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A day trip to Baltimore from DC is easy – on public transportation or by car – and fun – from the Children’s Museum to Fort McHenry and one of the oldest saloons in the country.
This day trip will help you get to Baltimore and see all the best sites along the way.
This section covers all of the different ways to get from Washington, DC to Baltimore, including directions and details about how much this trip will cost.
If you have a car, driving is the best option. It’s only a short one hour drive on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (MD 295).
Note: This is also the commuters preferred route so keep that in mind during rush hour. You’ll likely be going the opposite direction of the commuters, but traffic can be a pain!
Parking in Baltimore is made simple through a service called Parking Panda. You can view all of the garages in the area and their prices for your required time period.
Simply select a garage that works for you and pay ahead of time. Parking Panda will email you the parking pass and you will have a spot saved for you at the garage, guaranteed.
This is the best option for those without cars or who don’t want to worry about parking. You can take either the commuter MARC train or the Amtrak train.
Baltimore has great public transport options around the city, so you won’t be confined to only walkable areas.
The MARC train from Union Station offers a one hour trip for $7 one way.
Tickets can be bought at the station from any ticket kiosk. (Don’t be worried that it says Amtrak on it!) The machines accept all major credit cards.
You choose which station you’re going to but the ticket is good on any time train and valid for the next six months.
It also doesn’t matter is all the tickets have one person’s name on it. They do not check that the name on the ticket matches the rider’s ID. As long as each person has a ticket.
If you’re running late for the train and don’t have a ticket – don’t worry! You can buy tickets on the train for $10 cash paid to the conductor as he checks tickets.
There are a three MARC train lines that depart Union Station: Camden, Penn and Brunswick. You can ignore the Brunswick Line.
PENN LINE – this line will bring you to the city center. The trains on this route are nicer, newer, and faster.
The train service also runs more frequently with off peak and even weekend hours. The station itself is not near most of the tourist sites but is well connected to the entire city by light rail, bus, and taxi service.
CAMDEN LINE – this historic line has older trains, slower service and only runs during commuter hours – however, if that fit’s into your schedule, Camden station is closer to Camden Yards, Met Park, and the Inner Harbor.
To check the most current time schedule, the MARC website has easy to read time schedule and up to date information. MARC trains do not run on federal holidays.
Alternatively, there are Amtrak trains that travel to Baltimore’s Penn Station. You can use the same self service ticket kiosks to purchase a ticket.
Ticket prices are slightly more expensive $10-15 but the trains and fast and nice. They also run during more hours: Trains depart Union Station from 3:15 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily.
The exact fare, availability and time schedule, as well as the option to purchase in advance on the Amtrak site.
There are two lines: Northeast Regional and Acela Express. They both run regularly from Union Station and while Acela is an express train, it’ll cost you double the ticket fare to save only 11 minutes!
The higher rate might not be worth it on such a short journey.
Greyhound buses depart Union Station from 1 a.m. until 10 p.m for a 1-1.5 hour journey depending on how many stops they make.
The fare is typically around $20 for a one way journey. The bus station in DC is in the parking garage of Union Station. When you arrive in Baltimore, the bus station is south of Camden Marc Station.
About a 15 minute walk to the Met Stadium/Camden Yards area and then 15 minutes to the Inner Harbor. Advanced tickets bought online will save you the most money!
Bolt Buses also connect the two cities for a low fare of $12-$25, depending on when you book and what time you leave.
The buses run nearly every hour during the day but when you purchase tickets online, you actually purchase a ticket to New York, and just alight at the Baltimore stop.
It is an outdoor stop at Maryland Ave in Baltimore, not far from Penn Station.
There are buses, Metro, light rail, water taxi and free shuttle options, but they are poorly connected.
Personally, I think the best way to see a city is to get lost in it but with advance planning you can use any of the below options to traverse Charm City.
Your best bet is a Day Pass for $4.40 which offers unlimited rides on the light rail, bus and Metro.
Insider Tip: Your DC SmarTrip card works on Baltimore transportation, too!
MTA Light Rail: The light rail runs north and south and goes pretty far out of the city center in either direction.
In downtown, there are stops near Penn Station, Camden Yards, Cultural Center and Charles Street. Fare is $1.90 cash or card and can be bought at ticket kiosks at the stations.
You cannot pay on board. The light rail runs 6am-11pm except Sundays/Holidays, 11am-7pm. There are now Light Rail trackers at the stations to let you know how long until the next train.
As an above ground option, you’ll see much more of the city this way!
Metro in Baltimore offers one line that runs east and west. In downtown, you can access it from Lexington, Charles Street or Shot Tower Stations.
Fare is $1.90 and the Metro runs 5am (6am on weekends) until midnight. Tickets can be bought using cash or card at one of the kiosks in the station.
Trains operate every 10-15 minutes depending on day of the week/peak hours.
MTA Buses are like any city buses and not known for being timely.
In addition, they are the main mode of transport for city schools so if you’re travelling when school gets out beware that a bus might be full and not stop.
Fare is $1.90 and exact change is required when paying cash. You can let the driver know where you want to get off and (s)he can help let you know when it’s your stop.
If you know where you’ll be going, when the stop is announced, touch the yellow strip to request a stop.
If no one requests the stop, the bus might keep going past. Please use back doors of the bus to get off when possible.
Despite a poor reputation, the Metro, Bus and Light Rail have never caused this writer any issues!
A prepared rider can make use of the different options. The MTA website has a Trip Planner to help you get to and from your destination.
A FREE RIDE?!
The Charm City Circulator is a free hybrid bus throughout Baltimore.
It operates 7 days a week, connecting parking areas, Amtrak, MARC, Light Rail, Metro Subway and buses are scheduled to run 10 minutes apart.
You can use the NextBus app to see when the next bus will arrive – just choose your route, direction and stop!
Green Route which runs from City Hall to Fells Point to Johns Hopkins
Purple Route which runs from Penn Station to Federal Hill
Orange Route which runs from Hollins Market to Harbor East
Banner Route which runs from the Inner Harbor to Fort McHenry.
Harbor Connector which offers offering three free routes on the Water Taxi: Maritime Park – Tide Point, Canton Waterfront Park – Tide Point and Harbor View – Harbor East.
Summer Operating Hours (May 1 – September 30)
While it may seem like a nice way to get a free bus tour of the city, they do limit rides to one loop so you can’t just sit and ride around the city!