Portland, Oregon is a beautiful city with a lot to offer, and it’s definitely worth a look-in if you’re after an amazing place to visit. With its quirky neighborhoods, delicious food scene, and abundance of outdoor activities, “The City of Roses” has something for everyone. If you want to visit and need tips on how to get there, look no further! This blog post will give you all the information you need to make the journey. Whether you’re coming from another state or another country, we’ve got you covered.
To see the city itself and for business trips, the most common means of transport is by air. If you fly in you might stick to public transport in the city or rent a car if you want to travel to Portland’s scenic offerings. If you want to explore the surrounding areas and experience the maximum Portland has to offer, you might consider coming by road, in your own car as this provides the greatest mobility once you are in the city. Finally, for those that the city is the destination but the journey is the experience; for this rail, bus or a road trip by car can be preferable.
Where is Portland?
Portland is located in the state of Oregon in the North-West part of the USA, It’s 502 km from Portland to Vancouver, 280km from Seattle, 1022km from Portland to San Francisco, 958km from Portland to Los Angeles and from Portland to Denver is 2000km.
There are plenty of different modes of transportation that you can use to travel to Portland, depending on your point of origin, your mood, or even your need for speed. Here are some of the popular and sometimes adventurous means of transport that you can use to travel to and from this magnificent Oregon city.
How to get to Portland by Plane
Portland International Airport (PDX) and Hillsboro Airport (HIO) are the main airports in Portland, Oregon. PDX is the primary airport in the region and offers extensive service throughout North America and international destinations. HIO meanwhile is a small airport that primarily serves private aircraft.
In addition to HIO, there are several smaller aviation companies and private fields that may be available depending on your charter service or private aircraft access.
The international airport that used to cater to close to an average of 20 million passengers a year prior to the pandemic. Although the number has dwindled down to just over 7 million in 2020, PDX continues to provide world-class airport services to all passengers and visitors.
Portland International Airport is located 6 miles northeast of the City Center. There is no bus route that goes directly into the airport, nor is there a coach service. If you are flying into Portland and do not have your own private vehicle waiting at the airport, it is recommended that you take the Red Line of the MAX Light Rail that can take you to downtown in approximately 40 minutes.
The station is right on the south end of the airport’s ticketing lobby. The Rail operates from about 5 am to shortly before 2 am daily. There is a train that takes off every 15 minutes so you don’t need to spend too much time waiting.
Alternatively, you can book with one of the many airport shuttles that serve airport passengers, such as the Boutique Air and Manheim Portland/Auto Auction.
You can also schedule a ride with one of the charter buses including Blue Star Charters and Tours, EcoShuttle, Harlow’s Trailways, NW Bus Tours, or VIP PDX, to name a few. Of course, you can also ride on the scheduled buses and vans like the Central Oregon Breeze.
Finally, there is always the option of taking a cab, although this would be a more expensive option. Taxi fares from the airport to downtown Portland typically run to about $35, and that does not include tips. If you wish to take a taxi out of the airport, you have to go to the third island where taxis are always waiting right by the baggage claim area.
How to get to Portland by commercial flight
Portland International Airport (PDX) is a bustling hub for travelers from around the world and America. With 13 carriers serving more than 500 scheduled passenger flights each day, you can fly to Portland from almost anywhere in the US. In addition, there are many direct international flights to PDX from cities all around the globe, ensuring that whether you travel from near or far, there’s a convenient flight plan to bring you to Portland (Travel Portland).
Flights into Portland from LA start at $90 with Alaska Airlines, though most carriers offer flights from $150. A flight from New York is comparable to this starting at $109 and typically offered by most carriers from $200. If flying internationally, prices vary from $190-$429 for nearby cities such as Ottawa to $712 – $2000 for a seat in a coach flying from Heathrow, UK.
Connections when traveling to Portland
One of the biggest hassles when flying is getting to and from your destination airport to your accommodation and city sights. Some cities have very poor airport connections and intracity transport, this is not the case for Portland. There are multiple convenient transport solutions to and from PDX to make sure you can get to your accommodation stress-free.
Union Station is just a few minutes away from Portland International Airport, and the MAX light rail makes traveling there an easy endeavor. Passengers can take Red Line trains every 15 minutes from PDX and get off at any stop between Gateway & Rose Garden.
From here transfer to the Green Line train which runs to Union Station with no other transfers. The journey is short and convenient at just 38 minutes and you can use that time to peruse local attractions and plan the rest of your trip (Travel Portland).
Getting a Taxi to Portland Center
If you are looking to travel directly to your final destination, be it a hotel in the city or somewhere outside of town, then a taxi or ride-share service might be best.
Trips to and from the city take between 20 and 40 minutes depending on the time of day that you arrive. The main taxi rank is located on the bottom roadway outside of the baggage claim on the side of the road closest to the parking garage (flyPDX). The typical taxi fare from PDX to the downtown area is $35 excluding gratuity.
