Portland International Airport (PDX; www.flypdx.com; [tel] 877/739-4636 or 503/460-4234) is Oregon’s biggest and busiest airport and is served by major national and two international airlines. The airport has direct international service to Amsterdam and Tokyo and direct service to New York, Chicago, Denver, and several other airports throughout the U.S. PDX is located 10 miles northeast of downtown Portland, adjacent to the Columbia River. This is one of the easiest airports in the U.S. to navigate, and it’s consistently ranked the most user-friendly airport in the U.S. PDX is linked to the city by the easy-to-use MAX light rail system. There’s a Travel Oregon Visitor Information Center in the baggage claim area where you can pick up maps and brochures.
From the airport, follow signs for downtown. From I-205 you’ll exit onto westbound I-84, which crosses the Willamette River via the Morrison Bridge exit and brings you into downtown Portland. The trip takes about 20 minutes if there’s no traffic, up to 45 minutes if it’s rush hour.
The distance to Portland from Seattle is 176 miles (285 km); from Spokane, 350 miles (563 km); from Vancouver, British Columbia, 285 miles (459 km); from San Francisco, 640 miles (1,030 km); and from Los Angeles, 1,015 miles (1,633 km).
I-5 runs through the length of Oregon and continues north toward the Canadian border and south to Los Angeles, passing through the heart of Portland. I-84 runs from Idaho and points east into Oregon, ending in Portland.
By Light Rail
The easiest and least expensive way to get into town is to take the Airport MAX (Red Line) light rail line, operated by TriMet (www.trimet.org; [tel] 503/238-7433). MAX operates daily about every 15 to 30 minutes between 5am and midnight. Buy your ticket from the vending machine on the airport station platform. The fare on MAX is $2.50 for adults and $1.25 for seniors (or “Honored Citizens,” as they’re called in Portland). The trip from the airport to Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland takes about 40 minutes. (Many downtown hotels lie within 4 or 5 blocks of Pioneer Square; plan on walking from there, or continuing to your hotel via streetcar, bus or another MAX line, because taxis in Portland don’t cruise for fares.)
A taxi to downtown generally costs between $35 and $45 before gratuity. Taxis are usually available at the lower level Ground Transportation area. It is also legal to use Uber or Lyft.
Amtrak (www.amtrak.com; tel. 800/872-7245) trains stop at historic Union Station, 800 NW Sixth Ave, about 10 blocks from the heart of downtown Portland. Taxis are usually waiting to meet trains and can take you to your hotel, or you can use Lyft or Uber. If you are renting a car from a downtown car rental office, the agency will usually pick you up at the station. The MAX Yellow and Green lines both run past Union Station and can take you into downtown Portland or across the Willamette River to Portland’s east side. Amtrak's Coast Starlight train connects Portland with Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. Between Portland and Seattle there are both regular trains and modern Talgo trains, which make the trip in 3 1/2 to 4 hours versus 4 1/2 hours for the regular train. The Talgo train, called Cascades, runs between Eugene, Oregon and Vancouver, British Columbia.
Greyhound (www.greyhound.com; tel. 800/231-2222 in the U.S.; tel. 001/214/849-8100 outside the U.S.) connects Portland with cities nationwide. The Greyhound bus station is at 550 NW Sixth Ave., on the north side of downtown near Union Station. You can take MAX from the Greyhound station into downtown. Although you can also easily walk from the station into the heart of downtown, you have to pass through a somewhat rough neighborhood for a few blocks; it’s fine during the day, but I wouldn’t recommend it after dark or on weekend evenings.
Bolt Bus (www.boltbus.com) is a low-cost bus service to Portland from Vancouver, BC and Seattle to the north, and from Eugene to the south. The Bolt Bus drops off passengers right downtown on SW Salmon between 5th and 6th avenues. Bolt Bus makes the trip between Seattle and Portland in about 3 1/2 hours and offers free Wi-Fi on board.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.