The Seattle skyline at dusk

How to Get from Vancouver to Seattle by Bus, Train, Car, and Seaplane

If you’re asking how to get from Vancouver to Seattle there are five ways to do it.

Here, I’ll be explaining all of them as well as a few travel hacks (I’ve been going down to Seattle since I was 17) to find you the best way for your budget and time constraints.

Let’s take a look at the best ways to get to Seattle from Vancouver in order of convenience.

  1. Vancouver to Seattle
  2. Driving
  3. Floatplanes
  4. Train
  5. Bus
  6. Flights
  7. FAQs

How to Get from Vancouver to Seattle

The view of Seattle from Puget Sound

Located 192 kilometres, or 119 miles South of Vancouver, the Emerald City can be reached in about 2.5 hours, depending on traffic at the border.

Seattle’s close proximity makes day trips and short vacations to Washington State a frequent occurrence for many Vancouverites.

But as a tourist it places the opportunity to visit another world-class destination right at your fingertips.

For this reason, visitors to the Pacific Northwest region often pair the two cities together on the same itinerary, a choice which we highly recommend.

Let’s take a look at the best ways to get to Seattle from Vancouver:

Driving from Vancouver to Seattle

A woman takes a picture from a moving vehicle

With a driving distance of only 225 kilometres (140 miles), the simplest method to get between Vancouver and Seattle is simply to take your own vehicle.

Depending on traffic and the wait at the border, the trip should only take you about 3-3.5 hours.

Driving provides the highest degree of flexibility, comfort and convenience. You can leave whenever you want and are free to stop anywhere you want during the trip.

Furthermore, the cost of car rental compares favourably with a return trip on the train or bus, particularly for groups and families.

Vancouver to Seattle Car Rental

A man receives his rental vehicle

From a logistics standpoint renting a vehicle from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) makes the most sense, though it’s a breeze from downtown as well.

For starters, all of the major car rental companies are located on the ground floor of the YVR parkade. This provides for a high degree of competition and the best rates.

Couple that with the accessibility offered by YVR’s transportation infrastructure and close proximity to HWY-99, and it’s a no brainer.

Looking to rent a car? Rentalcars.com is the most reliable online booking platform and has a low price guarantee.

You can search for your car with your travel dates using the button below:

Vancouver to Seattle Car Rental Search

How to Drive from Vancouver to Seattle


Once you’ve finally got your vehicle, the drive from Vancouver to Seattle is a very simple process.

For custom directions simply insert you departure and destination points into Google Maps.

Vancouver to Seattle Floatplane

A Harbour Air floatplane sits in Vancouver Harbour

Daily floatplane service between downtown Vancouver and downtown Seattle is the most convenient, most scenic, most unforgettable way to travel between the two cities.

I’m ranking this #2 because when you factor in time, taxis to the airport, and luggage surcharges there isn’t much difference in price between this and regular flights.

Except seaplanes take just just 55 minutes – about the time you’ll spend going through security at YVR.

They also fly you right into the seaplane terminal in downtown Seattle (Seattle’s airport meanwhile is 40 minutes away and not well connected).

Beyond all this, you get breathtaking views of the Pacific Coast all the way down, as well as an aerial tour of the two cities. This is a tourist attraction in itself.

For more information on benefits and prices click the orange button below:

Vancouver to Seattle Seaplane Info

Vancouver to Seattle Train

The Amtrak Cascades travels alongside the coast
Instagram: @amtrak

Avoid the lengthy border delays and the notorious traffic of Seattle’s I-5 as you enjoy spectacular coastal views aboard the Amtrak Cascades.

Convenient, affordable and efficient, the train operates twice daily connecting Vancouver’s Pacific Central Station with King Street Station in Downtown Seattle.

One trip daily continues on all the way to Portland, Oregon.

You can expect to arrive in Seattle in 4.5 hours, with an extra 3 hours required to go on to Portland.

Vancouver to Seattle Train Price

Fares fluctuate according to demand, but generally the earlier you book, the more you’ll save.

Adult rates can vary widely, but for a one way fare from Pacific Central you can expect to pay:

  1. Seattle (King Station)- $45-$75 CAD
  2. Portland (Union Station)- $65-$120 CAD

*Children 2-12 travel for half price while infants travel free

**Seniors 65+ receive a 10% discount

***Discounts of 25% are offered for booking 14 days in advance

Vancouver to Seattle Train Schedule

Service to Seattle is offered twice daily, with departures in the morning and the evening.

