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The home of Starbucks and the origin of the grunge rock scene, Seattle is both traditionally corporate and resolutely anti-establishment. It's a proudly bohemian city with a great music scene and plenty of original ales made by local brewers, both of which you can experience in the many Seattle bars and clubs, from the swanky lounges of the Belltown area to the college bars in the university district. The city's most famous monument, the Space Needle, is the crowning glory of an impressive skyline and is just one of a host of tourist attractions to take your fancy on your Seattle holiday.
It's not all bustling city streets and skyscrapers though; Seattle is surrounded by two national forests (Wenatchee and Olympic) and is overlooked by Mount Olympus and Mount Rainier, so there's plenty of opportunity for outdoorsy types to have a blast. Seattle does have a reputation for being a rather rainy city, but nonetheless, temperatures are generally pretty mild and summers tend to be warm and sunny. Besides, a bit of rain is nothing we Brits can't handle.
British Airways operates flights to Seattle departing from Heathrow, which take around nine hours. If you're willing to opt for a longer flight time, you'll likely get a better deal if you book an indirect flight. There are plenty of airlines you can book with, such as KLM, Lufthansa and Emirates. This also means you can depart from points around the UK including Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow. Flight prices don't tend to dramatically according to the time of year, so finding a cheap flight to Seattle is likely to depend on your departure point, whether you fly direct or indirect and how far you book in advance.
There's a wide choice of Seattle hotels to suit every budget. Downtown, between Pine Street and James Street, is a great area for sightseeing and shopping. This is where you'll find most of the well-known international hotel chains such as Hilton and Hyatt, but there are also some very reasonably-priced hotels around Pike Street. In the South Lake Union neighbourhood on the edge of downtown you're slightly further out of the city centre but prices are likely to be a little lower. The area around the Space Needle is also great for budget Seattle hotels, and convenient for accessing the monorail system.
As a popular North American destination, there are plenty of flights to Seattle from the UK. The main airport in Seattle is Seattle Tacoma International, commonly known as Sea Tac, located in the south of the city. The airport recently underwent considerable refurbishment and now boasts extensive retail and food outlets as well as a view of the runway! You can expect to fly indirect to Seattle from the UK, with direct flights, which are only available from Heathrow, being a more expensive option
Public transport options and taxis are abundant at Seattle Airport so onward travel is simple. Sound Transit's Light Rail Link connects the airport directly to Downtown. The journey takes 40 minutes to reach the central business district and it's pretty light on the wallet too. You can also catch the train from the main terminal or a shuttle bus. They all take more or less the same amount of time although the shuttle bus is more expensive than the light rail link. Taxis cost about $30 and are the quickest way into town. Alternatively you can book car hire at Seattle Airport where there are plenty of car hire companies, and you can arrange it before you go.
Hiring a car is a popular way to see the city, especially if you want to explore further afield. Taxis all operate at the same rate and are in plentiful supply. Sound Transit Light Rail and Amtrak are the main train operators around the city. Another great way to get around the city is by bike. Make sure you wear a helmet though as you can be fined up to $30 if you are caught without one on!
Seattle is surrounded by water so what better way to get around than by boat? Washington State Ferries organise boat trips to Bremerton or Bainbridge Island (highly recommended trip during sunset). Other companies include Victoria Clipper, a slightly more expensive service operating between Seattle and Victoria BC (Canada) and to the San Juan islands. Hiring a car is probably your best bet for driving to the mountains or to places such as Snoqualmie Falls, Leavenworth and Roslyn. The famous Greyhound bus service connects Seattle with other cities such as Chicago and San Francisco and up to Vancouver.
The weather in Seattle could be described as unpredictable or perpetually cloudy. It has a tendency to rain or drizzle at any time which may not be ideal. However it's nothing that the Brits can't cope with. Plus it also means that when the sun does come out everyone is happy and the world (according to Seattleites) is just beautiful!
Mid-June to September is the warmest time to holiday in Seattle; the average high is 25°C with occasional days when the temperature reaches 30°C. The coldest month is January, although the climate is usually mild with more overcast skies than rain. January can bring with it a 'big chill' and April certainly sees showers and occasionally more heavy rainfall. The general rule is that summer does not start until the 4th of July and after that it is pleasant through until September.
Seattle operates on Pacific Standard Time (PST), which is generally eight hours behind the UK.
USD $; ATMs are frequent across the city, so you won't have any problems obtaining cash so long as you can use your card abroad.
Though Seattle ranks among the more expensive USA cities, visitors from the UK will still find prices comparable to costs back home, with certain products such as fuel coming up much cheaper!
+1 for the USA, followed by 206 for Seattle.
Entry rules for the USA have recently changed. All travellers must now obtain approval before they travel through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Click here to find out more and to apply online.
The Space Needle, which is surrounded by amusements and adjacent to the Museum of Rock and Roll, is a defining feature of Seattle and offers a stunning 360° view of the city, Mount Rainier and the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. Tickets up to the observation deck at 520 feet are available throughout the day and you might need to queue, but note that if you go for dinner at the revolving restaurant, you're fast-tracked to the deck afterwards for free.
Seattle is a city of coffee-lovers, and coffee shops of the mainstream and independent variety pop up in abundance. It's also the home of the very first Starbucks, which can be found at Pike Place Market. This public market overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront has been open for over 100 years and is one of the city's most popular tourist attractions. It's worth a visit just for the spectacle of fishmongers throwing three-foot salmon around, but there are hundreds of stalls offering all kinds of food, crafts and antiques, and numerous eateries if you're feeling peckish. Lowell's does a particularly good range of breakfast dishes; just make sure you're hungry as the portions are definitely not stingy!
To see more of the surrounding area, head down to Pier 52 and jump on the ferry across to Bainbridge Island. Here you'll find plenty of pretty restaurants, cafés and ice cream shops, along with wine producers offering tasting sessions in the summer months. You can also rent a boat for the day and explore the Puget Sound. On the ferry back to the city you'll enjoy an impressive view of the Seattle skyline.