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48 hours in Seattle – A 2 day Itinerary

Traveling to Seattle can be an amazing experience whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveller. With its bustling city life, stunning natural scenery and rich culture, it’s well worth spending at least two days exploring.

As someone who has lived and travelled throughout America, I’ve been to Seattle a few times and am here to provide an itinerary that will show you how to make the most of your time there.

This guide is for travellers who may not be sure what to do with only two days in Seattle, so I’ve put together an itinerary that covers the must-see attractions and some lesser known gems. Whether you’re interested in the vibrant nightlife or looking for beautiful parks and gardens, this guide has something for everyone!

The downtown Seattle, Washington waterfront skyline at sunset

Looking to spend 2 days in Seattle? While Seattle may be famous as the birthplace of Starbucks and Amazon, but, over time, it’s also become known for its live music, its food scene, and its unique blend of urban amenities with access to nature.

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Overview of your 48 hours in Seattle itinerary

Day 1 in Seattle

  • Explore Pioneer Square
  • Grab lunch at Pike Place Market
  • Check out the Olympic Sculpture Park
  • Learn at the Pacific Science Center
  • Ogle away at the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum
  • Watch the sunset from Kerry Park
  • Head out on the town in Capitol Hill

Day 2 in Seattle

  • Drive out of the city on a day trip
  • Mount Rainer National Par
  • Olympic National Park
  • Kayak on Lake Union
  • Explore the Museum of History & Industry
  • Enjoy a chilled dinner at Duke’s seafood
  • Pay a night-time visit to the Space needle
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - Logging was Seattles first major industry, but this has long been replaced by shipping, tourism, technology, and music, and has a strong counter-culture presence.

What to do in Seattle Overview

The city is nicknamed the Emerald City for both its famous green spaces and its status as “the jewel of the Pacific Northwest”.

Nestled in between two beautiful national parks, and dotted with urban parks, Seattle feels like a small town with all the benefits of a big city. The city’s diversity is evident in the attractions you’ll find here- from as goofy as the gum wall to as intellectual as the Pacific Science Center.

While you could easily spend weeks exploring Seattle and getting to know this quirky and exciting city, 48 hours in Seattle is enough time to get a feel for the city- and a tiny taste of the beautiful nature surrounding it.

We’re here to provide you with the ultimate 2 days itinerary for Seattle- so you can relax and enjoy this stunner of a city.

Where to stay in Seattle

Seattle is pretty compact as cities go, but its neighborhoods are all really unique, so there’s a different vibe for each kind of traveller. These are some of the top areas we’d recommend when staying in Seattle for 48 hours.

Downtown Seattle: Best place for tourist attractions

Downtown Seattle is the busiest neighborhood in Seattle, and you’ll find a lot of businesses here, so it’s a great place to stay if you’re in the city for work. However, it’s also got some top attractions like Pike Place Market, the Seattle Public Library, and the famous Seattle Gum Wall, so it’s a great spot if you’re just in town for fun as well.

Pioneer Square: Best place for the ‘gram

Pioneer Square is considered the birthplace of Seattle, which means that it’s peppered with beautiful historic buildings and has a ton of history, making it one of the most picturesque spots in Seattle. It’s also walking distance to Downtown and many of the top tourist attractions Seattle has to offer.

The new Seattle Waterfront from Puget Sound

Belltown: Best places for lovers of hustle and bustle

Belltown is the most densely populated neighborhood in Seattle, which means that it’s packed with cool restaurants and bars. It’s also perched right on the water, so it’s a really scenic little spot to stay.

Capitol Hill: Best neighborhood for a weekend in Seattle

Capitol Hill is a true artistic hub in Seattle, and has a bit of a more local vibe than the downtown neighborhoods, while still being well located to access the rest of the city. The area is known for its nightlife, with offerings from famous LGBTQIA nightclubs to grunge bars, so it’s a dream spot if you want to experience the best things to do in Seattle for a weekend. There’s not many hotels here, but there are some amazing AirBnB options and other smaller accommodations.

