Portland, The City of Roses, blooms with all colors of the rainbow. While Seattle, The Emerald City, is clad with all shades of green no matter what season it may be.
With their nicknames, these two cities are famous for their natural beauty. But they’re not defined by this alone.
Creative and quirky, you’ll find the character of Portland and Seattle across all their allures. From the arts scene to the culinary landscape, and more. For this, and many other reasons, it’s easy to see these two have long been well-loved tourist destinations.
But which one should you tick off your travel bucket list first? Get to know Portland and Seattle more below and see what they have to offer. One of these two is bound to suit you more!
Portland is a city that boasts an imaginative food scene, verdant forests, colorful districts, and more. While it fulfills the expectation of tourists, it also hides some hidden gems that come with its fun, quirky character. Portland may be a pocket-sized city, but it has a big, charming personality that offers endless entertainment!
What Makes Portland Unique?
The City of Roses’ Many Green Spaces
Being a city brimming with roses, Portland blooms with all colors of the rainbow. But The City of Roses has more natural beauty for you to marvel at than this. Portland has plenty of green wonderlands to explore in and around the city.
Portland’s love affair with roses started in 1889 when Georgiana Burton Pittock invited her friends to her rose garden. Since then, the locals became so enamored by roses that they filled the city with them! Thus, a trip to Portland isn’t complete without stopping to smell the roses.
Wander around the whimsical wonderland known as the International Rose Test Garden. Here, you’ll find more than 600 varieties of roses across 10,000 rose bushes. Various companies test new rose varieties here, and the garden also hosts yearly competitions for the best rose!
A highlight of this park is the Shakespeare Garden, which only features the types of roses mentioned in his plays. Another spot to admire the city’s beloved flower is the French garden of Peninsula Rose Park. Ladd’s Addition is also a charming spot for a scenic stroll along rose-filled gardens!
Portland’s lush green spaces aren’t only about roses though. The city is home to over 10000 acres (4047 ha) of parks and gardens within its limits!
You don’t have to venture too far to find a peaceful escape from the busy city. Forest Park, a 5000-acre (2023 ha) park, is one of the biggest urban parks in the country. And it’s the perfect spot in the city if you want to immerse yourself in the wilderness!
Forest Park has miles and miles of hiking and biking trails that’ll suit everyone. There’s the easy Wildwood Loop Trail and the Forest Park Ridge Trail for novices. This park is also perfect for wildlife spotting, as it’s home to over 100 bird species and 62 different mammal species.
Portland’s Exciting Love Affair With Food
Despite being a small city, Portland is full of exciting gastronomic adventures. Blessed with a landscape full of nature’s bounty, fresh and locally-sourced organic foods are the king here in Portland. And with what the talented and passionate chefs do with these, Portland is consistently praised as a world-class foodie city.
Like other top foodie cities in the US, Portland offers a wide-ranging food scene. From clam chowder with bone marrow to kimchi quesadillas, the city showcases its culinary innovation in many ways. But there are also tons of authentic eats in the city, from Egyptian to Polish to Ethiopian cuisine, you’ll find what you’re craving here.
Getting a taste of the city’s exciting food scene doesn’t need deep pockets too. While Portland has many upscale restaurants, these aren’t what the city is famous for. Instead, the best of Portland’s food scene is in the streets.
You’ll find some of the city’s most inventive chefs preparing your meals in food carts or food trucks. And they serve restaurant-quality cuisines of all kinds without the high price tag! Grab a serving of Norwegian meatballs, Ghanaian-Japanese fusion food, and more, and dine alfresco!
With hundreds of these sprinkled across the city, you’re never too far from tasty food. But if there’s a place to start diving into Portland’s food cart scene, it’s 5th Avenue Food Cart Pod. Here, you’ll find exciting international food menus, with a creative, Northwest twist!
Other than the food trucks, a food tour of the city isn’t complete without devouring Portland’s famous donuts. Portland has a love affair with this sweet pastry. And you’ll quickly realize this once you explore the city’s many donut shops.
The most famous donut shop in the city is Voodoo Doughnuts. Famed for its unusual yet tasty combinations, the shop infuses Portland’s quirky personality with each donut! Some of its one-of-a-kind donuts include Voodoo Doll, Bacon Maple Bar, and Grape Ape.
Get to Know Portland’s Quirky yet Charming Side
“Keep Portland Weird” is not just a popular slogan you’ll find around the city. It emphasizes the city’s delightfully eccentric character, one that locals embrace. And because of this, Portland has quite a list of unique and quirky things to see and do that you won’t find elsewhere!
With tons of “only in Portland” attractions, the city is such a memorable destination!
As a city that fully embraces its culture, Portland’s art scene is nothing short of creative. But apart from the top-notch galleries in the city, there’s a more quirky side to this scene. And you’ll find this in the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium.
Both a museum and a store, Freakybuttrue is full of oddities that feature all things strange and creepy. From the most peculiar of local art to weird movie props, this is an all-in-one place for all things weird. This museum also has an ice cream parlor where you can grab a sundae topped with bugs!
