The 5 Best Alcatraz Tours [2022 Reviews]

See "The Rock" with these Top Rated Tours of Alcatraz Prison

Alcatraz, the notorious prison situated on an island in San Francisco Bay, is a must-see for Bay Area visitors. Tour operators offer visitors unique experiences by combining a visit to Alcatraz with additional outings.

Each of these tours includes the self-guided audio tour offered by the National Park Service, plus the addition of an exclusive adventure.

Adding extra excitement to your Alcatraz trip isn’t just fun. There’s another benefit – accessibility. Tickets to Alcatraz are in high demand, and waiting until the last minute to reserve may leave you in the lurch.

If you find yourself in this situation, booking a combo tour will ensure you get to see this legendary icon of American History and have some extra fun in the process.

Best Tours of Alcatraz

 Alcatraz Inside and Golden Gate Bridge Bay Boat CruiseSan Francisco Small Group City Sightseeing and Alcatraz TourAlcatraz Tour plus Muir Woods and Sausalito Day Trip

Best Budget Tour

Best Small Group Tour

Best Full Day Tour

San Francisco Urban Adventure and Alcatraz TourAlcatraz Tour plus Muir Woods and Sausalito Day Trip
Departure:Alcatraz Landing, Pier 33Hotel pickup offered / Alcatraz Landing, Pier 33478 Post St or 2805 Leavenworth Ave.
Starts: Variety available9:30 AM8:00 AM
Duration:3 hours (approx.)7 hours7 hours
Includes:Alcatraz Island Cellhouse Admission, Alcatraz Audio Tour, Golden Gate Bridge Bay CruiseRound-trip ferry from San Francisco to Alcatraz Island, audio walking tour of Alcatraz, Sightseeing tour of San Francisco in an open-air JeepTransport by luxury air-conditioned coach & Professional Tour Guide, admission to Muir Woods, round-trip ferry from San Francisco to Alcatraz Island, audio walking tour of Alcatraz

Tour Information & Booking

Tour Information & Booking

Tour Information & Booking

Be sure to see our reviews of wine tours to Napa & Sonoma Valley. Yosemite Tours and Muir Woods tours.

Quick Answer: The 5 Best Rated Guided Alcatraz Tours

  1. Best Budget Tour: Alcatraz Inside and Golden Gate Bridge Bay Boat Cruise
  2. Best Small Group Tour: San Francisco Small Group City Sightseeing and Alcatraz Tour
  3. Best Full Day Tour: Alcatraz Tour plus Muir Woods and Sausalito Day Trip
  4. Best Half-Day Tour: Alcatraz with San Francisco Bay Cruise
  5. Best Combination Tour: Big Bus San Francisco Hop-On-Hop-Off Open Top Tour and Alcatraz

We have reviewed the 5 top rated guided tours of Alcatraz, providing overviews and highlighting the details of each. We also make recommendations on staying in San Francisco, based on your own preferences and needs.


Alcatraz Tour Reviews

1. Best Budget Tour: Alcatraz Inside and Golden Gate Bridge Bay Boat Cruise

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Alcatraz Landing, Pier 33
  • Departure Time: Variety available
  • Duration: 3 hours (approx.)
  • Includes: Alcatraz Island Cellhouse Admission, Alcatraz Audio Tour, Golden Gate Bridge Bay Cruise

We recommend this tour for someone who is looking looking to take in two of San Francisco’s attractions: Alcatraz and a cruise of the bay.

The first part of the tour starts with the ferry ride to Alcatraz where departs from Pier 33. Enjoy the views and listen to the captain tell you about the history of the infamous Alcatraz island, or “The Rock” as it was called when it was a prison.

The intriguing audio tour of Alcatraz runs approximately 2.5 hours and goes into detail about some of its most notorious inmates and their crafty attempts to escape the well-guarded penitentiary.

Next up is the bay cruise where you will go under the Golden Gate Bridge, see the Transamerica Pyramid from the bay, Treasure Island, Coit Tower, Angel Island, and the Sausalito waterfront.

See the sea lions on sunning themselves on the rocks, pelicans flying overhead and if you are lucky you may even see whales in the bay! The onboard guide will give you the history of all the landmarks and of the city.

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience


2. Best Small Group Tour: San Francisco Small Group City Sightseeing and Alcatraz Tour

San Francisco Urban Adventure and Alcatraz Tour

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Hotel pickup offered / Alcatraz Landing, Pier 33
  • Departure Time: 9:30 AM
  • Duration: 7 hours
  • Includes: Round-trip ferry from San Francisco to Alcatraz Island, audio walking tour of Alcatraz, Sightseeing tour of San Francisco in an open-air Jeep

We recommend this tour for those who want to make the most of their day. You won’t waste your time figuring out what’s worth visiting; and you won’t have to deal with public transport or fighting for a parking space because this tour offers hotel pick-up and drop-off.

