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BWI Airport To and From Washington DC

Updated: April 21, 2024

This post compares the airport transfer options between downtown Washington, DC, and Baltimore/Washington International Airport, including using the MARC train to Union Station, the shuttle to Greenbelt, and taking taxis.

Washington, D.C., is served by three airports: BWI is north of the city, Dulles Airport is west of DC, and DCA is south of the city.

Of the three, my preference is BWI. I'm writing this post from Gate A12 right now.

While BWI is not as easy to get to from Downtown DC as DCA (there is no direct Metro to BWI), it has more routes, and my mother-in-law's favorite boutique shop is here. (I have to say, I'm in her good graces!)

I have ordered the various transportation options from cheapest to most expensive and analyzed each option to help you choose the best option.   

Most guides with DC by Foot use the MARC train from Union Station option if we're not traveling with lots of luggage.

I have two young kids, so I usually just drive and park for my sanity, but if I didn't live here, I would have no problems taking the MARC train, even with kids.

They'd probably prefer it, to be honest.

Since you are coming to the nation’s capital, why not let us show you around with one of our walking tours and tell you about Things to Do in DC?

If you need to transfer from DCA Reagan Airport, take the Blue Line to the Metro Center station or the Yellow Line to Gallery Place station.

It usually takes about 1.5 - 2 hours to get from DCA National Airport to BWI using the Metro.

It is less common to need to transfer from Dulles to BWI, but you can take the Silver Line from Dulles Airport station to the Metro Center station.

Switch to the Red line to take it to Union Station. From Union Station, take either the MARC or an Amtrak to the BWI Thurgood Marshall train station.

Take the free shuttle from the station to the airport.

This takes 2 - 2.5 hours.

MY FAVORITE OPTION for Downtown DC from BWI: MARC and Amtrak trains

Though BWI is not as convenient as DCA/National Airport (Reagan), there are still many easy ways to travel from BWI into the city. 

Taking the train from BWI to downtown DC is probably the most popular public transportation option.

Both regional (Amtrak) trains and suburban commuter (MARC) trains to connect BWI to Union Station, DC.

From the BWI train station, the airport offers free and frequent shuttles to get to the terminal.

The shuttles run 24/7 at 6-minute intervals (except 1 am-5 am when it is 25 minutes)

The Amtrak station is called BWI-Thurgood Marshall. 


MARC is an easy and efficient way to travel between Baltimore and DC. Many use the Penn Line for transport to and from BWI airport.

  • Trains depart from Union Station and make four additional stops before arriving at BWI.
  • The total length of the journey from DC to BWI is approximately 35 minutes.
  • Weekday trains run very frequently as so many commuters utilize the Penn Line.
    • The first train departs from BWI at 4:40 am, and the first from Union Station departs at 5:50.
    • Trains run every 20 minutes during rush hour and then every hour during the rest of the day until 9:30 and 10:30 pm, when the last trains depart from BWI and Union Station, respectively.
  • Saturday trains run between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. and depart every hour during rush hour and every few hours throughout midday.
  • Sunday trains run even more infrequently, with only six departures from BWI or Union Station throughout the day. 

One-way fares cost just $8 each way (as of April 2024) and can be purchased from Amtrak Quik-Trak ticket vending machines or the ticket office.

Passengers may also purchase tickets on the train with cash only from the conductor; however, a $5 surcharge is added to the ticket price. 

Note that the conductor does not accept bills larger than $20.

The easiest way to get a ticket to the MARC train is by using the CharmPass App.

This will work on MARC trains but not Amtrak (more details on Amtrak below).

Download from the Apple Store
Download from Google Play

The weekday (Monday- Friday) schedule is below.

Since this is a commuter train, there are fewer trains on weekends, but you can click on the image to get the exact up-to-date timetable for your date of travel.

Click this image for the official schedule page.

Pros: Quick, efficient, and affordable.

The MARC is highly reliable and cheap as long as tickets are purchased at the station before boarding the train. 

Cons: Weekend trains run somewhat irregularly, especially on Sundays.

Sometimes, passengers have to wait several hours before the next train departs. Also, there is no late-night service. 

Amtrak Train

Amtrak also has a train from the BWI Airport-Marshall Rail Station to Union Station in DC.

