Not counting the metro system, there are two train lines that operate out of D.C.: Amtrak and the MARC train (Maryland Area Regional Commuter). The Amtrak
makes it easy to get from D.C. to just about anywhere in the U.S. It's about a 3 hour trip to New York (2 hours if you take the faster Acela train), 7.5 hours to Boston (6.5 on the Acela), and 45 minutes to Baltimore. The MARC
train is a more affordable form of D.C. transportation to Baltimore. It also stops in towns throughout Maryland and West Virginia.
Three main airports connect the D.C. area with the rest of the world. The closest and easiest to access is the relatively small Reagan National Airport (DCA), which mainly serves domestic flights. National, as the locals call it, is connected to the city via metro. Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) is the city's international air hub and is located about an hour by car outside of D.C. Most Washington D.C. transportation by air goes in and out of IAD. Baltimore (BWI) is the other international airport, though it's quite a bit out of the way—by car it's about an hour's drive, though we recommend taking either the Amtrak or the commuter MARC train to avoid traffic. If you're willing to make the trek out to Baltimore you can save significantly on flights, which tend to be cheaper to BWI than the other two D.C. airports.
There are no shortage of bus lines in and out of D.C. Greyhound
and Peter Pan
are the top contenders and offer regular service to New York, Boston, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. In the last decade, innumerable competitors have sprung up as well. Options are nearly endless for Washington D.C. transportation by bus. On the nice end of the spectrum you have Bolt Bus
(also operated by Greyound) and Mega Bus
, two lines that offer outlet-outfitted seats and free WiFi. On the sketchier end of the spectrum you have the Chinatown buses—there are too many to count, but the more reliable Eastern Travel
is our favorite and it also has WiFi (just don't use the bathroom).
There are a number of different taxi services that work the D.C. streets and all of them charge standard metered fares, which start at $3.00 for the first 1/6 mile and increase by $0.25 cents per additional 1/6 mile. Extra charges are tacked on for each additional person ($1.50 per person), luggage ($2 per piece regardless of whether the driver handles it or not), and for calling ahead for cabs ($2). For more information visit the DC Taxicab Commission
. If you need to call for a cab the D.C. Yellow Cab is one reputable service: 202-544-1212.
DC has one of the cleanest, most user-friendly subway systems in the country as well as a public bus system. Excluding Georgetown and Adams Morgan, you can get to most of the tourist attractions via public transit. Venturing into the more residential districts like Kalorama is another story entirely. Useful information about the D.C. metro: Metro fares start $1.50 and range depending on how fare you travel and whether or not you're traveling during peak season (it gets pretty complicated to track but rest assured that your fare can't be chigher than $4.60 one way). Purchase tickets at machines in the entrance to all metro stations. Hold on to your ticket—you'll need it to both enter and leave the station (fares are charged based on the distance you travel).There are "exit fare" kiosks located near all station exits in case you find that you don't have enough money on your metro ticket to leave the station.The D.C. metro is open 5AM-midnight Monday through Friday and 7AM-3AM on the weekends (stations outside of the downtown area may shut down earlier so check the WMATA when planning a late night). There's no need to stand around wondering when the next train will pull up to the station—digital signs above the platform announce arrival times. Food and drink aren't allowed. Find rail and bus maps on the WMATA metro website
Unless you're accustomed to city driving, we don’t recommend trying to navigate D.C.'s streets by car. The combination of confusing traffic circles, one-way streets, and diagonal boulevards make it very easy to get lost. Parking can cost anywhere from $6-20 unless you're lucky enough to find a place on the street.