Where to stay in Seattle without a car: 7 Best areas

Finding where to stay in Seattle without a car can be a headache. That’s why, in today’s article, I will share with you what I believe are the best areas to stay in Seattle without a car (including a map), where I stayed in Seattle, and the best hotels in Seattle for visitors of all budgets.

If you are asking “Can I get around Seattle without a car?”My answer is, “Yes, Seattle is a vibrant city with plenty of options for travelers who prefer not to use a car.” 

The city has a well-developed public transportation system, including buses, light rail, and ferries, making it easy to get around without a car. 

Seattle has an extensive public transit system including buses, light rail, and commuter trains, operated by King County Metro Transit. The Central Link Light Rail connects downtown Seattle to the airport and various neighborhoods. Buses serve the city and surrounding areas.

You can also rent a bike from bike-sharing services like Lime or take advantage of bike lanes and trails throughout the city.

Many neighborhoods in Seattle are pedestrian-friendly, especially in the downtown area. Walking can be a pleasant way to explore the city, particularly Pike Place Market and Capitol Hill.

If you need to travel to destinations outside of Seattle, you can use the Washington State Ferries system. Ferries connect Seattle to nearby islands and the Olympic Peninsula.

Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are widely available in Seattle, providing an on-demand alternative to driving. Traditional taxi services are also available.

If you only need a car for a short period, you can rent one from various car rental agencies in the city. Carsharing services like Zipcar are also available for short-term use.

The Seattle Streetcar operates in the South Lake Union and First Hill neighborhoods, providing another option for getting around.

Seattle has water taxi services that can take you across Elliott Bay to West Seattle and other locations.The Seattle Center Monorail connects the Westlake Center in downtown to the Seattle Center near the Space Needle.

Sound Transit operates commuter trains that connect Seattle to nearby cities like Tacoma and Everett.

Where to stay in Seattle without a car?

The best areas to stay in Seattle without a car are Downtown Seattle, Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, Lower Queen Anne, Belltown, South Lake Union, and Capitol Hill. They are well-connected by public transportation and offer a variety of attractions, dining options, and accommodations.

Most first-time visitors stay in Downtown Seattle. Staying in the heart of downtown puts you within walking distance of many attractions, including Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum, and the waterfront. You’ll also have easy access to the Link Light Rail and numerous bus routes.

During my trip to Seattle, I stayed in the Downtown area, at the popular mid-range Mayflower Park Hotel. The hotel is centrally located next to trams and trains, also a short walk to Pike Place Market, and close to everything. I was able to explore most things on foot and by public transit.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Seattle for car-free travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the best areas to stay in Seattle without a car
Map of the best areas to stay in Seattle without a car

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Seattle, especially for travelers without a car. I’ll explain to you how to reach each area and how to get around. 

I’ll also provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. All hotels have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them.

7 Best areas to stay in Seattle without a car:

1. Downtown Seattle

Downtown Seattle, without a doubt, is the best area to stay in Seattle, especially for car-free travelers. Downtown is the central hub of the city, making it a convenient base for exploring. You’ll find a wide range of hotels, restaurants, shops, and cultural attractions within walking distance.

Downtown Seattle serves as a major transit hub with multiple bus routes, the Link Light Rail, and the Seattle Center Monorail connecting the area to other parts of the city and the region.

Downtown boasts a stunning skyline with iconic skyscrapers, including the Space Needle, Columbia Center, and the Amazon Spheres. The skyline is particularly beautiful when viewed from across Elliott Bay.

Perhaps one of Seattle’s most famous attractions, Pike Place Market is a historic public market overlooking the waterfront. It’s home to fresh produce, artisan food vendors, crafts, and the famous flying fish at Pike Place Fish Market.

This historic district to the south of Downtown Seattle is known for its red-brick buildings, art galleries, and the famous Underground Tour, which explores the city’s early history.

The Seattle waterfront offers beautiful views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. You can take a stroll along the waterfront, visit the Seattle Aquarium, or hop on a ferry to explore nearby islands.

Downtown Seattle is a shopping paradise. Westlake Center and Pacific Place offer upscale shopping experiences, while the historic Nordstrom flagship store is a must-visit for fashion enthusiasts.

 The downtown area is home to several cultural institutions, including the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall, and the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP).

If you’re a sports fan, you can catch a Seattle Mariners baseball game at T-Mobile Park or a Seattle Seahawks football game at Lumen Field, both located just south of downtown.

Best places to stay in Downtown Seattle without a car:

  • Luxury ($$$): Lotte Hotel Seattle, this 5-star hotel located in a quiet area, on 5th Avenue, in the Central Business District, easy access to  CenturyLink Field, Columbia Center, and Seattle Center Monorail.
  • Mid-range ($$): Arctic Club Hotel, 4-star hotel and a historical landmark, located on the corner of 3rd Avenue and Cherry Street, in the historic district. Easy access to the waterfront, Space Needle, Pike Place Market, as well as Lumen Field and T-Mobile Park. Step away from the Link light rail stop.
  • Budget ($): Courtyard Seattle Downtown / Pioneer Square , 3-star hotel, located in the heart of the historic downtown, short walk from CenturyLink Field, Seattle Aquarium, and Pioneer Square Station.

2. Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market is an area in Downtown Seattle. Staying near Pike Place Market is an excellent choice if you want to be right in the midst of Seattle’s bustling food and shopping scene. It’s a pedestrian-friendly area with easy access to public transit.

