COVID-19 alert: Travel requirements are changing rapidly, including need for pre-travel COVID-19 testing and quarantine on arrival.

Alcatraz Island
Holiday Travel Guide

Alcatraz Island showing a coastal town and island views

For three decades, desperate inmates dreamed of escaping this notorious prison; today’s fortunate visitors can come and go as they please!

The ghosts of Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly and Alvin “Creepy” Karpis still stalk the abandoned corridors of one of the world’s bleakest and toughest prisons. But since the maximum security facility closed in 1963, Alcatraz Island has been welcoming “guests” of a different kind. This rocky outcrop in San Francisco Bay is now a National Park, with thousands of people every year making the short ferry ride across the channel that separated the most notorious criminals of their day from the bright lights of the city.

Alcatraz’s fortress-like walls and isolated location were considered impregnable. Between 1934 and 1963 it was the last resort for especially dangerous and disruptive prisoners, many in solitary confinement awaiting the death penalty or serving out life sentences for murder and violent robbery. Some attempted escape, only to be recaptured or, in a few cases, shot by marksmen or swept away by the treacherous currents of the bay. It was claimed that no prisoner ever succeeded in getting away from Alcatraz alive, although the fate of the three who made a daring bid for freedom in 1962 on a life raft made from prison-issue raincoats remains unknown to this day.

Tours of “the Rock”, as it’s commonly known, take in the grim cell blocks and walled exercise yard of the former penitentiary. Join a tour group or plan your own route with the help of an audio guide, included in the ferry round trip. Visitors are at liberty to explore the rest of the island, which also boasts the first lighthouse on the American West Coast, with origins dating from 1854, and enjoy views of the mainland uninterrupted by prison bars.

Ferries depart from Pier 33 at the Embarcadero and the crossing takes around 15 minutes. It’s easy to lose track of time wandering around this atmospheric place contemplating its strange history and admiring the flora and fauna that have made the Rock their home, so remember to check the departure of the last ferry back to the mainland, usually around 4.25 p.m. The ferries get particularly busy in summer at the peak of the tourist season, so it’s worth buying your tickets in advance to beat the queues.

Top things to do in Alcatraz Island

Top Trending Hotels Near Alcatraz Island

Hilton San Francisco Financial District
Hilton San Francisco Financial District
4 out of 5
750 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA
Free cancellationReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is €125 per night from 29 Jun to 29 Jun
Located in Downtown San Francisco, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Ferry Building, Lombard Street and Pier 39. Oracle Park and Palace of Fine Arts are also ...
3.8/5Good! (2,748 reviews)
"There was no ice in the ice machine on the 10th floor. No espresso, cappuccino or other fancy coffees available at the coffee/snack bar. The staff was very friendly and accommodating though!"

Reviewed on 22 Jun 2021

Hilton San Francisco Financial District
Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf
Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf
4 out of 5
2500 Mason St, San Francisco, CA
The price is €144 per night from 28 Jun to 28 Jun
Located in North Beach, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Aquarium of the Bay, Pier 39 and Ghirardelli Square. Lombard Street and Alcatraz Island are ...
4.1/5Very Good! (2,585 reviews)
"Perfect location for Pier 39. Nice place, cool outside sitting area with fire pits and even had one near the pool area. Rooms were spacious for SF. Bathroom is small, but not a big deal. Gym is nice and pool area is nice as well. Despite the $50 parking fee and resort fees, overall pricing isn’t ..."

Reviewed on 23 Jun 2021

Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf
San Francisco Marriott Marquis
San Francisco Marriott Marquis
4 out of 5
780 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA
The price is €148 per night from 27 Jun to 27 Jun
Located in Downtown San Francisco, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Moscone Convention Center, Ferry Building and Oracle Park. Chase Center and Pier 39 are ...
4.3/5Excellent! (2,225 reviews)
"We were apprehensive about traveling post-Covid but the facility was exceptionally clean and well maintained. Close to shopping and restaurants. Easily accessible for Lyft/Uber and public transportation. The ladies is the lobby restaurant were friendly and very efficient. It was perfect for a light ..."

Reviewed on 22 Jun 2021

San Francisco Marriott Marquis
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Popular places to visit in Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island

Choose two or more items and save on your trip:

Top Hotel Deals

Hilton San Francisco Financial District
Hilton San Francisco Financial District
4 out of 5
750 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA
The price is €125 per night from 29 Jun to 29 Jun
Hilton San Francisco Financial District
Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf
Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf
4 out of 5
2500 Mason St, San Francisco, CA
The price is €144 per night from 28 Jun to 28 Jun
Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf
San Francisco Marriott Marquis
San Francisco Marriott Marquis
4 out of 5
780 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA
The price is €148 per night from 27 Jun to 27 Jun
San Francisco Marriott Marquis
Hotel Zephyr San Francisco
Hotel Zephyr San Francisco
4 out of 5
250 Beach Street, San Francisco, CA
The price is €184 per night from 6 Jul to 6 Jul
Hotel Zephyr San Francisco
Hotel Caza Fisherman’s Wharf
Hotel Caza Fisherman’s Wharf
4 out of 5
1300 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA
The price is €175 per night from 5 Jul to 5 Jul
Hotel Caza Fisherman’s Wharf
Hyatt Centric Fisherman's Wharf San Francisco
Hyatt Centric Fisherman's Wharf San Francisco
4 out of 5
555 N Point St, San Francisco, CA
The price is €155 per night from 27 Jun to 27 Jun
Hyatt Centric Fisherman's Wharf San Francisco
Holiday Inn Express and Suites Fisherman's Wharf, an IHG Hotel
Holiday Inn Express and Suites Fisherman's Wharf, an IHG Hotel
3 out of 5
550 N Point St, San Francisco, CA
The price is €163 per night from 27 Jun to 27 Jun
Holiday Inn Express and Suites Fisherman's Wharf, an IHG Hotel
Argonaut Hotel - a Noble House Hotel
Argonaut Hotel - a Noble House Hotel
4.5 out of 5
495 Jefferson St, San Francisco, CA
The price is €219 per night from 22 Jul to 22 Jul
Argonaut Hotel - a Noble House Hotel
Wharf Inn
Wharf Inn
2.5 out of 5
2601 Mason St, San Francisco, CA
The price is €157 per night from 27 Jun to 27 Jun
Wharf Inn
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.