How to Easily Get From the Seattle Airport to Downtown Seattle

seattle airport to downtown seattle
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When you first get to a new airport, the most important factor you’ll want to know is how to get out of it and explore the city. In fact, one of the top questions I get from readers is how to get from the Seattle Airport to downtown Seattle, and I’m here to answer that question in-depth. Public transit, taxis, ridesharing, and rental cars are just some of the transportation options you have.

As I call Seattle my home, I’ve used Sea-Tac Airport almost 100 times at this point, and I’ve taken every transportation option there is over the years. Whether I catch the affordable Link Light Rail (my preferred option) or get a ride in a taxi, I know all the ways to get to downtown Seattle from the Seattle Airport, so I’m here to help you plan out your next trip.

You can get from Seattle’s airport to downtown by a variety of methods, whether you’re in a hurry to get to a meeting, thrilled to begin exploring the city, or simply looking forward to the coziness of your hotel room. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or on your first trip to Seattle, this guide will help you choose the best route from Seatac to downtown Seattle based on time, money, and efficiency.

Best Ways to Get From Seattle Airport to Downtown Seattle

ground transportation sign

Millions of travelers fly into Seattle via Seattle-Tacoma International, also known as SeaTac or SEA Airport, every year (46 million in 2022 alone).

Many of them prefer to be based in the buzzing downtown area. That’s because the city center has all the top hotels, attractions, bars, and restaurants. It’s also the best area to use as a springboard if you’re keen to explore Seattle without a car.

These dependable transport options are the best ways to get from the Seattle airport to your desired destination in Seattle’s downtown area.

Link Light Rail (Sound Transit)

light rail seattle airport

The “Emerald City” is growing rapidly, creating a need for reliable transport options to get visitors from and between the city’s most important locations, like SeaTac Airport.

In Seattle, there are several convenient options for transportation from the Seattle airport to downtown. Selecting the right one depends on your needs, preferences, and budget.

Speaking of budget, using the Link Light Rail is the most affordable way to get from SeaTac Airport to the downtown area. It’s traffic-free, quick, and easy.

The Link Light Rail, operated by Sound Transit, will take you from the airport to Westlake Station downtown. It runs every 10–15 minutes and is my top pick for convenience when traveling light (with relatively little luggage).

Unlike a traditional taxi or rideshare, the Link Light Rail won’t transport you directly to your hotel (or any other final destination). You’ll have to plan and organize a secondary transport option, like an Uber or a cab, to get you from Westlake Station to your accommodation after your train ride.

How? You’ll have to walk about 10 minutes from the airport terminal to the Link Light Rail station at SeaTac. After claiming your luggage, follow the easy signs leading to the Link Light Rail.

link light rail seattle airport

From the airport’s northern terminal, make your way up to the sky bridge level (which is one floor above). Use the fourth-floor connection at the airport’s parking garage, which acts as a walkway from International Boulevard. The parking garage takes you directly to the Link Light Rail station, where you can take the Light Rail from Seatac to downtown Seattle.

You can also use the free shuttle or electric cart service to make the short commute between the sky bridge and the Link Light Rail station when going from the Seattle Airport to downtown Seattle.

When you arrive at the station, purchase a pass at one of the ticket machines (or buy an ORCA card). You can also download the Transit GO Ticket mobile app to get your train ticket.

orca card light rail

Use Google Maps to check which downtown Seattle stop is closest to your hotel so you can jump off the train at the most convenient location. This is a great way to save money on a 3-day Seattle trip.

Remember: One of the most important things about train services is that they run on set schedules. This might be a problem if you’re coming into town super early (e.g., 4 a.m.) or on a late flight (e.g., after 9 p.m.).

In such cases, a more direct service like a taxi or rideshare option (like Uber or Lyft) will fare better. Check the schedules to clarify your landing time and the Link Light Rail departure times.

The estimated travel times and prices that follow (for all options) are a general guide that excludes traffic and surge pricing.

Estimated travel time: 35 – 40 minutes

Estimated price: $3 (for adults aged 19–64 years). Youths aged 18 and under ride for free. Seniors and disabled riders can use the Regional Reduced Fare Permit (RRFP) for reduced travel fares.


uber lyft sign

Rideshare is one of the most comfortable ways to get from SeaTac Airport to Seattle’s city center, especially if you have a lot of luggage. Uber and Lyft are the most trusted services and are great for private rides to your hotel of choice.

