Seattle To Vancouver: What Is The Best Way To Travel?

July 15, 2020

by Nicole Olson

Gorgeous skyline of Vancouver reflected on water
Photo by ID 12019 from Pixabay

Seattle and Vancouver is merely separated by three hours drive. Needless to say, when it comes to cross-border vacation, Vancouver has always come across the Seattleite’s mind. They say when visiting the Pacific Northwest, you have to swing by these two cities. And it’s not hard to understand why! Situated in one of the world’s temperate forests, Vancouver is vibrant with lush forests and scenic views. Aside from that, many fun outdoor activities are no less than tempting. 

 

While many travelers agree that the simplest way to travel from Seattle to Vancouver is via the train. Mostly because of its convenience and the scenic train rides you can enjoy. However, if the trains ride isn’t the best choice, there are plenty of alternatives available to travel at ease. Here are all the options to help you out.

 

How Far Is Vancouver From Seattle?

Business district of downtown Vancouver, Canda

Photo by Kyle Ryan on Unsplash

 

It’s always a good idea to know how far you’re about to travel. Not only it’s great to help you plan your itinerary ahead, perhaps, but you can also save some time and money choosing the best mode of transportation. With only 120 miles separating the two cities and the extensive selection of transportation, traveling from Vancouver to Seattle and interchangeable has been a breeze. But it all boils down to your budget and preferences.

 

Here’s a quick look at the distance, cost, and time you’ll spend for each:

 

 

Time

Cost

Best For

Plane

1 hour

From $170

Relaxing 

Car

3 hours

143 miles (230 kilometers)

The views and exploring the area

Ferry

2-3 hours

From $137 

The views

Train

4 hours

From $34

The views

Bus

4 hours, 10 minutes

From $16

Views; traveling on a budget

So, what’s the best way to get there for you? Let’s find out.

 

By Plane

Airplane wing against white clouds

Photo by Free-Photos from Pixabay

 

With only an hour of flight time, a plane ride from Seattle is the fastest way to reach Vancouver. This is perfect if you’re visiting Vancouver but are pressed for time. Take note, though, that it’s still considered an international flight, so you’ll have to go through customs and border control. You need to have your passport with you when crossing the border. 

 

When taking the plane to Vancouver, factor in the time it will take you to go through the airport check-in. Nonetheless, it’s still the fastest way to travel between the two cities. 

 

To fully maximize the trip, consider picking a window seat to enjoy the gorgeous views. 

 

Airlines That Fly From Seattle To Vancouver

 

There are various Seattle to Vancouver flights that fly directly. These include Air Canada, Alaska, American, Delta, and WestJet. You can get lucky by scoring online promos on airfares, so book well ahead. While it’s great to visit year-round, summer and winter are the peak travel months. 

 

By Car

A convertible car on a road trip

Photo by Free-Photos from Pixabay

 

Another fast way to travel from Seattle to Vancouver is by riding a car. Whether you’re bringing your own car or renting one, driving to Canada is a flexible way to reach Vancouver. Driving to Vancouver takes about 3 hours, but this depends on traffic and situation at the border crossing. What makes driving by car to Vancouver pleasant is the flexibility to stop and explore. 

 

Generally, the Seattle to Vancouver drive experience is hassle-free. You just need to answer a few questions at the border and show the necessary documents. If you have a NEXUS card, you can breeze through its express lane. 

 

What Documents Do You Need To Bring? ​

 

When traveling from Seattle to Vancouver by car requires some documents. Bring your passport or equivalent travel document. ​You also need your driver’s license and other travel documents, such as a NEXUS card and a Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card. If you’re renting a car, bring the necessary documents. Otherwise, bring your own car’s records. 

 

Are There Car Rentals From Seattle To Vancouver? 

 

There are plenty of car rental companies in the U.S. with a wide selection of cars. Most of these companies allow you to drive their cars from Seattle to Vancouver. There may be restrictions, though, so read the agreement beforehand. 

 

Best spots to drive between Seattle to Vancouver:

 

  • Downtown: For the history buffs, Downtown Seattle is a must-see. From the historic museums to towering buildings, driving by here is an excellent treat.
  • La Conner: Lying in the northwestern corner of Washington, the small town in Skagit Valley offers scenic views and a warm ambiance. It’s a great stop for some fine crafts and maybe a quick visit to the art galleries. 
  • Fairhaven: Another great stop from Seattle to Vancouver is Fairhaven. Treat yourself to some affordable yet unique items from the boutique shops and galleries. 
  • Vancouver: ​Once you’ve reached your destination, don’t forget to swing by Stanley Park, the Museum of Anthropology, ​and the Sea-to-Sky Highway.