This outing is limited to a maximum of 10 people, so if you enjoy individualized attention, this is definitely a tour to consider.

This tour is great for adults and kids alike. The guides are skilled at adapting their tour to captivate and inform everyone in the group.

If you’re the adventurous type who’s interested in getting the inside scoop on all things San Francisco, as well as touring Alcatraz, this tour will definitely exceed your expectations.

The initial leg of this tour begins with a 4-hour tour of San Francisco in an open air jeep- safari style. You’ll be sure to enjoy all the must-see areas like the Golden Gate Bridge and Twin Peaks.

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During the jeep portion of the tour you’ll have plenty of opportunity to ask your driver/guide about insider tips for restaurants and entertainment.

This safari-styled urban tour of will keep you entertained while your guide shares wacky facts about the area, driving you through quirky neighborhoods, and taking you off-the-beaten path into areas only the locals know about.

During your city tour, you’ll stop for lunch (not included in price of tour) at a locals-approved locale, such as Gus’ Market.

After finishing the city portion of your tour, you’ll be dropped off at Pier 33 where the 15-minute ferry ride will deliver you to Alcatraz Island. Before starting your 2.5 hour audio tour of Alcatraz, you’ll be given a brief history of the Island.

When you finish the Alcatraz tour, you’ll take the ferry back to Pier 33 where the jeep will pick you up for a convenient hotel-drop off.

 

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience


3. Best Full Day Tour: Alcatraz Tour plus Muir Woods and Sausalito Day Trip

Alcatraz Tour plus Muir Woods and Sausalito Day Trip

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: 478 Post St or 2805 Leavenworth Ave.
  • Departure Time: 8:00 AM
  • Duration: 7 hours
  • Includes: Transport by luxury air-conditioned coach & Professional Tour Guide, admission to Muir Woods, round-trip ferry from San Francisco to Alcatraz Island, audio walking tour of Alcatraz

We recommend this tour for those who are short on time but want to see as much as possible during their stay in the Bay area. It’s also a good choice for those who don’t mind larger groups.

The Muir Woods/Sausalito leg of your tour will include transport by coach (free wifi and restroom on board).

Make the most of your day by consolidating three different experiences into one day. Tour Alcatraz, see the spectacular redwoods of Muir Woods, and make a stop to explore the picturesque town of Sausalito.

The three legs of this tour can make for a long day, so if time isn’t a consideration during your stay, consider breaking this into a 2 day venture.

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Please note, this isn’t a tour in the tradition sense, as you won’t be picked up and dropped off at your hotel by a guide, or in between the ferry and bus. It involves more DIY action than most.

This excursion starts with your arrival at the ferry to Alcatraz. After enjoying the audio tour there, you will then make your way to Gray Line Buses at Union Square for departure to Muir Woods and Sausalito.

When you return to San Francisco you will arrange your own transport back to your lodging/hotel.

 

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience


4. Best Half-Day Tour: Alcatraz with San Francisco Bay Cruise

Alcatraz with San Francisco Bay Cruise

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Alcatraz Landing, Pier 33
  • Departure Time: Variety available
  • Duration: 2 to 4 hours (approx.)
  • Includes: One Day Hop-on Hop-off Ticket, round-trip ferry to Alcatraz Island, audio tour on Alcatraz Island, 60-minute San Francisco Bay Cruise

This tour is geared more for families with younger children as if they are 4 and younger they go for free!.You need to check in 30 minutes before departure so use this time to wander the waterfront and explore the shops.

You have three start options available of 9am, 10am or 2pm offering you lots of flexibility. The ferry ride to Alcatraz gives you some good views of the bay and the captain will give you some background on the former prison.

Once on Alcatraz you’ll enjoy the self-guided audio tour that you can do at your own pace. The audio guide will give you all the background of the notorious prisoners and their escape attempts. You have seen it in the movies but there is nothing like being there and seeing it for yourself and standing in the prison cells!

Next up is the bay cruise. Once on the ship, you’ll cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge, which offers amazing angles for unique pictures. You will cruise past historic pier 39 and see the sea lions sunbathing. Take pictures of San Francisco’s iconic skyline from the bay.

The ship has a guide that will give you all the history and background the landmarks as you sail by them making this an informative as well as beautiful cruise of the bay .

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience


5. Best Combination Tour: Big Bus San Francisco Hop-On-Hop-Off Open Top Tour and Alcatraz

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Start anywhere on bus route
  • Departure Time: Anytime
  • Duration: All day
  • Includes: Hop on – hop off bus, ferry from San Francisco to Alcatraz Island, audio walking tour of Alcatraz

We recommend this tour for adults and families alike, and for those who feel comfortable touring with a larger group of fellow visitors.