South Lake Union: Best place for business travellers

South Lake Union was built up around Amazon’s headquarters, and you’ll now find incredible bars and restaurants, along with unique food trucks, in this part of town. It’s also got easy access to the lake, so it’s a great spot if you love water sports!

SEATTLE USA -Center for Wooden Boats on Lake Union in Seattle, WA, USA. The collection of maritime museum started includes more than 100 small sailboats and rowboats.

Day 1 in Seattle

Explore Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square is one of Seattle’s most photogenic and historic spots, so it’s a perfect place to start your two days in Seattle. Spend your morning walking in and out of art galleries, quirky independently-owned boutiques, and artsy cafes, and start to soak up the real vibe of Seattle.

You can also book a tour to explore the Seattle Underground- a network of passageways and basements which were originally at ground level when Seattle was built, but were built on top of to create the streets of modern Seattle.

Tour Pick
Seattle, Washington State, United States - Pioneer Square district and Centurylink Field stadium.

Seattle Underground Tour

  • 1 hours 
  • Small Group Tour
  • Local Guide
Seattle, Washington State, United States - Pioneer Square district and Centurylink Field stadium.

Grab lunch at Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market is the true heart and soul of Seattle. It’s a huge market which was founded all the way back in 1907 and takes up nine acres in the center of Seattle, feeding thousands of locals and tourists every day.

It’s also the location of the first ever Starbucks! You can still get a coffee from that Starbucks (if you’re prepared to line up for a while!)

 For lunch, choose from a huge assortment of incredible prepared food stalls. We’d recommend going full Seattle and choosing one of the city’s typical specialties for lunch- including Oyster and Crab Chowder, Salmon, or Oysters (if you want to be fancy).

You can also check out the famous gum wall- a huge brick wall covered in used chewing gum. We’d recommend doing this after lunch to avoid ruining your appetite – it’s not the most appealing sight!

Tour Pick
Barbecue overbaked fresh opened oyster with garlic and herbs offered as close up on a plate

Guided Food Tour

  • 2 hours 
  • Chef Guided Tour
  • 10 Different Stops
SEATTLE; WASHINGTON - Pike Place Market at night. The popular tourist destination opened in 1907 and; is one of the oldest continuously operated public markets in the United states.

Walk through the Olympic Sculpture Park

After lunch, head north to the Olympic Sculpture Park, a free-admission park with permanent and temporary outdoor sculptures.

It’s the largest green space in Seattle, taking up a whole 9 acres, and it really shows Seattle’s commitment to creating beautiful public spaces. It’s located right along the waterfront, so it’s a beautiful place to take in some incredible contemporary art.

Ogle away at the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum

The Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum is a truly unique art museum and sculpture garden which shows off the stunning glass works created by Dale Chihuly, a lifelong Washingtonian.

His beautiful glass artworks sparkle in the light throughout the museum’s eight indoor galleries. Whether you’re a fan of art or not, the colors and scale of Chihuly’s work will blow you away.

Seattle, WA:  Plants and flowers amongst glass art sculptures with the Seattle Skyline beyond taken at the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum in Downtown Seattle, WA where people can see manicured gardens surrounded by glass art sculptures

Watch the sunset from Kerry Park

After a busy day of sightseeing, it’s time to take a minute to smell the roses- and watch the sunset. Kerry Park is a small public park on Queen Anne hill, and offers the most beautiful views of the city.

Locals and tourists alike flock here every night to see the Seattle skylight burst into color as the sun goes down. You can even catch views of the iconic Mount Rainier, one of Washington state’s biggest attractions. 

December sunset of Seattle from Kerry Park

Head out for some live music in Belltown

Now that you’ve seen Seattle in the daytime, experience the nightlife! Seattle has an amazing musical history, including being the birthplace of music legend Jimi Hendrix, and you can still find incredible live music here every night.