Other than the massive Forest Park, the city is famous for its other sprawling green spaces. While other cities have smaller parks, Portland takes this to the extreme. The City of Roses is home to the world’s smallest park, Mill Ends Park.
Mill Ends Park is a small, circular park with a total area of only 452 square inches (2916 square cm)! Meant to be a hole for a light pole, there’s not much space to hang out in this park. But this beloved patch of green does make for fun pictures!
One of the most unique, must-visit places in Portland is an abandoned school. McMenamins Kennedy School was once an elementary school. But now, it’s an entertainment spot that kept the school’s original interior!
This school has a movie theater that shows a diverse array of films. If that isn’t fun enough, you can get drunk in the Detention room, the school’s cozy bar!
Get Inspired by Its Wildly Creative Art Scene
Portland’s open-minded attitude and quirky character breed art like no other. From historic masterpieces to the most trailblazing local art, the city’s art scene knows how to indulge the art lover in you.
Exploring a city’s art scene often starts with its most famous art museum. And in the city, the Portland Art Museum is the top destination museum. This museum is the oldest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, home to more than 42000 diverse artworks.
From Native American to Asian art, this museum immerses you in cultures from around the world! The top sights of this museum include Claude Monet’s Waterlilies and Vincent van Gogh’s Ox-Cart. But with temporary exhibits and an outdoor sculpture park, there are still tons to see here.
Dive deeper into Portland’s art scene by exploring its local art scene. Pearl District and Alberta Arts District are two of the city’s most creative neighborhoods. And they’re brimming with artist-run spaces that indulge the culture vulture in you one gallery at a time.
The Pearl District is the hub of Portland’s art community. And it’s home to the best galleries in the city, such as Gallery 114 and PDX Contemporary Art.
Alberta Arts District doesn’t have the industrial charm of Pearl District. But this charming neighborhood makes you feel like you’re in an outdoor museum. It’s full of color, as art lives in its streets through vibrant murals, the best ones in Portland!
A Shopaholic’s Paradise
If shopping is your way to unwind, Portland is a retail therapy haven for all budgets and likes. With markets, districts, and malls, you’re never too far from experiencing the city’s exciting shopping scene. And whether you’re more of a luxury shopper or a bargain hunter, there’s something for you here.
You’ll find your favorite, big-brand names at Portland’s many shopping malls. There’s Lloyd Center, one of the biggest shopping malls in the state that houses more than 150 stores. If you’re looking for more luxurious names like Coach and Louis Vuitton, Pioneer Place is the place to be.
These famous brands aren’t what makes Portland’s shopping scene so thrilling though. Compared to other big cities in the country, you won’t find Portland filled with generic stores at every turn. Instead, Portland is full of local boutiques that offer you a more intimate shopping experience!
One-of-a-kind boutiques, small businesses, and vintage shops are the heart of the city’s retail scene. Pearl District and Alberta Arts District may be Portland’s artistic hubs. But being the trendiest neighborhoods in the city, they’re also a shopaholic’s paradise!
If you love high-end items, Pearl District is a great place to shop. This charming district was once an industrial center. But today, its old warehouses are now converted into fancy shops and upscale boutiques and hubs for artisans!
Meanwhile, the shopping scene in Alberta Arts District is more quaint. If you love antiques and handcrafted items, you’ll find no shortage of shops to discover here.
Among the local’s favorite shopping destinations in Portland is Nob Hill. Famed for its colorful Victorian houses, this neighborhood is a fashionista’s dream! Nob Hill offers a blend of famous fashion chains and one-of-a-kind boutiques, giving you plenty of options!
Portland’s shopping scene has enough to keep you busy. But some come to the city for Portland’s reputation as a top vintage and retro shopping destination!
There are a plethora of vintage stores around the city. And they’re famed for their big stocks, imaginative repurposing, and high-quality items! The variety of vintage finds in Portland is quite astonishing.
If you have a penchant for all things vintage, make your way to Hawthorne Boulevard! You’ll find loads of big vintage emporiums here, such as the House of Vintage!
Cradled by the mountains, brimming with greenery in and around, and surrounded by lakes, Seattle is a natural beauty. These natural wonders are a delightful contrast to the city’s vibrant, modern feel and metropolitan buzz. But this is only one of the many reasons why Seattle is such an alluring destination!
What Makes Seattle Unique?
The Emerald City’s Beautifully Diverse Landscape
With over 480 parks, Seattle has a winning combination of vibrant city life and tranquil green oases. But even these green spaces hit the sweet spot of well-manicured designs and natural landscapes. From beachfront paths to lush forests, it’s easy to get a taste of Seattle’s diverse scenery.
Some parks here are famous for their impeccable and stunning design, like the Kubota Garden. Others offer a quick retreat from Downtown Seattle’s buzz, like Lake Union Park. Many more are popular for outdoor recreation, such as Golden Gardens Park.
But a few parks showcase the best natural wonders surrounding Seattle. And none can compete with the popularity of the gorgeous Discovery Park.
