Last Updated on May 17, 2023 by admin
Seattle and Vancouver BC are two coastal cities that have many things in common, such as heavy rainfall, mild climates, and lots of outdoor recreational opportunities. Although they are only 143 miles (231 kilometers) apart, they are located in two separate countries: the United States (Seattle) and Canada (Vancouver BC). Vancouver BC is easily reachable from Seattle. If you’re going to be in Seattle, you should definitely consider traveling to Vancouver BC. This post will cover everything you need to know for traveling from Seattle and Vancouver. We’ll cover options for traveling by bus, car, train, boat, and plane.
|If you’re visiting Vancouver, see our suggested itinerary here, as well as our picks for best restaurants. If you’re visiting Seattle, see our suggested itinerary here, as well as our picks for best restaurants.|
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|Planning a trip to Seattle? See our post on 101 Things to Do in Seattle!|
Travel Tip: If you’re planning a trip to Seattle, consider buying a Seattle CityPASS. You’ll be able to save money if you plan on visiting multiple attractions. For instance, if you plan on visiting the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, Museum of Pop Culture, Woodland Park Zoo, Chihuly Garden and Glass, or Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour, we highly recommend that you look into purchasing the CityPASS.
Important Travel Information: Crossing the Border
Because you will be traveling between two different countries, be sure that you’re familiar with the border crossing and customs process. See the websites we suggest below to see which items you need to bring when crossing the border. For most people, a passport and/or other relevant travel documents will be necessary. Proof of covid vaccination and pre-arrival covid test are no longer required.
Some websites that may serve as helpful resources include:
When making plans to visit Vancouver, make sure you are booking your reservations for Vancouver, British Columbia, and not Vancouver, Washington. (It’s confusing, but Washington State also has a smaller city named Vancouver!)
Looking to book a hotel for your trip? When you use my code ADVENTURE on the Hopper App, you’ll get $25 off your booking! #hopperpartner
How to Travel from Seattle to Vancouver BC
1. Bus from Seattle to Vancouver BC
Bussing to Vancouver is the most affordable option if you don’t have your own vehicle. Cantrail Coach Lines is currently running busses from Seattle to Vancouver BC. (You can read more about using their services here.) They report an estimated travel time of a little less than 4 hours from downtown Seattle to Vancouver BC. (At the time of this writing, I found roundtrip ticket fares for $80 USD. I’m sure these fares are subject to change, so be sure to check their website for the most current information.)
Another company that offers service to Vancouver BC is Greyhound. You’ll want to carefully evaluate the schedule to see if there’s a lot of stops along the way. (I found one route that had 3 stops before the border: Everett, Mount Vernon, and Bellingham). Also, when you cross the border, you’ll have to wait for everyone on the bus to go through customs. (So it might take a little more time than you anticipated.) On the Greyhound website, I found a couple of schedules to Vancouver BC. One had a trip duration of 4 hours and 25 minutes, and another had a trip duration of 3 hours and 55 minutes. When I was researching our trip, I found the cheapest fares using Greyhound. Of course, be sure to research the exact details of your itinerary with both companies to find the lowest price.
2. Drive by Car from Seattle to Vancouver BC
Another option is to drive from Seattle to Vancouver. The drive typically takes under 3 hours if there is not a lot of traffic. The Seattle area is notorious for bad traffic, though, so we recommend that you plan accordingly. Try to avoid rush hour. You can also look at border crossing times at the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) website to help you estimate how long it will take. During busy holiday weekends, for example, there can be a long line at the border.
If you choose to travel by car, and you’d like to make a stop along the way, we recommend stopping in Bellingham, Washington. Bellingham is located about 30 minutes south of the Canadian border, so it’s a good place to stop and grab a bite to eat before continuing your journey. (You don’t want to be stuck in a long line at the border hungry!) Some restaurants in Bellingham to consider include Boundary Bay Brewery, Keenan’s at the Pier, or Sweet as Waffles.
Once you arrive in Canada, be aware that the speed limit changes from miles per hour to kilometers per hour. Check your speedometer settings in advance so that you don’t inadvertently speed when you arrive in Canada.
If you’re traveling during the month of April, be sure to check out the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival on your way to Canada!
If you’re renting a car, just check with your agency to make sure that you can take the vehicle into Canada ahead of your trip.
3. Take the Train from Seattle to Vancouver BC
Another option is to book tickets for the train on the Amtrak website. When you take the Amtrak Cascades Train, you’ll be able to sit back and relax, use WiFi, grab some food or a beverage from the cafe car, or just look out the window at the coastal views. From Seattle, you will depart from the King Street Station in Seattle. (Although you can catch the train at one of the many stops further north if that works better for your itinerary.) You’ll arrive in Vancouver’s Pacific Central Station. The station is in the heart of Vancouver BC, so you can easily access many of the hotels and attractions once you arrive. The train ride can take between 3 to 4 hours, and it’s a very beautiful way to travel to Canada. If you don’t need a car while in Vancouver, this is a great option for traveling to the city comfortably.
