Touring Alcatraz Island

If you missed out on my post about what I did on my first day in SF, click HERE.

On my second day in San Francisco, I visited Alcatraz (which I keep almost calling Azkaban LOL – I’ve rewatched some Harry Potter movies recently, oops!). It was so incredibly interesting to visit and learn about the famous prison…so here are some helpful facts and tips if you ever plan on going!



The remains of the federal prison sit on a windy island in middle of the San Francisco Bay and the only way to visit is to book a tour and take a ferry operated by the Alcatraz Cruises Company. The ferries leave from Pier 33 and depart daily – about every 20-30 min from 8:45am-3:50pm and then return every 30 min or so, until the last boat back at 6:30pm! The ferry ride is only about 15 minutes – super quick!

You should be at Alcatraz Landing (Pier 33) about 30 minutes prior to boarding time (which is listed on your ticket, which is chosen when you buy them online). However, don’t worry about being first in line because you’ll get decent seats no matter what and even if not…standing by the railing on the ferry will get you the best pictures anyway!

Tickets (adult) cost $37.25 – and this includes the ferry to and from the island, as well as a 2 hour audio tour of the prison. The audio tour is recorded by real prisoners and correctional officers who lived and worked on the island. It’s reaaallly cool to hear stories about working there, solitary confinement, prison escape attempts, etc.



Summer is a v popular time to visit, so buy your tickets ahead if you can (I bought mine 1.5 months in advance to make sure I got the exact day/time I wanted) and print the tickets at home (so you don’t have to wait in a line to pick them up). Tickets do sell out, so save yourself time and stress by buying them early.

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This was another day that I was exploring SF alone (while Isabelle was at work) and I actually LOVED going on this tour by myself. The beauty of a personal audio tour is that you can walk around at your own pace – and there were so many times that I paused the tour so I could spend a little extra time reading a poster, taking pictures, or just looking around and absorbing everything!

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Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, since you will have to walk about 1/4 of a mile (UPHILL) to get to the prison entrance. The climb is slow and not very challenging, however there is special transport available for those with injuries or difficulties walking. There’s also plenty of buildings to stop and read information about along the walk up, so you can take little breaks!


And a bonus picture from Fisherman’s Wharf…

Pier 39 is where you see all the SEA LIONS! I stopped there after my tour of Alcatraz, since it was a pretty short walk and I wanted to be able to say I saw the sea lions…but really, it wasn’t anything spectacular. It was another BRUTALLY HOT day in SF (legit 100 degrees), so I only lasted about 5 minutes in the sun before I decided to call it a day and head home. But I got my picture!


Have you been to Alcatraz before or have plans to visit? I’d love to hear from you…comment below! 😀

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