Transportation between Washington, D.C. and Dulles Airport

This post compares the different ways of reaching Washington, DC from Dulles Airport.

Though it’s not as convenient as DCA/National (Reagan) or Baltimore Washington (BWI) there are still many easy ways to travel from Dulles into the city.

We have ordered the options from cheapest to most expensive with some analysis of each option to help you choose which one is best for you. 

Since you are coming to the nation’s capital, try one of our pay-what-you-like tours and make sure you know the things to do in DC.


DC METRO BUS TO AND FROM DULLES

Metrobus offers service between Dulles Airport and downtown D.C on the 5A.

Prices:

  • SmartTrip cards and cash | $7.50
  • Seniors and people with disabilities: $3.75

This bus makes 3 stops:  

  • Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride (map): just 6 minutes by bus from the airport and used for regional suburban buses.
  • Rosslyn Metro Station stop (map): the best stop for hotels in Arlington and Alexandria VA as well as Georgetown
  • L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station, 7th St. and D St, SW (map): downtown DC

 
DC Metro Bus 5A Dulles Airport
 

Bus departure times vary between every 30 minutes and every hour depending on the day.

The length of the trip is roughly 50 minutes unless you are traveling during rush hour, which could add 15-30 minutes to your trip.

The first bus from Dulles (weekdays) leaves at 5:50 am with the last bus leaving at 11:35 pm. On weekends, the first bus is 6:35 am and the last bus is 11:35 (Saturday) or 11:25 (Sunday).

If you are heading to Dulles Airport from downtown DC on weekdays, the first bus departs L’Enfant Plaza at 4:50 am before stopping at Rosslyn at 5:05 am. 

The last departure from L’Enfant Plaza is 10:30 pm with a stop at Rosslyn 15 minutes later.

On weekends, the first departure from L’Enfant Plaza is 5:30 am (both Saturday & Sunday) with a stop at Rosslyn 15 min later. The last weekend departure is 10:30 pm (Saturday) and 10:15 pm (Sunday).  

Check out DC Metro Bus’s official schedule for further details.

Pros: Cheapest mode of travel. No transfers needed to get to downtown DC.

Cons: Not the best choice during rush hour.

 


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DC METRO RAIL TO AND FROM DULLES (almost)

The Silver Line Metro will eventually extend all the way out to Dulles Airport, connecting Arlington, VA with downtown DC. Currently, the closest it gets as of writing is Wiehle-Reston East (map).  

The good news is that Wiehle-Reston East station is only a 10-minute bus ride from Dulles. Buses depart to and from the airport every 15-20 minutes and stop on the arrivals level at door 4.

From Wiehle-Reston East, you can take Metro Rail to anywhere in the city. 

The Silver Line makes stops in Tyson’s Corner, McLean, and several other Virginia suburban MetroRail stations before entering into downtown Washington DC.

However, because of the transfer, this may not be the best option if you have a lot of luggage.  

Be sure to read our post on how to ride MetroRail.

 

Silver Line to DC from Dulles Airport

 

The fare from the airport to the station is $5 per person and free for children under 2.

SmarTrip card is NOT accepted so you must purchase your ticket with a credit card or cash from the counter located inside Arrival Door 4 in the Terminal on the Baggage Claim Level.

The MetroRail fare from Wiehle-Reston East will cost up to an additional $5.90 to get to downtown DC, cheaper if you are stopping in Virginia.  

It takes approximately 45 minutes to get to downtown DC from Wiehle-Reston.  Expect to spend between 60 – 90 minutes traveling.

Pros: Low cost and isn’t affected by traffic, particularly during rush hour.

Cons: Not a great option if you have lots of luggage, as you will be transferring from the bus to rail (and possibly again between rail lines).

 


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SHUTTLE SERVICE TO AND FROM DULLES 

There are a number of companies offering van service from Dulles Airport to points in and around Washington, DC.

Most are shared services, so how long your journey will take will be dependent on the order of passenger destinations.  

Some offer direct service for an additional fee.


GO Airport Shuttle

GO Airport Shuttle 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.  Good choice for those with luggage or want direct service for a lower cost. Offers car seat or kennel if traveling with children and pets.