4. Travel by Sea from Seattle to Vancouver BC
If you want to take a longer, more scenic route, you can take the Victoria Clipper from Seattle to Victoria BC (which is located on Vancouver Island). From Victoria BC, you’ll need to take a separate ferry to Vancouver BC. You’ll disembark the ferry at the Tsawwassen Terminal, which is approximately 36 kilometers to the downtown Vancouver area. Make sure you have a plan for traveling from Tsawwassen to downtown. Expect the full journey to take you nearly all day. To travel from Seattle to Victoria takes about 3 hours, and then from Victoria to Vancouver it will take about another 4 hours counting sea and land travel time. Also, please note, that you’ll be arriving and departing from two separate ferry terminals in Victoria. (So there’s a bit of a drive between the two terminals.)
Traveling by boat is a great option if you want to specifically spend some time in Victoria before going to Vancouver. If that’s the case, then there is plenty to see in Victoria! We recommend viewing the Butchart Gardens, visiting the Fairmont Empress Hotel, and going to Craigdarroch Castle.
5. Fly from Seattle to Vancouver BC
You can also book airfare from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to Vancouver International Airport (YVR). The non-stop flight is about an hour long. Alaska Airlines, Delta, Air Canada, and United Airlines all have regularly-scheduled flights. Flight costs can vary substantially based on the season, but the last time I looked, I found airfare for about $250 roundtrip. At the time of this writing, there are no flights running from Everett (PAE) or Bellingham (BLI) to Vancouver (YVR).
I personally wouldn’t recommend booking a flight over the train, because you’ll need to arrive at SeaTac airport several hours before your flight. Just because of that, you might as well take the train and have a more relaxed journey. (As well as a more affordable one!)
One flight you might consider, though, is using Kenmore Air. If you book with them, you’ll be able to take a seaplane to Canada. (Which is a unique experience in and of itself!) The flight is still an hour, but you won’t need to get to the airport as early before your flight. If you’re looking for the quickest option to travel from Seattle to Vancouver, this would likely be it!
Tip: I recommend checking the SkyScanner website to see the best prices for your dates of travel!
Day Trip from Seattle to Vancouver
Traveling to Vancouver is one of my favorite day trips from Seattle. The drive from Seattle to Vancouver is typically under 3 hours. If you leave Seattle by 7am, you could potentially be in Vancouver by 10am. That gives you an entire day to explore the city!
If you take a day trip from Seattle to Vancouver, I recommend visiting the locations: Stanley Park, Capilano Suspension Bridge, and downtown Vancouver. To customize your trip, feel free to see my list of things to see in Vancouver BC.
What to Pack for Your Trip to Vancouver BC
We recommend that you consider packing the following items when you travel from Seattle to Vancouver:
- Packable rain jacket
- Comfortable daypack
- Portable charger (so your cell phone doesn’t run out battery)
- Insulated water bottle
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Guide book to Vancouver and Victoria
Our Experience Traveling from Seattle to Vancouver BC
We frequently travel from Seattle to Vancouver BC. Living in Washington State, weekend trips to Vancouver were extremely common. I’ve traveled to Vancouver more times than I can count, and it’s a city I love returning to!
I most typically travel to Vancouver BC by car. The drive is not too long, and it’s even possible to do as a day trip. If I’m staying overnight in Canada, I like to research which hotels have parking garages for guests.
Some highlights of our most recent trip to Vancouver BC were visiting Stanley Park and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. We love to visit Vancouver BC for the food, so be sure to check out our favorite places to eat in Vancouver!
We had the best time in Vancouver, and we look forward to many more visits!
What to See in Vancouver BC
There is a lot to see in Vancouver! We wrote an entire post outlining our favorite things to do in Vancouver BC (linked here). Here’s a few must-sees:
- Granville Island Public Market: This public market is one of our favorite places in Vancouver. We love to eat when we travel, so we always head here for the best food!
- Stanley Park: This large urban park is famous for the Seawall (a super long waterfront path) and the Brockton Point totem poles.
- Vancouver Aquarium: Located within Stanley Park is this magnificent aquarium.
- Capilano Supsension Bridge: One of our favorite places to visit is Capilano. The suspension bridge, Treetop Adventure, and Cliffwalk are all unique experiences with a gorgeous forest backdrop.
The Best Time to Visit Vancouver BC
We love to visit Vancouver BC year-round. However, if you want to avoid the rain, we recommend that you visit during the summer months. If you visit in September, there will be less tourists and still fairly good weather. Expect much more rain November through March. (We don’t mind visiting Vancouver BC in the rain, though. We live by the mentality that there’s no bad weather, just bad gear. If you’ve got a raincoat and rain boots, don’t let the rain stop you from exploring!) We wrote a whole post about the best things to do in Vancouver on a rainy day.
Where to Stay in Vancouver BC
In previous trips, we’ve stayed at the Residence Inn Vancouver Downtown (by Marriott). We really liked this hotel because it was centrally located and walkable to everything. We also were glad to have our own kitchenettes to store food and heat up leftovers.
