There are several methods of transportation to get you from Dulles Airport Airport to Washington DC. Getting from Dulles Airport to Washington DC is not a complicated matter; nonetheless, you should know that you will be landing more than 27 miles away, approximately 44 kilometers, from the city.
Air travelers have three options for arrival: Dulles (IAD) , Ronald Reagan Airport, and the Baltimore/Washington International Airport. None of these airports are actually in the District; two are in Northern Virginia and the third is outside of Baltimore. The largest and busiest of these three airports is Dulles, and it is where most international flights arrive.
How to get from Dulles Airport to Washington DC
With all the above in mind, here are a few things you should know about the various ways you can get from Dulles Airport to Washington DC:
1. Metro Bus Service
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority operates a bus line that makes it easy for travelers to get from Dulles Airport to Washington DC. The 5A bus is often taken by DC locals who either depart from Dulles or when returning from trips abroad.
While this is not exactly an express service, it does not make too many stops between the airport and its final destination at L’Enfant Plaza in the heart of downtown D.C.
Since this is an established route of the WMATA, you can count on service being provided every 30 – 40 minutes or at least every hour from Monday to Friday; on weekends, it runs every hour to 1.5 hours.
Considering the distance covered by the 5A bus route, you can’t beat the $7.50 fare, which is reduced by 50% for travelers with disabilities and those who are at least 65 years old.
If you do not have the exact cash fare on hand, you must purchase a SmarTrip card from the vending machines located before you step out of the baggage claim section and onto the second curb from the ramp, which is marked 2E.
There are other bus operators providing service to Union Station in D.C. stopping here, which is why you need to look for the red, white, and blue bus displaying 5A atop the windshield. We are not going to cover the other bus lines in this article because the WMATA 5A is your best option.
If you are staying at a hotel in nearby Alexandria, Georgetown, or Arlington, you will want to get off the bus at the Rosslyn Metro Station, which is the second stop. If you are going straight to the District, stay on the bus until the final stop.
The trip takes about an hour under normal traffic conditions, but rush hour in the D.C. area could easily add between 20 and 30 minutes.
The first 5A bus from Dulles Airport leaves at 5:50 am with the last bus leaving at 11:35 pm. On weekends, the first bus leaves at 6:35 am and the last bus leaving at 11:35 (Saturday) or 11:25 (Sunday)
More info: Metro Bus
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2. Silver Line Express Bus + Metrorail Silver Line
The Silver Line will eventually connect to Dulles Airport. Till then the Silver Line Express Bus provides an economical ($5) connection between Dulles Airport and the Whiele – Reston East Metrorail Station (Silver Line).
The trip takes only 10 minutes and buses depart to and from the airport terminal (arrivals level at door 4) every 15 – 20 minutes.
With the Silver Line you can get anywhere in the city. The metrorail fare to get to downtown DC is $5.90 and the trip takes 45 minutes from Wiehle-Reston Station.
3. Taxi Service
Dulles International Airport has one exclusive taxi service: the Washington Flyer Taxicabs. You do not have to make reservations to use these service, which operates a fleet of SUVs and sedans painted black.
Depending on the number of flights and passengers, you may have to wait in line for available taxis at Door 2 or Door 6 of the ground transportation terminals.
If you happen to run into heavy traffic conditions during rush hour, you may have to pay more for the ride, but the fares are strictly regulated by the municipal council. As of summer 2020, average Flyer Taxicab fares from Dulles Airport to Washington DC are about $70 without additional tolls or tips.
Tipping is not mandatory but is highly encouraged because this is how many American drivers are able to make a living.
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4. Private Transfer Service
Without a doubt, this is the best means of ground transportation from Dulles Airport to Washington DC because it serves this specific purpose with the comfort of travelers in mind, particularly those who are traveling in a group.
There are several advantages to booking a private transfer leaving from Dulles Airport to Washington DC; first of all, travelers know that they will be picked up upon arrival by a professional driver who speaks English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
The fleet of vehicles used include luxury sedans for up to three passengers or large SUVs for more than four travelers. This is a safe experience that includes nice personalized touches such as water bottles and refreshments.
Drivers are very familiar with the D.C. area and its various traffic patterns, which means that they can avoid traffic jams and delays. Private transfers also offer shared services with more competitive pricing options, and travelers can also book additional services such as tours.
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5. Car Rental
While there are many American cities that beg to be explored by means of leisurely driving, the nation’s capital is not really one of them.
There is a good reason public transportation and ridesharing services have grown substantially in the D.C. area, and that reason is gridlock. Constant traffic jams are a way of life for D.C. residents, but they try to avoid them whenever possible.
If you are renting a car upon arrival at Dulles, you will need to descend from the baggage claim section to the ramp at doors 2 and 4; this is where you will see the shuttle buses to take you to the rental car desks and lots.
Following the signs to exit the airport is pretty easy; you will drive on Virginia State Road 267 until it merges with I-66 going east, but you can also stay on VA-267 all the way to the city.
Another way to drive from Dulles Airport to Washington DC is to take George Washington Memorial Parkway, which is more scenic, but it is often jammed with traffic.
There will be tolls to pay on the way to D.C., and they may fluctuate according to traffic conditions; you will need to check with the car rental agent about this.
6. Hotel Shuttles and Charter Services
Quite a few hotels in the Northern Virginia and D.C. region offer courtesy shuttle pick-up and drop-off service at the Dulles ground transportation terminal.
When booking online reservations, be sure to look for information regarding shuttle or charter bus service from Dulles Airport to Washington DC; if you do not see it on the hotel booking platform, contact the hotel directly before boarding a flight to Dulles.
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7. Personal Transportation Apps: Uber and Lyft
The U.S. is where popular transportation services such as Uber and Lyft originated, and you can certainly use them to travel from Dulles Airport to Washington DC, but they are the last recommendation on this article because the aforementioned options are generally better.
When arriving from other countries, be sure to activate your smartphone GPS and update your location on the personal transportation app. Don’t forget to indicate how many are traveling in your group as well as the luggage carried so that the right vehicle can be dispatched.
You will have to meet the drivers at the Main Terminal just outside the Arrivals level, and this is where it can get complicated because this section of Dulles is usually crowded and can get confusing; by comparison, the doors outside of Baggage Claim, where you meet private transfer drivers, are more organized.
Keep in mind that many Uber and Lyft drivers only provide services occasionally using their personal cars, which means that they may not be too familiar with Dulles traffic conditions. Average fares to Washington DC are about $45 – $70.