spend

Frequently Asked Questions

Visiting Alcatraz

Q. What’s the best time of year to visit the island?
Q. How much time should I allow for my visit?
Q. What can I see and do on Alcatraz?
Q. What months are best for viewing nesting seabirds?
Q. What waterbirds can I see on the island?
Q. How should I dress when visiting the island?
Q. How accessible is Alcatraz?
Q. Where can I park?
Q. Is there a shuttle from Pier 33 to nearby attractions?
Q. How are the Day and Night Tours different?
Q. What time do we come back from the island?
Q. Where do I pick up my tickets?
Q. Are minors under the age of 18 allowed to tour Alcatraz Island with out the accompaniment of an adult?
Q. Can I bring luggage/coolers/oversized backpacks or packages to Alcatraz Island?

Q. What’s the best time of year to visit the island?

A. To avoid crowds, schedule your visit 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 the island.)

Q. How much time should I allow for my visit?

A. You can stay on Alcatraz as long as you like, but allow at least 2 ½ hours for sailing to the island, taking the cellhouse audio tour, exploring the rest of the island and its historic exhibits, and returning to the mainland.

Q. What can I see and do on Alcatraz?

A. The National Park Service volunteers & guides offers guided programs throughout the day, frequently taking visitors into seldom-seen areas of the island. The compelling Cellhouse Audio Tour "Doing Time" through the cellhouse featuring the actual voices of former guards and inmates is currently available in ten languages: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish Dutch, Mandarin, Portugese and Korean. An orientation video with historical footage of the island is shown every half hour. In addition, museum displays and several bookstores are available. From late September until February 1, when bird nesting season begins, you can explore the island’s historic parade ground and hike down the Agave Trail to the water's edge.

Q. What months are best for viewing nesting seabirds?

A. February through August. Nest building and egg laying occur in April and May, and chicks begin to hatch in mid-June.

Q. What waterbirds can I see on the island?

A. Western gulls are seen all over the island. Along the West Road, Brandt’s cormorants can easily be viewed. Snowy egrets and black crowned night herons can also be seen from the West Road. Pelagic Cormorants, pigeon guillemots, Canada geese, mallards and several species of songbirds are also seen on the island.

Q. How should I dress when visiting the island?

A. The weather on Alcatraz is unpredictable and liable to change unexpectedly, so be prepared by bringing along a light jacket or sweater no matter how nice the day starts out. The best advice is always to dress in layers. Wear rain gear during wet winter months. (Rain gear is available for purchase at the Island's bookstores.) Wear comfortable walking shoes with grip-type soles. Avoid wearing sandals, leather-soled shoes, high heels and open-toe shoes.

Q. How accessible is Alcatraz?

A. 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 (.4 km) and the elevation change is 130 feet (40 meters). This is equivalent to climbing a thirteen story building.

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 SEAT schedule is listed on the Accessibility page.
The following areas are completely wheelchair accessible:

• Alcatraz dock area
• Prison building main floor
• All bookstores
• Museum displays
• Island theater

Q. Where can I park?

A. On-Street Parking:

On-street parking in the Fisherman's Wharf area can be hard to find, and nearly every space has a parking meter. Parking meters take nickels, dimes and quarters. One half hour parking is roughly $1.25 in change.

Commercial Parking Lots

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.

*Note: There is no parking on Pier 33.

For more information on parking in the Fisherman’s Wharf area go to Plan Your Trip: Parking.

Q. How are the Day and Night Tours different?

A. The Alcatraz Day Visit includes the transportation to the island and an award-winning audio tour in the prison Cellhouse with actual interviews of former guards and inmates. The Night Tour is a unique program limited to just a few hundred visitors per evening that includes special programs, tours and activities not offered during the day. Roundtrip ferry transportation, a live boat narration, a guided tour from Dock to Cellhouse, the Cellhouse Audio Tour, a keepsake souvenir brochure, recreation use fee, and a variety of special programs and presentations offered only at night are all included.

Q. What time do we come back from the island?

A. The ride from the island to the pier is approximately 10-15 minutes. The return trips are listed on the Schedule page. The night boat returns at 8:40PM and 9:25 PM. These times are also posted at the dock. Boats are loaded on a first-come first-serve basis.

Q. Where do I pick up my tickets?

A. If you do not have tickets already when you arrive at Pier 33, Alcatraz Landing, you can pick up your tickets at the Prepaid Ticketbooth (Will Call). There is a separate line for guests who have already purchased their tickets. Pier 33 is at the foot of Bay Street on the Embarcadero. Please arrive one half hour prior to your departure time to check in. You must present a valid photo identification, along with the credit card used to purchase the tickets.

Q. Are minors under the age of 18 allowed to tour Alcatraz Island with out the accompaniment of an adult?

A. No minors under the age of 18 are 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.

Q. Can I bring luggage/coolers/oversized backpacks or packages to Alcatraz Island?

A. No. Luggage, coolers, oversized backpacks or packages are not allowed on Alcatraz Island due to safety concerns. The National Park Service and Alcatraz Cruises comply with Department of Homeland Security guidelines. Ferry departure and arrival points receive a great deal of scrutiny from the United States Coast Guard and are regulated as closely as airports. For this reason luggage, coolers and oversized backpacks and large packages are not allowed on Alcatraz Island. 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. Thank you for your cooperation in this regard.

Find Tours

Search by Date:

Click to View Calendar

Ticket Quantity


Alcatraz tickets can sell out several weeks in advance. Save Time! Buy your Tickets Online Now!
Helpful Tips: Getting the most from your Alcatraz visit

Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz
Telling our stories
Advertisement

Alcatraz Tickets Facts:

  • We are the official website for Alcatraz Tours to Alcatraz Island
  • We guarantee the lowest prices for Alcatraz tickets
  • Don't be fooled by unauthorized resellers offering Alcatraz tickets at inflated prices—Alcatraz Cruises cannot be responsible for tickets bought from other sources
  • Alcatraz Cruises is the official source for tickets to Alcatraz Island

Link to us!

Put our link on your website: www.alcatrazcruises.com

Alcatraz Cruises 2012 Respect Our Planet Sustainability Report

Alcatraz Cruises management systems are certified under these standards:

ISO Certification
X