Alternatively, most ride-share providers are cheaper than taxis, particularly if traveling outside of the city center. Lyft and Uber operate to and from PDX and you can use their online tools to estimate your fare ahead of time.
Alternately, when booking you will be notified of your fare on both apps before your ride is confirmed. (Travel Portland). Ride-share services operate from ‘Island 2’ on the lower roadway, outside of baggage claim (flyPDX).
Airport Shuttle Buses in Portland
Many hotels and accommodation providers offer free airport shuttle services. If your booking includes airport transfers, look for your shuttle on the bottom roadway outside the baggage claim area, shuttled leave from the terminal side of the pick-up area. (flyPDX).
Rental Cars in Portland
If you prefer the flexibility and convenience of driving yourself, or you want the ease of traveling outside of the public transport network, hiring a car provides a flexible solution. PDX, like most airports, has a wide variety of rental car providers to choose from including Alamo, Hertz, Enterprise, Zipcar, and more (flyPDX).
Rates typically start at $100 per day but will depend on vehicle preference, duration of lease, and date of visit, so be sure to check with your preferred provider ahead of time to make sure you get the car you want.
Taking a private flight to Portland
If you have access to a private plane or choose to chart one, there are many convenient airports located in Portland. While there are several small aviation providers and private airfields that may be available to you depending on your private plane or charter provider, the largest private field in Portland is Hillsboro Airport (HIO).
HIO does have more limited transport than PDX, the only public transport option regularly provided is by bus, at the bus stop provided directly outside the airfield. If you are planning to fly into HIO, make sure you book your taxi, or private car service ahead of time for a seamless transfer experience.
How to travel to Portland by car
The United States has one of the best and most comprehensive interstate systems in the world, so obviously you can come to Portland by car. This network of interconnected major highways and motorways ensures that no matter where you are traveling from or to there is a convenient route available.
The main reason you would drive to Portland cross-country is if you are planning to move to this great city, or you are planning a road trip. If you do want to travel by road these are some common routes.
If traveling from any West coast location, the I-5 is the most direct being just 4 hours South from Seattle or 10 hours North from San Francisco. Los Angeles is a two-day affair at 15 hours and any car journey will take longer with stops for fuel, food, and to see the sights. Consider making the journey one to remember by taking the scenic route along the coast, to do this take US route 101 for a part, or all of your trip.
For Central Northern states take the I-90 across to Spokane and then head South West on the I-82 and I-84 to connect to Portland. There’s no need to detour for scenery on this route as it has ample opportunity for views as it follows the Columbia River most on the I-84 leg of the journey.
For the committed driver from the Eastern states, there’s no fast journey, but it will be a road trip to remember. Find your shortest route to the I-80 and follow it through to Salt Lake City, Utah, from there take the I-84 the rest of the way to Portland.
Similarly, for any of the South-Eastern states take a direct route to Nashville, Tennessee to get onto the I-80 and then follow the directions for the Eastern state drivers. If coming from the East consider detouring to Oregon Route 22 or US Route 26 for scenic mountain drives through the Cascades.
While driving is certainly one of the less expedient options for visiting Portland, it does provide the convenience of your own car and you will have memories that you won’t soon forget. If you are planning a classic American road trip, consider putting Portland on your list.
How to travel to Portland by Bus
If you like road trips but hate driving, or are looking for a cheaper way to travel from other cities buses are a great option. Greyhound and FlixBus both operate a direct route from Seattle to Portland, a journey that takes about five hours and costs $15 with FlixBus.
If coming from further afield be sure to visit Greyhound or FlixBus to see their route maps and the many locations they offer. Both bus lines operate services right along the entire West coast and can get you to Portland from almost anywhere within the United States. A journey from Los Angeles to Portland will cost about $140 while from farther afield, such as New York is $225 (Greyhound).
You can always rely on the Greyhound to take you to Portland from just about any other city in the United States. As you probably already know, Greyhound is the biggest long-distance bus company in North America with over 2,400 locations.
Buying tickets for the Greyhound can be done over the phone, online, or right at any Greyhound agency. Greyhound has its own bus stop in Portland and this is situated north of Union Station, along Northwest Station Way and Marshall Street.
If you are coming from the Pacific Northwest, you can also take a ride on the Flixbus, a German-based bus company that passengers have been enjoying thoroughly because of its numerous perks. For starters, they have very low fares that start at only $4.99. In addition, they also have free Wi-Fi and convenient electrical outlets, and they are much more spacious than standard passenger buses.
FlixBus has frequent trips to Portland from Ellensburg, Everett, Olympia, Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma in Washington. It also serves Portland-bound passengers coming from Corvallis, Salem, and Eugene in Oregon, as well as Coeur d’Alene in Idaho.
