A Space Needle, the birthplace of Starbucks, and one of the oldest public markets. Seattle is a fun destination that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as other cities in the United States, but there’s no denying that it’s an awesome place to visit. The question is, how much does it cost to go to Seattle? Keep reading to find out.
For the purpose of this itinerary, I’m going to suggest three nights in Seattle. That said, if your time is limited, you could get a feel for the city even if you stayed just 2 nights. This makes the city a great weekend break or a worthy start or endpoint if you’re doing a west coast road trip. Here’s how much you should budget for a trip to Seattle.
Seattle Trip Cost
|Food and drink||$150|
The above estimate is for a single traveller in American dollars, so please use xe.com to find out the average costs in your home currency.
If you’re Canadian, you may want to consider applying for one of the best travel credit cards in Canada to help offset your costs by collecting points. For example, the American Express Gold Rewards Card gives you a signup bonus of up to 30,000 American Express Membership Rewards points which have a minimum value of $300 (potentially more if you transfer your points to Aeroplan or Marriott Bonvoy). There’s also the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card that has no foreign transaction fees, a sign up bonus worth $250 and it comes with airport lounge access.
Depending on where you’re flying from, the cost of airfare will vary. Generally speaking, a flight within the United States will be as high as $350. If you’re flying from the west coast, flights will likely fall in the $200-250 range. Canadians flying from the east coast may end up paying closer to $450. International travellers will likely need to pay much more, but they wouldn’t be coming to Seattle just for 3-days. They’d be using the city as a stopover.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is a major hub for Delta Airlines and Alaska Airlines so access to the city is quite easy. The airport is also a common destination for many airlines that originate in Asia. What’s nice is that there are a lot of discount carriers such as Southwest, jetBlue, and Spirit Airlines that fly to Seattle, so it’s possible to find inexpensive airfare. Budgeting $300 for your flight is a good starting point.
Like other major cities, Seattle has every type of accommodation you can think of. $160 a night should get you a mid-range hotel, but getting something nicer wouldn’t cost you too much more. The most popular place to stay in Seattle is downtown which is where you’ll find the most hotels, but Belltown is also an excellent choice.
If you want to keep your costs down, there are quite a few 2 or 3-star hotels located around the Seattle Center which are of good value. There are also some relatively inexpensive hotels around Pioneer Square and the outskirts of downtown. Here are some Seattle hotels I recommend:
- Green Tortoise Hostel Seattle
- Best Western Plus Pioneer Square Hotel Downtown
- Hyatt Place Seattle/Downtown
If you have the right credit card, you can save a fair amount of money on hotels. For example, Canadians should consider the BMO World Elite Mastercard since it typically has a sign up bonus of $250 when you charge $3,000 to your card in the first three months of card membership. This card does have an annual fee of $150 but it’s normally waived for the first year so you’re getting $250 for free. There’s also the Marriott Bonvoy American Express which gives you 51,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when you charge $3,000 to your card in the first three months. That’s enough points for up to five free nights at some hotels which could easily have a value of over $650.
When you first start reading about Seattle’s public transportation, it may make your head spin. Sound Transit operates the Link Light Rail. King County Metro Transit operates the buses and streetcars. The monorail only has one stop, and ferries are extra. As a visitor, all you really need to know are two things if you plan on using public transportation. You can purchase an ORCA card which is a reloadable transit card for $5 which can be used on all the various types of transit. Alternatively, you can use the mobile app Transit GO Ticket to purchase digital tickets.
An all-day transit pass is $8 and can be loaded right onto your ORCA card at the time of purchase. That means you could load up your ORCA card as soon as you arrive and spend $29 total on transit which includes getting from/to the airport.
That said, Seattle is an incredibly walkable city. Although you could take the monorail from the Westlake Center to the Seattle Center, it’s only a 15-minute walk. Alternatively, Uber and Lyft are incredibly inexpensive. I personally take the Link Light Rail from the airport, walk everywhere downtown or Pike/Pine, and then take an Uber if I need to get anywhere that requires more than one public transportation transfer. Budgeting $50 for local transportation will give you flexibility.
Even though Seattle is a smaller city, it’s packed with attractions. There are great museums, interesting neighbourhoods, and excellent sports team. If you want to see as much as you can, consider purchasing a Seattle CityPASS for $108. It’ll give you access to 5 attractions at a discount of 45%. The attractions that come with the Seattle CityPASS are:
- Space Needle
- Seattle Aquarium
- Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour
- Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) or Woodland Park Zoo
- Chihuly Garden and Glass or Pacific Science Center
Getting the Seattle CityPASS allows you to skip the lines, but make sure the admission cost for the attractions you’ll actually visit costs more than buying a CityPASS.
If you’re an aviation geek, you may want to consider booking a Boeing factory tour. The half-day tour costs $79 and includes transportation from Seattle. You’ll literally get to go inside the Boeing factory to see planes under construction. It’s definitely a unique opportunity which you won’t find in many places around the world.
Don’t worry, Seattle also has many free attractions. Visiting Pike Place Market is a must (although you may end up spending on snacks). There’s the Frye Art Museum which even has free tours and parking. Olympic Sculpture Park has more than a dozen outdoor sculptures that are great for Instagram. Exploring neighbourhoods can also be fun so checkout Fremont, Ballard, and the University of Washington grounds if you have time.
Food and drink
Seattle offers a wide variety of cuisine but since it’s located by the water, it won’t be hard to find fresh seafood on any menu. How much you spend is up to you, but this is what I recommend you budget each day.
- Breakfast – $7
- Lunch – $13
- Dinner – $30
That works out to $50 a day which may seem high to some people, but this assumes you’ll be going to at least one restaurant a day where you need to leave a tip. You can obviously spend less if you want, but if you’re only in the city for three nights, why go cheap on food?
A coffee and pastry is the most common breakfast for tourists. If you’re staying near Pike Place Market, there’s a lot of choices when it comes to breakfast options. For lunch, grab a sandwich and drink from anywhere just to keep you going. Mamnoon Street is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a twist on Middle-Eastern fare. As for dinner, local celebrity chef, Tom Douglas has multiple restaurants that serve different cuisines such as Greek, Mexican, Italian, and more at reasonable prices.
It’s unlikely you’ll end up spending a bunch of money on shopping, but setting aside an additional $100 for random expenses is a good idea. Seattle has a lot of great coffee shops and bakeries so you might end up spending more on food than you anticipated. You may also be lazy and not want to walk everywhere, so you could end up spending more on Ubers/taxis. Especially, if you have an early morning flight on your way home.
Even though the Seattle CityPASS will cover a lot of attractions, there may be other things you want to see which require an admission charge. If you’re looking for souvenirs to bring home, hand-blown glass, coffee, smoked salmon, and kitchen gear from Pike Place Market are popular.
So how much does it cost to go to Seattle? Based on my estimates, you should budget US $1,1190 for 3 nights. That price is comparable to other major U.S. cities, so Seattle is definitely worth considering. For more inspiration, check out my guides to Toronto, Chicago, Orlando, New York City, Barcelona, Tokyo, Rome, and Bangkok.