Washington DC Transportation

Washington DC TransportationWashington, DC is a large city and getting around can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little planning and research, tourists can easily find all major attractions.

Three major airports lie within 50 miles of the city. The closest is Ronald Reagan Washington National (DCA), followed by Washington Dulles International (IAD) and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall (BWI). Reagan National is within eyesight of the city limits and has more ground transportation options while the other two airports are considerably farther away and do not connect directly to mass transit.

The city has some of the heaviest automobile traffic in the country, so tourists should strongly consider riding Metro, the city’s subway system, instead of renting a car. It will probably be less expensive since parking is scarce and expensive. Metro has stations close to almost all tourist attractions and has a station at Reagan National Airport. A line to Dulles Airport is under construction, but not complete. The system has five color-coded lines—red, orange, blue, yellow and green. Different lines share the same track in places, so make sure to look at a map and check to see what line a train is serving when it pulls into a station.

The Metro station closest to the bulk of attractions in downtown Washington is Smithsonian Station, shared between the orange and blue lines. It is located on the National Mall, about halfway between the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol. It is also within walking distance of many major museums.

The city also has an extensive bike sharing program. Bikes can be rented at any bike station and returned to any other station. This is a great way to see the city while getting some exercise or to get from one attraction to another more quickly than by walking. Just make sure to look at a map to avoid getting lost.

For those who insist on driving, the city is served by multiple interstate highways—95 from the north and south, 66 from the west, 495 as the Capital Beltway and 395 as a spur of I-95. I-66 and I-395 are the only two interstates that provide direct access to the downtown area. Traffic on all of these highways can be heavy, especially during rush hour. Also, fuel prices are higher than in surrounding areas, so budget accordingly.

Traveling to Washington, DC should be exciting. To get the most out of your trip, learn the transportation system and use it wisely.