Alcatraz island tour and the 72-hour hop on and hop off bus tour of San Francisco are so breathtaking that they will be etched in your memory forever. If you are visiting San Francisco, take out the time and go for it.
This Alcatraz island tour ticket and 72-hour hop on hop off bus tour pass includes five different and diverse tours.
- Alcatraz Island Tour
- Downtown Tour of San Francisco
- Official City Tour of San Francisco
- Sausalito Tour
- Night Tour of San Francisco
Thanks to the unlimited hop-on hop-off use of the bus services for 72 hours you can pace your tour as per your convenience. Get off wherever you want, and after you are done looking around spot the City Sightseeing San Francisco bus and get onto it. That’s all!
Alcatraz Island tour and 72-hour hop on hop off bus tour pass
If you buy this combo package of Alcatraz Island tour and 72-hour hop on hop off bus tour pass you don’t need anything else for your holiday in San Francisco.
Let us look at the five different tours which are included in this one San Francisco package.
Alcatraz Island tour ticket
Duration of Tour: 2 to 3 hour
Mode of transport: Ferry
Ferry’s schedule: Alcatraz cruises depart every half hour starting 8.45 am
Alcatraz attracts more than a million visitors every year. And why not? After all it was one of the toughest-to-break-out-of-prison is USA for more than 30 years. Housing folks like Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly etc who were as much celebrities as they were criminals.
This maximum-security prison was closed in 1963 due to its expense. However, that doesn’t stop you from listening to heart-wrenching stories of the inmates and the prison guards on the award-winning cellblock audio tour.
More than 3000 tourists visit Alcatraz every day. No wonder tickets for “The Rock” are quite popular and sell out up to 3 to 4 weeks in advance.
How to reach Alcatraz
Alcatraz Island tour starts off from Pier 33 in the heart of San Francisco. This Alcatraz ticket includes the transportation to and from the island from Pier 33.
The trip from Pier 33 to the Alcatraz island across the San Francisco Bay takes about 10 minutes in the ferry.
Scheduled departure times of the ferries are – 8.45 am, 9.10 am, 9.30 am, 10.00 am, 10.30 am, 11.00 am, 11.30 am, 12.00 pm, 12.30 pm, 1.05 pm, 1.35 pm, 2.10 pm, 2.40 pm, 3.50 pm, and 4.45 pm.
You will find your departure time mentioned on your Alcatraz island tour ticket.
Parking at Pier 33
Since all Alcatraz island tours depart via ferry from Pier 33 near Fisherman’s Wharf, finding a cheap parking spot can be difficult. Especially during peak times.
However, there are some commercial parking options within 5 block radius of Pier 33, which can be availed. The charges vary with per day rates of $25 to $50. These rates double up on special days. For more on Parking for Alcatraz tours
Check out: Find parking spots near Pier 33 on a Map
Best time for Alcatraz tour
Usually, the Alcatraz island tour tickets are booked 3-4 weeks in advance. They are most in demand in the spring and summer months.
However, once you have bought the Alcatraz island tour ticket and 72-hour hop on hop off bus tour pass for San Francisco, you can plan your trip to Alcatraz island at your convenience.
Do note that the early-bird trip to Alcatraz departs at 8:45 am. The regular Alcatraz cruises depart every half hour between 9 am and 4 pm.
If you have opted for a night tour of Alcatraz, you can stay with the high-security prison walls till late.
Activities to do at Alcatraz
Once you reach the maximum-security prison, a National Park Ranger welcomes you and orients you with the dos and don’ts of Alcatraz. They also provide daily information regarding special programs, guest authors, and other opportunities to learn about the history of Alcatraz.
Our recommended Alcatraz tour path will be as follows:
Alcatraz Activity 1: After the orientation see the Alcatraz video by Discovery channel. If you can’t wait till you reach Alcatraz, check it out here.
Alcatraz Activity 2: Walk the Agave trail which passes through the protected bird sanctuary and features beautiful plants and flowers. Selfie spots on this trail offer beautiful views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Alcatraz Activity 3: Take the 45-minute audio tour of Alcatraz cell block where former inmates and correctional officers tell you stories from their life spent at Alcatraz. This audio tour is available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Japanese.
Alcatraz Activity 4: Take the Docent and Ranger tours if they are available on the day
Alcatraz Activity 5: Walk around the island at your own pace
Once you have had your fill of Alcatraz island, get into any ferry of you choice (one departs every half hour) and get back to Pier 33.
How to return from Alcatraz island tour
Scheduled return times from Alcatraz Island are: 9.35 am, 9.55 am, 10.30 am, 11.00 am, 11.30 am, 12.00 pm, 12.30 pm, 1.00 pm, 1.35 pm, 2.05 pm, 2.50 pm, 3.10 pm, 3.50 pm, 4.30 pm, 6.45 pm, 7.45 pm.
Tips for Alcatraz Early Bird tour: You must leave for the Alcatraz island by the 8.45 am ferry from Pier 33. For your return, you can choose from any of the ferries, the first of which starts from the island at 9.35 am. As an early bird tour ticket holder, the last ferry you can take to return to mainland is the one scheduled for 4.30 pm.
Tips for Alcatraz Day tour: As an Alcatraz day tour ticket holder, the first ferry on which you can leave is the one scheduled at 9.10 am. The last ferry you can take to visit Alcatraz is the one scheduled to leave Pier 33 at 1.35 pm. For your return from the island, the last ferry you can take is the one scheduled for 4.30 pm.
