Last Updated on February 5, 2024 by Kelly
Even though Vancouver BC is located in a different country, it’s remarkably close to Seattle. There are many ways to reach Vancouver. These include driving, taking the train, hopping on a bus, taking a ferry, and flying. In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know to travel from Seattle to Vancouver. We’ll share our favorite routes and our best tips to enjoy the journey!
Important Information: Before your trip, make sure that you’re familiar with the border crossing and customs process. For most people, a passport and/or other relevant travel documents will be necessary. Check the Government of Canada’s Entry Requirements.
Travel Options from Seattle to Vancouver BC
1. Take the Bus
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. It typically takes about 4 hours from downtown Seattle to Vancouver BC. (At the time of this writing, I found roundtrip ticket fares for $90 CAD. 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.
|See our suggested itinerary for Vancouver and our picks for the best restaurants in Vancouver.
2. Drive by Car
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.
Another important thing to do is to research the typical wait times at the border. 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 drive, 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 renting a car, just check with your agency to make sure that you can take the vehicle into Canada ahead of your trip.
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Tip: Purchase a Seattle CityPASS to save money on multiple attractions!
3. Take the Train
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. Take a Boat
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. Take a Plane
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!
6. Visit Victoria BC Along the Way!
If you have time, we highly recommend adding Victoria BC as a stop along the way to Vancouver BC. You can easily take the Victoria Clipper passenger ferry from downtown Seattle and it will take you directly to Victoria’s Inner Harbor. We recently completed the journey from Seattle to Victoria, and it only took 3 hours. The ferry ride was absolutely beautiful, and we thought Victoria was such a charming city to visit. (Read all about our experience on the Victoria Clipper for more information!) After your visit to Victoria, then you’ll just need to take a separate ferry to Vancouver.
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 See in Vancouver BC
When you get to Vancouver, be sure to check out the following places:
- 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.
- Capilano Suspension 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.
Recommended Hotels 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.
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!
Hotels 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.
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.)
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!
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.