The Washington Experience


Getting to Washington:

Getting to Washington By Air

There are three major airports that serve the Washington, D.C. area.Airplane

1) Ronald Reagan National Airport. (WAS)

This airport is located closest to downtown and is right next to a Metro (subway) stop. Upon arrival you are less than 10 minutes away from downtown Washington, D.C.  Not surprisingly, of the three airports, Reagan National tends to have the most expensive airfares.   However, sometimes major airlines offer discounts.  Check listings.

2) Dulles airport (IAD)

Dulles airport is located in suburban Virginia.  Airfares into Dulles usually tend to be somewhat lower than fares into Reagan National.

-Getting from Dulles to Washington, DC

Inside the vestibule of Door 4 at baggage claim, you can buy a one-way ticket for the Washington Flyer shuttle. The cost for a one way trip is about $10.  It leaves every half hour and will take you to the West Falls Church Metro (subway) stop (20-25 minute ride).  You can then ride the Metro (Orange Line) into Washington, D.C.(20 minute ride).

3)Baltimore Washington Airport (BWI)

Of the three airports, Baltimore Washington is the farthest away from downtown Washington, but tends to offer the lowest airfares.  Discount airlines such as Southwest and Airtran both fly in and out of BWI.

-Getting from BWI to Washington, DC

Option 1: Train

-Take the MARC-Amtrak shuttle from ground transportation to the train station (10 minute ride) From the train station you can catch one of three trains that will take you to Union Station in Washington.

-The MARC train is a commuter train that runs only weekdays. It comes by once an hour during regular business hours and into the early evening. The ride takes about 45 minutes and the fare is $6.

-Amtrak trains run periodically throughout the day and evening.  They are slightly faster than MARC trains (about a 35 minute trip), but also more expensive.  The fare is usually between $12 and $21.

-Amtrak’s Acela Express also runs throughout the day.  For between $33 and $50 you can arrive at Union Station in about 25 minutes.

Option 2: Bus and Subway

From ground transportation at BWI catch the B30 Metrobus.  It usually runs from early morning until late at night and comes by once every 40 minutes.  From BWI it is a 30 minute ride to the Greenbelt Metro (subway) station. From Greenbelt you can ride the Metro (Green Line) into Washington (30 minute ride).

Getting to Washington By Land:

One can also get to Washington by Train or Bus.  Obviously this will take more time, but it will probably also cost less.Amtrak Acela

Amtrak: Amtrak’s Crescent Train travels between New Orleans and Washington, DC and stops in Tuscaloosa (and other southern cities). The train only comes through once a day and its scheduled departure is always at 12:51 PM.  The scheduled trip takes about 20 hours.  However, most Amtrak trains tend to run behind schedule and this one is likely no exception. More information can be found at

Greyhound: If you are not in a hurry, Greyhound is always an option.  Information about fares and schedules are available at

Getting around within Washington:


The Metro is Washington D.C.’s subway . It goes almost everywhere and it is probably the cleanest, safest, most well maintained subway system in the country.  The Metro runs until Midnight on Sunday to Thursday and runs until 3AM on both Friday and Saturday night. The Metro system it is pretty easy to understand, but it would still be worthwhile to spend a few minutes familiarizing yourself with the various routes. Its website is


If the subway will not get you to a particular location, a bus almost certainly will. More information about bus service can be found at Metro’s website


Taxis are a good option if either the Metro has closed for the evening or if you do not want to walk.  Fares are pretty reasonable within Washington, D.C., however, taxis get pretty costly if you want to ride to either Virginia or Maryland.


I really do not recommend bringing a car to Washington.   Parking is expensive, the roads are frequently congested, and a number of streets were designed before the invention of motorized transportation.  Furthermore, Washington’s system of public transit is among the best in the country.   However, if you insist on bringing a car, I would recommend on making sure you have access to adequate parking facilities beforehand.  I would also recommend investing in a map.

The Washington Experience