How to Get to Downtown Washington, D.C., from Dulles International Airport

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Getting from Dulles to downtown Washington, D.C. is an effortless procedure.
Getting from Dulles to downtown Washington, D.C. is an effortless procedure. (Image: Douglas Litchfield/iStock/Getty Images)

Dulles International Airport is one of three airports serving the nation’s capital and the most common for daily flights, as well as the hub for United Airlines. Around 22 million passengers pass through the airport each year. Even though 20 percent of visitors to Washington, D.C., come by plane, transport into the city center can often be fraught with gridlock, especially around the Capital Beltway. Luckily, the 16-mile Airport Access Highway dedicated to airport-only traffic makes the trip much easier, while a 23-mile expansion of the Metrorail link is in the pipeline.

Things You'll Need

  • Credit card
  • Small bills for tipping

Transport Options

Follow signs from the arrivals exit for taxi or ground transportation to reach the Washington Flyer Taxi service. Cabs run 24 hours a day, with no reservations necessary. Vehicles are metered and must be under five years old. Credit cards are accepted.

Take the air-conditioned Washington Flyer Coach, which runs every 30 minutes to West Falls Church Metrorail Station. From there, take the Orange Line in the direction of New Carrollton, disembarking at Metro Center for downtown. Tickets can be purchased at the counter at door four on the arrivals level of the main terminal.

Share a van with the Washington Flyer Super Shuttle. Passengers can buy tickets on the lower level of the main terminal at doors two and six. It's about a 45-minute journey to your chosen destination in downtown.

Save costs by taking the Metrobus Route 5A direct to L’Enfant Plaza on Maryland Avenue, not far from the Smithsonian, boarding at the ground transportation curb at 2E. Travel takes between 45 minutes and an hour, depending on traffic.

Go it alone by rental car straight from the airport. Follow signs to the Dulles Access Highway, which leads to Interstate 66. Follow signs to the city. Take care to stay in the center lane when crossing the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge which leads direct to Constitution Avenue.

Tips & Warnings

  • Passengers with a SmarTrip account can purchase Metroline tickets in advance. Tickets for the Super Shuttle can be booked online.

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