There is a slight snag, however. Rideshares cost more money because you’re paying for the convenience of direct travel. What softens the pinch on your wallet is the daily, all-hours availability that rideshare options afford you.

This is also one of the safest ways to travel, which comes in handy at odd hours, like early morning and late night. While I do love the Light Rail, I always take an Uber directly home for late-night flights. Surprisingly, early morning and late night are suggested booking times if you love nifty airport hacks.

Rideshares can be tricky if you’re landing in Seattle during high-traffic periods. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons by considering the particulars of your travel plans when taking an Uber from the Seattle airport to downtown.

How? Once you’ve picked up your bags, follow the signs to the airport’s ground transportation area near the parking garage. You’ll find the pick-up zone on the third floor, where the driver you booked via the relevant app should be waiting for you within the marked rideshare section.

Prices vary depending on your preferred service, your final destination, and your trip’s length. You’ll be stoked to know that rideshares like Uber and Lyft are usually more affordable than standard cab or taxi rides (see below) when looking for transportation from Seatac to downtown Seattle.

Estimated travel time: 20 – 25 minutes

Estimated price: $35 – $55

Cabs or Taxis

taxi airport seattle

Cabs or taxis are a traditional mode of transport, so some people consider them a bit old-school. Even though they aren’t as popular as Ubers nowadays, they’re still an option for direct, private travel. This is one of the quickest ways to get from SeaTac to downtown Seattle.

There are two taxi options to consider at SeaTac Airport: metered taxis and flat-rate taxis. You’ll identify metered taxis by their solid (one) color and the 3-digit vehicle number. On the other hand, the flat-rate taxis are two colors with a 4-digit vehicle number.

Taxi fares are based on a calculated distance from your starting point to your endpoint. Most times, waiting times (like if you’re running late at the airport) and delays will be charged, which drives up the total amount owed for your trip. If you’re caught in traffic, that meter still runs, pushing up the total travel bill.

In Seattle, metered taxis charge between $2.50 and $2.70 per mile (additional pick-up charges may apply), so keep that in mind when considering a taxi from the Seattle airport to downtown.

The significant advantage of cabs or taxis (and ridesharing) is that you get the comfort and convenience of a 24/7 door-to-door service. This is also a winning option if you’re traveling with children. It beats the hassle of trying to manage little ones on public transit, like the Link Light Rail.

How? You’ll find SeaTac Airport’s taxi or cab area on the third floor of the parking garage at the north and south curbs of the airport. Just like you would with the rideshare option, follow the signs that will lead you to the designated taxi or cab zone after collecting your luggage.

If you need help or clarification (airports can be overwhelming, I know), try to find one of the airport attendants on duty. They are always happy to help passengers who need navigation and assistance connecting with their modes of transport.

As can be expected with private travel, prices depend on your chosen service and the total distance to your destination. This is not a cheap travel option, but it may suit your needs when traveling from the Seattle Airport to downtown Seattle.

Many people in a rush after their flight find this is the best way to get from the Seattle airport to downtown. You may also prefer this if you only have a one-day trip to Seattle and are short on time.

Estimated travel time: 20 – 25 minutes

Estimated price: $45–$75

Next Read: Do you want the scoop on where to go and what to do in the city? This Seattle travel guide has you covered.


hotel shuttles seattle airport

Similar to the experience you get with rideshare and taxis, shuttles offer an easy, no-fuss, direct commute from the airport to your chosen destination. Expect quality service with clean, well-maintained vehicles (although they do vary, depending on the company).

The drivers go the extra mile to ensure hospitality, like the small perks of luggage assistance. A lovely bonus is that most shuttles operate around the clock, making them easy to take a Seattle airport shuttle to downtown.

There are two standout shuttle options at SeaTac. The first is Premier Airport Shuttle (by Capital Aeroporter) which provides a shared ride service courtesy of their door-to-door vans.

The shuttle will transport you from the airport to your accommodation in Seattle. With limited stops, your trip is fast, efficient, and safe.

There is also a private non-stop van service, which is ideal for visitors traveling in a group (like a large family or friends) or jet setters with a lot of luggage. Booking a Premier Airport Shuttle ride online can get you up to 10% off your complete fare.

Premier Airport Shuttle fares are calculated based on the travel distance, the number of passengers, and your chosen service. The one thing you can be sure of is that shared ride shuttle services are cheaper than rideshare and taxis.

