Category: Washington DC

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Washington DC in one day

Washington DC in one day: explore the city

Seeing Washington DC in one day is a mission impossible. The capital of the United States of America holds many attractions and museums of national importance.

However, if you have a long layover and want to visit some monuments or museums, here are our suggestions!

Washington DC in one day | From Washington Airport to the City Center

The American Capital City is perfect for a day trip or a quick experience during a long layover.

So, if you have just landed at Washington Dulles International Airport, you might want to know how to reach downtown.

According to our favorite search engine, the fastest way to get from the airport to Washington city center is by cab or private airport shuttle. With these two options, you’ll reach Downtown in 40 minutes (it’ll take longer during rush hour).

Traveling on a budget, the cheapest way is the Silver Line Metro train from Dulles to D.C.

Now let’s see how to move to the City Center if you arrive at another airport.

From Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to the City Center

If you’re at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, you’re lucky, as this is the closest and most convenient airport to downtown.

Located about four miles south, Ronald Reagan Airport has good access to the Metro line and several other connections.

  • Taxi– A good solution to get to the city is by taxi. The ride lasts 10 minutes and costs between $15-20. This option is fast and less expensive, especially if you’re traveling with a lot of luggage. Alternatively, you can book an Uber or Lyft.
  • Metro Rail System -The cheapest way to get to the city from the airport is by subway. You can take the Blue or Yellow Line and get to DC by paying only a base fare ranging from $1.85 to $3.60, depending on your destination.
    Metro service runs Monday through Thursday from 5 am to 11:30 pm, and 5 am to 1 am on Fridays. Saturday 7am – 1am. Sunday :8am – 11pm.
  • Go Airport Shuttle – If you’re looking for a convenient 24/7 service, you can use private and shared vans. The duration of the journey depends on the traffic, and you can also add child seats or kennels for your pets to your booking.

From Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to the City Center

This is the farthest airport from D.C. because it’s located about 30 miles from DC. Despite this, it’s the busiest airport in the area. Here’s how to get to downtown D.C.:


You can take the AMTRAK regional service and the MARC suburban commuter service.

You’ll find the free shuttle from the BWI train station to the terminal at the airport at regular 6-minute intervals (every 25 minutes between 1 and 5 am).

The MARC ride takes about 35 minutes and costs about $7 per person if purchased at the station. If you buy the ticket on board, you’ll pay $5 more.

With AMTRAK, the trip takes about 20 to 30 minutes and is more expensive. The ticket’s cost depends on the length of the journey and can be between 15 – USD for a one-way ticket.

How to get around with public transport

visit DC: discover the US capital city

Speaking of public transport, in Washington D.C., you’ll find a wide range of options. Besides, you can book a guided sightseeing tour to explore the city’s top-rated attractions in a few hours.

Instead, you can use public transport if you want to move to specific landmarks, such as the Capitol Building, the National Mall, or the Lincoln Memorial.


We want to talk to you first about the greenest way to get around Washington D.C. As in all U.S. and World cities, Washington has many bike rental companies. Find the best ones here.


To get around within D.C., you can take advantage of an efficient and extensive bus system. However, getting around by bus during peak hours will be slow, so consider your time carefully.


The Washington Metro is a perfect choice if you want to get around quickly. Trains run from early morning to late at night.

D.C. Circulator

The DC Circulator is a bus to consider if you want to get from one neighborhood to another in the city. These buses run every 10 minutes and take you to the most famous landmarks. Also, On weekends, the D.C. Circulator runs around the National Mall.

Old Town Trolley

If you’re short on time and want to see the city’s main attractions from the outside, you can try a tour aboard the Old Town Trolley that covers more than 100 of the most significant sights, including historic sites, monuments, and memorials.

Visit Washington DC Downtown by foot.

A day’s stroll is a perfect way of seeing how the city’s topography and culture are evolving.

You’ll find plenty of guided walking tours and even digital guides to get around independently in the city.

We recommend GPSmyCity, an all-online platform that allows you to find detailed tour maps, photos, and background information for featured attractions.

However, if you prefer to join a tour with groups to meet locals and make friends, we recommend one of the classic free walking tours.

