To get to D.C. from the airport:
WMATA operates Metrorail service to the airport via the Blue and Yellow lines. The trip to the East End takes approximately 15 minutes and costs approximately $3. Metrorail operates from 5AM to midnight weekdays (to 3AM Friday night), 7AM to 3AM Saturday, 7AM to midnight Sunday.
Taxi service to the East End takes approximately 10 minutes and costs about $15.
To get to D.C. from the airport:
The Silver Line Express Bus operates every 15 minutes between the airport and the garage near the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station (Silver Line). The bus journey takes 10 minutes and costs $5. From there, after crossing the pedestrian bridge over the highway to reach the Metrorail station, the journey by Metrorail to the East End takes another 45 minutes.
Metrobus 5A makes stops in Herndon, Tysons Corner, Rosslyn Metrorail Station (Blue and Orange Lines), and L’Enfant Plaza Metrorail Station (Green, Yellow, Blue, and Orange Lines), a few blocks south of the National Mall. It generally departs from the airport every 40 minutes on weekdays and hourly (though not on the hour) on weekends, taking 40-50 minutes to the Rosslyn Metrorail Station and 50-60 minutes to the L’Enfant Plaza Metrorail Station. The fare is $7 one-way (no change given). The bus stops near Curb 2E outside of the airport terminal.
Uber is a popular method of transport between the airport and the city due to the complexity of public transport. A non-surge rate trip using UberX to the East End costs around $45 and takes 40-60 minutes. The pickup point can be reached by walking up the ramp after exiting the baggage claim area.
Washington Flyer Taxi is the exclusive provider of taxis from the airport. A taxi trip to the East End costs around $75 and takes about 40-60 minutes. The taxi stand is down the ramp from the baggage claim area.
SuperShuttle and Supreme Airport Shuttle operate door-to-door shared ride services to anywhere in the D.C. area. the fare to D.C. is $29 for the first passenger in your party, $10 for each additional passenger. The ticket booths are down the ramp from the baggage claim area. Shuttles leave when full or 20 minutes after the first passenger buys a ticket.
To get to D.C. from the airport:
Metrobus B30 operates between the airport and the Greenbelt Metrorail Station (Green Line). The fare is $7 one-way (no change given) and takes about 40 minutes. From there, the Metrorail to the East End takes another 25 minutes. The bus makes 2 stops on the lower level of the airport: outside Terminal A (Southwest Airlines) and Terminal E (the international terminal).
ICC Bus 201 operates hourly service between the airport and Gaithersburg, with a stop at the Shady Grove Metrorail (Red Line). The fare is $5 one-way (no change given) and takes about 70 minutes. From there, the Metrorail to the East End takes another 35 minutes. The bus makes 2 stops on the lower level of the airport: outside Terminal A (Southwest Airlines) and Terminal E (the international terminal).
MARC commuter-rail train and Amtrak operate between BWI Rail Station and Union Station on Capitol Hill, also stopping at the New Carrolton Metrorail Station (Orange Line). A free “Amtrak/MARC” shuttle bus runs from the airport terminal to the BWI Rail Station every 12 minutes. The journey takes 10 minutes. If you are in a rush, you can take a taxi for $8-9. MARC service to BWI is available on the “Penn” line and costs $6 one-way. MARC service is infrequent on the weekends; check the online schedule. Amtrak service costs $13-22 and is cheaper if purchased online in advance.
Uber is a popular method of transport between the airport and the city due to the complexity of public transport. A non-surge rate trip using UberX to the East End costs around $50 and takes about 45-75 minutes.
Taxi service to the East End takes about 45-75 minutes and costs around $100.
SuperShuttle operates a door-to-door shared ride service to anywhere in the D.C. area. The fare to D.C. is $37 for the first passenger in your party, $12 for each additional passenger. Shuttles leave when full or 20 minutes after the first passenger buys a ticket.
Amtrak trains arrive from all over the country, particularly the Northeast Corridor (Boston-to-Richmond). All stop at Union Station in Capitol Hill (Red Line Metro), a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol Building. The Capitol Limited comes from Chicago, passing through Pittsburgh and Cleveland while the Cardinal runs to Chicago passing thru Cincinnati and Indianapolis. A few lines also stop in adjacent Alexandria, Virginia, very close to the King Street stop on the Blue/Yellow Metro lines. If you are coming from the south, it might be easier to get off there, depending on your destination.
Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC) runs between D.C.’s Union Station to/from Baltimore’s Camden Station or Penn Station. However, only the Penn Line stops at BWI Airport and provides weekend service. MARC also provides service on the Brunswick line towards western Maryland through the suburbs of Silver Spring, Kensington, Rockville, Gaithersburg, and Germantown, on the way out to Frederick and on to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
Virginia Railway Express (VRE) provides weekday rail service to Union Station from the southwest, starting in the Virginia suburbs of Manassas and Fredericksburg.
