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How to Get from Anchorage to Seward?

Are you planning a trip from Anchorage to Seward and don’t know what kind of transportation to choose? Should you go by car or take a scenic train ride through Alaska? Or maybe you’re in a hurry for the ferry and wondering how to get from Anchorage to Seward for a cruise. Are there buses or private transportation on this route? This article has compiled all types of transportation with their duration, prices, and tips. And if you decide to travel on your own, we’ll introduce you to 15 must-see stops on the Seward Highway and give you some hints on planning this scenic drive.

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Anchorage to Seward drive in fall scenery
Table of Contents show

The Best Ways to get from Anchorage to Seward

You have at least 5 transportation options to get from Anchorage to Seward: by driving on your own, by train, by bus, by private transfer, or even with an air taxi. The scenic Seward Highway is one of the most breathtaking drives in Alaska. It stretches 125 miles between these two cities and offers unique opportunities to admire Alaska’s landscapes and wildlife.

The average travel time between Anchorage and Seward is 3 hours, but it varies depending on the mode of transportation. The train ride takes longer, about 4,5 hours. Also, prices for each transportation mode from Anchorage to Seward vary slightly. Each option has pros and cons, so we’ll discuss them in detail. We’ve done this route often in the sun and rain, so we’re giving you the tips and best solutions.

scenic fall colors and mountains on the way from Anchorage to Seward

The 5 Best Travel Options from Anchorage to Seward

  • You can take the scenic train from Anchorage to Seward. We’ll give you prices, times, and reservation requirements.
  • Or you can take a bus from Anchorage to Seward, the cheapest option. We’ll tell you where your bus stop is, the price, and what to expect.
  • There is also the option of taking a private transfer from Anchorage to Seward. This is important if you’re short on time or in a hurry and looking for Anchorage to Seward cruise transfer.
  • You can also take a scenic drive from Anchorage to Seward on your own, making plenty of stops along the way. We’ll tell you which stops are a must-see between Anchorage and Seward, how to prepare for the trip, and how much time you’ll need at each stop.
  • You can mix up solutions. There is also the option of chartering private air taxis on this route.

Use the Table of Contents for more straightforward navigation if you want to select a specific solution immediately.

Our Tip: Planning a trip to Anchorage? Check out our Anchorage itinerary for two days and the best day trips from Anchorage during summer.

Beluga Point

Train from Anchorage to Seward

Operating Dates: year-round
Price: starts from $119 per Adult and $60.00 per Child (2-11 yo)
Duration: 4,5 hours

The Alaska Railroad is a classic in itself, one of the most exciting experiences in Alaska, and a must-do during Alaska vacations. The route from Anchorage to Seward is scenic and drives not too long. So it’s a great idea as a day or multi-day trip. It’s a relaxing way to get around and tour. You don’t have to worry about driving, the train glides smoothly, and you can relax and admire unique landscapes.

The train route runs along the Seward Highway and follows the Turnagain Arm. As you head into the mountains, however, you’ll leave the road behind and be rewarded with breathtaking views of glaciers and alpine meadows that you can only experience from the train. The carriages themselves are steeped in history and offer plenty of opportunity to stretch your legs on a walk.

view of Alaska railroad
train from Anchorage to Seward

Alaska Railroad Round-Trip with the Same Day Return

If you are short of time, you can book an Alaska Railroad ticket with the same-day return. The train departs from Anchorage at 6:45 am and arrives in Seward at 11:15 am. You have at least 6 hours to enjoy Seward. The afternoon train departs Seward at 6:00 pm and arrives in Anchorage at 10:15 pm. So it is a great idea as a day trip from Anchorage. You have comfortable seating, and you can enjoy the scenery and relax. During the train ride, you can use the expansive picture windows and open vestibules to capture stunning photos. Moreover, an Alaskan tour guide narrates during the rail journey so that you will learn a lot about Kenai Peninsula.

What are some exciting ways to spend a few hours in Seward?

