17): US$ 39.90
  • Children (5-11): US$ 24.40
  • Seniors (62+): US$ 37.65
  • Toddlers (0-4): FREE
  • Family Pack (2 Adults, 2 Children): US$ 120.25

Ticket include a round-trip ferry ride to Alcatraz Island, a cellhouse audio tour and the daily optional programs and exhibits.

Alcatraz Day Tour

This is the standard Alcatraz day tour. Cruise to the Island and visit the notorious prison.

  • Adults: US$ 39.90
  • Juniors (12-17): US$ 39.90
  • Children (5-11): US$ 24.40
  • Seniors (62+): US$ 37.65
  • Toddlers (0-4): FREE
  • Family Pack (2 Adults, 2 Children): US$ 120.25

Ticket includes a round-trip ferry ride to Alcatraz Island, a cellhouse audio tour and the daily optional programs and exhibits.

Alcatraz Night Tour

A thrilling opportunity to see Alcatraz at night. The views of San Francisco as night falls are breathtaking from the island, and the tour is completely different from the day version. However, keep in mind that night tours are limited to a few hundred people each night only, so make sure to book your tickets in plenty of advance.

  • Adults: US$ 47.30
  • Juniors (12-17): US$ 46.25
  • Children (5-11): US$ 28
  • Seniors (62+): US$ 44
  • Toddlers (0-4): FREE

Ticket includes a round-trip ferry ride to Alcatraz Island with on-board narration during round-trip ferry ride, cellhouse audio tour, optional programs and exhibits and docent guided tours and talks.

Alcatraz & Angel Island Tour Combo

The special tour combines Alcatraz Island with a hidden gem of the area, Angel Island. The state park is near Alcatraz Island and offers splendid views and hidden secrets of its own.

  • Adults: US$ 78.65
  • Juniors (12-17): US$ 78.65
  • Children (5-11): US$ 52.40
  • Seniors (62+): US$ 76.40
  • Toddlers (0-4): FREE

Ticket includes a round-trip ferry ride to Alcatraz Island, a round-trip ferry ride from Alcatraz Island to Angel Island, a cellhouse audio tour on Alcatraz Island, daily optional programs and exhibits, and one-hour narrated tram tour of Angel Island.

Behind-the-Scenes Tour

Enjoy an exclusive tour that presents recently discovered areas of the island not generally open to the public. The tours are limited to small groups of fewer than 30 people, so once again, you must book tickets several months ahead of time.

  • Adults: US$ 92.30
  • Juniors (12-17): US$ 88.25
  • Seniors (62+): US$ 86

Ticket includes a round-trip ferry ride to Alcatraz Island, two-hour guided Behind The Scenes tour, and the Alcatraz Night Tour program.

How do you book Alcatraz Island tickets online?

You must book Alcatraz in San Francisco tickets in advance. Why? Tickets sell out very fast, and it is nearly impossible to find last-minute ticket offers. In fact, most tours get booked two to three months ahead of time.

You can purchase tour tickets in advance through the official website or via a online travel agency such as Viator or Getyourguide. Use our search engine and compare all the available deals for your desired date.

Are there any combined tickets including Alcatraz tickets and other attractions?

There are many ways to combine tickets of Alcatraz with other attractions in San Francisco, or special types of rides around the island:

  • Alcatraz + Bike Tour: Rent a bike for the day to traverse across Golden Gate Bridge before or after you see Alcatraz Island.
  • Alcatraz + Bus Tour: Choose the hop-on, hop-off option, and your bus pass is good for one day of free rides while you visit multiple attractions in San Francisco, including Alcatraz Island.
  • Alcatraz + Cruise: Every Alcatraz Island tour includes a round-trip ferry. However, you can make your experience more VIP by scheduling a twilight cruise around the island.
  • Alcatraz + Cable Car: Ride the famous cable car system of San Francisco while enjoying the sights with family and friends for a day.
  • Alcatraz + Helicopter Tour: A unique way to see Alcatraz Island from the sky as you explore “The Rock” and get a different perspective of its rocky shores.
  • Alcatraz + Seaplane Tour: Another option to see Alcatraz Island from the sky before you land in the water and visit the prison by land.
  • Alcatraz + Fisherman’s Wharf: Rent a Segway for the day as you explore the famous Fisherman’s Wharf in San Fran, followed by a day or night tour of Alcatraz.
  • Alcatraz + Muir Woods National Monument: Visit two prized natural areas in San Francisco along with a stop at Sausalito.
  • Alcatraz + Yosemite National Park: A two-day package that presents one of the most popular landmarks in San Francisco, followed by a trip out of town to the legendary California National Park.

What will I see?

Alcatraz Island has a long history. It was originally a Civil War fort before transforming into a military prison. Later, it became one of the most infamous federal penitentiaries in U.S. history. Alcatraz housed notorious criminals like Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelley.

Tickets to Alcatraz offer you a unique look at the well-preserved prison, which officially closed its doors in 1963. You can visit the cells and other facilities of the prison while you receive a world-class audio tour. A ferry provides round-trip transportation to and from San Francisco.

Different tour options are available based on personal preferences. Night Tours offer a unique perspective. The recently opened Behind-the-Scenes tour offers visitors a more exclusive experience as you discover recently discovered parts of the island.

The island is also home to the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast. The rocky island features natural rock pools as well as a thriving seabird colony. Egrets, western gulls, and cormorants are the most popular types of birds seen on Alcatraz.

What is the best time to visit Alcatraz in San Francisco? How to avoid the crowd?

Alcatraz Island is an extremely popular San Francisco landmark with limited access. The only way to visit the actual island is to purchase a timed ticket for a tour, which often sell out 2-3 months before the day of departure.

The good news is timed tickets are limited to a certain number of visitors, but the bad news is you don’t have much control over the crowds on the island. However, booking an Early Bird Tour will present you with the fewest crowds since you are the first to arrive at Alcatraz for the day.

We also recommend considering visiting Alcatraz Island in the spring or early fall. San Francisco is notorious for its fog, and it is particularly heavy in the summer. You will get better views of the bay by avoiding the summer.

What are Alcatraz Island opening hours?

Alcatraz Island has varying operating hours. The Early Bird Tour takes off at 8:45 am. Day Tours begin shortly after that, approximately every half hour throughout the day. Night Tours vary in terms of departure times. The island is open every day of the year, aside from Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Travel Tips

  • Book several months in advance: If you want to see Alcatraz Island on land, you will need to purchase tour tickets for several months in advance. Tour tickets commonly sell out 2-3 months ahead of time, leaving you little option to wait until the last moment.
  • Arrive at Pier 33 early on the day of departure. Your Alcatraz tickets has a time of departure. To be safe, make sure you arrive at least 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time. There are unfortunately no refund.
  • Make sure you bring a jacket and appropriate footwear as the island can get foggy and chilly