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

Super Shuttle Dulles Airport


Super Shuttle

Super Shuttle offers rides from airports around the world.

It’s difficult to say for sure what the fare will be, as it depends on where you are going to and how many people are in your party.  

On their website, fares into the city start at $19 for the first passenger and $10 for each additional passenger, so the total cost depends on the number in your party.

To get a better idea, you can use their fare estimator. They also offer direct express service (1-3 people) for $60. This is a private vehicle for you and your family.

Pros: Door to door service. Good choice for those with luggage or want direct service for a lower cost.

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

TIP: If you are alone, then you might consider Viator, which offers single passenger tickets for Super Shuttle for $25, but additional passengers have no discount.

 


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TAXIS, RIDE SHARES, AND CAR SERVICES TO AND FROM DULLES

Whether you prefer traditional taxi services or an Uber or Lyft ride, there are multiple car services you can find to and from the airport.


Taxis

Washington Flyer Taxi operates exclusively out of Dulles International Airport.

There are no reservations required and taxis are available 24/7 every day of the year.

Rates into the district are calculated by a meter, and you should expect to pay between $60 – $80 for most destinations in and around downtown DC, making this one of the more expensive options.

Their website has a map estimating fares in the area. Payment is easy as Washington Flyer Taxi accepts cash, credit cards, and airline vouchers.

To find the taxis, follow signs towards Ground Transportation to Doors 2 or 6, where you can find a representative 24 hours a day.

Pros: Fastest and most convenient.

Cons: One of the most expensive options (if you are traveling solo)

TIP: If you are traveling solo, ask other waiting taxi passengers to share a cab.


UBER / Lyft

Uber and Lyft are taxi alternatives which provide rides on demand through an app.

It’s cashless so the ride is automatically charged to the card on file in the app, which is convenient especially when you’re trying to wrangle luggage.

There are many options within the app, uberX is the basic option, but they also have uberXL if your group is large or you have many bags. UberBLACK which has high-end luxury sedans.

Generally, Uber works out cheaper than a taxi, uberX into the city is estimated to be between $35-$55 (you can check an estimate for your specific trip here).

For more information on Uber, you can see our post here.

Pros: Convenient app, different options to suit you

Cons: Not a good option at rush hour

TIP: Looking for a ride? Download the Lyft App and use Promo Code DCBFRIDES for $5 OFF your first ride with Lyft.


Car Service

If you are looking for peace of mind that you will be picked up from the airport on time and taken to your destination in a timely manner, DCAcar car service is an excellent choice.

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

At Dulles, your driver will meet you at baggage claim and help you with your luggage.

You can get a rate estimation and make a booking with this highly-rated car service company here.

Pros: Luxury personalized service

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

 


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RENTAL CARS

Most of the major car rental companies operate out of Dulles Airport.

This is a great option if you are traveling with children who require car seats, which can make using taxis or public transport challenging.

It also gives you the freedom to visit many sites around DC which are a little more difficult to reach by public transport, such as George Washington’s Mount Vernon (see our guide to Mount Vernon here), or even a day trip to Gettysburg.

You can use rentalcars.com to compare prices.

Pros: Gives you freedom in your trip, great if you have young children

Cons: Navigation and parking can be difficult and expensive in downtown DC

 


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LAYOVERS AT DULLES

Since Dulles is not as convenient to Washington DC as DCA, you’ll need a pretty long layover to make it worth your while to come into DC.

Even if you take the fastest form of transport, you should still budget an hour to and from downtown DC from Dulles, potentially more if during rush hour, plus time to check back in.

 

 

 

If you’re short on time, the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum has an annex called Udvar-Hazy just outside the airport. It is one of our favorite museums!

Read more about what to do and how to get there.

If you have a good chunk of time, check out our DC in Day post about how to get the most out of your visit.

 


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About the author

Canden is a historian and tour guide in Washington DC with 3 published books about the city. She has written for HuffPost Travel and has been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. She's also been interviewed by the Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the host of our podcast, Tour Guide Tell All

With a M.A. in History from University College London and a B.A. in History from Elon University, she is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city for over 10 years. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has travelled to 25 countries. Her two children (both under the age of 3) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts.