Getting Around, Seattle Travel, Transport and Car Rental

(Seattle, Washington - WA, USA)

Travel to and from Seattle is very convenient as it is a central Northwest hub and popular tourist destination. Air, bus, train and rental car are prevalent means of transport in Seattle, with numerous locations throughout the region. Seattle's topography is extremely hilly and the weather can be notoriously wet.

Walking within districts is common, though be prepared for steep inclines and many stairs. Travel and transport between districts is made easy by the Metro bus line, which runs frequently and is free within the core downtown area. Also known for its fantastic ferry line and monorail travel, Seattle is extremely accessible.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) / Arriving by Air

The SeaTac airport is the central gateway hub for the Pacific Northwest, servicing all major airline carriers. Lying just 12 miles / 19 km south of Seattle and 20 miles / 32 km north of Tacoma, transport to downtown Seattle takes between 20 and 40 minutes depending on traffic. Taxis, limo services, shuttles (Gray Line Airport Express and Shuttle Express) and metro buses provide transport into Seattle and other centers in Washington. For further information, please refer to the Seattle Airport page.

Seattle Airports Guide

Car Rental

It isn't essential to have a car in order to enjoy Seattle as the Metro Bus line has many locations making inter-city travel and transport very easy. However, for touring the outer regions of Seattle and beyond, or for simple convenience, there are a variety of rental car agencies offering vehicles to suit all budgets. Most internationally recognized rental agencies are located in Seattle, with rental sites at SeaTac airport and throughout the city.

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The main driving routes within Seattle are I-5 and State Route 99 (known as Aurora Avenue in the city limits and becoming Alaska Way Viaduct in downtown), which travel north and south, and I-90 or freeway 520 from the east. Madison Street is the only east-west street connecting the waterfront area of downtown Seattle to the shore of Lake Washington. As a fairly large city with many commuters, traffic in Seattle can be thick during typical commuting times. Bellingham, just south of the Canadian border, is approximately a two to three hour drive and Olympia, the state capital, is a one to two hour's journey south, with both routes using the I-5 freeway.

Buses and Coaches

Cross country bus services in Seattle are provided by Greyhound Bus Line, which has routes from the city's bus terminal located at the northeast edge of downtown Seattle. Gray Line Tours is a major regional bus line offering many leisure bus tours. Metro Transit is Seattle's major local bus line with stops throughout the area. Due to the weather, many buses travel underneath Seattle from the Downtown Bus Tunnel. All Metro bus travel and transport within Seattle's downtown core (from the International District on the south end to Paramount Theater on the northeast end of downtown) is free of charge.

Boats and Ferries

The Port of Seattle manages all of Seattle's ports, which service maritime trade and offer passenger commuting and sightseeing activities. Leisure cruises are readily available at various piers, including the Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal at Pier 66 in the northern end of downtown, Terminal 30 Cruise Terminal at the south end and Piers 55 and 56. Washington State Ferries and other Seattle boat services are accessible from Colman Dock Ferry Terminal at Pier 52 and Pier 50, as well as Pier 55 and 56 (pedestrian travel only), while the Victoria Clipper (servicing the San Juan Islands and Victoria, B.C.) docks at Pier 69.


The Amtrak train services destinations across the US and is a scenic (although sometimes costly) mode of transport. Arriving and departing from the Seattle / King Street Station, located south of downtown near Safeco Field, daily Amtrak passenger services include the Empire Builder, which travels between Seattle / Portland and Chicago; the Coast Starlight, which travels between Los Angeles and Seattle; and the Cascades service linking Vancouver, British Columbia and Eugene-Springfield, Oregon and stops in Seattle. Also operating out of the King Street Station, Sound Transit runs a rail / bus system around the region including a commuter train between Seattle and Tacoma.


Seattle's Monorail is the nation's first full scale commercial monorail transport system, linking the Seattle Center (Space Needle) to the West Lake Shopping Center in downtown. The 90 second scenic ride is convenient, enjoyable and reasonably priced.


Seattle offers a safe and reliable network of taxis for hire. The Graytop Cab Company and Farwest Taxi service are the largest delivery services, providing 24 hour computer dispatch services for passengers and reasonably priced travel. Taxis can be hailed from nearly anywhere, although typically they congregate near hotels and popular bars in Seattle's downtown area.