Tips for Alcatraz Night tour: Tourists booked for Alcatraz night tours can take the two ferries scheduled for 3.50 pm or 4.45 pm. For your return from the island, you have two options – the ferry that starts at 6.45 pm or the one that starts at 7.45 pm.
What is included in Alcatraz tour ticket
- Alcatraz orientation video by Discovery Channel
- 45-minute audio tour “Doing Time: The Alcatraz Cell house Tour”
- The Docent and Ranger tours
- To and fro to Alcatraz island in ferry
The Official City Tour of San Francisco
Duration of Tour: 2 hours
Mode of transport: Open double decker bus
Hop on hop off stops on this tour: 21
Tour Bus Schedule: Departs every 30 minutes, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily
During this guided tour of San Francisco, you can hop on hop off the bus unlimited number of times within 72 hours of first stepping on to the bus.
Then the open double decker bus stops at landmark we all associate with San Francisco – Golden Gate Bridge. Some tourists exploring the city prefer to get down at the South Vista Point and walk across the bridge, saving rest of the tour for later.
Golden Gate Bridge, which spans from San Francisco to Marin County, is one of the most beautiful bridges in the world and a leisurely walk on it is a must. The full length of the bridge is 2.75 KMs (1.7 miles) but most tourists walk till the first tower and get back to South Vista Point and get into the City Sightseeing San Francisco Hop On Hop Off tour bus again.
Once you are back in the tour bus, you head out to Golden Gate Park which is bigger than the Central Park in New York. Golden Gate Park alone receives more than 15 million visitors a year.
As you pass through the Golden Gate Park, you will have the opportunity to get down at any of the following city attractions – California Academy of Sciences, the De Young Museum, the Japanese Tea Garden or the Botanical Gardens.
If you stay on the hop on hop off tour bus you will next reach the “Hippie District” called Haight Ashbury. The 1960s counter culture hippie movement was born here. If you love the band Grateful Dead, this is where you get down to check out the Grateful Dead House.
Once you hop on the tour bus again, in no time you will reach the Civic Center area, with its numerous architectural marvels dotting the skyline. These landmarks include City Hall, Symphony Hall, the Opera House, Public Library, the Asian Art Museum etc.
From the Civic Center, the San Francisco official city tour winds up at the central shopping district of San Francisco – Union Square. Here you will find the best of shopping options.
After a break, you can hop on to one of the open double decker buses and return towards Fisherman’s Wharf. On the way, the bus stops at numerous waterfront locations, including Pier 39. Check out the sea lions who made Pier-39 their home after a local earthquake in 1989. Or eat out at the numerous restaurants nearby.
The Downtown Tour of San Francisco
Duration of Tour: 1.5 hours
Mode of transport: Open double decker bus
Hop on hop off stops on this tour: 13
Tour Bus Schedule: Departs every 45 minutes, 9:15 am to 5:00 pm daily
As with the Official City Tour, during the Downtown tour as well you can hop on hop off the bus unlimited number of times within 72 hours of first stepping on to the bus.
This is a one hour tour which again starts at the Fisherman’s Wharf. The original open top double decker bus then moves towards Union Square’s shopping mecca. The subsequent stops are Chinatown, North Beach with crooked Lombard Street, Farmers Market, Embarcadero, Financial District and Pier 39.
You have the choice of getting down at any of the 13 stops you want, spend some time and then get on to the next tour bus again.
City Sightseeing San Francisco’s Sausalito Tour
Duration of Tour: 1 hours
Mode of transport: Open double decker bus
Tour Bus Schedule: Departs every 60 minutes, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm daily
Sausalito Tour starts from the South Vista Point and goes across the Golden Gate Bridge to the North Vista Point. The bus stops at both South and North points of the bridge – both an ideal photo opportunity so keep your cameras ready. While on the bridge you get to enjoy amazing views of San Francisco Bay (weather permitting), San Francisco skyline, Bay Bridge and the Alcatraz Island.
The Sausalito open bus tour then moves into Marin County and stops at Sausalito. This little seaside town in San Francisco’s backyard has unbelievable scenery and a laid-back Mediterranean atmosphere.
Hop off the bus, stroll around, indulge in a bit of sightseeing, visit the art galleries etc. If you are feeling a bit adventurous you can rent out a kayak and get into the water. Or better still, get into one of the restaurants in Sausalito and enjoy a relaxing lunch by the waterfront.
Whenever you want to get back, just hop on to one of the City Sightseeing San Francisco’s hop on hop off tour buses heading back to San Francisco.
Night Tour of San Francisco
Duration of Tour: 1 hour
Mode of transport: Open double decker Bus
Tour Bus Schedule: Night Tours depart at 6:00 pm. In summers (May through September) additional departures are scheduled at 7:00 pm
We suggest you don’t skip the City Sightseeing San Francisco’s night tour. It is the best way to see the best of San Francisco by night.
This night tour in City Sightseeing San Francisco’s Hop On Hop Off tour bus starts in the evening and lasts for 90 minutes. It starts from Fisherman’s Wharf and goes through all major night attractions of San Francisco. Which include spots such as the Financial District, Union Square, Chinatown, North Beach, Embarcadero, Nob Hill, Bay Bridge and the Civic center.
Two of the best photo opportunities on this night tour of San Francisco are at Nob Hill and Embarcadero. On both these spots the hop on hop of tour bus spots for quick walking tours.