The park features sea cliffs, a beachfront, and lush forests that make you feel like you’re in a rainforest. With its many hiking trails, zip line, picnic tables, and more, the park offers hours of endless entertainment too. But what’s special about this park are the views from afar.
You’ll get the best views of Western Washington’s diverse landscape here. Not only does the park sit on the shores of the scenic Puget Sound. But you’ll also get views of the Olympic and Cascade Mountain ranges here!
If Seattle’s true wilderness is calling you, they’re easy to reach too. Seattle is the gateway to three of Washington State’s national parks. Dense forests, glistening lakes, and towering peaks are only a few hours drive away from the city!
One of these is the famous Mount Rainier National Park, a sprawling land that’s beautiful year-round. During warmer months, blooming flowers transform meadows into an ocean of various colors. In the winter, the park gets covered in a fluffy white blanket that offers a range of outdoor fun.
Another is Olympic National Park, which features breathtaking landscapes. A journey here starts with ocean views of the mighty Pacific. Explore further into the park and you’ll find rugged peaks and verdant forests like the Hoh Rain Forest.
The last one is North Cascades National Park, the largest and wildest of the three. Glaciers, alpine meadows, and cascading waterfalls are aplenty here. You’ll discover more of its rugged beauty to the east, where you’ll find the famed Okanogan National Forest.
Go on a Sensational Gastronomic Adventure
Lush vegetation, rain, and a temperate climate are all things you’d associate with Seattle. All these are thanks to the city’s location, and they’re what fuel Seattle’s buzzing food scene. Celebrating fresh food, local produce, and the flavors of the Pacific, Seattle is a hub for everything tasty.
Nature’s bounty alone doesn’t make up Seattle’s famous culinary landscape. The city is home to a plethora of innovative and creative chefs that know what to do with these fresh ingredients.
As a result, Seattle’s food scene runs the gamut from fine dining to street food delights! More than this, the gastronomic spectrum here includes local coffee and craft brews!
At the forefront of Seattle’s famed food scene is seafood. Being so close to the Pacific, all things fish and shellfish dominate menus city-wide. Seattle is one of the best US cities to eat salmon, but every other seafood here is just as delicious!
Oysters, crabs, mussels, and all other sea critters get represented here. Cooked in various ways and infused with a delightful mix of flavors across various cuisines, the seafood scene here is like no other.
The best place to sample Seattle’s best dishes is Pike Place Market. This seaside market has kept the locals fed for over 100 years. And being on the waterfront of Puget Sound, you’ll find the fresh catch of the day here making its way to your plate.
Seattle is also renowned for its legendary coffee. The city is the birthplace of Starbucks, and you can still grab a coffee at the original store in Pike Place Market!
Despite this, locals don’t get their caffeine fix from Starbucks or big coffee chains. Instead, they head to the city’s countless independent coffee shops! With a focus on single-origin beans, micro roasting, and more, the coffee scene here is diverse and wide-ranging!
The same excitement goes into Seattle’s many craft breweries. Most of the hops in the US come from Washington State, so the city offers freshly hopped brews aplenty. These pass through the skillful hands of local brewmasters, creating rich and robust flavors across a variety of choices!
Experience Seattle’s Vibrant Creativity
A trip to Seattle is a treat for your senses. Let the city’s food scene tempt you with enticing aromas and tickle your tastebuds with delicious flavors. And leave the rest of your senses to Seattle’s thriving and endlessly creative art scene!
Seattle is home to creative minds and passionate artists, and the city represents them in various ways. Celebrating art in all its forms, theater, music, and dance make up its vibrant art scene. With this, Seattle has a ton to offer in indulging the art lover in you.
Explore a world of visual art through the city’s many art museums and galleries. Showcasing art from around the world is the prestigious Seattle Art Museum. A small yet well-loved museum, the Frye Art Museum takes you through the 18th and 19th centuries through paintings for free!
Seattle’s creative artists explore more than paintings though.
Wander through a wonderland of colorful art sculptures at the Chihuly Garden and Glass. Or marvel at the natural scenery while you enjoy the art at Olympic Sculpture Gardens!
Uncovering Seattle’s artistic side isn’t complete without getting a taste of its music scene. Music legends like Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix call the city their home.
Head to The Crocodile, a beloved venue that has long entertained the city through live music. Check out Dimitrious Jazz Alley for your jazz fix, Tractor Tavern for the blues, and The Showbox for various shows!
You can catch a concert or watch a show, as Seattle reveals its creativity through exciting performances too. From plays to comedy, operas to ballet, you’re never too far from a show here in Seattle!
The city has tons of theaters to choose from. Some teeming with layers of history, while others are still paving their way into the scene.
Step into the historic Paramount Theater for Broadway shows and a host of other events. Discover the talents of up-and-coming artists and established ones at ACT Theater. But there are a plethora of more impressive venues here to captivate you with their performances!
Quirky Landmarks You Won’t Find Elsewhere
Seattle’s full of eye-catching landmarks, whether it’s the city’s natural beauty or urban wonders. Like many famous cities, Seattle also has a famous icon, the Space Needle. But the city has a wealth of hidden gems that showcase its playful and quirky character.
