Just a little more than a mile from the mainland in San Francisco stands the Alcatraz island, also called The Rock, which is home to the infamous Alcatraz prison. Established in 1934, the Alcatraz federal penitentiary housed some of the country’s most dangerous criminals until it was shut down in 1963. Ironically enough, the prison, known for being inescapable, is now a tourist attraction that is most difficult to get into. Alcatraz tour tickets are most often sold out, and getting a ticket is next to impossible, but there are a few ways around this. Here are some ways to buy tickets for Alcatraz tours.
Wake up early
While the official Alcatraz ticket vendor offers last-minute or same-day tickets, they are limited in number. To avail one of these tickets, you need to be up at the crack of dawn and stand in line. The ticket vendor’s booth is at Pier 33 and opens at 7:30 AM. However, if you want to get your hands on those last-minute Alcatraz tour tickets, you need to get in line much earlier as people queue up from as early as 4 AM.
It is not uncommon to see people bring sleeping bags to rest as they wait in line. There are only about a hundred Alcatraz tour tickets sold in a day, so if you see more people in line, you might as well plan your tour for another day.
The tickets are strictly on a first-come, first-serve basis, and you can buy only one ticket per person. Also, if you are planning to get your Alcatraz tour tickets at the last minute, you must carry a government-approved photo ID.
The official website for Alcatraz tour tickets adds any cancellations back to their ticket pool, and it is updated several times a day. If you refresh your browser quick enough, you might get tickets that weren’t there minutes ago. However, this is a completely luck-based chance that might get you tickets. You need to be on the website and someone else has to cancel at the same moment for you to get same-day tickets.
Take a combination tour
If you still find it difficult to get tickets for Alcatraz tours at the last moment, you can try booking one of the many combination tours that are available with many travel booking services. Although you will be paying a higher fee for these tours, you also get the advantage of an extra excursion. Since there are a lot of combinations available, you might be able to find one that combines the Alcatraz tour with an activity you had already planned to do. This would mean that you are paying a little more than you planned, but you’re also including something else in the package. Some of the combination tours available are as follows:
- Alcatraz and wine bending tour
This tour takes you through a quick trip to the Golden Gate Bridge and then to a winery, where you can create and bottle your own wine. From there, you head on to Fisherman’s Wharf, a popular neighborhood in San Francisco, for lunch. And lastly, a ferry takes you to explore the much-awaited Alcatraz island.
- Alcatraz and a hop-on hop-off bus tour
The bus tour lets you visit the most popular attractions in San Francisco. It includes a double-decker tour of San Francisco, a trolley tour of Sausalito, and a guided walking tour through Chinatown. This is all in addition to a tour of Alcatraz.
- Alcatraz and craft beer tour
This tour starts with a trip to Alcatraz island and prison in the morning. Next, you get to try the best craft beer of the West Coast, along with learning the history of beer in California as part of the guided tour. After the beer tour, you will also be guided to some of the best places to drink in the area.
- Alcatraz and silicone valley tour
This tour allows you to visit famous tech centers in Silicone Valley, like the Google Campus, the Apple Visitors Center, and the Computer History Museum. After a trip to these fascinating tech centers, you move on to explore Alcatraz Island.
Get advance tickets online
The most simple and convenient option is to book your Alcatraz tour tickets in advance. You can easily do it online by selecting the tour you want, the number of tickets, and the dates of your visit. On the day of the tour, you can collect your tickets by submitting your government-issued ID. In case you purchase e-tickets, you need to submit your credit card through which you made the purchase as well as a valid government identification card.