  • Consider Half-Day Resurrection Bay Wildlife Cruise Tour, starting at 12:30 pm so you won’t miss your return train. It’s our favorite tour, as the price is affordable, and the views are spectacular. Also, wildlife photo opportunities are fabulous. You can admire porpoises, otters, marine birds, whales, and puffins.
otters during wildlife cruise tour in Seward
otters during wildlife cruise tour
  • Another idea is to experience a breathtaking 30-minute helicopter tour to Godwin Glacier, where you can indulge in the beauty of nature and capture stunning photos. Revel in the sweeping aerial views of Kenai Fjords National Park and Resurrection Bay during your 15-minute stay at the glacier.
  • If you want funny things to do, try Gold Panning in Seward. It’s great fun for the whole family, lasts only an hour, and is affordable. You’ll learn the art of gold panning. Alaska is famous for Gold Rush. One of the best gold mines to visit is the Independence Mine at Hacher Pass.
  • Or take this Self-Guided Audio Tour to enjoy the best of Seward while walking at your own pace, enjoying the harbor and the views.

Alaska Railroad Anchorage to Seward One-Way Ticket

You can book a one-way ticket on the scenic train and stay in Seward for a few days or return by other means of transportation. The Coastal Classic Train from Anchorage to Seward takes you along the rugged coastline of the Turnagain Arm and then through the Alaskan wilderness. You can admire mountains, glaciers, steep river canyons, and waterfalls along the way. The train arrives in Seward early in the day, so you’ll have plenty of time to explore the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park on your own or book additional excursions. One-way rail transportation from Anchorage to Seward departs at 6:45 am and arrives at 11:15 am.

Who do we recommend a train ride from Anchorage to Seward?

  • For fans of railways, the railway in Alaska is a beautiful adventure and offers the most scenic routes in the entire United States
  • Families with children, the kids will be thrilled, and since the route isn’t long, they’ll not be bored.
  • For travelers on a budget, the price for this ride is highly affordable
glaciers view

Anchorage to Seward by Bus

Operating Dates: May 15 to September 15
Price: $75.00 per Adult and  $37.50 per Child (0-11 years old)
Duration: 3 hours

Driving by bus from Anchorage to Seward is the cheapest and the fastest option (you can get there faster, only going on your own without stops).

The Park Connection bus line provides two daily trips between Anchorage and Seward. The “Seward Express” line leaves Anchorage in the morning and returns to Anchorage from Seward in the evening, making it a good choice for day trips. The second option is the “Park to Park” service, which runs from Seward to Anchorage in the late morning and back in the late afternoon.

This route is special because you can go to Talkeetna or via Anchorage to Denali or vice versa on the same day. Here you can check out our detailed guide for visiting Denali National Park.

Our Tip: If you plan to visit Fairbanks, you may also be interested in checking out the best options for getting from Anchorage to Fairbanks and which city is better to visit, Anchorage or Fairbanks, from a tourist perspective.

train in Seward

The bus departs Anchorage at 7:00 am from Dena’ina Civic Center. It arrives at Seward at 9:45 am. The afternoon departure is at 3 pm. and arrives at 5:45 pm. If you want to return from Seward to Anchorage by bus, the bus leaves Seward at 6:20 pm.

Our Tip for a Perfect Trip: If you have only one day for a trip to Seward and want to spend as much time as possible in Seward, combine bus and train travel as follows. Book a bus ride for the morning (one-way ticket). This way, you’ll get to Seward earlier than by train. The bus arrives in Seward at 9:45 am. Book a return ticket for the train that leaves Seward at 6 pm. The days in Alaska are long in summer, so you’ll have a real adventure thanks to this solution. The train route differs slightly from the highway route, so you’ll experience fantastic views.

Alaska Railway sunset

Who do we recommend an Anchorage to Seward Bus?

