You don't need a car to get around Seattle—below, find plenty of options as well as the easiest way to get to a few popular spots in the city.
The region’s bus system will get you most places you need to go—especially when staying downtown.
Bus fares are determined by time of day and whether the ride is in one zone (within Seattle) or two zone (from Seattle to locations outside city limits but within King County). Adult fares are $2.50 per ride during off-peak hours (for all zones) while peak-hour fares are $2.75 for one-zone and $3.25 for two-zones. Youth (6-18) fares are always $1.50, and children under 5 ride free with a paid adult fare.
Pay fares (cash only; drivers don’t carry change) while you enter—there is a payment box by the driver, and the adult fare is posted. The slip of paper you get is both your proof of payment and a transfer ticket for additional Metro busses, good for a limited amount of time.
The King County Metro website has a helpful trip planner searchable by intersection or landmark. The app One Bus Away is great when you’re on the go. Enter a stop number or a route number (or find it on the map) to find schedules, stops and real-time bus information.
Quick Bus Guide to Common Locations
Woodland Park Zoo: Catch a northbound No. 5 bus from Third Ave. downtown. Get off at the Phinney Ave. N and N. 55th St. stop. The zoo will be on your right.
Ballard: The best routes to Ballard are the D and 40, which run seven days a week. Catch the northbound D along Third Ave. downtown and take it to 15th Ave. NW and N.W. Market St. Head west for the shopping and dining of Ballard.
Route 40 stops at Third Ave. downtown. Disembark at Ballard Ave. NW and N.W. Market St. You’ll be in the heart of Ballard.
Fremont: If you’d like to visit Fremont, catch routes 26, 28 or 40 along Third Ave. downtown. Any route will drop you at Fremont Ave. N and N. 34th St., the middle of the quirky neighborhood.
Capitol Hill: Don’t want to walk to Capitol Hill from downtown? Route 10, which stops at Fourth Ave. and Pike St. downtown, will drop you off at E. Pine St. and Broadway, in the middle of this bustling neighborhood, or continue on to the E. Prospect St. and 15th Ave. E stop, where you can check out Volunteer Park.
Route 12 will also get you there: From Second Ave. and Marion St. downtown get off at E. Madison St. and Broadway. Head north on Broadway to plenty of shopping and dining. This route continues along 19th Ave. E, where you’ll find a pocket neighborhood with some fantastic restaurants. Get off at the E. Republican St. stop.
At Fourth Ave. and Pike St., you can hop aboard route 49, which will stop at E. Pine St. and Broadway.
Green Lake: Route 16 will get you to Green Lake. Head northbound from the Third Ave. and Pine St. stop, disembarking at Woodlawn Ave. NE and N.E. Ravenna Blvd. Green Lake is just a couple blocks west.
Discovery Park: Located in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood, Discovery Park is serviced by Route 33. Catch it on Third Ave. downtown to the 36th Ave. W and W. Government Way stop, at the entrance of the park.
Sound Transit Busses
Sound Transit operates busses in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. For locations outside the city of Seattle, visit the website for route information to get to places like Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland and Tacoma.
Link Light Rail
Also part of Sound Transit, Link Light Rail runs from Sea-Tac Airport to Husky Stadium at the University of Washington. Light rail stops include Safeco and CenturyLink fields (exit at the Stadium Station), International District, Pioneer Square, Downtown Seattle (with two stops, one at Benaroya Hall and the other at Westlake), Capitol Hill and, at the end of the line, Husky Stadium.
Access light rail from the downtown bus tunnel—beneath Macy’s on Pine St. between Third and Fourth avenues or at the University Street station beneath Benaroya Hall at Third Ave. and Seneca St. Stop at the ORCA machine to buy your ticket for light rail—fees vary depending on how far you’re traveling.
Find the Sea-Tac Airport light rail station through the fourth floor of the parking ramp—there is signage in the terminal.
Trains run Monday-Saturday from 5 am to 12:30 am and Sundays and holidays 6 am to midnight.