Participants explore the city in an open-air bus, allowing for better views of the sites. Enjoy being a very important person during this full-day tour. Beat the crowds with an early entry to Alcatraz and enjoy the prison and its surroundings, minus the commotion that can come with hordes of tourists

During your early-entry tour of Alcatraz you will wander around the legendary prison and its grounds with an audio tour that gives great detail about his history and some of its most infamous inmates.

After you wrap up the Alcatraz portion of this tour, you’ll head back on the big bus and sit comfortably while you make your way through the windy streets of the city.

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The animated tour guides are well-versed in the offbeat details and history of the area, and they really seem to enjoy sharing this knowledge with visitors. They make sure to tailor your experience to the group, including kids, if you’ve got your little ones along for the ride.

There is an array of options for touring Alcatraz, lots of them offering combinations with other fun activities. These combinations offer the opportunity to spend time with a local tour guide who can give insider tips and share interesting information about the area.

 

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience


Your Guide to Visiting San Francisco

alcatraz tour reviews

In TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards 2018, San Francisco was ranked as the #6 Top Destination in the World. This is no surprise for a city famous for its food, art, and architecture.

Airports & Entry

Located just 13 miles south of downtown San Francisco, the San Francisco International Airport, receives flights from all over the world; making the city highly accessible to would-be visitors.

There are multiple options for transport from the airport to the city. BART is a rail system that offers service between the airport and the city, as well as to the surrounding Bay Area.

San Mateo County’s transit agency, SamTrans, provides bus service from the airport to Transbay Terminal in downtown San Francisco.

A taxi or other car-for-hire service such as Uber or Lyft are other options.

Planning Tips

Consider what you’d like to do before packing your suitcase. Do you plan to head to the beach, expect to dine in an elegant restaurant, or attend the symphony while you’re in San Francisco?

Not only should your plans guide you in what to pack, you should also purchase tour tickets and make reservations in advance, for those things you definitely don’t want to miss out on.

Restaurants & Eating Out

The San Francisco food scene will please the picky eater and foodie alike. Whether you prefer basic American grub or are into international cuisine, there’s a huge selection to choose from.

For cheap eats you may consider a deli like the popular Molinari Delicatessen. For a slice of pie on the go, check out Golden Boy Pizza.

If you’d like to treat yourself to an evening of fine dining, Kokkari Estiatorio offers a delectable Mediterranean menu; and Seven Hills is superb for seafood.

As far as moderately-priced establishments go, give La Ciccia, an intimate Italian restaurant, a try. Other great mid-range places include Hog Island Oyster Company for delicious seafood or Roam Artisan Burgers for, well, burgers (vegan options available).

Nightlife & Entertainment

There is no lack of after-hours entertainment in this active city. The performances at the Marrakech Magic Theater combine magic, illusion, and comedy for a thoroughly entertaining experience.

A great place to relax with an adult beverage is the Cityscape Bar & Lounge, which has gorgeous nighttime views of the city.

If you plan to make room for some culture during your visit to San Francisco, both the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Opera give outstanding performances in their respective artforms.

Getting Around

San Francisco has an excellent public transport system, so there’s no reason to go the rental car route. Public transport options include buses, streetcars, cable cars, light rail, and trolley coaches. Of course, taxis and services like Lyft and Uber are available as well.

If you do plan to go with a rental car, rental agencies abound. Depending on the neighborhood and time of day though, you may find it challenging to find available, affordable parking.

Accommodations

San Francisco offers accommodations for all budgets- from basic camping sites in Angel Island and Samuel P Taylor State Parks for those who okay with roughing it, to ultra-exclusive hotels like Fairmont Heritage Place in Ghirardelli Square.

Economically-minded travelers might want to check out area hostels like the highly-rated Green Tortoise Hostel, or a mid-range option such as the chic Scarlet Huntington boutique hotel or the Victorian-styled Queen Anne Hotel.

Weather

As a general rule, the Bay Area doesn’t get much rain, with very little rainfall from May to September. The area’s average temperature remains moderate throughout the year, with highs in the 60’s and 70’s and lows ranging in the 40’s and 50’s, year round.

Attractions

A trip to San Francisco wouldn’t be complete without snapping a selfie with the iconic Golden Gate Bridge as your backdrop. Other must-sees include the notorious Alcatraz prison; Fisherman’s Wharf for sightseeing and shopping; Lombard Street, known as the “crookedest street” in the world; and a ride on the city’s world-famous cable cars.

Other fun things to do include the San Francisco Zoo and the Sea Lion Center. There are loads of parks and gardens where you can meander or enjoy a picnic lunch, such as the unique Japanese Tea Garden and the seaside park Land’s End.

Sites Seen
Tour Guides
Value

The San Francisco Helicopter and Alcatraz Tour is our Editor's Choice as the best Alcatraz tour with its combination of sites seen, tour guides and value.

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