Thanks to the cherry blossom season, Washington, D.C. is a popular spot for spring and summer. Are you planning to visit Washington, D.C. soon? Do you need help navigating around the city? I have put together a complete transportation guide that you will need to get around the capital. Here are all the ways of getting around Washington, DC including using the metro.
Washington, D.C. has 3 major airports in the region: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), Baltimore- Washington International Airport (BWI). Dulles and Reagan airport are roughly 28 miles apart, the distance between Dulles and BWI is around 58 miles.
TRANSPORTATION BETWEEN AIRPORTS
-Reagan Airport has a metro stop, the Yellow and Silver lines will get you there. Dulles Airport does not have a metro stop. The nearest metro station from Dulles airport is Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, a 15 mins ride on the Silver Line Express Bus Service will get you there. The cost is $5 per person, cash and card only, children under 2 years are free. Click here to read instructions on where to board the bus.
-‘Go the Airport Shuttle’ can be utilized to book transfers between all 3 airports. Click here to check out their website for pricing and other information.
-Super Shuttle is another company I have used several times to get a ride to and from the airports. Click here to reserve your ride and find out the rates.
-Uber/Lyft are available at all 3 airports. Click here to estimate your fare through Lyft and click here to estimate your fares on Uber.
-Taxis are also available either at the airport or can be reserved in advance. Yellow Cab Services provides 24 hours service. Click here to visit their website.
-Rental cars are also option and can be picked up at the airports. Typically booking in advance gets you better pricing.
-Parking at the airports: Dulles airport economy parking is $10 per day, Reagan airport economy parking is $17 per day and Baltimore airport is $12 per day. Off site parking is usually more economically. Most of the companies offer a shuttle to and from the airport, make sure to give yourself extra time.
TRANSPORTATION AROUND THE CITY
Taxi: Taxis are widely used in the D.C but can be expensive. Yellow Cab Services and Barwood Taxi are couple of options.
Uber/Lyft: Very convenient and mostly inexpensive option in comparison to a taxi to go around D.C. Keep in mind, rates are hiked during peak hours typically 3:00 PM- 6:00 PM weekdays. Check out their websites to estimate your ride costs.
Driving: If you are planning to drive around D.C., my advice don’t do it. Traffic is rough, rush hours are from 7:00 AM- 7:00 PM, parking is limited and expensive. Check out this website to find parking options when you need one.
Hop On, Hop Off Tours: This is a great option if you are in town for a couple of days and want to explore more in a short period without having to deal with driving or renting a car. This company offers tours in Washington, D.C. and many other cities around the world.
-D.C. has a very reliable and a straightforward metro system (compared to New York City or Paris)
-Trains run Monday- Thursday 5:00 AM- 11:30 PM, Friday 5:00 AM- 1:00 AM, Saturday 7:00 AM- 1:00 AM and Sunday 8:00 AM- 11:00 PM.
-Service is every 4- 12 mins (varies on the weekends)
-Peak hours are 5:00 AM- 9:30 AM and 3:00 PM- 7:00 PM.
-A SmartTrip card is required to enter and exit the system for each rider age 5 and older. The card can be purchased at the SmartTrip card vending machines located at every metro station. The cost is $10, but they come preloaded with $8 of credit. Cards can be refilled at those vending machines, if you are out of credit before exiting, use the Exit vending machines located by the exit to refill.
-You can check the balance on the card by scanning it at the machine or as you enter/exit.
-There are usually two prices for the trips, higher rates during peak hours.
-There is an option to purchase a One Day MetroRail Pass which costs $14.75, this gives you one day of unlimited Metrorail and Metrobus travel and there are no time restrictions.
-Car parking is available at most metro stations but not all. The rates vary, however, it is usually under $10 per day.
-There are 6 Metro Lines: Red, Blue, Silver, Orange, Green and Yellow.
-Red line serves the Northern part of the city. Main stations are: Metro Center, Chinatown, Union Station and Dupont Circle.
-Blue line runs East-West through the city and then south. Main stations are: Capitol South, Smithsonian, Arlington National Cemetery, Ronald Reagan National Airport. The Smithsonian stop is the one you use to get to the Smithsonian Museums.
-Silver line goes East-West through the city. This line will get you to the museums and is also close to the Dulles Airport where then you will have to use a bus to get to the airport. The train does not have a direct stop at the Dulles Airport.
-Yellow line runs North-South. This line will take you to L’Enfant Plaza and continues South to Virginia for King Street station in Old Town Alexandra, Pentagon and the Ronald Reagan National Airport.
-Green Line is most notable for its access to College Park (Maryland University) and bus transportation to BWI Airport (B30). U Street is a popular area with many restaurants and bars which can be accessed by the Green line too.
-Orange runs East- West through the city, from New Carrollton to Vienna. The Smithsonian Stop on the Orange Line is the most convenient stop for beginning a day of site seeing at the National Mall. You can also discover the Theodore Roosevelt Island, around the corner from the Rosslyn Station.
-You can click this link to find your route. If you need assistance getting in and out of the airports, click this link and bookmark it!
-When trying to figure out where to go, start by figuring out which metro stop to get off at, then which line gets you there. Next, when you are at the station, the display monitors tell you the name of the end station. You can look at a map and see which color train goes through your stop and the end stop for that train. For example: if you are trying to go to Dupont Circle, the red line train will get you there. You will follow the sign towards red line Shady Grove station, as this is the train going through Dupont Circle and the end stop is Shady Grove. Hope this makes sense! Click 2017-System-Map for an enlarged map taken off of the WMATA.com
– When at the metro stations, do not stand on the left side of the escalators. People in D.C. are always on the go and the left side is for them.
-Train services usually are scheduled for the weekends which can cause delays or cancellation, transferring trains is not always a good option. In case you are stuck, you can catch a bus and still make it to your destination. Buses are a cheaper option and cover a larger area than the metro system.
-Unfortunately, there are not too many options to store your luggage in D.C. mainly due to security reasons. If you are planning to explore the city, many hotels offer concierge service which can be utilized, the museums offer lockers to store small items such as backpacks or purses and will not allow luggage with you around. If you have connecting flights, consider checking in your bags early.
Hopefully this guide will help you go around Washington, D.C. and enjoy your trip! If all the sightseeing has made you hungry, check out my review on Smith Commons Restaurant, a local crowd favorite here and if you are looking for more fun in addition to some good food, check out my review on Pinstripes Bethesda Restaurant which has a bowling alley and lounge here. If you need more reasons to visit Washington, D.C. click here to find out why Washington, D.C. is for you.
PIN ME- GETTING AROUND WASHINGTON, D.C. GUIDE
I have been to Washington D.C several times, as my best friend lives there! I have always found their transportation system easy to use – especially the metro! I definitely agree it is much more reliable than NYC transportation. I am going back there this May, and this time I think we are going to fly in and use Uber to get around. I just cannot get enough of the gorgeous cherry blossoms this time of year!
We were in DC for a week last year. It was an amazing time. We used the Metro System the entire time. It was fun since we don’t have anything like that here in Fort Worth.
I LOVE that you told people to stand on the other side of the the escalator. I am from the DC area and I had no time for slowness! 🙂
What an excellent guide! D.C. is such a great place…been there a few times! This info would have been very helpful!
This is so helpful! I wish I had read this post before my last DC trip! Thank’s for sharing.