Experience Alcatraz, the renowned San Francisco attraction, in a whole new light with the Alcatraz night tour. This option offers a more intimate and tailored visit, perfect for those who have already explored the island during the day and seek a unique adventure.
Why I Adore the Alcatraz Night Tour
Personally, I find visiting Alcatraz at night truly captivating. The smaller groups and exclusive presence of fellow ferry passengers on the island create an atmosphere that allows for better exploration and capturing stunning photos without the usual crowds.
A Common Question: Day or Night Tour?
One question that frequently arises is whether I prefer the day or night tour. Without hesitation, my answer is always the Alcatraz Night Tour. The feeling of being on the island at night is incredibly captivating, offering a glimpse into the prisoner’s experience and creating a sense of intrigue. Furthermore, the reduced number of visitors enhances the overall experience.
Considerations and Worthwhile Investment
While the Alcatraz Night Tour may come at a slightly higher cost compared to the day tour, and the frequency of ferries is limited (not available every day), it is well worth the effort to accommodate it in your schedule. The unique ambiance and exclusivity make it an unforgettable experience.
A Recommendation: Choose the Night Tour
Given the choice between the two options, I highly recommend embarking on the night tour. I am confident that you will have an extraordinary time and absolutely love it!
Anticipating the Alcatraz Night Tour
Once you disembark from the ferry at Pier 33, your Alcatraz night tour begins with a brief introduction by a knowledgeable park ranger. This overview provides insights into what to expect during your visit, akin to the daytime tour, but also includes information on additional activities available for the evening.
Nighttime Exclusive Programs
As twilight casts its enchanting veil over the landscape, a series of special programs await you at Alcatraz Island. Ascending the steep hill toward the imposing main cell house, additional park rangers eagerly share captivating insights into the historical backdrop of this ancient federal penitentiary and its renowned inmates.
Allow me to provide a glimpse of the captivating experiences you can anticipate. During my previous visit, one of the stops along the arduous ascent featured a fascinating discourse on the enigmatic figure of Al Capone, shedding light on his presence within these penitentiary walls and unraveling the circumstances that led him here.
After pausing for two or three such captivating talks, you will arrive at the heart of Alcatraz Island—the main cell house. It is here that you will be furnished with a personal audio device, embarking on a self-guided tour of this iconic landmark at your preferred pace.
Cellhouse Audio Tour at Your Own Tempo
Once you obtain your audio companion, proceed to the main floor of the cell house, where a captivating self-guided tour awaits. Following a predetermined route, the audio tour will immerse you in the captivating narratives of Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelley, and Robert Stroud, widely known as the Birdman of Alcatraz.
During the Alcatraz Island night tour, you will embark on an exploration of this former federal prison, gaining firsthand insights into the incarcerated existence. As you traverse the premises, you will even have the opportunity to approach and enter a few of the notorious solitary confinement cells.
Enroute, you will bear witness to the cell block and the very cells where Frank Morris, John Anglin, and his brother Clarence Anglin conceived and endeavored their daring escape. Prior to your visit, delve deeper into these tales of evasion and others, expanding your knowledge on the subject.
Throughout your journey, the library that once housed literary treasures for the inmates will manifest before your eyes. Additionally, you will spend some time within the food service area, where the prisoners partook in their daily three meals.
While the self-guided tour typically spans approximately 45 minutes, you are encouraged to take your time and fully absorb the atmosphere and stories that permeate this historic penitentiary.
Curious to explore the history of Alcatraz further before setting foot on the island? Be sure to peruse this comprehensive page, which delves into the lives of its incarcerated residents and the rigors of existence within this maximum-security prison, nestled in the heart of the San Francisco Bay.
Completing Your Tour
Upon concluding your audio tour, you will be granted some personal exploration time. Additionally, there are a few exclusive programs presented by the forest rangers that you can attend. Moreover, certain special areas, typically inaccessible during the regular Alcatraz day tour, will be accessible to you.
During my previous experience with the Alcatraz night tour, several rooms in the medical area on the upper floor were opened. These rooms were once occupied by numerous prisoners when they fell ill. The rangers were present to respond to inquiries and provide further insights regarding these particular areas.
Furthermore, you are free to wander outside and revel in the captivating sights that await you. From there, you will have the opportunity to behold breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the sparkling city lights of San Francisco, and the stunning surroundings of the San Francisco Bay Area.
The specific areas available for exploration during these tours are not disclosed in advance. However, you can anticipate a more comprehensive experience of the island during the Alcatraz night tour.
Tickets for the Alcatraz Night Tour
Securing tickets for the night tours can be quite challenging. These tours are only conducted on a few nights each week, with just one or two ferry departures per night.
Not only are the tours limited in frequency, but they also accommodate only around 300 individuals per tour. This limitation contributes to a more intimate and exclusive visit, but it also intensifies the demand for these sought-after tickets.
