This is the eight in the series of reviews of my trip to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The following links will become clickable after each review becomes available:

Alcatraz doesn’t really need an introduction. The prison (federal penitentiary) operated from 1934 to 1963. Al “Scarface” Capone, and the “Birdman” Robert Stroud were prisoners.

I think anyone visiting San Francisco takes the Alcatraz Tour. Our reason for visiting was more for the love of abandoned buildings than the detailed history of the place.

I read that tickets sell out weeks in advance and made sure I bought them online well before the trip. However, I could see availability really close to the date – I think it’s best to purchase online and not risk walking up and hoping for a ticket.

Tickets (including the boat ride to and from the island) are $30 for adults $18.25 for children (5-11). There’s also a night tour but we didn’t try that.

There didn’t seem to be a tram that would take us direct from the centre to the pier 33 – although the Alcatraz website does provide some travel guidance. We took a tram from Powell to the harbour and took some time to stroll along the front – the famous Fisherman’s Wharf area.

Pier 33 has a small cafe selling sandwiches and beer. I was asked for ID despite being obviously over the drinking age (by a mile). I think it’s a policy of the US National Parks to card everyone – so take some ID with you.

The ferry trip was only maybe 20 minutes, but it was good to get a view of the Golden Gate Bridge – even though I mistook some other bridge to be that in the beginning! Beer, soft drinks and sandwiches are available on board – ID required for beer!

The Alcatraz port is at the bottom of the hill – so it’s quite a step walk up to the prison. There is a transport that runs twice an hour for those who can’t make the walk. But there is also a lot of walking around the island.

Alcatraz recommends that you wear warmer clothing than in the city as it is colder on the island. I didn’t find that to be the case and was hot walking around in the jacket I took with me.

We didn’t take the audio tour and spent more time around the deserted out buildings. But whatever your interest, it’s certainly worth the visit and you can easily spend a few hours wandering around.

Line for Alcatraz Ferry at Pier 33
Line for Alcatraz Ferry at Pier 33
Approaching Alcatraz by Ferry
Approaching Alcatraz by Ferry
The Famous Alcatraz Sign
The Famous Alcatraz Sign
A typical Alcatraz cell - maybe the audio tour tells you who used it
A typical Alcatraz cell – maybe the audio tour tells you who used it
View showing the burnt-out Governor's Mansion
View showing the burnt-out Governor’s Mansion