Another hotel to consider is the Opus Vancouver, which is a trendy boutique hotel with brightly colored rooms. (Perfect for an Instagram shot!) It’s located in the Yaletown neighborhood.
If you have the budget, one of the best hotels in Vancouver BC is the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. The hotel has the nickname “castle in the city”, so you know it’s fancy. The hotel recently completed a $75 million renovation, so it is nothing short of spectacular.
The Pan Pacific Vancouver is a luxury hotel located near Canada Place. The hotel has waterfront views and is still walkable to downtown attractions.
During one of our more recent trips to Vancouver, we stayed at the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver. (We wrote all about our stay here!) This hotel has a rooftop hot tub with views of the city, a casino, and lots of dining options. The views from our room were absolutely spectacular!
For a full list of hotels in Vancouver BC, click here.
Tip: Use the search engine below to find the best hotel in Vancouver for you!
Where to Stay Between Seattle and Vancouver BC
If you’re looking for lodging between Seattle and Vancouver, we recommend staying in Bellingham. Bellingham is about 89 miles from Seattle and about 54 miles from Vancouver BC.
If you’re looking for a nice place to stay, book reservations at the Chrysalis Inn and Spa. This boutique hotel has a full-service spa and a nice restaurant. The hotel has direct views of the waters of Bellingham Bay.
Another place we have heard good things about is Hotel Bellwether. We’ve been there before, but we have never stayed as guests. We love the location… right on the water!
We also really like the Fairhaven neighborhood in Bellingham. The Fairhaven Village Inn has a lot of character!
Where to Stay Near the Canadian Border
Spending the night near the border can be a great way to get ahead start on border crossing early the next morning.
If you’re on the United States side of the border, we recommend staying in Blaine, Washington. The Semiahmoo Resort & Spa is a beautiful hotel that’s located right on the water, and less than 20 minutes away from the border crossing. If you’re looking for a budget option, the Northwoods Motel is only 5 minutes from the border. For a complete list of hotels in Blaine, Washington, click here.
If you’re on the Canadian side of the border, we recommend staying at the Ocean Promenade Hotel. You’ll have excellent views of the water, and it’s one of the closest hotels to the border. (It’s less than 15 minutes away.) For a complete list of hotels in nearby Surrey, British Columbia, click here.
Guided Tours of Vancouver BC
One excellent way to see the local sights is to take a guided tour. You won’t have to worry about planning the travel details, and your guide will be knowledgeable about the history and culture.
Here’s some tours and experiences to consider in Vancouver, British Columbia:
- Vancouver City Tour Including Capilano Suspension Bridge: This is a half-day sightseeing bus tour.
- Gastown Historic Walking Food Tour: You’ll get to try lots of delicious food in Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood.
- Vancouver Harbor Sunset Dinner Cruise: You’ll listen to live music as you enjoy views of the city on this dinner cruise.
What is the best way to get from Seattle to Vancouver?
We prefer to drive or take the train to Vancouver BC from Seattle. If you are in a hurry, taking the seaplane from Kenmore Air is the most efficient option. The flight is only an hour, and you won’t have to deal with the lengthy check-in procedures at SeaTac Airport.
Can you do a day trip from Seattle to Vancouver?
Yes, it’s definitely possible. The drive typically takes less than three hours. If you left at 7am, you could be in Vancouver by 10am. (As long as there is not a lot of traffic or border crossing delays.) If you left Vancouver at 7pm, you could theoretically be home by 10pm.
Where is the border crossing?
There are multiple border crossings in Washington State to enter Canada. The most popular one is the Peace Arch. Some of the other border crossing stations may be less congested, but they also might not be open 24 hours a day. Be sure to check in advance of your trip.
Can you drive from Seattle to Vancouver BC?
Yes, the drive typically takes around 3 hours. Interstate-5 is the most direct route. You’ll need to cross through the border (be sure to bring all required documentation). The Peace Arch border crossing is the most direct entrance to Canada.
Summary: Traveling from Seattle to Vancouver BC
We hope this post was helpful in figuring out how to travel from Seattle to Vancouver. Vancouver is one of our favorite destinations, and it’s so easy to reach from Seattle. If you’re going to be in Seattle, we definitely recommend that you add Vancouver BC to your itinerary!
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If you enjoyed this post, you may also be interested in the following posts:
- How to Spend a Weekend in Vancouver BC (2 Day Itinerary)
- Best Places to Eat in Vancouver
- Vancouver’s Most Instagrammable Photo Spots
- 30 Things to Do in Vancouver on a Rainy Day
- What to See at the Vancouver Aquarium
- Capilano Suspension Bridge Park Guide
- Complete Guide to Stanley Park
- Our Guide to Granville Island Public Market
- What to See at Seattle’s Pike Place Market
- Visiting the Seattle Aquarium
- Our Guide to the Woodland Park Zoo
Disclaimer: We always strive for content accuracy. Since the time of publishing, travel-related information regarding pricing, schedules, and hours may have changed. Please look up such information directly from each vendor or institution for the most current information. We do not provide legal advice related to border crossing. This post is for informational purposes only.
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