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World Travel Guide > Guides > North America > United States of America > Washington State > Seattle

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Travel to Seattle

Flying to Seattle

Direct flights to Seattle from the UK are available with British Airways and Delta. Within the USA, airlines offering flights to Seattle include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, United and Virgin America. Cheaper flights are available outside the peak summer months, from mid-September to mid-May.

Flight times

From London - 9 hours 40 minutes; New York - 6 hours 15 minutes; Los Angeles - 2 hours 50 minutes; Toronto - 5 hours 30 minutes; Sydney - 16 hours 30 minutes (including stopover).

Travel by road

The USA has a good network of interstate highways and state highways. In Washington state, speed limits are 40kph (25mph) in urban areas, 80kph (50mph) on county roads, 97kph (60mph) on urban interstate highways and 113kph (70mph) on rural interstate highways.

All valid national licences are acceptable, but if your licence is not in English, you should obtain an International Driving Permit (which translates your licence); you must arrange this before you travel. Insurance is mandatory and can be purchased either online or from the car hire company. The minimum driving age is 16 years and cars drive on the right.

The Washington branch of the American Automobile Association (AAA) (tel: +1 800 562 2582; www.aaawa.com) can provide further information.

Emergency breakdown services

AAA (tel: +1 800 222 4357).

Routes

Seattle is served by two major interstate highways. The I-5 goes south to Portland and San Francisco and north to the Canadian border and Vancouver. Be prepared for long waits at the major US-Canada border crossings during peak periods. The I-90 links Seattle with central and eastern Washington state, passing through Spokane on its way to Chicago and Boston.

One of the state’s most scenic driving routes is the Cascade Loop (www.cascadeloop.com), which begins 45km (28 miles) north of Seattle, taking in spectacular scenery along the Columbia River Valley, North Cascades National Park and Puget Sound.

Coaches

Greyhound (tel: +1 800 231 2222; www.greyhound.com) operates from the Greyhound station, 503 South Royal Brougham Way, just south of Downtown. Greyhound buses serve hundreds of destinations around the USA, Canada and Mexico.

Greyhound’s low-cost subsidiary, Boltbus (tel: +1 877 265 8287; www.boltbus.com) runs a budget service south to Portland and Eugene, Oregon, and north to Vancouver, BC.

Time to city

From Los Angeles - 17 hours; San Francisco -12 hours; Portland - 3 hours; Vancouver, Canada - 3 hours; Spokane - 4 hours.

Travel by Rail

Services

Rail services to and from Seattle are good, though not necessarily renowned for their speed.

Seattle’s rail services operate to and from King Street Station, 303 South Jackson Street, located in the historic Pioneer Square district. King Street Station has been restored to its original turn-of-the-century architecture. The railway station is within walking distance of the waterfront and many downtown hotels.

Operators

Seattle is on the main Amtrak network (tel: +1 800 872 7245; www.amtrak.com). Service is slow but can offer a remarkably scenic journey. The Coast Starlight service runs southwards to the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles via Portland; the Amtrak Cascades runs northwards to Vancouver, BC and southwards to Portland and Eugene. The Empire Builder runs eastwards to Chicago via Spokane and Minneapolis. Note that on certain services to and from Vancouver, BC, a bus replaces the train.

Seattle is also part of the Rocky Mountaineer tourist train network (tel: +1 877 460 3200; www.rockymountaineer.com). The Coastal Passage service travels between Seattle and either Banff or Jasper, both in Alberta, in three days, with overnight stops in Vancouver and Kamloops.

Journey times

From Los Angeles - 34 hours; Emeryville (for San Francisco) - 22 hours; Portland - 3 hours 40 minutes; Vancouver - 4 hours 25 minutes; Chicago - 46 hours.

Travel by boat

Seattle's harbour, run by the Port of Seattle (tel: +1 206 787 3000; www.portseattle.org) has terminals for cruise ships and local ferries. The Smith Cove Cruise Terminal, Pier 91, 2001 West Garfield Street and the Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal, Pier 66, 2225 Alaskan Way, are where cruise liners dock. Ferries to Victoria in Canada depart from Pier 69, 2701 Alaskan Way.

Ferry operators

Victoria Clipper (tel: +1 800 888 2535; www.clippervacations.com) runs high-speed catamarans from Victoria, BC to Seattle daily all year round (foot passengers only).

Several major cruise lines offer summer cruises to Alaska from Seattle.

Transfer

Taxis wait outside both cruise terminals and the Victoria Clipper pier. Shuttle service to/from the airport is available through Shuttle Express (tel: +1 425 981 7000; www.shuttleexpress.com).

Contact Metro Transit (tel: +1 206 553 3000; http://metro.kingcounty.gov) for public transport schedule information from downtown to the ferry and cruise terminals. You can also walk to most downtown hotels within half an hour or less.

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