If you can only go to one venue, we’d recommend Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley– a two-story jazz club which has live acts every night. It’s very popular, and you will need a ticket- make sure to book ahead!

SEATTLE - Twilight image of Pier 57 on waterfront of Seattle with restaurants and other tourist businesses including neon signs and lit Great Ferris Wheel in background in Seattle, Washington

Day 2 in Seattle

Drive out of the City on a day trip

While downtown Seattle is great, one of the biggest highlights of Seattle is its access to natural beauty. When thinking of what to see in seattle in 2 days, we’d absolutely include a day trip to one of the neighboring national parks.

You won’t have time to see both, but wake up early on your second day and pick one of these two incredible destinations to drive to:

Mount Rainer National Park

Mt Rainier is a large active volcano in the Cascade mountain range. Mr Rainier National Park surrounds the volcano, and has some incredible hikes and beautiful views. We would recommend driving straight to Paradise, one of the most beautiful areas of the park.

There are some short trails you can pick to hike, including the Alta Vista Trail and the Nisquilla Vista Trail, both of which are under 2 miles long. Along the way (and on your drive) you’ll see stunning waterfalls, lakes, and landscapes that will make the early wakeup worth it.

Tour Pick
Mount Rainier hiking trail through meadow of wildflowers Mount Rainer National Park Washington

Mt Rainier Day Tour

  • 10 hours 
  • Local Guide
Mount Rainier hiking trail through meadow of wildflowers Mount Rainer National Park Washington

Kayak on Lake Union

After your quick getaway, drive back into the city for a totally different kind of nature. In the Amazon-focused South Lake Union neighborhood. This area is perched on the edge of Seattle’s Lake Union, and one of the most popular things to do here is to visit the Center for Wooden Boats.

This museum dedicated to documenting the maritime history of the Pacific Northwest also rents out boats. While you can even rent sailboats here with a one-time lesson, for a quick float today we’d recommend taking one of their kayaks.

Enjoy the view of Seattle from the water and experience the city to nature balance of Seattle your own way.

Two friends enjoying a kayaking session on Lake Union in Seattle.

Enjoy a chilled dinner at Duke’s seafood

Duke’s Seafood is a restaurant with 7 locations in the Seattle area, and the South Lake Union location is a great option when you’re choosing what to do in Seattle in 2 days.

Sat right on the edge of Lake Union, the restaurant has stunning views over the water and offers a great range of typical Seattle dishes, focusing (of course) on seafood! They have a great happy hour, so go early to make the most of it!

Pay a night-time visit to the Space needle

We’ve really saved the obvious for last here! The iconic Space Needle is definitely one of the first things that comes to mind when thinking about visiting Seattle, so it’s absolutely a must see in Seattle in your 2 days.

Originally built for the Seattle World’s Fair and at one point the highest building west of the Mississippi. Now the Space Needle is famous for its epic observation deck.

In 2018, a new rotating glass floor was installed, so you can walk, sit, or lie down on the see-through ground to get an insane view of not only the city, but the elevators and other mechanical parts of the Space Needle itself.

What many people don’t realise is that you can actually go up the Space Needle until 11 PM each night, offering an epic view of Seattle’s night-time skyline. It’s the perfect change to look out over this beautiful city and reflect on all the amazing things you’ve seen in your 2 days in Seattle.

Downtown Seattle skyline at twilight, Washington State

Top tours in Seattle

You can see a lot on your own in Seattle, but to really check off your top things to see in Seattle in 2 days we’d recommend looking into some tours. Here are our top picks!

Guided Underground tour

This tour will take you under the city’s streets to underground passageways that can be found beneath Pioneer Square, the most historic neighborhood in Seattle. Follow a local guide and learn about why these exist, as well as getting a different insight into Seattle’s fascinating history.

