Alcatraz Island

How to avoid hours of queueing, visiting when it’s not packed by choosing the right days and hours. All our insiders tips and time schedules for Alcatraz Island!


Tips to avoid crowds

  • First of all, you have to know that Alcatraz will never be super crowded since they limit the number of people on the boats. So crowds are always pretty manageable, even though some periods will attract more crowds than others.

  • Tickets can sell out weeks in advance in high season, make sure you buy your tickets online. It will also avoid you some queuing at Pier 33 ticket booth (there is a separate line for visitors who have already purchased their tickets).

  • Once inside, the prison can be easily packed with visitors, preventing you from visiting comfortably. The Early Bird ticket from Alcatraz Cruises is probably the best option to avoid crowds when visiting the island. As it is the first Alcatraz trip of the day (departing at 8:45 AM), you will be able to get a head start on your visit and avoid the crowds that arrive later in the day.

  • Mondays to Thursdays are usually the best days to visit the island if you want to avoid peak crowds of tourists that prefer to visit the place during the weekend.

  • If your plan is to visit during the federal holiday weekend, be prepared for bigger crowds than usual, as you won’t be the only person with this idea in mind. That applies to most US public holidays.

  • The least crowded months are January, February and March. However, rain is very common during winter and early spring.

  • Fog is always a problem when you visit San Francisco and it can definitely ruin the view when you’re visiting Alcatraz. The climate there is unpredictable and can change suddenly. If you want nice weather for your visit, plan your trip in April-May or September-October. Surprisingly, summer months actually bring cold and fog to the island. So one of the best options might be to visit Alcatraz in September-October as there might be less people than during the summer and the weather will be even better. However, be aware that they are not the best months to admire nesting seabirds.

  • You can also consider the Night Tour as there are usually fewer people and the prison is much less crowded. In addition, the return trip to San Francisco at night offers an amazing view on the city with all the lights on. Just be aware that the Night Tour is more expensive than the Day Tour ($42.50 instead of $35.50) and only operates from Thursday to Monday (while the Day Tour is open daily).

  • Even though you’ve bought your online tickets, we recommend to arrive a bit before the departure, so that you can be among the first in the queue for the boat. You will then be able to seat on top and at the front of the boat if you want to admire the view of the Bay and the island when you’ll arrive. Or seat inside if the weather is bad and stay warm!

Alcatraz Tour Schedules

Departure Times

  • Early Bird / Day Tour: 8:45 AM, 9:10 AM, 9:30 AM, 10:00 AM, 10:30 AM, 11:00 AM, 11:30 AM, 12:00 PM, 12:30 PM, 1:00 PM, 1:30 PM, 2:10 PM, 2:40 PM, 3:20 PM, 3:50 PM

  • Night Tour: 5:55 PM, 6:30 PM

  • Behind the Scenes: 4:20 PM, 4:50 PM

  • Alcatraz & Angel Island Tour: 9:30 AM, 9:40 AM

Return Times

  • Early Bird / Day Tour: 9:55 AM, 10:25 AM, 10:55 AM, 11:25 AM, 11:55 AM, 12:25 PM, 12:55 PM, 1:25 PM, 1:55 PM, 2:35 PM, 3:10 PM, 3:45 PM, 4:15 PM, 4:45 PM, 5:15 PM, 5:55 PM, 6:30 PM

  • Night Tour: 8:40 PM, 9:25 PM

  • Behind the Scenes: 8:40 PM, 9:25 PM

You should allow 15 minutes to return to Pier 33 after departing from Alcatraz or 25 minutes from Angel Island.

Alcatraz Tour Prices

Early Bird / Day Tour

  • Adult (18-61): $35.50
  • Junior (12-17): $35.50
  • Child (5-11): $21.75
  • Senior (62+): $33.50
  • Toddlers (0-4): Free
  • Family Tickets (2 adults + 2 children): $107.50

Night Tour

  • Adult (18-61): $42.50
  • Junior (12-17): $41.50
  • Child (5-11): $25.25
  • Senior (62+): $39.50
  • Toddlers (0-4): Free

Behind The Scenes

  • Adult (18-61): $87.50
  • Junior (12-17): $83.50
  • Senior (62+): $81.50

Alcatraz & Angel Island Tour

  • Adult (18-61): $69.25
  • Junior (12-17): $69.25
  • Child (5-11): $46.50
  • Senior (62+): $67.25
  • Toddlers (0-4): Free


Alcatraz Island
📍 Golden Gate National Recreation Area B201 Fort Mason
CA 94133
San Francisco

Phone numbers

Alcatraz Island (general enquiries) +1-415-561-4900
Alcatraz Cruises (book tickets) +1-415-981-7625
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