The second noteworthy service is Shuttle Express which offers non-stop private shuttles, luxury vans, SUVs, and high-end coaches (for groups). You can use the Shuttle Express App to manage your travel plans and reservations via your phone.

Shuttle Express fares depend on your destination’s zip code and the vehicle type you select.

How? To get to the SeaTac Ground Transportation Information Center, collect your luggage and follow the signs that lead to the airport’s ground transportation area on the parking garage’s third floor. The Transportation Information Center is where you’ll find the booths for the available shuttle services.

For Premier Airport Shuttles specifically: After collecting your bags, follow the signs to the third floor’s ground transportation plaza across Sky Bridge 4 in the airport’s parking garage.

For Shuttle Express services, enjoy your private chauffeur’s attention and assistance. They will meet you at the baggage claim area near the escalators closest to your aircraft’s arrival gate.

Remember: Some hotels offer complimentary airport shuttle services or charge a fee (sometimes included in your room rate). When booking your accommodation, it’s worth checking if they provide hotel pick-ups and drop-offs.

Estimated travel time: 20 – 30 minutes (depending on your chosen service and the number of stops)

Estimated price: Fares for shared shuttle rides start around $18 per person. Private, one-stop trips cost more. These prices vary depending on a number of factors, as explained above.

Visiting Seattle? You’ll want to know the unique Seattle gifts to get before you leave.

Car Rentals

me seattle airport

Ah, the trusty car rental option for those who prefer to have their own temporary wheels to get from the airport to their accommodation and around town at their own pace.

This transportation method isn’t cheap but allows full control and independent travel. You won’t have any issues finding the right rental company because many popular ones operate at SeaTac Airport.

If you’re spending a few days in the city and want to indulge in a personalized experience, plan a four-day Seattle itinerary and use a rented car to get to the best activities.

If considering a car rental, bear in mind the parking costs at your hotel (and around the city). The price of gas can make a considerable dent in your travel budget, so be sure to factor that in as well. Hybrid cars are great for keeping fuel consumption relatively low.

Pro Tip: The downtown area is known for its steep hills (did someone say automatic transmission? Yes, please.) and tricky one-ways. Have Google Maps ready for expert navigation around the city if you’ll be exploring Seattle in a rented car.

How? To get from the airport to the off-site car rental facility, you must catch a free shuttle ride from outside the baggage claim level. You can wait for the shuttle at the terminal’s north end (near Alaska Airlines) or the south end (near international airlines).

Estimated travel time: 20 – 25 minutes

Estimated price: Car rental prices start at $55 per day (depending on the company and the time of your booking)

Don’t forget to check out some of the most scenic views in Seattle before you leave!

Buying a Seattle CityPASS is a great way to save money on ticket costs, as you’ll be able to see multiple Seattle attractions for one price!

Tips for Traveling From Seattle Airport to Downtown Seattle

transportation sign sea airport

Traveling between airports and navigating to your desired destination can get a little crazy, especially if it’s your first time in a city. Use these tips to make your Seattle trip as smooth as possible.

  • Deciding which transport option to use depends on affordability, accessibility, convenience, and reliability. Transport efficiency, safety, frequency, and user-friendliness also matter. It might seem like a lot to consider, but compare the different transport methods based on these factors. You’ll soon know which one best meets your personal needs and budget.
  • SeaTac is well-marked, and the signs you need to get you where you need to be are clear enough. Make your way to the right level to access your chosen transport mode. The Link Light Rail station is on the fourth floor of the airport parking garage. Rideshare services, cabs/taxis, and shuttles can be found on the parking garage’s third floor. Car rentals are accessed off-site.
  • Use any relevant mobile apps that will make planning and managing your travels less stressful. These include the Transit GO Ticket mobile app if you’re using the Link Light Rail and the Shuttle Express App if you’d like private shuttle travel. If you’ve opted to use a rented car to champion your way from SeaTac Airport to the downtown area (and beyond), make Google Maps your friend.
  • Travelers with limited bags will save time and money by using the Link Light Rail to get from the airport to downtown Seattle. However, a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft is your best bet if you’ve got lots of luggage. Alternatively, consider a shared shuttle service. Large groups will be more comfortable in a private, non-stop shuttle service.

Now all you have to do is pick which method you’ll use to get from the Seattle Airport to downtown Seattle so you can start planning the rest of your trip!

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