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!
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
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Viator Exclusive Tour – Mt. Rainier Day Trip from Seattle
- Seattle Harbor Cruise
- Half-Day Guided Tour of Seattle City and Snoqualmie Falls
- Exclusive: Early-Bird Tasting Tour of Pike Place Market
- Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass Combination Ticket
- Haunted Seattle Ghost and Pub Walking Tour
- Upper Skagit Introductory Whitewater Rafting Trip
- Seattle’s Only Underground Donut Tour
- Evening Colors Sunset Sail Tour in Seattle
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