  • Travelers on a budget because it’s the cheapest way to get from Anchorage to Seward
  • Travelers with little time because it’s the fastest option to get to Seward
  • Travelers who only want to spend one day in Seward because you have the most hours to explore Seward
  • Travelers looking for a cheap transfer from Anchorage to Seward for a cruise
Seward Highway

Anchorage to Seward cruise transfer

You may be about to embark on your dream Alaska cruise and need to get from Anchorage to the Port of Seward. How to get from Anchorage to Seward for a cruise?

Cruise Transfer by Bus

If you’re traveling with Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, you’ll depart from the port in Seward. Then you can catch The Park Connection bus mentioned chapter above, which runs twice daily to Seward. For guests traveling to a cruise ship, they recommend leaving in the afternoon from the Dena’ina Civic Center. This transfer drops you off right at the cruise ship dock. It’s about a 3-hour drive from Anchorage to Seward. It’s the cheapest option.

Private Transfer from Anchorage Airport ANC to Seward Cruise Port

If you need to get from Anchorage Airport to Port in Seward, the quickest option is to take a private transfer. The drive will take about 3 hours. Service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Moreover is covered by Viator’s worry-free policy: guaranteed on-time arrival to your ship. Confirm time with the local provider in advance of your experience.

Our Tip: Have you got some free time in Anchorage before or after your cruise? Check out our Anchorage itinerary to see what to do in the city.

on the way to Seward Cruise Port

Private Transfer from Anchorage to Seward with Exit Glacier Stop

If you have more time for your drive, a Private 1-Way Transfer in Either Direction from Anchorage to Seward or Seward to Anchorage is worth considering. We recommend this solution, especially if you have booked a cruise and need to catch a specific connection. The price is affordable; you will drive the scenic Seward Highway with the best stops along the way. The comfortable tour will take about 6 hours. It’s also a perfect option for photography passion, as you can take some pictures during stops. Plus, admire the view at Exit Glacier while you stretch your legs and take a moderate walk to some breathtaking viewpoints. You can check the availability of a private transfer below.

Anchorage to Seward Drive with 15 Must-See Stops

Finally, you can drive from Anchorage to Seward with your own or rental car. We have traveled this route many times back and forth. We covered it with a rented car and rented RV. Also, we drove it in our own camper truck. Seward Highway is one of the most excellent routes in Alaska, so it’s worth taking a road trip. For tips on renting a car, see our detailed Alaska itinerary.

view from Seward

Facts about the Drive from Anchorage to Seward

  • How long is the drive from Anchorage to Seward? Distance from Anchorage to Seward is 125 miles (201 km), and the drive time is 3 hours without stops. Even if Google Maps shows you a shorter time, it’s about 3 hours of driving. In summer, construction sites can slow down your trip a bit. It’s always worth checking current conditions before you travel.
  • Is Seward Highway paved? Yes. The road from Anchorage to Seward is paved throughout the entire length. A regular car is adequate for this route. Most of the year, you don’t need a four-wheel drive on the Seward Highway. But in the winter, a four-wheel drive is a must.
  • Is it easy to drive from Anchorage to Seward? Yes. It’s an effortless and scenic drive. But you always have to drive carefully. Moose often pass along this route; you can encounter bears as well.
  • Are there gas stations between Anchorage and Seward? The only gas station is located in Girdwood. But it is busy in the summer, so it’s best to fill up in Anchorage before your road trip.
  • Are there rest stops and restrooms between Anchorage and Seward? Yes, there are several rest stops with restrooms on this route. You can stretch your legs and take some pictures.
  • Is there a cell reception and internet on Seward Highway? We sometimes lost coverage on short sections of this route. That’s why we always pack our favorite map of Alaska for safety.
moose on highway
scenic road from Anchorage to Seward

15 Must-See stops between Anchorage and Seward

Below is a list of our 15 favorite Anchorage to Seward road trip stops, with an estimated time for each stop. The times listed are for good weather and good visibility. We covered this route twice in the rain and fog, so we didn’t stop at all. The weather in Alaska is unpredictable and changes frequently. Check the weather in Anchorage before traveling and check what to pack for your trip to Alaska.

