How to Get to Alcatraz

Learn how to get to Alcatraz from Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square & BART.

Alcatraz Island is a lone sandstone rock in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. There’s only one way to Alcatraz and that is an official ticket to the island. The issue is that these tickets sell out fast leading to major issues for last minute bookings.

Read on to learn how to get to Alcatraz.

What would you do to get to Alcatraz last minute?

The iconic Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage film, “The Rock” had a special movie premiere in the Alcatraz Cellhouse. Needless to say, tickets to this glitzy event were hard to come by. Rumor has it, that never stopped one dedicated fan from putting on a tuxedo and a wetsuit, before swimming to Alcatraz from San Francisco. Where he was quickly detained and led back to the mainland.

A little more recently, supposedly, Justin Timberlake arrived to Alcatraz Island with a couple of local firefighters aboard as SFFD Fire Boat. Park Rangers were happy to see our heroes from the fire department. But, ultimately, Timberlake was denied access to the island. He didn’t have an official ticket to Alcatraz Island National Park.

Don’t be like J.T. and watch our video on how to snag Alcatraz tickets like a pro. Hint: the best way is to go on our Alcatraz Tour.

The easiest way of getting to Alcatraz is with a San Francisco tour that includes tickets to the official Alcatraz ferry.

Most of the Alcatraz combo tours you’ll find, like Dylan’s Famous San Francisco Tour with Muir Woods visit, provide transportation to meet your boat ride to Alcatraz.

Since these tours come with Alcatraz same-day tickets, you won’t have to worry about the Alcatraz ferry schedule. Your guide will be dedicated to getting you to Pier 33 to catch your ride to prison.

If you’ve recently found this article because you saw that official Alcatraz tickets sold out, then you’re not alone. For anyone wondering how to get Alcatraz tickets now — Dylan’s Famous Tour with Alcatraz is a great solution.

Don’t worry about, “how long is the Alcatraz tour?” because with an Alcatraz tour you’re able to stay on Alcatraz Island for as long as you like. Or at the very least, until the island closes for the day.

Be sure to check out our guide on how to get Alcatraz tickets last minute for more ideas on finding sold out tickets to Alcatraz. Another great resource is our list of the 10 best Alcatraz tours.

Travel like a local and learn how to get to Alcatraz with public transportation

Alcatraz Island Cruises with Tour Tickets

Parking near Pier 33, where all Alcatraz boats depart and return from, has such notoriously expensive parking fees that most people choose to take a bus. As San Francisco locals, we can tell you that is a good call.

Luckily, Pier 33 is incredibly easy to reach without a car!

The historic F Market Streetcar is the most direct way of reaching Alcatraz Landing at Pier 33. These electric streetcars are sometimes confused with the even older cable cars running on underground steel cables in neighboring Fisherman’s Wharf.

The “F Line”, as the locals call it, is easily accessible from both Fisherman’s Wharf and Union Square. Even the East Bay and Peninsula can connect to the F Line via BART trains!


San Francisco Go Cards vs CityPASS | Dylan's
Enjoy unlimited cable car rides with the Muni Passport.

Depending on where you are in the Wharf, it could be possible to walk to Pier 33 in under 20 minutes. For those who don’t want to hoof it, here is what to do:

  • The F Line begins boarding at the corner of Beach & Jones.
  • It’s only a few stops winding through Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco before you reach Alcatraz Landing.
  • Hop off at Bay Street and walk across the street to Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing.

How to get to Alcatraz from Union Square with public transportation:

Option 1 aka The Easy Way:

  • Head to Market Street and catch the F Line heading east, towards the direction of the clock tower on the San Francisco Ferry Building that is visible from Market.
  • Enjoy the scenic train ride along the waterfront as the streetcar cruises down its own private lane on the Embarcadero.
  • Hop off at Bay Street and walk across the street to Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing.

Option 2 aka The Long, But Scenic Way:

  • If your Alcatraz tour times are later in the day then head to the Cable Car Turnaround at Powell & Market and take the Powell-Hyde Cable Car.
  • Be sure to have your camera ready as the cable car passes the iconic Crooked Street section of Lombard!
  • Ride the cable car to the end of the line to the Cable Car Turn Around at Hyde & Beach.
  • From there you’re a short walk down Beach to board the F Line at Beach & Jones.
  • Hop off at Bay Street and walk across the street to Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing.

How to get to Alcatraz from the East Bay or Peninsula with public transportation

  • Catch any BART train heading towards San Francisco. Which specific line you take, depends on which direction you’re heading from. Here is our guide on how to get to San Francisco from the airport on BART!
  •  Hop off at the Embarcadero BART Station in San Francisco. If you’re traveling from the east, this will be the first San Francisco stop. If you’re traveling from the west, this will be the last San Francisco BART stop.
  • Take the escalator or elevator to go above ground to Market Street.
  • Once on Market, walk towards the Ferry Building to the F Line stop.
  • Board the F Line heading north along Embarcadero towards Fisherman’s Wharf along the water. Do not board the train heading down Market Street, it will take you downtown.
  • Hop off at Bay Street and walk across the street to Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing.

Pier 33 Parking

All of the street parking within walking distance to Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing is metered parking up to two hours. These parking restrictions on the street are in place until 9 pm all seven days of the week. This means if you’re driving to Pier 33, you will have to use one of the expensive lots nearby.


Looking for more help with Alcatraz Island? Check out some of these additional resources:

What To Do if Alcatraz Tickets are Sold Out

How to Get Last Minute Tickets to Alcatraz

Alcatraz Day Tours vs Alcatraz Night Tour

11 Things You Didn’t Know About Alcatraz

Should You Buy an Alcatraz Tour or an Alcatraz Ticket?

10 Things You NEED to Know Before Going to Alcatraz

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