Travel To and Around Washington, DC

How To Get Washington, DC, United States of America

By Plane

There are three major airports in the Washington, DC region: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI).

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is located just across the Potomac River in Virginia and is the closest airport to DC. The Reagan Airport offers nonstop flights to 95-plus destinations on eight airlines. Please be advised that DCA is currently undergoing a phased restoration and it is recommended you consult construction advisories. DCA's short runway limits the size of the aircraft that fly in and out of the airport, and flights are primarily domestic.

Reagan Airport is accessible via its own Metro stop on the Blue and Yellow lines. To catch a taxi, look for the official taxi stand outside of baggage claim (a ride into downtown DC will cost about 15 USD - 20 USD). Rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft are also good options to get to and from the airport. Find everything you need at Reagan Airport with the terminal map.

Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
The Washington Dulles International Airport is located 26 miles from DC in suburban Virginia and about a 45-minute drive from downtown Washington in non-rush hour traffic. Since Washington traffic is often congested, you should plan ahead and avoid flight times near rush hour if possible. Dulles Airport is the primary international airport for the DC region, with almost 140 nonstop domestic and international destinations on nearly 40 airlines.

Airport shuttles and taxi are the best ways to reach the city (a taxi ride to the city will cost about 60 USD - 70 USD.) The Metro doesn't reach Dulles Airport however there is a Silver Line Express Bus (5A) that will get you to and from the Metro in about 15 minutes; the 5A Metrobus travels between Dulles and L'Enfant Plaza. The Express Bus fare is 5 USD one-way and you may purchase tickets at the counter located inside Arrival Door 4 in the terminal, on the Baggage Claim level. The Silver line has non-stop, frequent service every 15 minutes during peak times and every 20 minutes during off-peak times. You may view the airport and terminal map here.

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)
The Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is a bit further from DC south of Baltimore, Maryland, but oftentimes means you can find even better flight deals. The airport is about a 45 minute drive to DC. This airport has 90-plus domestic and international destinations and services more than 25 million passengers each year. BWI is a test site for the Department of Homeland Security and is used to try out new airport security screening methods. As a result, sometimes the security lines can be quite long, so plan ahead for unexpected delays.

Getting to and from BWI is less convenient to Washington than National or Dulles, but the MARC (Maryland Rail Commuter Service) and Amtrak train station is close by, and provides train service to DC's Union Station.  There is a free Amtrak/MARC Shuttle that operates between the airport terminal and the Amtrak/MARC station every 6-8 minutes, late night and early morning hours between 1.00 and 5.00 the shuttles operate every 25-minutes. Metrobus B30 provides service to BWI. Taxis, Uber and Lyft are also available at the airport. Please consult your a cab or rideshare company for service to the airport. Read more about airport transportation options to and from BWI here and view the airport terminal map here.

Rail Service

America's national railroad passenger system is an option for traveling nationally by rail to Washington, DC. Visit their website for more information and reservations.

By Car

Driving allows the most flexibility and gives you the freedom to travel on your own schedule. However, it can also be the most time-consuming, expensive, and frustrating way to get around the Washington, DC area. The streets can be confusing, there are many one-way roads and alot of traffic. If driving, be sure to allow plenty of time for traffic delays and to find parking once you arrive at your destination.

Travel distance from nearby cities:
Baltimore: 63 km (39 mi)
Philadelphia: 232 km (144 mi)
New York City: 362 km (225 mi)
Pittsburgh: 394 km (245 mi)
Charlotte: 644 km (400 mi)
Atlanta: 1030 km (640 mi)


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Getting Around in Town

Washington's most popular attractions are spread out around the city and getting from one place to another can be exhausting. Luckily, the city offers several options to help explore everything the city has to offer. One of the best ways to get around town is the Metro. DC has one of the safest, cleanest and most efficient transportation systems in the world. Stations are marked by tall brown columns with a large "M." Metrorail and Metrobus are the most convenient ways to get around, with Metrobus providing connections for locations not served by Metrorail. The metro operates from 5.00 to 24.00 on weekdays and from 7.00 to 24.00 on weekends. A SmartTrip Metro fare card is required to ride Metro. The fare is automatically deducted from your card as you exit gates.


Metrobus runs hundreds of routes throughout the city and the greater DC area with more than 1,400 buses. Buses are kept eco-friendly by using compressed natural gas or a hybrid electric vehicles. These buses are helpful as some areas of town are a long walk from Metro stations. Bus stops have red, white and blue signs or flags. Route numbers and destination are displayed above the windshied. Metrobus fare for regular routes is 2 USD using a SmarTrip card or cash, and express routes cost 4.25 USD. You must have exact change as bus operators do not carry USD.


There are six different Metrorail lines that traverse the Washington Metro area. While Metrorail trains can be crowded with commuters during rush hour and when there is a big event going on downtown, taking the metro is usually the cheapest and easiest way to navigate the city. Trains run frequently averaging 4 to 10 minutes between trains with frequency increasing during rush hour times. Night and weekend service varies between 8 and 20 minutes. Metrorail fares vary by the time of day and distance between stations. You may purchase the SmarTrip farecards at authorized locations including vending machines at metrorail stations, metro sales office, or commuter stores.

DC Circulator

The DC Circulator provides public transportation to the District's main attractions and most lively neighborhoods at the cost of only 1 USD. The system consists of six distinct routes across Washington, and services each stop every 10 minutes, providing simple, fast and affordable transit to commuters and visitors around the capitol. Read more information including the hours of operation for each route here. The Circulator also provides door-to-door transportation to more than 25 museums, monuments, and memorials along the National Mall.

DC Streetcars

DC Streetcars began in February 2016, and facilitates travel by complimenting existing transit options and creating neighborhood connections. These passenger vehicles operate on fixed rails on public streets. These modern streetcars operate at speeds similar to local buses, are air conditioned, have low-floors for faster and easier boarding and can accommodate 144-160 passengers. Streetcars are free to ride and runs from 6.00 - 24.00 Monday - Thursday, 6.00 to 2.00 Fridays, 8.00 to 2.00 Saturdays, and 8.00 to 10.00 Sundays and holidays. Streetcars arrive at stops about every 10-15 minutes. Eastbound service runs from Union Station toward Oklahoma Avenue and Westbound service starts at the Benning Road/Oklahoma Avenue stop and moves toward the H Street corridor.


Taxis and ride sharing services (i.e. Uber and Lyft) are an easy way to get around Washington. Pedicabs are the newest mode of transportation around the city, and there are 11 official pedicab stands. These bicycle rickshaws make a nice open-air sightseeing option in good weather.


The District has invested in bike-share, bike lanes and a wider trail system. This bike friendly city has more than 80 miles of bike lane networks and has been named a "Gold" Bicycle Friendly Community. Capital Bikeshare is metro DC's bikeshare service, with 4,300 biles and 500+ stations. It's a fun and affordable way to get around DC. December 2018 Capitol Bikeshare introduced a small pilot of (electric) ebikes, that offer speeds up to 18 mph.  Visitors should buy a pass at a kiosk to use Capital Bikeshare. Use their (smartphone) App to find available bikes and available docks to return the bike. They have 24-Hour and 3-Day Passes available for purchase. Segway tours are another popular way to get around the city and there are several companies that offer these tour options.