San Francisco's most popular attraction is ready to welcome back visitors. Here's what you'll need to know for your visitor experience.

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October 22, 2021
Photo by @kimhorstmanshof

What to Expect When Visiting Alcatraz

It used to be that no one wanted to go to Alcatraz. The infamous prison was home to only the most notorious criminals. Now, it's San Francisco's most popular attraction and part of one of the most visited national parks in the country. Here's everything you need to know about planning your next visit to the famous island outpost in the middle of San Francisco Bay.

Which tours can I take?

Due to local directives related to COVID-19, only the Day Tour is available. The Evening, Behind the Scenes and Alcatraz & Angel Island Combination Tours are temporarily suspended.

Which parts of Alcatraz can I see?

Alcatraz is currently a self-guided experience as staff-led tours are not offered at this time. Visitors will be able to explore the windswept island and learn about its layered history through outdoor interpretive signs, a Discovery Guide island map, and exhibits. Rangers will be stationed around the island to assist visitors and answer questions. 

The current tour includes:

  • Round-trip ferry service to Alcatraz Island with ample social distancing and plenty of fresh air
  • Admission to the Alcatraz Cellhouse for all visitors taking the award-winning Cellhouse Audio Tour. Use audio equipment provided to you onsite or download the Alcatraz Experience app and use your own cellphone and earbuds during your visit! App details provided on Alcatraz.
  • Access to outdoor historic spaces such as Eagle Plaza, the Recreation Yard, the Sallyport, and the Rose Garden
  • Access to the New Industries Building, which includes a fascinating exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the influential Occupation of Alcatraz by Indians of All Tribes
  • View political messaging left by Indians of All Tribes during the 1969 Occupation
  • Scenic vistas and iconic, close-up views of the exteriors of the Cellhouse, Building 64, Warden's House, Water Tower, Officer's Club and Model Industries Building

How are you keeping visitors safe?

Alcatraz Cruises has enacted its SafeCruise precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable visitor experience.

All visitors and crew are required to pass through the Safe Entry Station, where security will conduct a screening. Please take note of the following SafeCruise requirements prior to your arrival at Alcatraz Landing (Pier 33), the departure point for all Alcatraz ferries.

  • All visitors ages 3 and older are required to wear a face covering throughout the experience.
  • All visitors will have their temperatures taken and results must be below 100.4 F or 38 C.
  • Please take note of markers placed throughout for physical distancing between groups.
  • All visitors will be asked the following questions:
    • Have you tested positive for COVID-19?
    • Have you been diagnosed with COVID-19?
    • Do you have a fever, chills, shortness of breath, or pain in your chest? Have you recently loss the sense of smell or taste?
    • In the past 14 days, have you been within six feet of anyone who has tested positive, been diagnosed, or have experienced symptoms of COVID-19?
    • Have you been told by any health care provider or Department of Heath to self-quarantine or self-isolate due to actual exposure to COVID-19?

If a visitor answers yes to any of those questions, they will not be permitted access to Alcatraz Landing, the ferries, or the island. For more information on keeping visitors safe, visit the SafeCruise page.

What other changes should I be aware of? 

  • To allow ample time for screening, it is strongly recommend that you arrive at Alcatraz Landing at least 45 minutes prior to your departure time.
  • Due to social distancing requirements in the Cellhouse, there may be a lengthy wait for the Cellhouse Audio Tour. 
  • Food and beverage service is not available at Alcatraz Landing, onboard the ferries, or on Alcatraz Island.
  • Credit cards are the only acceptable form of payment at this time.
  • Disposable masks and hand sanitizer will be available for purchase.
  • Hand washing stations are located throughout Alcatraz Landing.
  • Hand sanitizer is located onboard the ferries and on the island.

Buy Your Tickets

While Alcatraz has made changes to keep you safe, what hasn't changed is its popularity. You'll definitely want to book your tickets well in advance.

Alcatraz Cruises no longer has same-day ticket sales early in the morning.  However, their online inventory is constantly updated and tickets become available quite often. 

Click here to get yours!

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