Free shuttle service is provided between the airport and the BWI Rail Station.

The cost of an Amtrak train ticket from BWI to Union Station varies depending on your travel time, but expect to pay between $15 - $45 for a one-way ticket.

Tickets purchased at the last minute or during rush hour are typically much more expensive. 

Passengers can also choose between 3 different types of tickets: Saver, Value, and Flexible.

  • The cheapest option, Saver, is non-refundable and does not recognize discounts for students, senior citizens, or AAA members.
  • Value tickets allow refunds in certain situations and do recognize all discount programs.
  • Flexible is 100% refundable and also recognizes discount programs.

The journey on Amtrak takes 21-27 minutes, making it the fastest way for guests to travel between BWI and Union Station.

Trains depart every 10 - 60 minutes, depending on the time of day. The first train departs at 3 a.m., while the last departs at 10 p.m. 

Some Amtrak trains do not allow passengers to bring any checked bags, so check baggage allowance according to your needs. 

Visit the Amtrak website to book tickets in advance! 

Pros: Speedy and efficient service. Amtrak is the quickest transportation service between BWI and Washington, DC. 

Cons: Though reasonably priced Amtrak tickets can be found, this is often one of the more expensive ways to travel. 

Metro Trains between DC and BWI Airport

The Metro is Washington DC's subway system, and it's the most convenient way to get around the city.

While there is no direct connection from BWI to/from DC via the Metro, it's not hard to access some Metro stations from the airport if you're willing to transfer.

The MARC train discussed above can connect you to the DC Metro system via two stations.

DC Metro Map BWI Connections

New Carrollton Station

If you're looking to access an Orange Line station, you can take the MARC train to New Carrollton Metro Station (Orange Line).

This is the easternmost station, actually in Maryland.

It's an easy transfer from the MARC train to the Metro train at New Carrollton.

You can take the Orange Line to Metro Center, L'Enfant Plaza, Rosslyn.

Union Station

MARC trains will also get you to Union Station on the Red Line in downtown DC.

From Union Station, you can access much of the downtown area, hop on the Circulator, get on a tour right away with a hop-on hop-off bus, or grab a taxi.

Taking a Metro Bus from DC to BWI

The closest Metro station to BWI is Greenbelt on the Green Line, and there used to be a MetroBus that connected to BWI.

Unfortunately, the B30 (BWI Express) is no longer operating.


One thing to remember when using the Metro is that it can get crowded during peak times, especially during rush hour.

If you have large bags, you should be prepared to navigate stairs and escalators, as some stations don't have elevators.

Another thing to consider is that the Metro can be affected by track work or delays, so it's always a good idea to check the Metro's Twitter account before you travel.

GO Airport Shuttle

This company offers 24/7 airport pick up and drop off with private cars and shared vans – you can even get a limousine!

With upfront pricing, you’ll know how much your trip will be when you book. You can also request a car seat or a kennel.

Pros: Door-to-door service. This is a good choice for those with luggage or who want direct service for a lower cost.

It also offers a car seat or kennel if you are traveling with children and pets. You can also choose to tip in advance when reserving.

Cons: This can take a lot of time, depending on traffic and how many others in the van get dropped off before you.


If traveling with a group or large family, the SuperShuttle may be the most accessible and affordable option.

Guests can choose between a shared-ride van, which is the cheapest option, and a non-stop van, which is slightly more expensive.

Transportation between BWI Airport and Washington, D.C.

Also on offer are ExecuCars, an SUV meet-and-greet service that operates as a luxury door-to-door transportation option.

Rates vary immensely depending on your destination and type of SuperShuttle service.

Those traveling as a family or group receive a discounted rate compared to those traveling alone.

For a complete list of their prices, please see their website.

Though the ease of a door-to-door shuttle service is appealing, always consider the time you will be traveling, as trips taken during rush hour can take well over an hour.

SuperShuttle shared van rides are not currently available to book, but other shuttle services are listed on their website (as of January 2022). 

Pros: This is an easy travel option ideal for larger families or those with young children who do not wish to use public transportation. 

Cons: This is a very expensive alternative for those traveling alone or as a couple. The shared-ride SuperShuttle can take a very long time, especially during rush hour. 

