visiting Alcatraz in San Francisco

Alcatraz has been one of those places that has fascinated me for years. One of my biggest interest was the island itself and all the escape attempts. Alcatraz was home to criminals such as:  Al Capone, Bumpy Johnson, Robert Franklin Stroud (the “Birdman of Alcatraz”) and George “Machine Gun” Kelly.

From the shore, Alcatraz Island doesn’t look too far away,  Alcatraz Island sits just 1.5 miles away from San Francisco Bay.
Visiting Alcatraz

Alcatraz was reportedly one of the most secure prisons in the world and nothing could destroy that reputation faster than an escaped prisoner. So what happened when a prisoner escaped…? Well, it wasn’t reported.

Who knows how many people really escaped from Alcatraz. Five prisoners are said to have escaped in 1962 and their whereabouts are unknown.

It may  only be 1.5 miles to the mainland but due to the strong currents and cold water temperatures, it’s almost impossible for prisoners to escape.

Visiting Alcatraz

Booking tickets

If you’d like to visit Alcatraz you can book tickets through Alcatraz Cruises for $39 for one adult based on our experience 1/2/20.

Some unofficial websites charge more than this so make sure you go through the proper site.

Buy In Advance

Advance purchase is highly recommended because of the limited number of visitors allowed on the Island each day. We traveled in off peak and found it easy to book our tickets. Alcatraz Island tour tickets can sell out several weeks in advance During peak season and some tours, such as the Night Tour and the Behind The Scenes Tour.

You can stay on Alcatraz Island as long as you like, but allow at least 3 hours for cruising to the Island, taking the Cellhouse audio tour, exploring the rest of the Island.

my favourite bit about the whole trip was the cellhouse audio tour. As you walked the corridors with the sounds of prisoners past and the tales of ex guards.

Stop to picture yourself in a dark solitary confinement cell, hear the stories of life inside from former inmates, and feel the intensity of a prison breakout from correctional officers who lived and worked on the Island.

Important information


The person who books the tickets online must bring photo ID to collect tickets before boarding the ferry, something I did not realise but luckily had my uk driving license on me.

Picnicking and consuming food on Alcatraz Island is allowed at the dock area from the picnic tables to the restrooms only. Bottled water is allowed on all areas of the Island. There is no food available to purchase


The roads and walkways on Alcatraz are steep. The distance from the dock to the Cellhouse is approximately 1/4 mile and the elevation change is 130 feet the equivalent of walking up a 13-story building.


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