Alcatraz Island

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Alcatraz Island: Our most recommended tours and activities

San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

1. San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

Cruise around the Golden Gate Bay on a boat tour. Enjoy informative commentary, see sights like Alcatraz Island, and purchase food and drink from the onboard bar. Launched in 1939 as part of the Golden Gate International Exposition, this 1-hour cruise has been a highlight of any visit to San Francisco for over 75 years. With 8-14 departures daily from Fisherman's Wharf, you will sail along San Francisco's breathtaking waterfront, under the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, and close to the notorious Alcatraz Island. Discover San Francisco's fascinating history, brought to life through audio commentary broadcast in 16 languages via personal headphones. Look out for wildlife along the way, including pelicans, sea lions, and even dolphins and whales. Sail past the lively neighborhood of North Beach, the famous swimming clubs of Aquatic Park, the historic vessels at Hyde Street Pier, and San Francisco Maritime National Park, before heading west towards Golden Gate Bridge. Enjoy views of Crissy Field and the lush hillsides of the Presidio, before cruising under Golden Gate Bridge. Steam back into the Bay, traveling past the wildlife reserves of the Marin Headlands, and the legendary town of Sausalito, once home to the 1960s’ flower generation. With Angel Island State Park to your left, cruise around infamous Alcatraz. After a full hour of exciting sights, the barking sea lions at Pier 39 welcome you back to Pier 43 1/2. A full bar with drinks, snacks and merchandise, including logo wear, is available at reasonable prices on board the iconic red and blue sea vessels.

San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

2. San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

Hop on board a boat and cruise around Alcatraz Island and other sights of San Francisco Bay on this round trip journey. Benefit from a straight-to-the-gate access ticket and informative commentary as you go. Cruise San Francisco Bay and sail under the Golden Gate Bridge on a 90-minute narrated tour by boat around Alcatraz Island. Skip the box office line and go straight to the gate with your ticket. See Alcatraz island from the water while listening to accounts of the chilling escape attempts and the notorious criminals that called Alcatraz prison home. Enjoy a cruise with food and drink available to purchase onboard. Cruise full circle around Alcatraz Island, allowing you to view every angle of this mysterious island, which housed famous inmates such as Al Capone, Billy Cook the Killer, and Clyde Johnson, whose escape attempt is legendary. Gain a clear picture of what life in this maximum-security prison was like when it was the most feared institution in the American penal system.

San Francisco: Alcatraz Tour w/ 2-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Ticket

3. San Francisco: Alcatraz Tour w/ 2-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Ticket

See the best of San Francisco with this combined hop-on-hop-off ticket and Alcatraz Island visit. Explore the island of Alcatraz and enjoy 2 days of sightseeing with insightful commentary from a live guide. Tour the famous prison that has played a role in jailhouse folklore and the historic evolution of the West Coast. Learn more about the 14 unsuccessful escape attempts by over 30 prisoners and their fates. Your Premium Big Bus hop-on-hop-off pass is a great way to see the sights of San Francisco. Listen to commentary by live English-speaking guides, or enjoy pre-recorded audio commentary in 10 languages. Your 2-day ticket includes a full day of unlimited hop-on-hop-off and a 1-hour panoramic night tour. Explore one of San Francisco's most fascinating neighborhoods on a fun and informative walking tour of Chinatown. The tours are offered daily, and you can ask an agent for locations and time schedules. Also included are a bonus 1-hour bike rental (with the purchase of a 1-hour rental) and Players Arcade Drink and Game Tokens. Hop-on, hop-off tour stops include: Stop 1: Corner of Jefferson & Mason StreetStop 2: Holiday Inn Northpoint b/w Jones & ColumbusStop 3: Washington Square - Columbus & Union StreetsStop 4: Embarcadero Center - Corner Clay & Battery StreetsStop 5: Ferry Building - Market St b/w Stuart & Spear StreetsStop 6: Union Square South - Geary St across from Macy’sStop 7: Hilton Hotel - Corner Mason & Ellis StreetsStop 8: Civic Center - Fulton St b/w Larkin & Hyde StreetsStop 9: Alamo Square - Corner Fell & Pierce StreetsStop 10: Haight Ashbury - Haight & Shrader StreetsStop 11: Golden Gate Park - Music Concourse Drive Golden Gate ParkStop 12: Golden Gate Bridge- North Vista PointStop 13: Palace of Fine Arts - Richardson & Francisco StreetStop 14: Marina Neighborhood - Lombard & Fillmore StreetsStop 15: Lombard Street Corridor - Lombard & Gough StreetsStop 16: Union Square North - Post & Powell StreetsStop 17: Chinatown Gate - Grant and Bush StreetsStop 18: Portsmouth Square - Kearny & Clay StreetsStop 19: Pier 35 Cruise Terminal - The EmbarcaderoStop 20: Pier 39 Fisherman’s Wharf (then return to Stop 1)

San Francisco: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Golden Gate Bay Cruise