The scarcity of access to these tickets and the tour itself adds to the uniqueness of the experience. Although Alcatraz is managed by the National Park Service, please note that possession of a National Parks Pass does not grant you entry. You must purchase tickets in advance before your planned visit.
Winter Schedule: November – Early April
During the winter months, Alcatraz City Cruises operates a single tour per night to the island. The departure time is 3:50 pm, and the return is expected around 6:30 pm or 7 pm.
During the busy holiday weekends, an additional tour is offered.
This tour is available only on Tuesday through Saturday nights, limiting the number of participants to 300 per day.
Summer Schedule (Early April – late October)
In the summer season, Alcatraz City Cruises provides two ferry services. The first ferry usually departs at approximately 6 pm, followed by the second ferry at around 6:30 pm.
For the return journey, there are two ferries available, with the final departure scheduled for around 9:30 pm.
Upon your arrival, Alcatraz City Cruises will provide you with detailed information about the schedule, eliminating the need for you to jot it down or carry it with you. I simply wanted to give you an overview of the duration of the Alcatraz night tour.
Tickets for the Alcatraz Night Tour
Previously, tickets were only made available for purchase 90 days in advance. Currently, they are releasing tickets approximately six months ahead of time, allowing you to secure your booking earlier. I am not certain when or if they will revert back to the 90-day advance sale period, but I wanted to inform you so that you are aware in case you cannot find tickets within your desired timeframe.
Presently, the pricing for the Alcatraz Night Tour is as follows (subject to potential changes):
- Adults: $56.30
- Juniors, aged 12 to 17 years: $55.15
- Kids, aged 5 to 11 years: $33.00
- Seniors (62+): $52.25
To purchase these tickets, the official site of Alcatraz Cruises is the sole authorized platform (find tickets). It is advisable to book your tickets as soon as possible to ensure you do not miss out on this incredible adventure!
Your Alcatraz night tour will commence from Pier 33 at Alcatraz Landing, conveniently located within walking distance of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf district.
Alternative Alcatraz Tickets
Apart from the Alcatraz night tour tickets, you will discover various other official ticket choices. These can be conveniently purchased directly from the official Alcatraz City Cruises website. Additionally, a few authorized retailers are permitted to sell Alcatraz combo tickets, which I will elaborate on in the following section.
- Day Tours: The day tour stands as the most popular Alcatraz cell house tour. It operates every day, except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Multiple tickets are available daily, and each Alcatraz Prison ticket includes roundtrip ferry transportation. You can gather further information about this tour here.
- Behind the Scenes Tour: Another excellent option is the Behind the Scenes tour. This exclusive tour offers personal guidance and lasts approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. It is designed for small groups, accommodating up to 20 individuals per tour. While it carries a slightly higher cost, it provides an incredible opportunity to explore various aspects of Alcatraz in-depth.
- Angel Island Combo Tour: If you desire to visit Angel Island alongside Alcatraz, this tour is highly recommended. It runs a few times per day and encompasses a day tour of Alcatraz, complete with a self-guided audio tour. The tour also includes a ferry ride from Alcatraz to Angel Island, a one-hour guided tram tour of Angel Island, and transportation back to Pier 33 in San Francisco. The entire experience lasts approximately 5.5 hours and offers a delightful way to explore both islands in a single day.
Please note: I frequently receive inquiries regarding the purchase of Alcatraz day and night tours from other sources. While there are a few authorized resellers who may offer tickets when they are sold out (a few recommended ones are listed below), it is important to exercise caution as not all tickets are genuine. If you are uncertain, feel free to contact me, and I will assist you in determining the legitimacy of the ticket seller. I typically respond within 24 hours.
Additional Alcatraz Combo Ticket Choices
In the event that the Alcatraz night tour is fully booked or if you prefer a daytime visit, there are several appealing combo tour tickets available. These options are also ideal for last-minute purchases or when the day tours are sold out.
One highly recommended option is the package offered through GetYourGuide. This Alcatraz tour package includes a day trip to Alcatraz along with a 1-day ticket for their Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour. By choosing this package, you can conveniently visit several of our most popular attractions using their bus tour service, which takes you directly to each destination. For more details about the tickets available on GetYourGuide, please visit their website.
You can find other combo tickets on GetYourGuide as well. They have curated a selection of the finest offerings from various agencies throughout the city. Some options include a visit to Alcatraz combined with a ferry ride to Sausalito, a wine tour, or a bike ride across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Explore their diverse ticket selection here.
Hello there! I’m Dennis, and I am delighted to welcome you to San Francisco Discovery Guide. As a lifelong resident of this magnificent city, I am thrilled to share my love and knowledge of San Francisco with fellow adventurers like yourself.
Growing up amidst the breathtaking landscapes, eclectic neighborhoods, and vibrant culture of San Francisco, I developed a deep appreciation for the city’s unique charm. Over the years, I’ve explored its nooks and crannies, uncovered hidden gems, and created countless unforgettable memories.