Getting To and Around Washington DC


Washington DC's transportation system provides various modes of travel throughout the region  Located in the  Mid Atlantic region at the center of the I-95 Corridor that begins in Maine and traverses the east coast through Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and  Baltimore,  Washington, DC is at the center of the Nation's main street as it makes its way to in terminus in southern Florida.  It is a transportation hub for auto, air rail, and bus transportation.  It also offers (right),  one of the Nation's premier mass transit systems.  Indeed, there are a number of viable options for getting to and around the Nation's Capital as noted below.

Getting Around The Capital Area

Along with the ability to walk to many things in the core of Washington DC, for safe, clean easy access to the attractions in Washington, DC nothing beats the region's rail transportation system known as Metro, (The Washington Metro system) which serves the District of Columbia , Northern Virginia and the Maryland D.C. suburbs.  It is composed of five color-coded rail lines that run underground primarily within the District and above ground in much of the nearby suburbs. There are Metrorail stations in most major neighborhoods and at numerous locations

Fares are paid by purchasing a farecard at automated machines within stations. Posted guides will help you calculate the appropriate fare for your ride, but since the farecards are reusable and refillable, it's often easier to not worry about the fare; just put $5-10 on your ticket and refill as needed. Flat-rate Metro passes are also available that give riders an unlimited number of trips within the system for a set number of days. These passes are available in each station at many of the automated machines that sell standard farecards. The Metro system map provides excellent information about the system including station information.

The Washington Metropolitan Transportation Authority operates the Washington Metro system and a comprehensive bus transit system which operates throughout the metro area.   At just $1 and with buses arriving every 10 minutes, the DC Circulator provides daily bus service on five convenient routes throughout Washington, DC.  Regional rail service is also provided in Northern Virginia by the Virginia Rail Express and MARC in Maryland. 

Metro Rail and Bus Service
DC Circulator
Virginia Rail Express
MARC (Maryland Rail)

Automobile Access

By car,  the Capital Region is accessible from the I-95 corridor which dissects the area. I-95 becomes !-495 (The Capital Beltway) and encircles Washington, DC and the inner suburbs of Virginia and Maryland, providing easy access to Washington and suburban attractions. From I-95 (northbound) approaching from south of Washington, DC, I-395 runs from the Capital Beltway into downtown Washington, DC through the portions of Fairfax County, Alexandria, and Arlington. Also from the west I-66, runs from the intersection of I-81 in the northwestern area of Virginia near Front Royal, through the Virginia suburbs (Arlington and Fairfax counties) to across the Potomac River terminating near the Lincoln Memorial on Constitution Avenue in downtown Washington, DC. Access to the area is also provided by US Routes 50 and 29 from the east and west and US Route 1 from north to south. It is highly recommended that visitors avoid these roads during rush hours during the week.


Street parking downtown is limited to two hours only (even at meters), so be prepared to park in a private lot or garage, which cost anywhere from $10-25 per day. Avoid driving and parking during rush hour (weekdays, 7-9: 30 AM and 4-6: 30 PM), since this is when the majority of the city's traffic congestion, street direction changes, and parking restrictions are in effect. If you do park on the street, pay close attention to traffic signs. Most streets downtown restrict parking during rush hour and visitors often return to the spot where they parked only to find that their vehicle has been ticketed and towed. Paid parking is also available throughout downtown.


The Washington, DC area is served by three major airports. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport located along the Potomac in Arlington provides domestic flight access into the city. Washington Dulles International Airport located at the border of Fairfax and Loudoun County, Virginia provides both domestic and international access from throughout the world. Baltimore Washington International Airport also services the Washington area. It is located between Washington and Baltimore along the Baltimore Washington Parkway. 

Washington Dulles International Airport

Reagan Washington National Airport

Baltimore Washington International Airport

Bus and Rail Access

Amtrak provides service into downtown Washington at Union Station located near the US Capitol. Service is also available via suburban stations Alexandria, Virginia and New Carrolton, MD. The Amtrak Auto Train terminal is located at Lorton in Fairfax County, Virginia. Here passengers can offload their automobiles form departure points served by the Amtrak Auto Train to tour the capital area by auto. Greyhound Bus service is available from various stations in the area.  Several Bus lines offer service between New York and Washington.

Amtrak Information and Reservations
Greyhound Bus Lines