The Perfect 2, 3 or 4 Days in Seattle Itinerary

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by Audrey Webster

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As one of the premier destinations in the Pacific Northwest, planning a 2, 3 or 4 days in Seattle itinerary is often a necesitity if you’re planning a trip to this region. Located along the Puget Sound overlooking Elliott Bay with Mount Rainier towering in the distance, there’s no shortage of ways to spend your time.

Whether you’re looking for a short trip to see the highlights of the city center or want to head out on a day trip to the surrounding area, spending a few days in the Emerald City is never a bad idea.

How Many Days in Seattle?

Generally speaking, 3 days is the sweet spot for how many days to spend in Seattle.

With only 2 days in Seattle, you can get a sense of what the city has to offer and maybe visit a couple of the most popular museums or spend an afternoon in Pike Place Market. If you have 3 days in Seattle, you have plenty of time to hit all the major highlights, ranging from the Space Needle to the famous Gum Wall. 

Should you have 4 days, you can use three days to explore the city at your leisure then dedicate the fourth day to a day trip outside the city.

Seattle is tucked in a pocket of National Parks: Olympic, North Cascades, and Mount Rainier. The lush landscape around the city provides ample opportunities for its visitors to spend some time outdoors during their visit. 

Seattle Skyline
Seattle Skyline

Getting To & Around Seattle 

Most visitors from afar will arrive in Seattle by plane through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEATAC). From the airport, it’s a quick 20-minute drive to downtown Seattle. You can take a taxi, pre-booked transfer or call a rideshare. You can also opt to take the Link Light Rail into downtown. 

You won’t need a car to get around Seattle. There is public transportation throughout the city, rideshare, and taxis. You can also take a ferry to nearby islands in Puget Sound if that is something that appeals.

It’s also a very walkable city, with most of the major highlights clustered together. However, you might want one if you’re planning on taking a day trip outside the city or are exploring some further flung Seattle neighborhoods.

Having a car available allows you greater flexibility when exploring the area around the city or visiting surrounding national parks. You can browse to compare prices across many major companies if you would like to rent a car for your trip.

Driving through Olympic National Park
Driving through nearby Olympic National Park

2, 3 or 4-Day Seattle Itinerary

The perfect itinerary for Seattle is a blend of relaxing and exploring. Here’s what you should consider doing for 2 to 4 days in Seattle. If you plan to visit several attractions then you can consider buying the Seattle CityPass.

Day 1 – Space Needle & Surrounding Attractions

Space Needle

The Space Needle is what makes Seattle’s skyline so iconic. It was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and has since become the top thing to do in Seattle. On a clear day, visitors can clearly see Mount Rainier as part of their 360-degree view of the city.

Take the elevator to the top, but don’t be shocked if your ears pop on the way up. At the top of the Space Needle, you’ll find a museum, outlook deck, and restaurant.

You can pre-book tickets here or buy a combined ticket here for the Space Needle and the Chihuly Garden and Glass. Lines to visit the Space Needle can get long, so make sure to plan your visit during off hours if you want to avoid crowds as much as possible. 

View from Space Needle in Seattle
View from Space Needle

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Seated directly below the Space Needle is the Chihuly Garden and Glass. It’s one of the coolest things you can do in Seattle. The museum opened in 2012 and showcases the intricate blown glass artwork of Dale Chihuly.

The glass is at its best on a sunny day. You can more easily enjoy the outdoor portions of the museum when the sun is out. Visitors can purchase their tickets in the lobby using kiosks or in advance online here. The museum does tend to get busy during the peak hours, so try to plan a visit in the morning.

You can sit in the back garden, beneath the Space Needle, and enjoy the scenery with a snack or drink from the cafe. And if you want to enjoy more art in the Emerald City, the Seattle Art Museum isn’t located too far from the Chihuly Garden and Glass.

Museum of Pop Culture

You probably noticed the Museum of Pop Culture immediately upon arriving at the Space Needle. It’s a weirdly-shaped, rounded building with vibrant metallic colors on the outside. This will be a favorite activity for fans of science fiction, music, and more.

MoPOP captures cultural icons and highlights from our history. It’s one of the world’s most immersive pop culture museums. You can purchase tickets in advance online.

General admission tickets grant you access to 11 permanent exhibits. They’re timed entry tickets, so MoPOP is not usually as crowded as other non-timed entry museums.

Alternatively, you can use this time to explore the South Lake Union neighborhood and maybe head to the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) or the Pacific Science Center.

