How to Travel from Washington, DC to New York City by Train, Bus, Car, and Plane

Downtown Manhattan, New York City

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Washington, D.C., and New York City are two of the most popular travel destinations in the United States. These cities are often paired on itineraries of the eastern U.S. because they are, at most, only about five hours apart.

Because the route between ​Washington and New York City (NYC) is so well-traveled, there are several transportation options for getting from one place to the other. The train is the fastest method, and even quicker than taking a flight because it takes you directly from the center of Washington to Times Square in Manhattan. But it can be expensive, and taking a bus is only an hour or two longer but costs a fraction of the price. If you have a car, the route can be dense with traffic but it lets you explore the many cities along the way.

  Time Cost Best For
Train 3 hours from $54 Arriving on a time crunch
Bus 4 hours, 30 minutes from $15 Traveling on a budget
Plane 1 hour, 15 minutes from $100  
Car 3 hours, 45 minutes 225 miles (362 kilometers) Exploring the East Coast

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Washington, DC to New York City?

The Greyhound Bus is the cheapest way to travel from Washington, D.C., to New York City, with tickets starting at $15. Even if you're making a last-minute purchase, bus tickets shouldn't rise to more than $30, making it an especially affordable option if you haven't planned in advance. The ride takes between four and a half and five hours, so it's also the slowest method of transport.

Greyhound buses depart Washington from Union Station, located near the Capitol Building at the east end of the National Mall. Buses arrive at the Port Authority in New York, which is located next to Times Square and has several subway connections to the rest of the city.

Greyhound used to be the only game in town, but now there are other companies competing for travelers' dollars—including Bolt Bus and MegaBus—which also shuttle passengers between these two major cities.

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Washington, DC to New York City?

Although the plane is the quickest journey, once you factor in all of the additional time it takes to get to and from the airport, check in for your flight, go through security, and wait at your gate, it actually takes much longer than the train. Amtrak service brings passengers from Union Station in Washington directly to Penn Station in Manhattan, saving you nearly two hours of travel time just from commuting to airports. The time of the journey from city center to city center depends on which train you choose, with the fastest ones arriving in two and a half hours and others taking up to four hours.

Tickets start at $54 for a coach seat, but those quickly sell out and you may be stuck paying for business class, which costs anywhere from $130 to over $300. If you don't see a coach ticket available at the time you want to leave, try looking at other trains throughout the day. Amtrak offers up to 40 daily trips on this popular route, so chances are you can find a more affordable ticket at another time.

How Long Does It Take to Drive?

Driving from New York City to Washington, D.C., takes approximately four to six hours, depending on traffic and how many stops you make. This option is ideal for families and those who wish to stop for a meal or a bit of sightseeing.

The driving time is affected by the time you leave. Rush hour traffic in either city tends to be heaviest from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The preferred route of most drivers is I-95 from Washington, D.C., through Maryland and Delaware, and then the New Jersey Turnpike through New Jersey, taking one of the exits between exits 10 through 14, and then entering New York City via a bridge or tunnel.

There are a number of tolls along the way between Washington and New York, including the Fort McHenry Tunnel in Baltimore, the Delaware Memorial Bridge straddling Delaware and New Jersey, the New Jersey Turnpike, and the bridges to New York City, such as the Goethals and the Verrazano. Expect to pay approximately $37 for tolls one way. You can pay for tolls with cash, although people who do this drive often have an E-Z Pass, which allows for quicker travel through toll plazas. If you have an E-Z Pass from another area you can use that and they will bill you.

How Long Is the Flight?

Even though Washington, D.C., and New York City are relatively close, many travelers go between the two cities that several airlines offer direct flights, such as United, Delta, and American. The total time in the air is only about 1 hour, 15 minutes, but all of the other hassles that come with airport travel make taking a flight just as long as taking a train, if not longer. Direct flights are also relatively expensive, starting at about $100, or twice as much as a coach seat on Amtrak.

Both Washington and New York have three major airports each, and choosing one that is convenient for your starting and ending destination is important to cut down travel time. Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) is the closest to the city center in Washington and the easiest to get to. Many flights also leave from Dulles Airport (IAD) or Baltimore Airport (BWI), which are farther out and will add a significant amount of travel time. Flights arrive in New York at LaGuardia (LGA) in Queens, John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) in Brooklyn, or Newark Airport (EWR) in New Jersey, so choose the airport that is closest to your final destination.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to New York City?

The best time to visit New York depends on what you're looking for, since the city that never sleeps always has something going on. Winters can be brutally cold while summers may be unbearably humid, so spring and autumn are the most comfortable times to visit for good weather. In spring, you can visit the Brooklyn Botanical Garden to see the blooming cherry blossoms, while in the fall Central Park turns fiery hues of orange and red as the leaves change colors. Visiting while the city is blanketed under snow has its own charm as well if you visit in the winter. And while summers may be hot, it's a perfect time to hit up one of the nearby beaches.

Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport?

Public transportation is available from all three New York City airports, but the travel times vary drastically depending on which airport you use and to which part of the city you're heading to. In general, if your final destination is Manhattan, it takes about an hour to an hour and a half to reach the city by subway from JFK. If you arrive at LaGuardia, the bus takes you from the airport to Manhattan in about an hour as well. The AirTrain from Newark Airport is one of the quickest journeys, shuttling passengers to Penn Station in just 30 minutes.

What Is There to Do in New York City?

Even if you've never been to New York City, everyone knows it from movies, literature, music, and pop culture. You could spend a year living in New York and you still wouldn't be able to see all that it has to offer. If it's your first time visiting, then there are a few must-see sites that everyone has to experience, and most of New York's iconic sites are located in Manhattan. Around Midtown, you have Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and Grand Central Terminus. Just a few blocks uptown is the enormous Central Park, and a few blocks downtown the legendary Empire State Building dominates. Many of Manhattan's most charming neighborhoods are below 14th Street, such as Greenwich Village, Soho, and Washington Square Park. Walk around and get lost in the endless display of designer boutiques, hip cafes, and amazing restaurants.