Another obligatory stop in Seattle is the Pike Place Market. While you can explore it like usual, spend some time discovering a peculiar attraction here, the Gum Wall!
Passersby and theater patrons near this wall have been sticking their used gums here since the 1990s. Now, the wall stretches as far as the eye can see here, and it continues to grow. Feel free to stick your masterpiece here, it’s legal and even encouraged!
You can even meet a troll in real life here in the city, under the Fremont Bridge. The Fremont Troll is a massive sculpture with a real Volkswagen Beetle in its hand. Get up close and personal with the troll and take cool pictures with it!
Seattle is teeming with museums and galleries that offer the best art the city has to offer. But Seattle also celebrates the opposite at the Official Bad Art Museum of Art. Marvel at artworks of scary clowns, unusual paint-by-numbers, paintings of dogs playing poker, and more!
Bring home a piece or two of Seattle’s quirky charm at the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. It’s one of Seattle’s weirder shops, selling a wide range of fun and unusual novelties. From Native arts and crafts, mummies, taxidermies, and other oddities, this shop sells all kinds of cool stuff!
Is Seattle or Portland Better to Visit?
You can’t go wrong with a trip to Seattle or Portland, but the better choice between them depends on your likes. They’re alike in many ways and often compared to each other. But these two west coast cities feel quite different.
The major deciding factor in this is if you love the feel of a big city or a small town. Seattle offers the buzz of a bustling metropolitan with its fast-paced life. Portland, while a major city, feels more tight-knit and has a country charm.
Being the home of big companies, Seattle offers more big-city amenities. The city has a wider variety of restaurants, nightlife spots, events, and more. Thus, it has everything that Portland has while offering you more choices.
Seattle is also quite ethnically diverse, and this is evident in the food scene and the exciting ethnic enclaves in the city. In comparison, Portland is often regarded as the whitest major city in the country. While its food scene has international cuisines, it pales in comparison to what Seattle has.
If you’re a coffee lover, Seattle has a legendary coffee scene, and it’s the birthplace of Starbucks. But Portland has a more robust craft beer scene, with more microbreweries in the city than Seattle.
Both cities are great options for outdoor lovers, as they have sprawling spaces of parklands. They offer exciting day trips to national parks nearby too, all within a few hours away.
These two are near Mount Rainier and Olympic National park. Still, nature feels closer to Seattle. Plus, you’ll get a glimpse of these natural wonders, plus the Puget Sound, right within Seattle.
Is Portland Safer Than Seattle?
Portland and Seattle are relatively safe cities to visit. But comparing them head-to-head, Portland is safer than Seattle.
According to Numbeo’s data, Portland has a safety index of 44.81. Meanwhile, Seattle has a lower safety index of 41.23.
The feeling of safety is high in both cities when walking alone during the day. Portland scored 70.11 in this aspect, while Seattle scored 69.39.
Like most places in the world, you need to be more careful when walking alone at night in Portland and Seattle. Both cities scored moderately in the feeling of safety alone during nighttime. Portland scored lower this time with 40.85, while Seattle scored 41.23.
When it comes to safety, one needs to consider the violent and property crime rates.
According to Neighborhood Scout’s data, Portland is safer when it comes to violent crime. There is a 1 in 133 chance of being a victim of a violent crime in Portland. Meanwhile, there’s a 1 in 125 chance in Seattle.
Property crime is more of an issue in both. There are 1 in 17 chances of being a victim of property crime in Portland, and 1 in 18 in Seattle.
Portland vs. Seattle Crime
Based on Numbeo’s data, Portland has a lower crime index than Seattle. Portland’s crime rate is 55.19, while Seattle’s is 53.11.
Neighborhood Scout also backs this up. A breakdown of their data considers violent crime and property crime rates. And their data shows that Portland has a lower violent crime rate, while Seattle has a lower property crime rate.
These rates are on a scale of 1 to 100, with 1 indicating a low crime rate and 100 being a high crime rate.
Portland has a violent crime rate of 7.49, while Seattle’s rate is 8.02. The national median for violent crime rate is 4.
Portland has a property crime rate of 58.90, while Seattle’s rate is 55.47. These are quite high for the national median, which is 19.
The crime rate per square mile in Portland is 293, while Seattle’s is 466. This can be due to their difference in land area, as Portland is bigger. Plus, Seattle also has a bigger population than Portland.
Both cities have high levels of homelessness. And while this doesn’t guarantee a higher crime rate, it does have a connection. Homelessness is a bigger issue in Seattle.
Is Portland Cheaper or More Expensive Than Seattle?
If budget is a big factor for you, then you may want to go with Portland. According to Payscale, Portland’s cost of living is 27% higher than the national average compared to Seattle’s 54%.
On average, you’ll spend around 156 USD in Seattle daily. But when in Portland, this will be around 143 USD. These costs assume that you’re renting a double occupancy room, and sharing other things like food with someone else. If you want to see where your money is going, here’s a breakdown of some expenses below.
