1. Home
  2. life
  3. news
  4. The 4 best ways to get to and around Seattle, according to a local who doesn't own a car

The 4 best ways to get to and around Seattle, according to a local who doesn't own a car

The 4 best ways to get to and around Seattle, according to a local who doesn't own a car
Car rental is a good option for visitors in Seattle who'd rather avoid public transit.Punit Sharma Fotography/Shutterstock
  • If you're planning a trip to Seattle, use these tips from a local on the best ways to get around.
  • SEA is the most convenient airport, and the city is bike-friendly if you want to skip a rental car.

As someone who lives in the heart of Seattle and doesn't have my own car, I often take advantage of the city's public-transit options. Although our network of public transit isn't as extensive or sophisticated as that of New York City or Chicago, you'll be able to get around with relative ease, though be prepared for some hills if you're traveling on foot.

If you're planning to take public transit, I recommend using the Puget Sound Trip Planner to plan routes by bus, train, light rail, streetcar, ferry, water taxi, and the monorail. If you're visiting for just two or three days, you don't need to get a car, however if you're planning day trips outside the city for hiking or visits to nearby Vancouver or Portland, a car will be more convenient.

Here are the best options for getting to and around Seattle.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
A plane landing at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.      Rick Friedman/Corbis/Getty Images

The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) is the main airport in Seattle and home to 31 airlines with domestic and international destinations. From the airport, you can take a ride-hailing service like Uber and Lyft or the light-rail train into the city.

If you reserved a rental car, head to one of the free shuttle stops at the north or south end of the airport to ride the shuttle to an off-site rental-car facility with kiosks for Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar Car Rental, Enterprise, Hertz, and more.

SEA can get crowded, so for departure I recommend arriving two hours before your scheduled boarding time for domestic flights and three hours ahead for international flights. There are TSA PreCheck lanes and Clear entrances as well as airport lounges. You can download the flySEA app to check wait times, a shopping and dining directory, and other amenities. As of April, masks are no longer required on public transportation or at transportation hubs.

Car rental and ride-hailing services

Car rental and ride-hailing services
If you're renting a car in Seattle, pay attention to street-parking rules in different neighborhoods.      Grant Hindsley for Insider

Car rental is a great option if you want more flexibility to explore outside of Seattle. I'd recommend a car if you're planning to hike during your trip, so you can travel on your own time, though there are a limited number of Trailhead Direct buses that travel to Mount Si, Little Si, and Mount Teneriffe in the summer.

There's a rental-car facility five minutes away from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport with rental companies like Enterprise, Avis, Dollar Car Rental, and more, as well as other pickup locations throughout the city.

Like most cities, you can also get around Seattle using Lyft or Uber. This can help you get around faster without needing to find parking in each neighborhood. Seattle isn't an exception to the reduced number of Lyft and Uber drivers on the road since the pandemic began, so prices have gone up, but in general you'll still get connected to a driver pretty quickly.

Public transit

Public transit
One of Seattle's Sound Transit Streetcars at a station near Pioneer Square.      CineCam/Shutterstock
Sound Transit link light rail

The link light rail runs from Angle Lake to Northgate with stops at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, University of Washington, downtown Seattle, and south Seattle. This is a popular choice for travelers going to and from the airport to skip street traffic.

It takes 57 minutes to ride end to end and runs every six to 15 minutes, depending on the time of day, with service from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., Monday through Saturday, and 6 a.m. to midnight on Sundays and holidays. All of the stations are wheelchair accessible, and the light rail also has visual and auditory announcements for each stop.

To get a ticket, buy an ORCA card at a ticket machine, online, or at a retail location. You can purchase single or multiple rides as well as a regional day pass.

King County Metro buses

King County Metro buses are a great option for getting through Seattle, especially between neighborhoods like Ballard and Queen Anne that aren't served by the light rail. Pay with an ORCA card, cash, or Transit GO ticket, which can be purchased on the Transit GO ticket app. Buses have lifts or ramps for wheelchairs or anyone with limited mobility or who has trouble climbing steps.


In addition to buses and the light rail, there are streetcar lines that run through South Lake Union and Capitol Hill. These accept the same payment methods as buses (ORCA card, cash, or Transit GO ticket), and you can even bring service animals and bicycles aboard.

Seattle Monorail

The monorail is the fastest way to travel between the Westlake Center in downtown Seattle to a number of popular tourist spots like the Space Needle, Museum of Pop Culture, and Pacific Science Center. The monorail takes ORCA cards as well as cash.


Seattle is very bike-friendly, with generous bike lanes and even bike-specific traffic signals.      Sofia Sukach

If you're interested in biking around the Emerald City, you're in good company. As a bike-friendly city, Seattle is full of bike lanes, bike-specific traffic signals, and quieter paths around Green Lake Park or along the 18-mile Burke-Gilman Trail, which are popular among walkers, runners, cyclists, and commuters.

If you want to borrow a bike from a bike-share program for a ride to the light rail, or as a way to enjoy the sunshine, you can use Lime or Veo, which have 3,000 bikes and a number of dock locations throughout the city. Some bikes even have an electric-assist option, which makes it easier to traverse the hills of Seattle. During the warmer months, there are also scooters available to use.

Reference this bike map to plan your route — just make sure you lock your bike when you park, aren't blocking sidewalks, and leave space for pedestrians to pass. Bring a helmet and bike lock as well, so you can secure your bike when parking.

View Insider's comprehensive guide to visiting Seattle, Washington.