On first impressions, Seattle looks like the ultimate in ultramodern cities, and the city is home to Microsoft as well as other major corporations like Starbucks and of course Boeing, who may or may not have helped you get here in the first place.
The most iconic landmark in Seattle might be the Space Needle, and if you venture up to the top, you will also see what a huge amount of impressive scenery there is in all directions. Another popular visitor attraction in Seattle is the Experience Music Project (EMP), funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and designed by the starchitect Frank Gehry. Continuing on the futuristic theme, the Experience Music Project has the Seattle Center monorail gliding right over it, and this system combines with a new light rail and plentiful local buses to create a city that is easy enough to get around without needing a rental car.
- Yet the city of Seattle itself really is only a very small part of what the state of Washington has to offer, and for heading further inland, and in particular for heading towards Mount St Helens or Mount Rainier, then a hire car really is going to be very useful. Naturally, you can still plan your own trip using local bus services or guided tours, but it’s just nothing like as flexible a self drive hire car.
- If you are looking at a typical trip to Seattle that might involve staying in the area for a week, then a partial rental might make a lot of sense, depending on what sort of Seattle car hire deals are available at the time, and whether or not you are staying in a hotel that provides free parking.
- Bear in mind that the roads around the city of Seattle suffer heavily from suggestion, with the State of Washington having trialled variable toll pricing in recent years in an attempt to encourage car sharing.
- Looking outwards from Seattle, the city has a small network of commuter rail services, and you can effectively do a reverse commute on this and head down to the Pacific coast, whereas a variety of different ferry services are available, providing connections all the way up towards Vancouver in neighbouring Canada and beyond.
- Long-distance train services from Seattle aren’t particularly fast or frequent, but they are still a perfectly viable option for travelling northwards to Vancouver or south towards Portland and beyond.
All of these factors point to an urban area and a variety of impressive landscapes beyond it that can be perfectly easy to enjoy just by sticking to public transport, walking and cycling. People coming here with little intention to hire a car in the first place will get on absolutely fine without one.
Do you need a car in Seattle? Although a rental car is far from necessary, and many visitors might want to look into a partial rental, rather than having a car for their complete stay. Seattle is still a destination where we recommend getting a hire car, but the pendulum swings dramatically between city (not such a good idea) and country (hire car advisable). This might be the case in many other places too, but it’s particularly strong in Seattle.