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 goes to Alcatraz. 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 $33.90 for adults. There’s also a night tour but we didn’t try that.

We walked from the Hilton Financial District 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. On our last visit, 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.

We didn’t take the audio tour and spent more time around the deserted out-buildings.

I spent quite some time trying to take photographs without people in them – trying to capture that abandoned feel. For example, this isn’t the picture I was looking for.

But this is.

I’ve included all my pictures below. Whatever your interest, it’s certainly worth a visit to Alcatraz and you can easily spend a few hours wandering around.