Everything you need to know about your trip to Alcatraz Island...
1. Choose a date and book the tour well in advance.
You're unlikely to be able to book a last minute, spontaneous trip to the island as tickets usually sell out weeks ahead. Try to organise a date at least a month to two weeks beforehand if you can to guarantee a place.
2. Buy tickets on the official Alcatraz Cruises website.
Cruises other than the official Alcatraz Cruises who offer trips over to the island will not be able to dock. Make sure the ticket you are about to purchase gets you where you want to be.
Ticket prices range from $38 (adult) for 'Early Bird' and 'Day Tour' trips, and $45 (adult) for 'Night Tour' trips, alongside other packages on offer.
3. Pick the ‘Early Bird Tour’ or the earliest ‘Day Tour’ ticket to avoid the crowds.
Early Bird Tour departure time: 8:45 am.
Earliest Day Tour departure time: 9:10 am.
The earlier you reach the island, the more opportunity you’ll have to explore without the crowds – the later the tour, the busier the island.
4. Meet at Pier 33 for boarding.
Pier 33 can be found on the Embarcadero in San Francisco – a short walk from Pier 39.
You’ll need to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your departure time.
Bring your e-ticket along or collect pre-paid tickets from the office close to the departure gate.
5. You can spend all day on Alcatraz Island.
You can explore the island as you please with no time constraints up to 18:30.
You'll find the ferry timetable close to the Ranger Office in the dock area.
Here you'll find all departure times. The last departure for 'Early Bird' and 'Day Tour' trips leave at 18:30.
Your ticket includes roundtrip transportation so you won't need to worry about purchasing a ticket to come back to mainland San Francisco - the ferry journey lasts approximately 15 minutes each way.
You’ll need at least 2 ½ hours on the island including transportation, the cell tour and exploring the rest of the island – many stay much longer, especially for the Garden Tour.
6. Tour the Cellhouse with the audio guide “Doing Time: The Alcatraz Cellhouse Tour”.
The audio tour walks you through the Cellhouse and provides insightful and historical information on the events that took place in Alcatraz including perspectives of prisoners.
7. Tour the gardens of Alcatraz Island.
The gardens of Alcatraz Island provide a completely different outlook to that of the Cellhouse tour and a chance to ask questions and learn more about life outside the cells.