Day 2 – Pike Place Market, Gum Wall, Aquarium & More

Pike Place Market

Start your second day in Seattle at Pike Place Market—Seattle’s original farmer’s market. Here you’ll find local sourced foods, flowers, and crafts.

There are several floors in the market. The main floor is where you’ll find stands selling locally caught seafood, flowers, and produce.

Grab a bite to eat, or a souvenir, before venturing further into the market where you’ll find used bookstores, record stores, and a variety of quirky stores that you won’t find anywhere else.

Be sure to check the event’s calendar before you visit to see if there’s any live music or art shows happening while you’re there. It’s also worth taking the time to wander along the Seattle Waterfront. You can also take a marketing tasting tour or an early access market tour.

Stalls at Pike Place Market
Stalls at Pike Place Market

First Starbucks

You can find the first Starbucks coffee shop right across the street from the main entrance to Pike Place Market.

It’s a fun stop to make even if you don’t head inside for a cup of coffee. On most days, the line to enter the store is massive.

If you’re a coffee buff, there are countless other great Seattle coffee shops in the city to enjoy without the wait. You can also take a coffee culture tour to learn more about city’s coffee scene.

Gum Wall

It’s common knowledge that Seattle boasts its fair share of quirky sites, but the Gum Wall wins out over most. Located in the same vicinity as Pike Place is this infamous wall.

It started in the 1990s when local patrons began plastering their chewed wads of gum on the wall. Since then, it became commonplace for visitors to the wall to add their piece.

The Gum Wall covers part of Post Alley. The Gum Wall is a cannot-miss site in Seattle. 

Miner’s Landing and Seattle Great Wheel 

Located on the waterfront below Pike Place Market at Pier 57 is Miner’s Landing. It’s a boardwalk lined with restaurants and activities that make it a great stop for everyone, especially those traveling with kids.

Here you’ll find Seattle Great Wheel, a massive Ferris wheel that gives great views of the Sound, Wings Over Washington, Salish Sea Tours, Klondike Arcade, and a variety of restaurants serving fresh local seafood.

It’s an excellent place to stop in for lunch after a morning at Pike Place. 

Seattle Great Wheel 
Seattle Great Wheel 

Seattle Aquarium

If you’re a lover of marine wildlife, make sure to stop into the Seattle Aquarium. It’s located just down the street from Miner’s Landing and full with all the marine habitats you could hope to find.

The museum prided itself to constructing exhibits whose design captures the habitats it holds. For example, the Crashing Waves Exhibit is a 40-foot wave tank that replicates the Washington coast’s intertidal zone.

Visitors can explore Life on the Edge, two large touch pools, or Life of a Drifter, which features a 12-foot doughnut-shaped glass exhibit that holds a giant Pacific octopus, plankton, sea stars, and more. These are just a couple of examples of what visitors can expect to find at the Seattle Aquarium. 

Day 3 – Dig Deeper in Seattle

Underground Tour of Downtown

If you’re looking for something to do during your that is a little more eclectic, consider a tour of the city’s underground tunnels. The tunnels were the street level for the Seattle center in the 1800s but began to fall apart when the streets were elevated.

Today, they are a unique deep dive into Seattle’s history. Visitors can sign up for a 75-minute walking tour and hear stories of Seattle’s early days from knowledgeable tour guides. Tours can be booked in advance here.

Pioneer Square

After your tour of the Seattle Underground, you might pop out in Pioneer Square. This is a popular neighborhood in central Seattle that is filled with restaurants, art galleries, and museums – such as the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park museum where you can learn about Seattle’s history in the mid 19th century.

You can relax in Waterfall Garden Park or visit the food trucks in Occidental Square. It’s a good place to stop for a break before pivoting to the next activity that takes you to the Fremont neighborhood. 

Pioneer Square
Pioneer Square

Fremont Troll

Continue your day exploring the more weird sides of Seattle by visiting the Fremont Troll. Tucked away in the Fremont neighborhood is a massive troll sculpture under the Aurora Avenue Bridge.

The troll was installed during Halloween in 1990 by Steve Badanes, who had never sculpted before. The troll stands at 18-feet tall and has a single metal eye that’s a Volkswagen Beetle hubcap.

Make sure to snap a picture of you sitting on the troll’s hand as he appears to be crawling out from beneath the bridge. 

Gas Works Park

If you want a nice local park to lounge in one afternoon, check out Gas Works Park which is not far from the University of Washington. This isn’t just your average city park. The park sits on a 19.1 acre plot of land that used to be the Seattle Gas Light Company.