 

By Ferry Ride

Seattle Ferry Terminal on a cloudy day

Photo by Alex Diaconou from Flickr

 

There’s no direct ferry from Seattle to Vancouver, so you need to arrange another ride in Victoria. Most travelers spend a day or night in Victoria before moving to Vancouver. This is because the ferry leaves from Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay, which is about an hour and a half away. Aside from that, staying longer in Victoria allows you to enjoy and take in its beauty and old charm. 

 

Clipper Vacations is among the ferry services that can take you to Victoria from Seattle. Clippers ferry offers not only fantastic ferry deals but also hotel and vacation packages. How long is the ferry ride from Seattle to Vancouver, you might ask? The sleek, high-speed Clipper ferry lets you enjoy a 2-hour and 45-minute cruise to Victoria. You can opt for a day or overnight trip, among other packages they offer. From there, travelers can take a plane, helicopter, or another ferry going to Vancouver. The ferry fee starts at $5.50, and the ride is about 1.5 hours.

 

A ferry ride to Vancouver can get expensive, especially if you opt for the luxurious ferries. However, the scenic views along your cruise and the relaxing ride are worth paying for.

 

By Train 

The long stretch of Amtrak Vacations train

Photo from Amtrak Vacations’ official Facebook page

 

Many travelers say that by train is the best way to travel from Seattle to Vancouver. Not only is the price reasonable, but the views are breathtaking. 

 

How much is the train ticket? Amtrak Seattle rate starts at $34 and offers comfortable seats with its own power outlet. Children below 12 years old get a 50% discount, while seniors enjoy a 10% off. The Seattle to Vancouver train experience takes about 4 hours, but the sensational views will keep you more than entertained. Meanwhile, with Amtrak Vacations, travelers can opt from a selection of rail journey packages. These offerings let you discover and enjoy the most stunning destinations from the U.S. and Canada by rail.  

 

By Bus

Sleek-looking Greyhound bus waiting for passengers

Photo from Greyhound Bus’ official Facebook page

 

If you’ve ever been on a Greyhound Bus, you’d be happy to know that it can take you to Vancouver. The quick shuttle takes travelers from Seattle to Vancouver in about 4 hours, depending on traffic. A bus ride may not be as comfortable as the train or the plane, but it’s definitely much cheaper. For as low as $16, you can still enjoy the views and rest in between stops before reaching Vancouver. Seattle bus routes to Vancouver, like the train, will take you to the city center. 

  

Take note, though, that you will still disembark and go through immigration when taking the bus, so you still need to bring the necessary documents and identification with you. 

 

When it comes to the pickup and drop off points, this will depend on which Seattle bus line you choose. Quick Shuttle can pick up passengers directly at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport. Meanwhile, others do so at bus or train stations. 

 

Seattle Bus Options

 

  • Greyhound: Offering 3 trips daily, Greyhound is known for its express service and few stops. Bus fares start as low as $17 each way.
  • BoltBus: If you want a premium bus ride, book with BoltBus. The bus line has free WiFi and reclining seats with more legroom. Prices start at $25 for a one-way trip.
  • Quick Shuttle: This Seattle bus makes 4-5 trips each day. It offers the convenience of picking up passengers straight from the Seattle-Tacoma airport. Offering convenience and comfort, Quick Shuttle rate runs $40-$60 per person. 
  • Amtrak: Amtrak is another Seattle bus line that promises to simplify your trip to Vancouver. Offering comfortable seats, a one-way trip costs $40. 

 

FAQs

How many days to travel in Vancouver?

 

A visit from Seattle to Vancouver can be quick or long, depending on what you want to do. 1-2 days in Vancouver should be enough if you wish to see the highlights of the city. Stay longer if you want to spend a day at the beach or engage in outdoor sports.  

 

How many days do you need to visit Seattle and Vancouver?

 

For a small city as Seattle, 3-4 days will suffice, unless you plan on visiting nearby cities. For Vancouver, 3 days should be fine to get a feel of the city and check the hot spots. 

 

Can I use the U.S. Dollars in Vancouver?

 

The popular destinations in Vancouver accept U.S. dollars and usually give a decent exchange. U.S. credit cards are also accepted almost everywhere. Your bank will do the conversion.  

 

When is the best time to visit Vancouver?

 

March to May and September to November are the best months to visit Vancouver. During these months, the weather is pleasant, and you can enjoy reasonable hotel room rates. 

 

Time To Cross The Border!

 

With only 120 miles and one international border in between, traveling from Seattle to Vancouver is tempting. From Seattle’s stunning skyscrapers to Vancouver’s natural beauty, a trip between these cities is worth anyone’s time. What makes it more inviting is the various options to reach Vancouver. Whether by car, bus, ferry, or plane, the journey from Seattle to Vancouver is half the fun of the experience.