A hotel for one person is 94 USD in Seattle and 76 USD in Portland per night. But a double-occupancy one will be around 188 USD in Seattle and 152 USD in Portland.
A day’s worth of local transportation is around 23 USD in Portland and 18 USD in Seattle. Keep in mind that Portland is easy to get around without a car, while Seattle is car-centric. Thus, you can save a lot in Portland on transport.
Food for a day is around 38 USD in Seattle and 35 USD in Portland. While daily entertainment costs, like ticket shows, are around 19 USD in Portland and 12 USD in Seattle.
Portland vs. Seattle Weather
With both being in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle and Portland have similar weather. These two cities have short, warm, and dry summers. And they’re known for their cold, cloudy, and wet winters.
Seattle is a bit colder than Portland, and the city has an annual temperature of 37 to 79 F (2.8 to 26.1 C). The temperature in Seattle rarely dips below 28 F (-2.2 C) or goes over 88 F (31.1 C).
The warm months in Seattle are from June to September, and the average daily high during this season is 72 F (22.2 C). Meanwhile, the cold season is from November to March. This season has an average daily high of below 53 F (11.7 C).
In Portland, the yearly temperature varies between 36 to 84 F (2.2 to 28.9 C). The temperature in the city rarely goes below 26 F (-3.3 C) and over 95 F (35 C).
The warm months here are from June to September, with an average daily high of over 76 F (24.4 C). The cool season lasts from November to February, with an average daily high below 52 F (11.11 C).
Is Portland Warmer Than Seattle?
Portland is warmer than Seattle during summer and cooler than Seattle in winter. Portland has an annual temperature between 36 to 84 F (2.2 to 28.9 C). Meanwhile, Seattle’s temperatures are around 37 to 79 F (2.8 to 26.1 C). Although these two have similar weather, they have a slight difference due to their locations.
Portland, being further south, makes the city warmer than Seattle. As it’s closer to the equator, Portland receives more of the sun’s heat compared to Seattle.
Plus, Portland is an inland city, 70 miles (113 km) away from the coast. Land absorbs a lot of heat, keeping Portland warm. Adding to the city’s warmer temperatures is its location within the Willamette Valley, which gets quite hot in the summer.
Portland doesn’t have the Pacific waters nearby to moderate its temperatures. This would’ve helped in keeping the city cool during hotter months.
This is the same situation during winter. Portland’s inland location makes it cooler than Seattle as land loses heat faster than water. With no ocean nearby to keep it warm, Portland feels cooler than Seattle.
Seattle, being on the coast, doesn’t have these issues and it has a milder climate.
Portland vs. Seattle Sunny Days
Seattle is a sunnier city than Portland, as it has an average of 152 sunny days yearly. Portland only has an average of 144 sunny days per year. Still, these numbers are under the national average of 205 sunny days annually.
The sunniest month for both cities is July. During this month, Seattle has 312 hours of sunshine. Meanwhile, Portland receives 332 hours of sunshine in July.
Both Seattle and Portland receive the lowest amount of sunshine in December. On average, Seattle only receives 54 hours of sunshine during this month. While Portland has around 64 hours of sunshine in December.
Portland or Seattle for Family Vacation?
You can’t go wrong in choosing Portland or Seattle for a trip with the children. Both cities are family-friendly destinations with many fun things to see and do with your kids.
Before choosing between the two though, you have to consider their vibe. Seattle is great if your family loves the buzz of a big city. While Portland is better if your family loves a more intimate, relaxed vacation.
Portland and Seattle have an eclectic mix of attractions for you and the kids. They offer the best of their natural surroundings and their urban allures!
In Portland, you can check out the world-renowned Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Spend an afternoon seeing animals in action at Oregon Zoo. Or you can enjoy the thrilling rides at Oaks Amusement Park!
In Seattle, you can take advantage of all the water that surrounds the city by going on boat rides. Or you can take it to the extreme at Wild Waves, which doubles as a waterpark and an amusement park. If your kids love animals, head to the renowned Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle Aquarium.
These are only some of both cities’ many kid-friendly attractions. There are still tons to discover!
Portland Zoo vs. Seattle Zoo
Portland and Seattle are home to the best zoos in their respective states. Portland’s zoo is the Oregon Zoo. While Seattle’s zoo is Woodland Park Zoo.
Both are well-respected and beloved zoos not only for the diverse wildlife they house. But they’re also renowned for their efforts in animal conservation and rehabilitation programs!
Oregon Zoo is home to over 2600 animals across 215 different species. Meanwhile, Woodland Park Zoo is home to over 1000 animals of over 250 animal species.
Oregon Zoo’s grounds cover 64 acres (26 ha). Across the zoo, there are over 23 exhibits that take you through various ecosystems.
Check out the apes at Primate Forest, insects of all kinds at Discovery Zone, and sea otters and penguins at Pacific Shores! Oregon Zoo is famous for its elephants, many of whom are born within the zoo. You can check out the zoo’s adorable Asian elephants at Elephant Lands!
