With your Alcatraz Island tours visit “The Rock” which was America’s first maximum-security prison, specifically designed to house the worst of the worst, with inmates deemed unfit for other prisoners were banished to the island. In its time, the notorious island was home to prominent criminal ringleaders and notorious murderers, with Al ‘Scarface’ Capone and the infamous Robert ‘Birdman’ Stroud behind bars here. An inescapable prison, even today the dark history of the prison still resonated with more than 1 million travellers making their way to the offshore prison each year. One of San Francisco’s most unlikely and most popular of tourist attractions, a visit to Alcatraz will stay with you for life.
Wrap up. Be sure to bring a jacket and extra layers on your tours. Even on a nice day, your ferry trip over to the island can be quite chilly.
Catch a film. Stop by the theatre for a short flick on all things Alcatraz. Beyond revealing the dark history of the island, this film explores the island’s future, uncovering the on-site restoration projects currently in the works.
Take some Instagram-worthy snaps. The island offers an incredible vantage point to take in San Francisco city. Head to the old prisoner’s yard on your tour to snap some great scenic shots of the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito beyond.
Good to know
Best time to visit
If you’re a summer soul, book your tickets for September and October, which promises warmer weather and sunshine even in the cool cell blocks. For those who don’t mind braving the cold, wind and fog though, head to Alcatraz during the city’s rainy season (in the months of January and February) for a cheaper trip away from the crowds.
The only way to get here is of course by ferry. Due to popular demand, ferries between San Francisco and Alcatraz run thick and fast no matter the weather, so you won’t struggle to make it to the island.
Money saving tips
Book your tickets as part of a combination package and you’ll save some serious cash. While tours are rarely discounted individually, pairing up your San Francisco sightseeing tours with a visit to Alcatraz promises a good discount. Have a snoop around this page for all the combo tour details!
Did you know?
Impress your fellow travellers with these interesting titbits:
Plenty have tried, but no prisoner has ever successfully escaped from here. While most escapees were captured, shot or drowned soon after leaving, one particularly determined inmate made it all the way to San Francisco.
In 1962, inmate John Paul Scott covered himself in lard, squeezed through the bars of his cell, made it outside and miraculously swam the 1.5 miles to shore – a feat deemed impossible by authorities due to the turbulent, freezing waters and the distance.
Scott made it to shore, but was found exhausted and unconscious on the ocean banks soon after, and sent back to The Rock.
One of the most famous inmates of Alcatraz was the criminal mastermind and gangster, Al Capone. Dabbling in crime since he was just 14 years old, Capone was finally brought to justice after nearly 20 years in the business and was sentenced to 11 years in prison, five of which were spent in Alcatraz.
During his five-year term, Capone was a cooperative inmate, and even played banjo in the prison band, the Rock Islanders, which gave regular Sunday concerts for inmates.