27 Mar Touring Alcatraz – a trip to prison
When you visit San Francisco, there are some places you must have been. Guess what? One of these places is Alcatraz. Alcatraz aka “The Rock” lies in the middle of the bay, two kilometers off the shore of San Francisco. The island had several functions over the years. It served as a lighthouse and military fort but is most famously known as the heavily guarded federal penitentiary where, among others, Al Capone was imprisoned. A visit to Alcatraz is an unforgettable experience.
The only way to tour the island is with Alcatraz Cruises. Be sure to book your tickets online and as early as possible, as they tend to sell out quickly. Buying a ticket the day itself is not an option. The ferry leaves approximately every half an hour from Pier 33. It’s just a 15-minute boat ride away and your tour can last as long as you like. Usually it takes about 2 to 3 hours to fully explore the island.
Every visitor receives an audio tour when they enter the prison. It’s included in the ticket price and available in different languages. I really recommend you listen through it all, the audio tour was recorded by prisoners and guards who actually stayed on Alcatraz. They tell about their time on ‘The Rock’ and sounds from slamming cell doors bring the stories even more to life.
On the island you’ll find several buildings that all played a different role when the island was still serving as a prison. The most interesting place is the cellblock. The cell building consists of 4 blocks with a total of 336 cells. From the outside you have a great view of the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Tip: be sure to dress in layers even if the skies are clear. The cool winds from the bay don’t mess around and the ever-changing weather in San Francisco is even worse when you’re on an island in the middle of the bay.