4. San Francisco: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Golden Gate Bay Cruise

Make your way around San Francisco with a 1-day hop-on hop-off bus pass. Explore 17 points of interest or enjoy a 360 panoramic view of the city for two hours. Combine your pass with a 1-hour Golden Gate Bay cruise to sail around the wonderful areas of San Francisco. Golden Gate Bay Cruise Arrive at Fisherman's Wharf and look out for the red and white colors of the "Red & White Fleet" to find your boat. Sail past the lively neighborhood of North Beach and take advantage of the bar onboard with drinks, snacks, and merchandise. Admire the famous swimming clubs of the Aquatic Park and the historic vessels at Hyde Street Pier. Enjoy idyllic views of Crissy Field and the Presidio of San Francisco before the stunning image of the Golden Gate Bridge comes into view. Cruise straight under the bridge as the sun shines and waves lap against the boat. Travel past the wildlife reserves of the Marin Headlands to reach the shores of Sausalito, once home to the Flower Children. With Angel Island State Park to your left, finish your cruise outside the infamous Alcatraz prison. Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Exchange your voucher at any of the bus stops and get ready to discover the city of San Francisco. Discover local parks and architecture as you listen to the recorded commentary, available in 10 languages. The route of the hop-on hop-off bus includes 17 stops at iconic landmarks from Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, Golden Gate Bridge, and Little Italy, this flexible approach to sightseeing allows you to enjoy your day at your own pace.

San Francisco Bay: Sail & Jail Boat Cruise & Alcatraz Ticket

5. San Francisco Bay: Sail & Jail Boat Cruise & Alcatraz Ticket

Experience the beautiful San Francisco Bay on a 1.5-hour catamaran cruise. Take in San Francisco's breathtaking skyline as you sail by Alcatraz Island and under the Golden Gate Bridge. Feel the Californian breeze in your hair and keep a look out for sea lions in the bay. The first part of your combination tour is a ferry ride and visit to the notorious Alcatraz prison, which served as a federal penitentiary from 1934 to 1963 and housed infamous criminals like Al Capone and Robert Stroud, the Birdman. Take the award-winning 45-minute Cellhouse audio tour and hear the tales of those who lived Alcatraz. This tour brings history to life through the recounting of tales from correctional officers and prisoners. Then, go on a catamaran cruise and view your surroundings from a protected viewing area, or you could really live on the edge and stand on the canvas trampoline nets with the waves beneath your feet. Pick up a helpful navigation guide providing information about San Francisco's landmarks as you sail past. Complete the trip by taking the helm from the captain for a chance to steer the boat yourself: it's the perfect activity for kids as well as kids at heart. The captain and crew are always there, happy to snap a photo or answer your questions about the sights of San Francisco. If all this excitement makes you hungry, there are snacks, soda, beer, or wine available at the cabin's snack bar. So come and see San Francisco's skyline like never before on this incredible sailing adventure. Please note that the catamaran cruise does not stop at Alcatraz Island. You will receive a separate ticket to board the ferry from San Francisco's Pier 33 to Alcatraz Island.

San Francisco: City Highlights & Alcatraz 5-Hour Tour

6. San Francisco: City Highlights & Alcatraz 5-Hour Tour

Discover why Alcatraz remains one of San Francisco's greatest landmarks and experience its chilling allure in an official Alcatraz tour. Wander through the various exhibits while learning the history of the island in a 90-minute audio tour. Back on the mainland, go beneath the surface of San Francisco, exploring its famous sites and Instagram-worthy views in a 90-minute city tour.  Meet the group at the ticket booth on Pier 33 for the ferry transfer to Alcatraz Island. After returning on the ferry, explore 6 different locations in San Francisco with photo stops along the way. Stop at Fort Point to catch optimal views of the Golden Gate Bridge and learn about the city's history, culture, and architecture as the group makes its way through the diverse neighborhoods. Water and granola bars will be provided during this part of the tour.  Discover the best places to eat in the city and even check out the filming locations for TV shows and movies such as Full House and Mrs. Doubtfire. At the end of the tour, the guide will drop the group off at Fisherman's Wharf – a classic San Francisco experience and a must-see on any visit to the city.

Other Sightseeing Options in Alcatraz Island

Want to discover all there is to do in Alcatraz Island? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Alcatraz Island

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 2,554 reviews

Nice cruise around the bay. Very pleasant. Boat is big enough and open enough that no matter where you sit, you have a great view. Really cool going under the golden gate Bridge and seeing it from different angles. Highly recommend this activity.

Excellent experience. No hassle with pulling up your ticket because it’s by name, on time, great information, and took us right under the Golden Gate Bridge. It is super windy so be sure to bundle up.

Had an hour to kill by myself before leaving SF. A great way to see the city, even if you're a return traveler.

Very informative and relaxing boat cruise, time it right for a low sun for fantastic pictures.

A genuine bargain for us 2 seniors. A great sunny day!