If you stop at each of those places, you’re in for a full-day trip. We suggest you leave Anchorage early in the morning.

our RV (campertruck) on the way between Anchorage and Seward

1. Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary

  • The time needed: 20-30 minutes
  • Fee: No

Potter Marsh, at the southern end of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, is an ideal resting place for birders and other wildlife watchers. A boardwalk winds 1,550 feet from the parking area through the marsh, over water holes and sedges – the perfect habitat for various birds. From late April through September, you can see Canada geese, pintail ducks, shovelers, red-necked grebes, horned and red-necked grebes, and marsh harriers in this wetland. You can also spot bald eagles here. However, our favorite spot for bald eagles is at Anchor Point near Homer.

2. McHugh Creek

  • The time needed: 10-30 minutes
  • Fee: $5 parking fee

McHugh Creek Day Use Area is a part of Chugach State Park. It’s ADA accessible with toilets and picnic tables and is an excellent place for a short or longer roadside stop. You can hike for about 20 minutes to a 20 feet waterfall. From the upper parking lot, you have great views of Turnagain Arm.

bald eagle in Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary

3. Beluga Point

  • The time needed: 5-10 minutes
  • Fee: No

Beluga Point is a famous spot for wildlife viewing, especially belugas. This rocky outpost jutting into the waters of Turnagain Arm is perfect for a brief stop. Belugas are often spotted from mid-July through August when salmon flow in Cook Inlet. Since 2000, their numbers have leveled off between 300 and 375 whales.

4. Indian Valley Mine

  • The time needed: 30-60 minutes
  • Fee: Yes

Indian Valley Mine is a great spot if you travel with kids and have more time. You can make an appointment and participate in Gold Panning Demonstrations, which is fun for the whole family. As it’s easy to miss the turn, use the navigation to get there.

mountain view from Seward Highway

5. Girdwood

  • The time needed: 60 minutes +
  • Fee: No

Girdwood might be a place for a short stop or a separate full-day trip, as it offers stunning views, some great restaurants, bars, gift shops, and more. In winter Girdwood is the top destination for downhill skiing and snowboarding in Alaska. It’s famous for its Alyeska Resort and Girdwood Brewing Co.

6. Alyeska Tram

  • The time needed: 60 minutes +
  • Fee: $48 per Adult, $38 per Youth, $10 per Child (up to 5 years old)

If you decide to drive into Girdwood, the Alyeska Tram is worth a ride as it is one of the major attractions in the area. Take a seven-minute scenic ride from the Hotel Alyeska to the top of Mt. Alyeska. At an elevation of 2300 feet, you can admire Turnagain Arm, glaciers, and peaks of the Chugach Mountain range. At the top, enjoy your lunch at the Bore Tide Deli & Bar.

the view from Seward Highway

7. Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

  • The time needed: 60-90 minutes
  • Fee: $20 per Adult, $16 per Youth (age 5-17), Child (age 4 and under): free

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to conservation, research, education, and animal care. It’s a perfect spot to admire animals. It’s worth a stop, especially if you travel with kids. The center is home to brown bears, black bears, moose, caribou, musk ox, and more.

musk ox Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
moose in Alaska

8. Portage Glacier and Portage Valley

  • The time needed: 15-60 minutes
  • Fee: No

Portage Glacier is included within the Chugach National Forest. It is located south of Portage Lake, a few miles west of Whittier. It is one of Alaska’s most accessible glaciers (also easily accessible from Anchorage is Matanuska Glacier). We didn’t put a Whittier on this list, as you need more time for Whittier, but Portage Glacier is before the tunnel to Whittier, so it’s easy to admire it.

view of the Portage Glacier and Portage Valley

9. Turnagain Pass

  • The time needed: 5-10 minutes
  • Fee: No

Turnagain Pass, at an elevation of 900 feet (274 m), is a mountain pass that marks the highest point on the Seward Highway. There is a rest area here, and you won’t find any exciting hiking trails like on Hatcher Pass, but you have a beautiful panorama of the mountains to enjoy the view for a while.

