Once home to some of the most notorious and dangerous criminals in the history of the United States, Alcatraz entices and allures thousands upon thousands of visitors to its shores every year with the myths and legends that still swirl around the old prison cells.
Also known as ‘the Rock’, no one ever succeeded in escaping from the famous prison.
Its image as an unwelcoming and unforgiving place has endured until today and is just one of the reasons why so many people visit the island.
Located in San Francisco Bay, the chilling waters surrounding Alcatraz only made it harder to escape from; even renowned prisoners such as Al Capone and Robert ‘The Birdman’ Stroud had to see out their sentences here.
A fascinating place, Alcatraz is well worth visiting when in San Francisco.
With so many tours on offer, here are the fifteen best Alcatraz tours to help give you an idea of what’s available to you.
1. 72-Hour Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour and Alcatraz Ticket
A fantastic option if you’re going to spend a few days in San Francisco, this tour offers a great package deal.
As such, you will get to see a lot of the city as well as visit Alcatraz itself.
Over a 72 hour period, you can hop on and off the bus as many times as you want.
Consequently, you’ll get to see all of the main sights, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, and more.
With three different loops included, each bus is accompanied by a guide who will light up the city for you.
The undoubted highlight is, of course, the trip to Alcatraz, where you’ll get to explore the eerie prison cells and old barber shop that the inmates frequented.
2. San Francisco Helicopter and Alcatraz Tour
A simply unforgettable experience, this whirlwind of a tour will take you up into the skies to see San Francisco and Alcatraz from above; the stunning views will surely live long in the memory.
After the fifteen to twenty-minute helicopter ride, it’s time to take the ferry to Alcatraz Island, where your audio guide will educate you about the fascinating history of the prison and entertain you with hair-raising stories about some of its most famous inmates.
Well worth the price, the views from both the waters and skies are reason enough to choose this package tour.
3. Alcatraz Ticket with 3-Hour Bicycle Tour at Sunset
One of the most popular tours on offer, this combo deal will not only take you to ‘the Rock,’ but also on a mesmerizing bike journey that you won’t forget any time soon.
While the tour around Alcatraz is special enough, the spectacular views and sunset from the Golden Gate Bridge are absolutely stupendous; watching the lights turn on across San Francisco as dusk falls is breathtaking.
The bicycle tour takes you along the bridge as well as to some of the city’s other waterfront sights, such as Fort Point and the famous piers.
4. San Francisco VIP Segway Tour and Alcatraz Ticket Combo
A very hilly city, what better way to explore San Francisco than by Segway? Accompanied by a trained guide, you’ll experience the city in a whole new light as you whip about town, stopping at such famous locations as North Beach and the San Francisco Waterfront; you’ll even be able to take in the fantastic views from Coit Tower.
From Pier 33, you will catch the ferry to Alcatraz Island.
Here, you’ll be given an audio guide which will explain everything there is to know about the famous prison.
5. San Francisco City Tour with Visit to Alcatraz
A fabulously beautiful city with a wealth of things to see and do, this combo tour will take you around San Francisco’s main sights before you head off to explore the delights of the forbidding Alcatraz.
Perfect for architecture, history and culture lovers, the guided part of the tour delves into various parts of San Francisco’s identity and offers a fascinating look at some of the city’s most impressive buildings and cultural landmarks.
After getting dropped off at Pier 33, it is time to head to Alcatraz and learn about why this renowned prison is so famous.
Very popular with tourists, this tour comes highly recommended and also includes a visit to the Palace of Fine Arts Museum.
6. Half-Day Golden Gate Catamaran Cruise and Alcatraz Visit
A special tour, this combo deal sees you take to the waters of San Francisco Bay before ferrying across to visit Alcatraz Island.
The catamaran cruise is a magical experience and zipping across the waves under the Golden Gate Bridge is exhilarating; you may even see a sea lion here and there.
The 90-minute cruise offers another view of beautiful San Francisco, and after that, it’s time to explore ‘the Rock’. Wandering around the old prison cells is as interesting as it is educational and entertaining and the award-winning audio guide really brings the place to life.