Best places to stay in Pike Place Market without a car:

  • Luxury ($$$): Grand Hyatt Seattle, this 5-star hotel is located 15 mins walk from Pike Place Market, with location for easy access to downtown, waterfront area. Also close to with easy access to the Monorail and Link.
  • Mid-range ($$): Mayflower Park Hotel, 4-star hotel, located in the downtown area, only a 10 mins walk to Pike Place Market. Also a convenient location for the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. It has direct access to the monorail with links to the Space Needle and Seattle Center.
  • Budget ($): Palihotel Seattle, great 3-star hotel, centrally located, easy distance to the Space Needle, CenturyLink Field and Seattle Great Wheel. 

3. Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square is an area in Downtown Seattle, known for its lively nightlife, historic charm, with cobblestone streets and unique boutiques. It’s also home to Seattle’s historic underground tour. The neighborhood is well-connected to public transportation.

Best hotels in Seattle in Pioneer Square without a car:


4. Lower Queen Anne

Lower Queen Anne is a vibrant neighborhood with good access to public transit, located just north of downtown Seattle, near the Space Needle and the Seattle Center. It is a great base for car-free travelers who want a safe area with a quieter atmosphere and easy access to cultural attractions.

The monorail connects Lower Queen Anne to downtown Seattle and is a convenient way to travel between the two areas.

Perhaps the most iconic feature of Lower Queen Anne is the Space Needle. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, this futuristic tower offers stunning views of the city from its observation deck.

Located near the Space Needle, Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) is a unique museum dedicated to the exploration of popular culture, featuring exhibits on music, science fiction, video games, and more.

Chihuly Garden and Glass is a stunning museum that showcases the work of glass artist Dale Chihuly. It features a beautiful glasshouse and a garden filled with his vibrant and imaginative sculptures.

Seattle Center, a cultural and entertainment complex, is home to several theaters, including the Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Seattle Opera. It also hosts numerous events and festivals throughout the year.

Located on the south slope of Queen Anne Hill, Kerry Park offers one of the best views of the Seattle skyline, with the Space Needle prominently in the foreground.

Seattle Repertory Theatre, also known as “The Rep,” produces a variety of plays and performances throughout the year, attracting theater enthusiasts from all over the city.

Best places to stay in Seattle in  Queen Anne without a car:

  • Mid-range ($$): The Mediterranean Inn, 3-star hotel, located only a 10 mins walk from the Space Needle, featuring a rooftop without views of the city’s Skyline, Mount Rainier, the Olympic Mountains, and Elliot Bay. 
  • Mid-range ($$): Staypineapple, The Maxwell Hotel, Seattle Center Seattle, great hotel located within walking distance from Seattle’s Space Needle and the Seattle Center Monorail for services to the downtown area.  
  • Mid-range ($$): MarQueen Hotel, this historic hotel located in the Queen Anne neighborhood, a short walk fromSpace Needle, Seattle Center entertainment venue, and Theatre District.

5. Belltown

Belltown is known for its nightlife and dining scene. It’s within walking distance of many attractions in downtown Seattle and is also accessible by public transportation.

Belltown is situated between Downtown Seattle to the south and the Denny Triangle neighborhood to the north. It is bounded by Elliott Bay to the west and 5th Avenue to the east.

Belltown is home to several art galleries, theaters, and music venues, making it a hub for Seattle’s arts and culture scene. The neighborhood hosts events such as the Belltown Art Walk, where local artists showcase their work in various galleries.

Belltown has a thriving nightlife scene with many bars, clubs, and restaurants. You can find a wide range of dining options, from upscale restaurants to casual eateries, as well as numerous bars and clubs for entertainment.

Best hotels in Seattle in Belltown without a car:


6. South Lake Union

South Lake Union is well-connected in terms of transportation. It has several bus lines, including the South Lake Union Streetcar, which provides a convenient link to downtown Seattle. The neighborhood is also accessible via Interstate 5.

South Lake Union is situated on the southern shore of Lake Union, which is a freshwater lake in the northern part of Seattle. It is bordered by Downtown Seattle to the south, Queen Anne to the west, Capitol Hill to the east, and the Lake Union waterfront to the north.

This neighborhood has seen significant development in recent years, with the presence of tech companies like Amazon. It offers a mix of dining, shopping, and parks.

The neighborhood’s namesake, Lake Union, offers recreational activities like kayaking, boating, and scenic walks along its shores. There are also popular parks in the area, including Lake Union Park, which features a historic steamship, a wooden boat center, and walking trails.

Best places to stay in South Lake Union without a car:


7. Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill is a diverse and vibrant neighborhood known for its arts, culture, and nightlife. It is located just east of downtown Seattle and is one of the city’s most well-known and historic neighborhoods.

It is well-connected by public transportation, including bus routes and the Capitol Hill Light Rail Station, which provides easy access to other parts of Seattle.

Capitol Hill is known for its cultural diversity and LGBTQ+ community. It has long been a hub for LGBTQ+ activism and is home to various LGBTQ+ organizations and events.

The neighborhood is also home to Seattle University, a private Jesuit Catholic university that has a significant presence in the area.

Best places to stay in Seattle in Capitol Hill without a car:


See more: Best areas to stay in Washington DC without a car

In conclusion, Downtown, Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, Queen Anne, Belltown, South Lake Union, and Capitol Hill are the best places to stay in Seattle without a car. These areas offer easy access to tourist attractions and amenities on foot, by public transportation, and taxi/Uber.

If you travel to Seattle as a family, you can check this article: Where to stay in Seattle for families with kids. If you are new to Seattle, you can check Best areas to stay in Seattle for first time.

There you have it, my recommendations for the popular areas that you can stay during your trip to Seattle with no car. I hope you found my article helpful and enjoy your holiday!

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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