10. Cooper Landing Brewing

  • The time needed: 30-60 minutes
  • Fee: No

If you like beer and have more time (to avoid driving under the influence), you can take a little detour and visit Cooper Landing Brewing.

moose along the Seward Highway

11. Summit Lake

  • The time needed: 5-10 minutes
  • Fee: No

Summit Lake is located on Canyon Creek and is a perfect stopover when the weather is good. The lake flows northeast into Canyon Creek, which flows through Lower Summit Lake into Six Mile Creek and eventually into the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet.

12. Tern Lake

  • The time needed: 5-10 minutes
  • Fee: No

Tern Lake is another great shortstop. Moreover, it’s a wildlife viewing area, as the site features an accessible viewing platform and interpretive signs.

Anchorage to Seward drive

13. Moose Pass

  • The time needed: 10-20 minutes
  • Fee: No

Moose Pass is a tiny town along the Seward Highway, which might be a shortstop. However, there is not too much to do. Moose Pass provides easy access to some of the Kenai Peninsula trails. The closest is Johnson Pass Trail.

14. Kenai Lake

  • The time needed: 5-10 minutes
  • Fee: No

Kenai Lake is L “zig-zag” shaped lake and might also be a short stop for photos during your drive from Anchorage to Seward. The lake forms the Kenai River’s headwaters and is a fishing destination.

scenic views of glaciers on the way from Anchorage to Seward

15. Exit Glacier

  • The time needed: 60 minutes +
  • Fee: No

Well, you made it to Seward. The town deserves its article, so we’ll only mention here that you can spend a few hours or days there. Or, from Seward, you can embark on your dream Alaskan cruise. If you get here by car – be sure to drive to Exit Glacier, the most famous glacier in the area. It’s located 12 miles from Seward. A short 2.2-mile loop will take you no more than 40 minutes to an hour. There are also longer hikes, but it’s best to set off early in the morning.

Agnes and Chris hiking on Exit Glacier
sunset view from Seward

Air Charter Services from Anchorage to Seward

The last option to get from Anchorage to Seward is to hire an air taxi (private charter). This is the fastest option – the flight takes about 40 minutes – but also the most expensive (well over $1,000 per person). Check Alaska Air Taxi official website or Linear Air.

Summary of transportation from Anchorage to Seward

We hope our article on transportation and travel options from Anchorage to Seward was helpful and valuable. We’ve shown you the cheapest and shortest travel options (like taking the bus). More extended scenic train rides or on your own with the best stops along the Seward Highway, and the most expensive way by private transfer and charter flight. We prefer to travel by car because we like to make decisions about our time. No matter which option you choose, a fantastic adventure awaits. Seward, home of Kenai Fjords National Park and a famous cruise port in Alaska is worth visiting and shouldn’t be missed on your Alaska trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the drive from Anchorage to Seward Scenic?

The 125-mile Seward Highway is one of the most scenic routes in Alaska, plus it’s all paved, making it easily accessible.

Are there shuttles from Anchorage to Seward?

Yes, there is a shuttle bus from Anchorage to Seward. The Park Connection organizes regular transfers by bus, or you can choose private transport.

How much is a shuttle from Anchorage to Seward?

A bus shuttle from Anchorage to Seward is the cheapest option, costing $75 per adult. Private transfers start from $300 per person.

How long is the train ride from Anchorage to Seward?

A train ride from Anchorage to Seward is 4.5 hours. Rail transportation from Anchorage to Seward departs at 6:45 am and arrives at 11:15 am.

How far is it from Anchorage to Seward?

It’s 125 miles (201 km) via Seward Highway and about 3 hours of driving.

How long does it take to get from Anchorage to Seward?

It’s about 2,5-3 hours of driving by car or 3 hours by bus without stops along the way. Train rides are a bit longer – 4,5 hours.

train from anchorage to seward

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