Woodland Park Zoo is 91 acres big (37 ha), with exhibits that showcase animals from around the world.
See some red pandas and maned wolves in the Temperate Forest zone. Connect with rhinos at Assam Rhino Reserve. Or check out the emu, kookaburra, and kangaroos at the Australasia zone!
Is Portland Near Seattle?
The two most popular Pacific Northwest cities are quite close to each other. Portland is only around 3 hours away from Seattle by car, and only around an hour by plane. Due to the short distance between them, tourists opt to visit both cities even on a day trip!
Distance From Portland to Seattle
The straight line distance between Portland and Seattle is 145 miles (233 km). This is the shortest distance between the two cities, but it’s only applicable to plane travel. If you’re traveling by land, you can expect to cover a longer distance due to road curvature.
The driving distance between Portland and Seattle depends on the route you take. And you have two options for this.
The shortest, fastest route is driving through Interstate 5 North. On this route, you’ll cover a distance of 174 miles (280 km). And it has a travel time of around 3 hours.
The second option is via Washington State Route 7 and Interstate 5 North. This route has a distance of 200 miles (322 km) and an estimated driving time of 3 hours and 30 minutes.
Is Seattle or Portland Bigger?
When it comes to land area, Portland is a bigger city than Seattle. Portland has a land area of 145 square miles (376 square km). Meanwhile, Seattle has a land area of only 135 square miles (217 square km).
The incorporated area isn’t the only factor in considering a city’s size though.
Despite Portland’s bigger land, Seattle feels bigger and is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle’s territory feels larger due to its cosmopolitan vibe. Plus, Seattle is also bigger than Portland when it comes to population.
And due to Seattle’s population density, the city feels more crowded. Seattle has an estimated population of over 770000. Meanwhile, Portland has a population of over 670000.
Seattle vs. Portland Population
Seattle is a much bigger city than Portland when it comes to population. Over 770000 people live in Seattle. Meanwhile, Portland’s population is over 670000.
The largest city in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is one of the fastest-growing cities in the US, and it’s not slowing down. Portland is experiencing the opposite. The city has been declining in population in recent years, even the state of Oregon as a whole.
Is It Cheaper to Fly Into Seattle or Portland?
Portland International Airport (PDX) and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) have similar ticket prices. Both are the cheapest to fly into during February when you’ll get a 4% decrease in plane ticket prices. And they’re most expensive during July when there is a 28% increase in plane ticket prices.
But there are tons more factors that will affect the costs of flying into either airport. Apart from the season, you have to consider where you’re flying from, what airline you choose, and more. And because of this, it’s hard to say which airport is the cheapest to fly to as it changes from time to time.
But below is an overview of flying to either airport to give you a general idea of their costs.
A round-trip plane ticket that costs 198 USD or less is already a good deal if you’re headed to Seattle Airport. Meanwhile, a round-trip ticket priced at 208 USD or less is already a good deal at Portland Airport. For a one-way ticket, 129 USD is already a great deal for either of these two airports.
How Far Is Portland From Seattle by Plane?
From Portland Airport to Seattle Airport, the plane distance between these two cities is around 129 miles (208 km). This is the shortest, most direct route that most planes take when traveling between Portland and Seattle.
Seattle to Portland Flight Time
You can expect a flight time of around an hour when flying from Seattle to Portland.
Portland to Seattle by Helicopter
Portland is home to quite a list of helicopter companies. Most of their services take you across the city or take you to scenic tours of the natural wonders around Portland. But some of them also offer flight services that take you from Portland to Seattle.
Two of the most popular helicopter services in the city are Oregon Helicopters and Flex Air Helicopters Portland. With them, you can just set your schedule, choose your destination, and travel to Seattle in style!
But when traveling from Portland to Seattle in luxury, you can expect to pay a high price. A helicopter ride between the two cities costs around 2750 USD for 6 people. But this price does come with other perks such as dinner, complementary roses, and limo transfers.
How Far Is Portland From Seattle by Helicopter?
Based on the shortest distance between the two cities, Portland is around 145 miles (233 km) away from Seattle. But keep in mind that this will still depend on the location of your starting point and where you’re landing.
With a helicopter, you don’t have to land at the airport. You can pick a specific landing destination in Seattle as long as you’ve had permission to do so.
Portland to Seattle Helicopter Time
A helicopter ride from Portland to Seattle takes around an hour or two of travel time. This will depend on the speed at which the helicopter travels though.
Boat From Seattle to Portland
Because Seattle and Portland aren’t connected by any waterway, it’s not possible to travel between the two on a boat directly. But if you’re up for an adventure, you can still have some parts of your trip on the water. Though you need to combine boat rides with land travel.
A popular option is to ride a boat from Seattle to the Puget Sound area. You’ll head to the Straights of Juan de Fuca, which is in the Salish Sea, near Victoria in British Columbia. From there, you can sail down to Astoria in Oregon, which is on the Columbia River, near the Pacific Ocean.
From the city of Astoria, you can go on a winding boat ride down the Columbia River to reach Portland!
