Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) is the busiest of the three D.C.-area airports, located about 26 miles outside of the city in Chantilly, Virginia. When traffic conditions are good, Dulles Airport is about a 40-minute drive away and taking a cab or car service is the fastest way to travel. However, traveling during rush hour can significantly add to that time. The bus is the cheapest way to travel into the city center, and there are multiple options depending on where in the city you want to be dropped off. The local metro doesn't quite reach the airport, but express transfer services can bring you to it.
|Train||1 hour (with transfer)||from $11||Avoiding traffic|
|Bus||50 minutes||from $7.50||Traveling on a budget|
|Car||40 minutes||from $45||Door-to-door convenience|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Dulles Airport to Washington, DC?
A variety of bus options are available to shuttle passengers from Dulles Airport into Washington, D.C., providing travelers the most economic way to get into the city.
- The Fairfax Connector: With the Fairfax Connector, you can take either Route 981 or Route 983 for $2. Both buses connect the airport to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, where you can board the subway and take it to your final stop in Washington, D.C. The total trip time from the airport to downtown is about 30 minutes on the bus plus another 45 minutes on the train.
- Metrobus Route 5A: This line picks up at curb 2E at Dulles Airport, with stops at the central L'Enfant Plaza, Rosslyn, and Herndon-Monroe Park & Ride Lot. A ticket costs $7.50, which is to be paid by SmarTrip or cash. This is the fastest and most direct method into the city via public transportation, with the journey taking about 50–70 minutes depending on traffic.
- Virginia Breeze: Operated by Megabus, this intercity bus service will pick you up at Curb 2A at Dulles Airport and take you to the Bus Deck at Union Station, with one stop in Arlington. The bus ride takes one hour and 15 minutes, and tickets start at $15.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Dulles Airport to Washington, DC?
Hiring a taxi or car service—or renting a car and driving yourself—is the fastest way to get from Dulles Airport into Washington, D.C., with the total travel time taking about 45 minutes depending on traffic and where in the city you're heading to. It's also the most convenient method since a car service drops you off right at your final destination and you don't need to worry about any transfers.
Unsurprisingly, it's also the most expensive option. The only taxi company that is allowed to pick-up or drop off at Dulles Airport is Washington Flyer, and fares into the city are metered and range from $60–$70. Ride-sharing apps Uber, Lyft, and Via are also available from the airport, and fares begin at about $45 on these services.
If your final destination is Washington, D.C., and you plan to stay there for longer than a couple of days, renting a car from the airport isn't recommended. Parking in the city is expensive and difficult to find, and you won't need a vehicle to get around once you're in the city.
How Long Is the Train Ride?
Washington, D.C.'s metro system—called Metrorail—doesn't quite reach Dulles Airport, but it gets close. The Silver Line Express Bus provides nonstop service between Dulles Airport and the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, which connects to the Silver Line of the D.C. metro. It takes about 15 minutes to reach the metro station on the Express Bus, and from there it's about another 45 minutes on the train into the city. The fare for the Express Bus is $5, so it's more expensive—but more frequent and faster—than the Fairfax Connector bus to the same station. Metro fares vary based on your destination and whether you're traveling during peak hours or not, but expect to pay about $6 more for the subway in addition to the bus fare.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Washington, DC?
Traffic around the Washington, D.C., area is always a problem, but especially so during weekday mornings and evenings. If you happen to arrive during rush hour, take that extra time into account if you're using a car or bus service. If you take the train during rush hour then you don't have to worry about congestion on the streets, but you do have to worry about packed trains, which can be a bother if you're carrying luggage.
In terms of the weather, spring and fall are the most comfortable times to visit Washington, D.C. Winters can be brutally cold while summers are outrageously muggy, making them less-than-ideal times for exploring all of the outdoor sites that Washington, D.C., has to offer. April is a particularly great month to visit because not only is the weather warming up, but the famous cherry blossom trees that line the National Mall are all in bloom and celebrated in the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.
What Is There to Do in Washington, DC?
Whether it's your first time or hundredth time visiting the nation's capital, seeing iconic buildings such as the White House, U.S. Capitol, or the Supreme Court never loses its magic. Not to mention all of the monuments that line the National Mall, such as the Lincoln Memorial and towering Washington Monument. The Smithsonian Museums are a vast network of free sites including art museums, history museums, and even the National Zoo. But Washington, D.C., is much more than just sightseeing, as it's also a cultural hub with some of the trendiest restaurants, bars, cafes, boutiques, and neighborhoods on the East Coast.