3-hour Seattle city tour

If you find the prospect of navigating around the city overwhelming when visiting Seattle in two days, this tour is a great way to see a lot of the top sights of Seattle in one short timeframe.

Be taken around the city on a comfortable bus and see places like the Waterfront, Pioneer Square, Lake Union, and Kerry Park before being dropped off at the Space Needle. It’s also a great way to get insight into the city’s history which you might have missed otherwise. 

Night view of cruise pier at Seattle, WA.

Pike Place Market Tasting Tour

While Pike Place market is incredible to visit, the sheer number of options can be overwhelming. Book a tour, and you’ll be guided through the market by a local, making sure you get to experience (and taste food from) some of the market’s most iconic stalls, as well as discovering some hidden gems you might have overlooked. Bon appetit!

Mount Rainier day tour from Seattle

You can get to Mount Rainer National Park on your own with a rental car, but a tour is also an amazing option. It saves you going through the hassle of renting a car, and also will make sure you make the absolute most out of one day visiting this amazing park.

Waterfall in the forest of Mt Rainer NP captured in autumn

FAQs About 2 day seattle itinerary

What should I do during my two day Seattle itinerary?

During your two day Seattle itinerary, you can visit the most popular attractions and landmarks in the city. Start with the iconic Space Needle for stunning views of the skyline, then check out Pike Place Market to browse through its many unique stores.

Afterwards, explore the Museum of Pop Culture or tour the Chihuly Garden and Glass. Finish off your trip by taking a ride on one of the famous Duck Tours around Lake Union.

What are some must-try restaurants in Seattle?

If you’re looking for an unforgettable dining experience, head to The Pink Door in Pike Place Market for Italian fare with an incomparable atmosphere.

Another great spot is Wild Ginger for its excellent selection of pan-Asian cuisine. For seafood lovers, check out The Crab Pot or Elliott’s Oyster House–both serve up delicious dishes made from locally sourced ingredients.

how many days to spend in seattle

Seattle is a city that offers an incredible variety of attractions. A minimum of two full days and three nights is recommended for exploring the bustling city centre, shopping at Pike Place Market, catching a ferry to Bainbridge Island, visiting the iconic Space Needle, and sampling Seattle’s diverse dining offerings.

To explore further afield, you’ll need more time – Seattle’s list of outdoor activities is endless! Whether it’s kayaking on Lake Union or hiking Mount Rainier National Park, there’s something for everyone in Seattle.

is 2 days enough in seattle

2 days is not enough time to experience all that Seattle has to offer. Seattle is a great city with a lot of attractions, museums, and other activities. You can visit the iconic Space Needle, explore the vibrant Pike Place Market, take a ferry ride to one of the nearby islands, and more!

However, if you want to get a good feel for the city in two days, you should pick just a few activities and prioritize them. That way you can still get an exciting and memorable impression of Seattle without feeling overwhelmed.

Final Thoughts: must see in seattle in 2 days

Seattle, the Emerald City, is filled with wonders to explore. From the iconic Space Needle and Pike Place Market, to Mount Rainier National Park and tranquil trails of Washington Park Arboretum—the possibilities are endless. Whether you’re looking for an adventure or a relaxed getaway, Seattle has something for everyone.

This two-day itinerary will help you make the most of your trip to Seattle. With all there is to do and see in this dynamic city, you are sure to have an unforgettable experience. So pack your bags and get ready to explore!

Be sure to visit some of our other guides for more amazing travel guides, tours and hotels in Seattle. Make your two days in the Emerald City that one trip of a lifetime that you won’t soon forget!

Recommended tours in Seattle

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Author

  • Samantha King

    Sam, a seasoned traveler across four continents and 49 countries, is a leading authority in travel planning. Her website, Travelling King, offers tailored itineraries and expert guides for seamless trips. Sam's expertise in luxury travel, fast travel, and destination guides keeps her at the forefront of the travel community.

    View all posts https://www.tiktok.com/@travellingkng

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