This is a challenging and long trip that’ll take you to several places before you reach Portland. And this long trip takes nearly a week to complete. Because of this, it’s not a popular option when traveling between Seattle and Portland.
Seattle to Portland by Train
A few trains travel from Seattle to Portland and vice versa daily. Amtrak trains service these two cities, with the Amtrak Cascades being the most popular option. But you can also choose to ride the Amtrak Coast Starlight.
A train ride from Seattle to Portland covers 145 miles (233 km). This often takes around 5 hours and 38 minutes to complete. But faster train options can cut down the travel time to only 3 hours and 25 minutes.
On average, train ticket prices on this route cost around 35 to 50 USD, but the cheapest tickets are around 27 USD. Booking tickets at least two weeks in advance is the way to go if you want to score great deals. If you book tickets on the same day of your travel date, you can pay 20 USD more for the tickets.
The first train of the day departs from Seattle at around 5 AM. The last train leaves at around 6 PM.
Train travel between the two cities is busiest on Tuesdays. On this day, tickets sell out fast and are pricier due to the demand. So if you want to avoid the big crowds, travel on a Friday instead.
Scenic Train From Seattle to Portland
A train ride from Seattle to Portland is one of the most popular travel options for tourists as it offers beautiful views. Hop aboard Amtrak and get a good glimpse of the natural wonders that you’ll pass by on your trip!
On a clear day, you’ll get a good view of the majestic Mt. Rainier as you travel south. But the highlight of this scenic trip is the glistening waters near Tacoma.
For around 45 minutes, the train travels along the waterfront. This gives you views of the pebbly beaches and the Olympic Mountains in the backdrop.
Seattle to Portland Train Schedule
Four trains travel between Seattle to Portland daily, with the first one leaving Seattle at 5 AM. The last train of the day departs at around 6 PM. The two midday trains leave Seattle for Portland at around 9:45 AM and 2:20 PM.
Three of these trains are Amtrak Cascade trains. And there’s only one Coast Starlight train running between Seattle and Portland daily.
Keep in mind that these trains may have delays, affecting the regular schedule. So if you want a more accurate train schedule, it’s best to check it out online.
Luxury Bus From Seattle to Portland
The limited bus companies that run between Seattle and Portland are affordable services. Thus, you may not be able to find a luxury bus to take you to Portland. Still, these affordable bus services provide comfort and convenience for an effortless trip.
Popular bus companies such as Greyhound and FlixBus are two of your options. They provide essential amenities such as free WiFi, power outlets at your seat, comfortable seats with ample legroom, and more!
The average bus ticket price for FlixBus is around 30 USD, while Greyhound bus tickets cost around 23 USD. Both buses will take you to Portland in around 4 hours. FlixBus has 8 daily bus trips to Portland, while Greyhound has 2 daily trips.
Seattle to Portland Drive
The drive from Seattle to Portland is pretty straightforward if you follow Interstate 5. This route has a distance of 174 miles (280 km), taking around 3 hours of travel time.
Interstate 5 may be the most direct route you could take when driving to Portland. But along the highway are several charming spots that are worth a stop. Seattle and Portland are quite urban, but the land around them has loads of natural wonders.
Thus, this route offers speed and interesting stops, giving you the best of both worlds!
The first stop on your drive south is Tacoma, a charming town 40 minutes away from Seattle. Check out the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge, Tacoma Art Museum, and LeMay America’s Car Museum!
Keep driving south and you’ll reach Washington state’s capital city, Olympia. Stop by, wander around the historic center, marvel at the capitol building, or enjoy the buzzing coffee scene.
Continuing your drive, you’ll pass by Mount St. Helens, where you can stop by and immerse yourself in nature. Discover the Pacific Northwest’s hidden gems here as you explore rainforests and marvel at volcanoes.
After this, you’ll pass by several small towns that you can check out before reaching Portland!
Seattle to Portland Scenic Drive
The most direct route, Interstate 5, offers great scenery along the way. But there’s an alternative route that offers views of the Pacific coastline. On this route, you’ll drive through a part of the legendary and stunning Pacific Coast Highway!
This coastline drive via Westport and Cannon Beach covers a distance of 336 miles (541 km). And it takes around 6 hours and 30 minutes of driving time.
Drive out of Seattle to Olympia on Interstate 5. Or, you can take a ferry through the scenic Puget Sound to reach Olympia too! Keep driving until you reach the city of Westport in Washington.
Spend some time in Westport and taste the best of the city’s local seafood! Westport is famous for its delicious Dungeness crab, which is enough of a reason to take the detour.
From Westport, keep driving through the coastline south passing by Raymond and Astoria. Continue your drive until you reach the famous Cannon Beach. Here, you’ll find the marvelous Haystack Rock, the home of the largest puffins, the tufted puffins.
From there, you can just follow US 101 through Nehalem. Then once you reach Nehalem river, hop on US 26, which will take you to Portland!
Best Scenic Drive From Portland to Seattle
If you want the best views on your trip from Portland to Seattle, don’t hop on Interstate 5. While it has some interesting stops along the way, it’s not the best.
