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Once Alcatraz sells out, finding Alcatraz tours last minute tickets can feel like an impossible task. Here is our local guide to finding sold out official Alcatraz tours tickets.

How to get Alcatraz tours last minute tickets | Dylan's Tours

There’s only one official Alcatraz tour to the former prison

Every year travelers to San Francisco are shocked to find out tickets to Alcatraz can sell out *months* in advance.

For so many, Alcatraz is meant to be highlight of their trip to San Francisco so, the news that buying tickets a month in advance is considered “last minute” can be jarring.

Luckily, as long time San Francisco locals, we have a few tricks up our sleeve on how to come across Alcatraz tours last minute tickets!

alcatraz guide


Find San Francisco tours with Alcatraz combo tours

Dylan’s Most Popular Alcatraz & San Francisco Tour

How to get Alcatraz tours tickets last minute | Dylan's Tours

Be sure your Alcatraz tours tickets include the official ferry ride to Alcatraz Island

The most reliable place to look for Alcatraz tickets last minute is with local San Francisco tour companies that offer an Alcatraz package.

Not only will these include a San Francisco tour, but the Alcatraz tickets price is worked into your tour package! 

Watch out for scammers that trick you into sailing “around” the island. Be sure your Alcatraz tour includes tickets on to Alcatraz Island for the audio tour.

San Francisco Bay cruises are fun, but not if you were actually expecting to visit Alcatraz Penitentiary.

Be sure that your tour includes official tickets that depart from Pier 33 aka Alcatraz Landing.

How to get Alcatraz tours last minute tickets | Dylan's Tours

Explore the rambling hallways of Alcatraz Penitentiary with Alcatraz tours last minute tickets

Dylan’s A Day in the Bay Tour is an all inclusive one day excursion around San Francisco, Muir Woods & Alcatraz. This tour picks up from Fisherman’s Wharf and spends over an hour at Muir Woods National Monument. Afterwards travelers enjoy lunch in Sausalito before ending their tour with a ferry ride on to Alcatraz Island.

We’ve also verified that these 8 Best Alcatraz Tours all provide tickets to the official Alcatraz day tour through Alcatraz Cruises.

So you can shop safe with these local San Francisco companies knowing you have real tickets to Alcatraz. Some of these companies even let you choose between different Alcatraz tour times!

Please note, one of the only ways to get Alcatraz discount tickets is to order them with the San Francisco CityPass

It’s a long shot, but randomly check the official Alcatraz Cruises website for any returned tickets

A guide to finding Alcatraz tours last minute tickets | Dylan's Tours

Always bring a sweater to Alcatraz because Karl the Fog is never too far behind

As reliable as Alcatraz tours from local companies are, those will eventually sell out as well.

Even if they aren’t sold out, Alcatraz Island requires tour companies to provide the names of all their guests 4 days before their Alcatraz tour.

Whatever tickets the tour company didn’t sell, have to be returned to Alcatraz.

Once those tickets are returned to Alcatraz Island, they become available for purchase online.

We can’t stress this enough, it’s a long shot.

But, we have had guests on our most popular San Francisco bus tour say that they got their Alcatraz tours tickets last minute by trawling the official Alcatraz website.

The last resort: queuing in the standby line as early as 3am or 4am

Plan to queue up early for the Alcatraz standby line

We don’t enjoy suggesting this. No one should spend their vacation getting up that early for something that isn’t even a guarantee.

But, we know that some travelers Alcatraz Island is on their bucket list.

For those of you that won’t be satisfied until you’ve heard the ominous steel clunk of the heavy cell doors slamming shut — this option is for you!

How to get Alcatraz Tours Last Minute Tickets | Dylan's Tours

How will you get your Alcatraz tours tickets last minute?

The Alcatraz standby line is your last ditch effort at getting Alcatraz tours last minute tickets. If someone misses their scheduled ferry, people from the Alcatraz standby line can purchase those tickets.

We have confirmed with various Alcatraz boat captains and deckhands that people do indeed begin lining up for the standby line as early as 3am or 4am.

It’s not always that early.

But by 6am or 7am, there’s usually a person or two waiting with a thermos of coffee.

Frequently Asked Questions About Alcatraz

How long is the Alcatraz tour?

Get tickets to Alcatraz after exploring San Francisco and Muir Woods.

Alcatraz Island and Coit Tower in San Francisco, California.

Once you’ve gotten your hands on an Alcatraz tour last minute ticket you’re only a 15 minute ferry ride away from Alcatraz Island.

However, the infamous cell house sits at the top of the island, so plan to take three increasingly steep switchback roads to reach the top.

If you have mobility issues, don’t worry, there is a mobility tram that provides free rides for those with mobility needs to the top of the hill and back down to the dock. 

This walk usually takes at least 30 minutes because there is so much to stop and see on the way there.

San Francisco Alcatraz Tours

The Alcatraz audio tour is narrated by former guards, Alcatraz inmates and people who grew up on the island

Once at the actual prison, you’ll be able to begin your Alcaraz audio tour that was the first of its kind.

There is no additional charge for the cell house audio tour because that is worked into the official Alcatraz tours price!

The audio tour is self guided and at your own pace. Most people spend about two hours exploring the Alcatraz cell house.

Where can I find sold out tickets for the Alcatraz night tour?

How to get Alcatraz night tour tickets last minute | Dylan's Tours

Photo by Paul Mason via Flickr

We are big fans of the Alcatraz night tour! We’ve chronicled the big differences between the Alcatraz day tour and Alcatraz night tour — and we always suggest the night tour if you are booking far enough in advance.

During the day, boats bring guests to Alcatraz Island roughly every 30 minutes, but in the evening there are only two single departures to the former Alcatraz Prison.

Because of this, Alcatraz night tour last minute tickets are pretty hard to come by.

alcatraz guide

Find out more about Alcatraz here

10 Things You NEED to Know Before Going to Alcatraz

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