Metrorail is D.C.’s intra-city train system. It is composed of six color-coded rail lines that run primarily underground within the District and above ground in the nearby suburbs.
D.C. Circulator buses operate between main attractions and the city’s most popular neighborhoods for visitors. All D.C. Circulator routes run every ten minutes and cost $1 per ride, payable either in cash or by using a SmarTrip debit card. It is useful to print the handy route map. The next arrival time for a bus at any stop can be checked online. There are six routes:
Dupont Circle – Georgetown – Rosslyn “Blue” Line — operates service between the Rosslyn Metrorail Station in Virginia to Georgetown and Dupont Circle Su-Th 7AM-midnight, F-Sa 7AM-2AM.
Georgetown – Union Station “Yellow” Line — runs between Georgetown and Union Station in Capitol Hill Su-Th 7AM-9PM, F-Sa 7AM-9PM with additional night hours of 9PM-2AM between Georgetown & McPherson Square Metrorail Station in the West End).
Woodley Park – Adams Morgan – McPherson Square “Green” Line — runs a limited-stop route through the “Liquorridor” between the National Zoo, Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights, U Street, Logan Circle, and McPherson Square in the West End Su-Th 7AM-midnight, F-Sa 7AM-3:30AM. These neighborhoods are home to some of the best restaurants, shopping, art galleries, local theaters, and nightlife in Washington.
Union Station – Navy Yard “Navy” Line — runs from Union Station past Eastern Market in Capitol Hill to the Navy Yard Metrorail Station near the Nationals Stadium in Waterfront M-F 6AM-7PM between October 1 and March 31, M-F 6AM-9PM & Sa 7AM-9PM April 1 – September 30. Extended and weekend service is provided on Nationals game days.
Potomac Ave Metro – Skyland via Barracks Row “Orange” Line — runs between Capitol Hill and the Skyland Shopping Center in Anacostia via Barracks Row and historic Anacostia M-F 6AM-7PM between October 1 and March 31, M-F 6AM-9PM & Sa 7AM-9PM April 1 – September 30.
National Mall Route “Red” Line — circumnavigates the National Mall including the museums, monuments, and the Tidal Basin, with a stop at Union Station. M-F 7AM-7PM & Sa-Su 9AM-7PM between October 1 and March 31, M-F 7AM-8PM & Sa-Su 9AM-8PM April 1 – September 30.
Metrobus operates hundreds of routes throughout the D.C. metro area. Metrobus will take you places hard to reach via Metrorail or the Circulator, and can be a really convenient, comfortable way to travel. In addition, some Metrobus lines operate later into the night than Metrorail. WMATA’s website publishes maps and timetables for all routes, as well as system maps for its entire network. Most routes cost a flat fare of $1.75 if paying with cash or SmarTrip card, with a free transfer if paying by SmarTrip card. Seniors pay only $0.85 by showing an idenification card to the driver and up to two children ages four and younger ride free per paying adult.
Every bus stop has a number written on it, which you can enter on the WMATA Next Bus Arrivals website or by phone (+1 202 637-7000) to get a highly accurate estimate of when the next bus will arrive to that stop, including active tracking on Google Maps. Free iPhone and Android apps that provide live Metrobus data are also available.
The following important routes provide reliable and direct service along the city’s most well-traveled corridors, running about every ten to twenty minutes:
16th St Line (S2, S4, S9) — operates north-south service on 16th St between the Silver Spring Metro Station on the Red Line and East End. It’s the route of choice to reach the Fitzgerald Tennis Center and Carter Barron Amphitheater at Rock Creek Park.
Massachusetts Ave Line (N2, N4, N6) — runs along Massachusetts Ave between the Friendship Heights and Farragut West Metro stops. The bus provides an excellent view of the 50+ embassies located along Embassy Row. It’s also a good way to go from Dupont Circle to the hard-to-reach National Cathedral, as well as to American University.
U St-Garfield Line (90, 92, 93) — runs a great cross-town route from the Zoo at Woodley Park through Adams Morgan/18th St, U St, Gallaudet University, and then on to Eastern Market.
Pennsylvania Avenue-Wisconsin Avenue Line (31, 32, 36) – another good cross-town route along Pennsylvania Avenue through Capitol Hill, downtown, Georgetown, and neighborhoods along Wisconsin Avenue. These buses run around the clock and will take you to areas not serviced by Metrorail such as Georgetown, Glover Park, and the National Cathedral.