The easiest way to get to South Lake Union, including Lake Union Park and the Museum of History and Industry, is taking the South Lake Union Streetcar. Catch the streetcar at Westlake Ave. and Stewart St. The route makes six stops before heading back downtown—the route splits at Thomas St., heading north on Terry Ave. N and south on Westlake Ave. N. For Lake Union Park, MOHAI and the Center for Wooden Boats, disembark at the Lake Union Park stop.
The streetcar runs every 15 minutes (every 10 minutes from 4-6 pm) 6 am-9 pm Monday-Thursday, 6 am-11 pm Friday-Saturday and 10 am-7 pm Sundays and holidays. Adult fares are $2.25, youth 6-18 are $1.50 and children under 5 are free. There is also a streetcar-only day pass for $4.50 for adults and $3 for youth. Purchase tickets at the vending machines located at streetcar stops.
Seattle Center Monorail
Head to Seattle Center, where you can visit the Space Needle, EMP Museum, Pacific Science Center, Chihuly Garden and Glass and more, by taking the Seattle Center Monorail. From downtown, catch the monorail at Westlake Center’s top floor.
The monorail starts running every 10 minutes at 7:30 am Monday-Friday and 8:30 am Saturday-Sunday—if the mall isn’t yet open, enter off Fifth Avenue at Pine St. A one-way fare is $2.25 for adults and $1 for kids 5-12. Cash only.
King County Water Taxi
Get in a little sightseeing while commuting to Alki Beach with the King County Water Taxi. During winter (through April 7) on weekdays, the 10-minute crossing runs from 6-8:30 am and again 3:45-6:45 pm.
Catch the Water Taxi at Pier 50 downtown, which is at the foot of Yesler Street. In West Seattle, the stop is at Seacrest Dock, 1660 Harbor Ave. SW. From there, the southeast path takes you to Salty’s on Alki, while heading northwest brings you to the beach and Alki’s cafes and shopping. If you want to check out the West Seattle Junction, there is a free DART shuttle (Metro bus route 773), while the Admiral District’s free shuttle is Metro bus route 775.
Water Taxi fares are $4.75, while kids 5 and younger are free. Pay with cash when entering the vessel or use a credit or debit card to purchase a ticket from the vending machine at the terminal.
Prefer a cab? Seattle has a variety of taxi companies—a quick internet search will provide a list of phone numbers. Seattle Yellow Cab has an app, where you can request a cab, book in advance and pay for your ride.
Seattle also has both Uber and Lyft—download the app to your smartphone, and you can request cars and pay via the app. Uber has a few different options for service, including uberXL for large groups. Rates vary depending on level of service and time of day. Lyft can take up to three people with the standard service, or up to six with Lyft Plus. Find both apps in your smartphone’s app store.
Seattle also has both Zip Car service and Car2Go, if you’re a subscriber to either of these services. Car2Go’s home area is restricted to Seattle city limits (you can take the cars outside the city, but will continue being charged until the car is parked back in Seattle). Zip Car has locations throughout Seattle, as well as Bellevue and Redmond on Seattle’s Eastside.
Get around town on two wheels with Seattle’s cycle share service. Pronto has bicycles throughout downtown, from Seattle Center and South Lake Union to Pioneer Square and Captiol Hill, as well as the University District. The website’s map has real-time bike availability, as well as which docks have bike key dispensers. Passes are available for 24 hours or three days, which get you unlimited 30-minute trips during that time span.
Be aware that in Seattle, bike helmets are the law—stations have helmets available for rent.
Options to Portland, Ore.
The Bolt Bus picks up in Seattle’s International District, near the light rail station, at Fifth Ave. S and King St. There are usually nine departures daily, with varying fares. Visit the website for schedules, tickets and all the details.
Amtrak Cascades’ Seattle to Portland ride is a fun way to see parts of Washington and Oregon while relaxing in a comfortable train with WiFi, food and drinks. Leave from Seattle’s recently renovated King Street Station at 303 S. Jackson St. There are multiple departures daily with varying fares, so check the website for all the details and to book tickets.