Alcatraz Cruises in San Francisco, CA

Pier 33, Alcatraz LandingSan Francisco, CA 94111
View on Map

Overview

Walk the legendary halls of Alcatraz, where notorious criminals including Al “Scarface” Capone, and “Birdman” Robert Stroud once did time for their iconic crimes. See how inmates lived day-to-day in the mysterious prison while learning about famous escape attempts, the prison’s history, and the backstories of the criminals who called Alcatraz home.

Description

from Alcatraz Cruises
Visit San Francisco's most notorious site: Alcatraz.
The rich history of Alcatraz Island means there is always something new to discover. See the first lighthouse on the West Coast, learn about Alcatraz as a Civil War fort, hear voices from the past on the cellhouse audio tour, find out about the 19-month occupation of Alcatraz by Indians of all tribes, and explore the natural side of the Rock with beautiful gardens, bird colonies, and breathtaking views.

All tickets include roundtrip ferry transportation, all regularly scheduled Ranger-led or docent guided tours, and a captivating audio tour in the prison cellhouse with actual interviews of former guards and inmates who lived on the island during the infamous Federal Penitentiary era (available in 11 languages - English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin, Dutch, Korean, Portuguese, and Russian).
Alcatraz Island is truly an inescapable experience.

Alcatraz and history go hand in hand. Once home to some of America's most notorious criminals, the federal penitentiary that operated here from 1934 to 1963 brought a dark mystique to the Rock. The presence of infamous inmates like Al "Scarface" Capone, and the "Birdman" Robert Stroud helped to establish the island's notoriety. To this day, Alcatraz is best known as one of the world's most legendary prisons.

Many people, though, are unaware of the wealth of other stories to be learned on the island. Alcatraz is now home to rare flowers and plants, marine wildlife, and thousands of roosting and nesting sea birds. Civil War-era buildings dotting the island give insight into the 19th century when the island served as both a harbor defense fort and a military prison. You can also see visible reminders of the American Indian Occupation that started in 1969 after the prison closed, highlighting an important milestone in the American Indian rights movement.

Come experience the beauty, history and infamy of Alcatraz on the San Francisco Bay. You'll be astounded by what you learn and see.

Government Issued Photo ID are REQUIRED for ALL Adults (18+ yrs) to pick up tickets.
Star Map Pin Icon
Alcatraz Cruises is located at Pier 33, Alcatraz LandingSan Francisco, CA 94111
Attraction Map Pin IconAttractions Hotel Map Pin IconHotels & Lodging

Frequently Asked Questions about Alcatraz Cruises

How long is the experience?
Allow about 3 hours for the entire experience including sailing to and from the island.

What should I wear?
The weather on Alcatraz is unpredictable and liable to change unexpectedly, so be prepared by bringing along a light jacket or sweater. The best recommendation is always to dress in layers. Wear rain gear during wet winter months. Wear comfortable walking shoes with grip-type soles. Avoid wearing sandals, leather-soled shoes, high heels and open-toe shoes.

Is Alcatraz Island accessible?
Much of Alcatraz is steep and hilly, so be prepared for walking long distances uphill. The distance from the dock to the prison at the top of the island is about 1/4 mile and the elevation change is 130 feet. This is equivalent to climbing a thirteen story building. Please be prepared for this walk by wearing comfortable walking shoes.

Visitors unable to make the climb up Alcatraz's roads may take advantage of SEAT  –Sustainable Easy Access Transport, an electric shuttle that meets each scheduled arrival at the Alcatraz dock and transports visitors requiring mobility assistance from the dock to the prison building. SEAT returns visitors requiring mobility assistance from the prison building back to the dock at regular intervals throughout the day. Visitors requiring mobility assistance may be accompanied by one attendant in their party if space is available. Families with small children and strollers cannot be accommodated on SEAT. Seating is on a first come, first serve basis.

The following areas are entirely wheelchair accessible:

  • Alcatraz dock area
  • Prison building main floor
  • All bookstores
  • Museum displays
  • Island theater
  • Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing
  • All Alcatraz Cruises vessels

Is parking available?
There is no parking on Pier 33. However, there is plenty of parking around the pier. There are fifteen commercial lots with a five-block radius of Alcatraz Landing at Pier 33, with a total of more than 3,000 parking spaces. The closest and most convenient lot is at 80 Francisco at Kearny, just one block away, across the Embarcadero from Alcatraz Landing.

Do note that metered parking is available around Fisherman’s Wharf but can be difficult to find and acquire.

Can children participate in the tour?
Yes. However, minors under the age of 18 are not allowed to tour Alcatraz Island without the accompaniment of an adult. An adult must be with them at all times while on their tour of Alcatraz Island.

Can I bring luggage/coolers/oversized backpacks or packages to Alcatraz Island?
No. Luggage, coolers, oversized backpacks or packages are not allowed on Alcatraz Island due to safety concerns. In addition, there are no storage facilities in the Pier 33 area. Alcatraz Cruises does not store luggage for ticketed passengers. Please make arrangements for the storage of luggage and oversized items prior to arriving at Alcatraz Landing. Ticketed passengers arriving at Alcatraz Landing with luggage, coolers, oversized backpacks and packages may not be able to visit Alcatraz Island.

What time do we come back from the Island?
You can stay on Alcatraz Island as long as you like, multiple ferries depart the Island each day. The ride from Alcatraz Island to Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing is approximately 12-15 minutes. Boats are loaded on a first-come-first-serve basis.

What is the best time of year to visit the Island?
To avoid crowds, schedule your visit during the first two weeks of November, the first two weeks of December, and anytime during the winter months of January through March.

To experience the nicest weather, plan your Alcatraz visit for April-May or September-October. (Surprisingly, summer actually brings cold and foggy weather to San Francisco and the Island.)