Today, the old gasification plant still stands, but the park has been expanded to include a large play area and a hill that is popular for flying kites. You can also get a nice view of Seattle. 

Gas Works Park
Gas Works Park

Capitol Hill Neighborhood

Capitol Hill is one of the most densely-populated neighborhoods in Seattle. It’s largely considered the “hippest” area of Seattle, which is why you should plan to spend one evening of your Seattle itinerary enjoying the nightlife.

There are bars, clubs, coffee shops, and local shops selling a variety of goods along with some of the best restaurants in Seattle. Volunteer Park has walking trails, the Seattle Asian Art Museum, and panoramic views of the city and Lake Union from the top of the hill. 

Day 4 – Day Trip from Seattle

If you’re spending more than long weekend in Seattle and are fortunate enough to be able to see Seattle in 4 days, then you can use the final day of your time in Seattle to go on a day trip.

There are countless options from a number of beautiful national parks to heading to some of the islands in the Puget Sound — such as Vashon Island, Whidbey Island, Bainbridge Island or even the San Juan Islands — to visiting some of the natural sites just outside of the city.

There is so much to see on your Seattle trip that lies outside of the city limits that it’s worth it to allot more time than simply seeing Seattle in 3 days.

Visit a National Park

If you have 4 days to spend in Seattle, try to spend at least one of those days exploring the beautiful natural spaces around the city.

Mount Rainier is one of the best day trips from Seattle. It’s the tallest mountain in the Cascade Range and Pacific Northwest, and it’s just under 90 miles from Seattle. The most popular spot for a view is Panorama Point, where you can get views of Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens. 

Another option is Olympic National Park. You can see the Olympic Peninsula from Seattle’s waterfront as you look out across the Sound. It takes just over two hours of driving to reach the park and visitors are instantly rewarded for their traveling. Here, you’ll find beaches, mountains, and even a rainforest. There are several easy day hikes.

Finally, you could head north to North Cascades National Park. Here you’ll find quintessential snow-capped mountains and turquoise alpine lakes. Diablo Lake is a must-see, but it also tends to get busy at the lookout point. You can also pay a visit to nearby Leavenworth–a small German-inspired town that has been named one of the most charming towns in the United States.

For all of these national parks, it’s worth your time to spend more than one day if possible.

Stunning North Cascades National Park
Stunning North Cascades National Park

Snoqualmie Falls

If you’re looking for a day trip out of Seattle that requires less travel time than a national park and some ease to get to Seattle and back, look no further than Snoqualmie Falls.

This 268-foot waterfall is one of the most popular places to visit during your Seattle itinerary and for good reasons. This impressive waterfall plunges into a deep cavern that is an impressive sight year round, but especially in the spring and fall.

Visitors can admire the view from the observation deck or head out on a nearby trail. Snoqualmie Falls is only about a 30-minute drive from Seattle. If you don’t have your own transport you can book a day tour that also visits some nearby wineries.

Glorious Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Falls

Where to Stay in Seattle

The Mediterranean Inn – The perfect base for a trip to Seattle, this hotel is located within spitting distance of the Space Needle. They offer several, clean and modern double, queen and king rooms along with a great terrace and a fitness center on site.

Inn at the Market – This boutique hotel located at Pike Place Market is a great choice for those looking for a high-end base in Seattle. There are standard and king rooms available – all including a fridge and mini bar – and there is also a lovely rooftop terrace with unbeatable views.

HotelHotel Hostel – Those visiting Seattle on a budget will love this hip, highly-rated hostel in the center of the city. There are shared kitchen facilities, good common areas and both dorms and private rooms to choose from.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more hotels in Seattle!

If it’s your first time in the city, stick to the highlights. If it’s a return trip, consider adding more off-the-beaten path places to your plan. No matter how you choose to spend your time, you’ll enjoy yourself in Seattle. 

Are you planning to visit Seattle? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

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Audrey Webster is a writer for The World Was Here First. She is an Oregon native who has visited countries across the globe and currently spends her weekends exploring the Pacific Northwest and surrounding states. Her approach to traveling combines exploring famous tourist sites and wandering off the beaten path to discover new destinations.


  1. Hello Audrey,
    I enjoyed this article! I will be visiting Seattle and traveling solo. I want to be sure to stay in a “safe” neighborhood. I am considering both hotels and AirBnBs. Do you have any tips for me??
    Thank you!


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