Only the morning trip continues onto Portland.

There are an additional 5 stops between Vancouver and Seattle with 6 more falling between Seattle and Portland.

For a complete schedule and list of stops visit the Amtrak Cascade website.

  • Free Wifi 
  • Wide reclining seats
  • Personal power outlets at your feet
  • Bistro car (Car 2/3) offering regional cuisine, craft beer, wine and Seattle’s Best Coffee
  • 2 bag allowance for a total of 50 lbs

Pros & Cons

The train is without a shadow of a doubt the most comfortable and relaxing way to get to Seattle from Vancouver.

Compared to the relatively mundane trip down I-5 by car or bus, travelers are provided with stunning ocean views and a wide array of amenities while averting traffic and lengthy border delays.

The Amtrak Cascades also takes you right to the major transit hub of King Street Station, located just outside Seattle’s downtown core. From there you’ll have access to the Link light rail, Sounder commuter and Seattle Streetcar Lines.

However, despite all of it’s comfort and efficiency, the train isn’t particularly fast. And inconvenient departure times coupled with a relatively high cost may force some travelers to seek other options.

Consequently, we recommend the train for travelers who prioritize comfort and convenience and are thus willing to pay a slight premium to receive an ocean view and amenity rich experience.

If this sounds like the right option for you then head on over to Amtrak.

But before you bite the bullet, I’d recommend checking the other options to make sure you select what works best for you.

Vancouver to Seattle Bus

A Boltbus drives down the highway
Instagram: @boltbusofficial

There are a variety of companies who provide coach service to Seattle from Vancouver’s Pacific Central Station and select downtown hotels.

While the price does vary considerably by carrier and time, the coach is generally the cheapest way to get from Vancouver to Seattle. Furthermore, in most cases it is even faster than taking the Amtrak Cascades.

The breadth of competition provided by the 4 different providers means that there is a wide array of departure times available, making it the most flexible transport option available, short of renting a vehicle.

Before booking, travellers should be aware that, unlike Vancouver, Seattle doesn’t possess a central bus terminal. As a result, each company will leave you at a slightly different drop off point.

Aside from Quick Shuttle, who offer drop-off at the Best Western near Seattle Centre, all carriers will drop you in or near the King Street Station transportation hub in Downtown Seattle.

The list of providers is provided in the comparison table below:

vancouver to seattle bus comparison table

  • *Boltbus and Amtrak Thruway provide express service.
  • **Greyhound has one additional stop in Bellingham, Washington.
  • ***Quickshuttle has as many as 6 extra stops depending on season

Which one should I pick?

All companies provide a comparable level of service, with free wifi, device chargers and air conditioning.

Since there is little differentiation based upon service, our recommendation is that most travelers should go with the cheapest and fastest option, which is usually Boltbus.

However, Quickshuttle can be a better choice for certain travelers, particularly:

  • Cruise ship passengers
  • Those in staying downtown hotels who’re willing to pay a premium for the convenience of a complimentary shuttle to the Holiday Inn departure point.

Regardless of which choice you make you’ll need to pass through US Customs on your way to Seattle, so let’s take a quick look at the border process for coach passengers.

Border Procedures

All buses are required to stop at the Pacific Highway Border Crossing, which has its own lane dedicated to bus traffic.

This is where passengers will be processed through customs.

Once the bus reaches the processing area all passengers are required to disembark from the coach, grab their luggage and join the queue for passport control.

The driver will have provided I-94 forms to passengers who require them beforehand, so make sure you bring a pen.

Your luggage will be passed through an x-ray machine in the same manner as would be expected in an airport. You will then have a brief interview with a border control officer.

Processing Time

Those who require I-94 forms may take slightly longer to process than Canadians and Americans, but don’t worry the bus will wait for you!

Provided that you have the necessary documents for entry into the United States and you follow the border tips as discussed above, you will be allowed to re-board the bus and quickly be on your way.

The processing time for the bus generally lasts around 30-60 minutes depending on the number of passengers. This time is built into the schedule, so it should not have a significant impact on your travel time, provided there are no unusual delays.

The remainder of the journey to Seattle should take about 2 hours.

Pros and Cons

If you are simply looking for the quickest and cheapest way to get to Seattle then Boltbus should be the choice for you.