You have two other route choices that offer majestic mountain views or breathtaking coastal sights. The best one between them depends on what kind of scenery you want on your trip.
The coastal route takes you through Oregon and Washington’s craggy bays and scenic headlands. While the mountain route leads you to the beautiful Mount St. Helens. Plus, you’ll be driving into the world-famous Mount Rainier National Park as well.
These two routes combine a trip to highways and various smaller roads, offering you varied views. No matter which of these two you choose, you can avoid large cities on your trip. Thus, road traffic shouldn’t be an issue as you go on your scenic journey to Seattle!
The coastal route is shorter as it has a distance of 270 miles (435 km). This route has an estimated driving time of around 5 hours.
Hopping on the mountain route, you’ll cover a distance of 330 miles (531 km). And on this route, you’ll be driving for around 7 hours.
Portland to Seattle Drive via 101
Driving from Portland to Seattle through Highway 101 offers you views of the glistening coastline on your drive. And along the way, you’ll pass by some famous landmarks that are worthy of a detour.
To go on this exciting trip, drive to the west of Oregon and hop on Highway 26. You’ll pass by Nehalem County Park before you reach the Pacific coast. From there, you’ll drive along Highway 101.
Cannon Beach, a famous stop, is nearby for views of the craggy Oregon Coast. After your detour, continue on Highway 101 as you drive north and head to Seaside, another charming coastal town.
Keep driving north through several towns until you cross the Columbia River through Astoria. Once done, you’ll already be in Washington. Continue your trip on Highway 101 until you reach Willapa Bay.
Soon, you’ll pass by the Bone River Natural Area Preserve, Raymond, and reach Chehalis River. Cross this river and hop on Highway 12, then go on Route 8. This will take you to the Capitol State Forest.
Continue your drive on Route 8 and you’ll soon reach Olympia. Then drive through Interstate 5, taking you through Tacoma, and then you’ll soon reach The Emerald City!
How Far Is Portland From Seattle by Car?
The driving distance from Seattle to Portland depends on your chosen route.
The fastest, most direct route is Interstate 5. If you choose this route on your trip, you’ll only be covering a distance of 174 miles (280 km) to reach Portland.
An alternative route is the more scenic coastal route, which goes through Highway 101. On this route, Portland is around 336 miles away (541 km) from Seattle by car.
Best Time to Drive From Portland to Seattle
Because you have a few route options, you can enjoy a drive from Portland to Seattle year-round!
The fastest and most direct route, a straight drive up Interstate 5 is a safe and easy drive no matter what season. But if you want to get the best views, this straightforward drive isn’t for you.
You can combine Interstate 5 with Route 504, Highway 12, and Route 123 so you can drive on the mountain route! The best time to drive on this route is during the warm months though. During winter, it’s hard to access the route’s best landmarks.
For example, the Johnston Ridge Observatory in Mount St. Helens is only open from May to October. And Stevens Canyon Road, near Mount Rainier, is hard to access during winter. The gates that lead to Mount Rainier National Park on the mountain route are closed during winter too.
An alternative route is the coastal route, which takes you through a part of the legendary Pacific Coastal Highway. This is a year-round option that offers better views than Interstate 5!
The mountain and coastal routes don’t go through big, busy cities, so you don’t have to start driving early to avoid traffic.
Seattle to Portland Road Trip
You have two route options to enjoy a road trip from Seattle to Portland. Because they offer distinct views and stops, you can tailor your road trip to your likes!
A road trip on Interstate 5 may take you on a journey on a major highway for most of your drive. But there are tons of wildlife adventures just off the highway.
One must-visit destination on this route is Point Defiance Park in Tacoma. This massive park is home to a zoo, an aquarium, beaches, and more! This park attracts millions of tourists yearly.
The best thing about driving on Interstate 5 is that it’s easy to visit two famous landmarks along the way. Get off the highway so you can visit Mount Rainier National Park and Mount St. Helens!
Driving along the Pacific coastline through Westport and Cannon Beach is a more scenic and adventurous route. You’ll pass by charming beach towns where you can spend the night here, such as Seaside and Cannon Beach. You’ll be driving on Highway 101 on this route, a part of the astoundingly scenic Pacific Coast Highway.
Capitol State Forest, Fort Stevens, and Wreck of Peter Iredale are some of the highlights here.
Seattle to Portland Day Trip
Because it’s only around a 3-hour journey, going on a day trip from Seattle to Portland is an easy and exciting adventure! If you’re driving on the most direct route, Interstate 5, make sure to leave before 11 AM to avoid traffic. But you can also hop on a train, as the fastest trains can get you to Portland in around 3 hours too.
The first train from Seattle to Portland leaves at 5 AM, so you can start your day early. But keep in mind that the last train from Portland to Seattle leaves at around 7 PM. So be mindful of your time and reach the train station before then.
Once in Portland, you’ll have enough time to experience the best of the city. Explore its beautiful rose gardens, get a taste of its zinging food scene, check out its weird attractions, and more!