Getting around Seattle

Public transport

Metro Transit (tel: +1 206 553 3000; operates Seattle’s excellent bus system. You can pay your fare in cash or buy a preloadable ORCA smartcard (available from numerous retailers and ORCA vending machines). It also runs the Seattle Streetcar (, linking Downtown to South Lake Union.

Seattle Monorail Services (tel: +1 206 905 2620; runs a high-speed elevated monorail linking Downtown to the Seattle Center. Sound Transit (tel: +1 888 889 6368; runs a light rail service between Westlake, Downtown and SeaTac Airport.

Washington State Ferries (tel: +1 206 464 6400 or +1 888 808 7977; links Seattle with the Olympic Peninsula, Bainbridge Island and other parts of Greater Seattle. Ferries depart from Pier 52, 801 Alaskan Way.


You can hail taxis from the few designated ranks in front of hotels, cruise terminals and the airport or by telephone. A 10 to 15% tip is expected.

Recommended taxi firms include Yellow Cab (tel: +1 206 622 6500) and Orange Cab (tel: +1 206 522 8800).


Owing to heavy congestion, one-way streets and high parking fees, it's not recommended to drive in downtown Seattle. Renting a car, however, can be a great way to explore areas outside Seattle.

Drivers should be aware of the specially designated lanes for buses, bicycles and ‘HOV' or High Occupancy Vehicles - those carrying more than one person. Paid parking is available on the street and in car parks downtown (; it's free after 2000 and on Sundays.

Car hire

The minimum age to hire a car is usually 25 years. A valid driving licence is usually acceptable but an International Driving Permit is preferred if the licence isn't in English.

Car hire companies in Seattle include Alamo (tel: +1 888 826 6893;, Avis (tel: +1 206 448 1700;, Budget (tel: +1 206 682 8989; and Hertz (tel: +1 206 903 6260;

Bicycle hire

Seattle is a great albeit hilly city for cyclists, with designated bicycle lanes. You can hire bikes from the Montlake Bicycle Shop, 2223 24th Avenue East (tel: +1 206 329 7333;

Alternatively, try out the city's bikeshare scheme, Pronto (tel: +1 844 677 6686;; 24-hour and three-day passes are available.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.