BWI to DC Airport Taxi / Uber / Lyft

Hiring a taxi from the airport straight into the DC is also possible. Taxis are available 24/7 and are located just outside baggage claim.

The estimated cost for a trip to downtown DC is $90, though rates vary.

Uber/Lyft taken without any added surcharge fees usually cost between $41-$55, though the price can increase during rush hour.

Though personal taxis might seem like one of the quickest ways to travel between Washington, DC, and BWI, the length of the journey very much depends on the time of day.

Taxis that operate during rush hour can take significantly longer than other transportation services. 

Uber/Lyft and other app-based ride services pick up at the terminal curbs on the Upper Level/Departures. 

Pros: Door-to-door transportation. It is straightforward, especially for families—24/7 availability. 

Cons: Expensive for single travelers and can take more than an hour if traveling during peak times. 


If you want peace of mind that you will be picked up from the airport on time and taken to your destination promptly, DCAcar car service is an excellent choice.

You can make the reservation beforehand, and give the company your flight information so they know whether you’ll be early or late.

At BWI, your driver will meet you at baggage claim and help you with your luggage. You can get a rate estimation and book with this highly-rated car service company here.

Pros: Luxury personalized service

Cons: Costly - but DCByFoot guests get a 5% discount using the promo code: dcbyfoot.

Rental Cars

Finally, visitors can also travel between BWI and DC via a rental car service.

You should consider other options if you only require a car for transportation to and from the airport.

However, this is an easy way to get to the airport for those already planning to rent a car during their visit to DC. 

Of course, prices vary immensely depending on the length of rental, the company, and the quality of the vehicle.

Guests should also factor in the cost of fuel, which can dramatically increase the cost of renting a car. 

As is the case with guests using taxis or the SuperShuttle, those who rent a car should always consider the time they will be traveling between BWI and DC as traffic can get very congested during rush hour.

Pros: Freedom to travel at any time and directly to/from your destination. 

Cons: This is the most expensive option and the only one that visitors should consider if they want a rental car for other purposes. 

Parking at BWI

Since I'm local and have a car, I often just park at BWI Airport if I'm taking a short trip.

The drive from downtown DC to BWI is easy, but how long it takes can really depend on the time of day.

Rush hour traffic heads southbound in the morning and northbound in the evening, so try to avoid arriving at BWI in the morning and avoid departing in the evening.

On average, the drive from downtown DC is about 45 minutes outside of major traffic.

The easiest route is to get on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (accessible via Hwy 50 / New York Ave NE in NE DC) which is nearly a straight shot to the airport.

The route is well-signed, and don't worry if you start to see signs about tolls/bridges/tunnels in Baltimore; you'll exit before you get to those.

There are five different parking options at BWI:

Free shuttles from Daily, Express, and Long Term run every 10-15 minutes, though delays are possible to plan for longer shuttle times to be safe.

You cannot reserve spots in advance for the official BWI parking lots, but if you want to park off-site, places like SpotHero have agreements for covered and uncovered spots at nearby hotels. Many of these also offer free shuttles.

Tips from Locals and Travelers

Because our Facebook Group is dedicated to visitors but also has so many locals, we get a lot of advice about getting to and from Washington DC from BWI.

Many visitors are concerned about how easy it might be to get to downtown from the airport.

Luckily, lots of advice in our group to to ease concerns.

Some guests even give step by step instructions on how to get from BWI to Downtown DC via train.

Waiting to purchase timed train tickets is a smart idea.

Since it's more expensive to purchase tickets on the train itself (and that option is cash only), you may want to download the CharmCity app to purchase tickets on your phone at the station.

You can also purchase tickets at the station's vending machine.

If you arrive later than the scheduled trains, you won't be stranded at the airport.

Late arrivals have the option of rideshares or taxis.

About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Follow On Instagram | I'm a historian & tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. I have written for HuffPost Travel and have been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. I've also been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. I am the producer of the podcast, Tour Guide Tell All. I am an authority on D.C. history, and have led tours in the city since 2011. I currently resides in DC, but have also lived in London and South Korea, and have traveled to over 28 countries and every US State but Hawaii. I homeschool my 2 children by exploring the plethora of museums in DC. Read More...
Updated: April 21st, 2024
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