7. Alcatraz Combo Full-Day Adventure Package
After hearing evocative stories from past inmates and former prison wardens on Alcatraz Island, it’s time to drive around San Francisco in your own little GoCar – a unique two-seater that recounts the stories of the city as you drive about.
A wonderful piece of technology, the GoCar allows you to go about at your ease; you simply have to follow the GPS as it tells you about the history of all the wonderful sights you pass by.
With fantastic views out over the Pacific Ocean and Alcatraz itself, this combo is definitely worth checking out.
8. Alcatraz Ticket and Walking Craft Beer Tour
If you’re looking for a unique way to enjoy both the local beer scene and the sights and sounds of Alcatraz, why not try out this special tour? The visit to Alcatraz is fortunately in the morning, so your head will be clear and ready to take in all the information surrounding the prison.
The afternoon is dedicated to beer tasting, as an enthusiastic guide explains San Francisco’s beer history while you stop off in some of the best breweries in town.
9. Alcatraz and Big Bus Premium 1-Day Hop-on Hop-off
One of the most popular combo deals out there, this fantastic tour not only includes an audio-guided tour around Alcatraz but also the chance to see most of San Francisco through the hop-on, hop-off day pass.
Stopping at 21 different locations, you’ll see all the main sights and can also take part in any one of four walking tours around the city.
In addition to this, there is a magical panoramic night tour included which is well worth joining.
10. San Francisco: Alcatraz and Wine Country Combo
If wine is your thing, this is the tour for you.
As California is renowned for its lush vineyards, it is well worth checking out, even if you’re not a wine connoisseur.
With visits to the Sonoma and Napa valleys included in the package, you’ll get to try some of the region’s premium wines and learn about how they’re produced.
In addition to exploring the vineyards, there is a delightful narrated cruise to Alcatraz on offer, which is then followed up by the fantastic ‘Doing Time: The Alcatraz Cellhouse Tour’ once you are on the island.
11. Muir Woods, Sausalito and Alcatraz Adventure
Wandering along the paths that weave their way amidst the towering Redwoods, which are centuries-old, is a humbling experience which nature lovers will absolutely adore.
After having explored the amazing forest, the tour takes you off to Sausalito, a small and scenic Mediterranean-esque town not far from San Francisco.
The day is capped off with a tour around Alcatraz Island and an insight into some of the prison’s most notorious prisoners.
12. San Francisco Grand City Tour with Alcatraz Ticket
Highly rated amongst tourists, exploring San Francisco by bus is much easier than traipsing up and down its many hills.
On the tour, you’ll see all the main highlights, such as Chinatown, Union Square, and Nob Hill.
With knowledgeable guides to help you out, you’ll get a better idea of what San Francisco is all about.
The tour culminates in a visit to Alcatraz Island, where you’re free to wander around to your heart’s content.
13. San Francisco City Tour and Alcatraz Entrance Ticket Combo
There aren’t many better ways to start your day than with a ferry ride from the famous Pier 33 to the iconic Alcatraz Island with such a fascinating past.
After being educated and entertained in equal measure during the audio-guided tour around the prison, it is time to explore the sights in the city on the 3.5-hour bus tour.
With its interesting commentary that helps explain the importance of the landmarks and buildings, you can stop off and marvel at them up close before continuing on your tour.
14. Golden Gate Bridge Bike Tour and Alcatraz Ticket Combo
After having completed your visit to Alcatraz Island and the amazing prison complex, this tour continues in the form of a three-hour bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, where you can enjoy exploring the picturesque town.
The amazing views of San Francisco are simply sumptuous and worth the price of this tour alone.
15. Alcatraz Tour with Walk-on Walk-off San Francisco Tour Pass
Valid for seven days, this combo deal allows you to take part in eight walking tours around various neighborhoods in San Francisco, each of which offers up a unique look at a particular part of the city’s history.
On one of those days, you can visit Alcatraz and marvel at the stories that former guards and inmates tell about their time on the island.