Some other bus companies that you can take when traveling to Portland are Cascades Point, NorthWest Point, the Northwest Connector, CC Rider, and Central Oregon Breeze.
How to travel to Portland By Train
If you prefer to travel by public transport, but want to avoid planes and buses being too slow, consider taking a train to Portland. Amtrak operates from Portland’s Union Station and provides services nationwide.
Portland Union Station is situated very close to downtown and is, therefore, a very ideal way to enter the city as it is very accessible to the local means of transportation. Union Station is served by three different Amtrak trains – the Cascades, the Coast Starlight and the Empire Builder.
For those along the coast, Amtrak’s scenic Coast Starlight service provides a fun way to have a memorable journey when coming to visit the City of Roses.
If you are coming in from the West Coast or if you are already in Portland and planning to travel to a West Coast destination, then the Coast Starlight is the train to ride.
This train travels daily, bringing passengers from Portland to several other major cities in the West Coast, including Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The route, which takes a total of 35 hours, starts in Seattle and goes through Portland, Sacramento and finally ends in Los Angeles.
The route traversed by the Coast Starlight is one of the most remarkable routes in the country for the simple reason that it connects some of the most fabulous cities along the West Coast. Regardless of the time of year, you are bound to experience some wonderful views while sitting in the Coast Starlight.
The astounding contrast between the green valleys and forests, the blue Pacific waters, and the white peaks of Mount Shasta and the Cascade Range will definitely give you a new appreciation of the beauty of nature.
Amtrak prices start at $27 for adults from Seattle to Portland and $98 from Los Angeles, taking 4 and 26 hours respectively. A longer journey such as New York to Portland starts from an affordable $197 for the 70-hour journey. The longest journey available, Miami to Portland comes in at $320 for a 101-hour journey (Amtrak). Amtrak is an option that will only appeal to train enthusiasts or those on the Western side of the country.
If you are coming from Eugene OR, Seattle or Vancouver BC, then you can get to Portland by booking a trip to the Amtrak Cascades. It has three daily trips going to and from Seattle and two round trips to Eugene. If you get hungry during the trip, there is no need to worry as the Cascades is known to serve some of the best food that you can ever find on a train.
The Cascades has a daily trip to Vancouver on the regular schedule but this has been temporarily suspended due to vaccine protocols. It may be closed for now but Amtrak has announced that the route will reopen as soon the two countries have settled the necessary approvals for vaccine documentation.
Finally, if you are coming from the east, the Empire Builder passenger train travels daily from Chicago to Portland. There are multiple stops along the way, including St. Paul in Minneapolis and Spokane. The entire trip takes 46 hours and may sound like a bore but it can actually be a very adventurous experience.
The route will take you through the Lewis and Clark trail, fill your eyes with amazing views of wilderness and night skies, let you witness the mighty Mississippi, the plains of North Dakota, the mountains of Montana, and even take you right by Glacier National Park. After going through Seattle, you can marvel at Beacon Rock and Mt. Hood shortly before you finally arrive in Portland.
Can you travel to Portland by Ferry?
This is not currently an option but it is very possible that in the next couple of years, people will be flocking into Portland by ferry. In the 1950s, the last ferry service in Portland, Oregon had shut down with the construction of the Sauvie Island Bridge.
Today, volunteers from different industries are working very hard to bring the ferry system back to life as a feasible method of how to get around Portland and nearby regions. Things are looking very promising, with millions of dollars already solicited and being put to work towards the project.
No matter how you choose to travel to Portland, Oregon, you’re sure to have a great time. The city has something for everyone, and with its convenient location in the Pacific Northwest, it’s easy to get to from just about anywhere. If you’re looking for an adventure, take the car route and explore all that the area has to offer.
If you want to relax on your trip, jump on a bus or train and enjoy the ride. And if time is of the essence, fly into Portland and experience everything this vibrant city has to offer. Whichever mode of transportation you choose you’ll love your visit to Portland!
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Gary is an award winning full time professional photographer and videographer with too much wanderlust for his own good. Fuelled by strong coffee, you’ll often find him wandering well off hiking trails in search of interesting photographic subjects or scenery to video. Self taught and with the use of pioneering digital techniques, he quickly built up a strong client base and has worked with many prestigious organisations, including GQ, BBC, London Fashion Week, Grazia, Sky, Metro, Vogue Italia. He specialising in evocative images of people, places and cinematic videography and his goal is to make the viewer look twice and engage. As well as a penchant for good design, the ketogenic diet and Hungarian Vizslas, he also has a huge affection for Chicago, Bucharest, Scandinavia, Croatia and absolutely everywhere in Italy. Find him on Instagram @garynansome, Twitter @garynansome and his website https://garynunn.co.uk/