The coach certainly lacks the comfort and many of the amenities provided by the Amtrak Cascades. And the un-remarkable trip down I-5 fails to offer passengers any post-card perfect views.

But most budget passengers will be just fine with that.

With four daily departures, low rates and a travel time of just 3 hours and 45 minutes Boltbus is a quick, efficient and cost effective way to get to Seattle.

This makes it our recommendation for budget travelers.

Vancouver to Seattle Flights

Planes sit on the tarmac at YVR

Due to the relatively close proximity between the two cities, many people are surprised to learn about the wide availability of flights between Vancouver and Seattle.

There are numerous carriers offering service between Vancouver International (YVR) and Seatac (SEA), including:

  • Air Canada
  • WestJet
  • Delta
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • ANA
  • Korean Air
  • Air New Zealand

But are they viable options for tourists travelling between the two cities? Consider the following:

The main reason for the wide range of flight options is the shear number of Pacific Northwest residents who are connecting to other destinations in the United States, Canada and Asia.

Flights Between Vancouver and Seattle are often bundled onto flights to other destinations at a minimal cost and are rarely purchased as a stand alone option.

Consequently, the overwhelming majority of passengers travelling between YVR and SEA are business travelers or local residents connecting to more distant locations.

Price

You can expect to pay upwards of $200 for a one-way flight to Seattle from YVR. It’s up to you whether you’re willing to pay this much for a 50 minute flight that fails to reach reach cruising altitude.

To take a closer look at the flight options on offer visit Skyscanner.net.

Tips

If you do decide to book a flight to Seattle, be cognizant of the following:

  1. It’ll likely take 30 minutes to get from Downtown Vancouver to YVR.
  2. You’re expected to arrive 2 hours prior to departure in order to clear US customs.
  3. It’ll take an additional 40 minutes to get from SeaTac Airport to Downtown Seattle via the Linkrail.

Due to these factors all of your time savings will have gone up in smoke.

Couple this with the stark realization that you’re likely to pay up to four times the cost of other transportation options and we can’t confidently recommend this option for anyone other than business travelers.

But before you completely discount flying as an option, let’s take a look at a newly launched service that has a prototypically Pacific North-West feel.

Seattle Washington

The Pike Place Market at night

Popularly known as the Emerald City, Seattle currently has 744,955 residents and a metropolitan area of 3.94 million people. This makes it the largest city in the Pacific Northwest region and the 15th largest in the United States.

Buoyed by a burgeoning tech sector, a vibrant arts and culture scene and stunning natural beauty, this flourishing Puget Sound municipality is the fastest growing city in America and a popular tourist attraction.

Attractions
  • Pike Place Market
  • The Space Needle
  • Pioneer Square
  • The Seattle Great Wheel
  • The Museum of Popular Culture

Seattle CityPASS

If you plan on visiting we highly recommend purchasing the Seattle CityPASS, which provides you with prepaid access to 5 of the city’s best attractions and up to 50% off admission to several others.

For more info on this tremendous deal visit the Seattle CityPASS website.

Now lets get back to business. Before we evaluate the 5 transportation options between Vancouver and Seattle, it’s critical that we outline the American border crossing procedures.

Vancouver to Seattle FAQ

How far is Seattle from Vancouver?

Seattle is located 192 kilometres or 119 miles South of Vancouver.

How do you travel from Vancouver to Seattle?

Other than driving, you can get to Seattle by train, bus, plane, and floatplane.

How do you cross from Vancouver into Washington State?

There are two border crossings connecting Vancouver and Washington State, the Peace Arch Crossing on HWY-99/I-5 and the Truck Crossing on BC HWY-15/SR 543.

Can you take a train from Vancouver to Seattle?

The Amtrak Cascade offers twice daily service from Pacific Central Station in Downtown Vancouver to King Street Station in Downtown Seattle.

Can you take a bus from Vancouver to Seattle?

There are 4 carriers that provide service from Pacific Central Station in Downtown Vancouver to the King Street Transportation hub in Downtown Seattle.

Planning on Travelling from Vancouver to Seattle?

But your journey isn’t quite finished yet.

I’d just like to remind you to leave any additional questions or comments on our Facebook page or in the comments below.

I’ll do my best to get back to you ASAP.

But until then,

Enjoy Sea town

Julian

I've used online guides on five continents to find the world's greatest travel spots and this is my chance to give back - with insider info on my home, the mighty Vancouver BC!

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