View Washington DC Walking tour map.

Washington DC in a day | Top-rated attractions

statues in dc: tourism

The Washington State Capitol

Majestic Washington State Capitol or Legislative Building is the home of the Washington state government.

On the campus were installed 18 monuments, such as the Winged Victory, one of the most important commemorating the First World War.

There is also a replica of the Tivoli Fountain in Copenhagen’s Tivoli Park and other memorials, including World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

Find out how to visit the Washington State Capitol or tour it by bike with the Washington DC one day pass.

The White House

Even if you’ve never been to D.C., the White House is a building you’ve undoubtedly seen so many times on TV or in the newspapers.

Indeed, the best way to spend 1 day in Washington DC is to visit this place.

As you know, the White House is the official residence and workplace of the president. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., it has been the home of every U.S. president since 1800.

The building has a neoclassical style and was designed by Irish architect James Hoban who modeled it after the Leinster House in Dublin.

If you’re touring in D.C., you cannot forget to drop by this place!

National Gallery of Art

Another good way to spend one day in Washington DC is to visit the fabulous National Gallery of Art.

Located on Constitution Ave, it boasts a reputation as one of the most important museums globally.

It houses some 141,000 paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculptures, decorative arts, and new media showing the development of Western art from the Middle Ages to the present.

Both admissions to the National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden are free of charge.

Opening hours: daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Closed on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Lincoln Memorial

Your perfect day in Washington DC cannot be complete if you don’t see the famous Lincoln Memorial located on the western end of the National Mall.

The Lincoln Memorial is of great importance to the U.S. as it was built to honor the 16th president: Abraham Lincoln. It’s shaped like a neoclassical temple and houses a giant sculpture of the president.

Since the 1930s, it has been a symbolic place focused on race relations. It was here that Martin Luther King Jr’s famous I Have a Dream speech (1963) took place.

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is worth visiting if you like American history and sacred sites.

Buried in this military cemetery are all those who died in the nation’s conflicts since the Civil War.

The cemetery is located in Arlington County, across from the Potomac River and not far from Washington, DC. It’s a very touching place that deserves to be visited.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Another place your day trip to Washington DC cannot exclude is the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial located in West Potomac Park next to the National Mall.

This site covers four acres and is home to the Stone of Hope, a granite statue dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr, the Civil Rights Movement leader assassinated in Memphis in 1968.

This memorial was opened to the public in 2011 and is the first memorial to honor a black man. The site was designed as an eternal tribute to Dr. King’s legacy and will forever stand as a symbol of freedom, opportunity, and justice.

Historic Georgetown

Founded as a tobacco port town in Maryland, Georgetown was originally home to the Washington Flour Mill, a lumber yard, and a cement plant.

In 1967, Georgetown was designated as a National Historic Landmark.

Canal Towpath is a famous urban oasis for sports and walking enthusiasts.

The Smithsonian Institution

Undoubtedly, one day tour of Washington DC isn’t enough to discover all the museums of this institution, but you can choose the one you like best.

The Smithsonian is the largest museum, education, and research hub globally. It includes:

  • National Museum of African American History and CultureAddress: 14th St. and Constitution Avenue NW; opening hours*: 10:00 am — 5:30 pm daily, closed: Xmas.
  • National Air and Space MuseumAddress: Independence Avenue, 6th Street SW; opening hours* – 10:00 am — 5:30 pm daily, closed: Xmas.
  • National Museum of African ArtAddress: 950 Independence Avenue SW; opening hours*: 10:00 am — 5:30 pm daily, closed: Xmas.
  • Smithsonian American Art MuseumAddress: 8th Street, F Street NW; opening hours*: 11:30 am — 7:00 pm daily, closed: December 25.
  • National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy CenterAddress: 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly, Virginia; opening hours*: 10:00 am — 5:30 pm daily, closed: Xmas.
  • National Museum of American History Address: 1300 Constitution Avenue NW; opening hours*: 10:00 am — 5:30 pm daily, closed: Xmas.
  • Smithsonian American Art MuseumAddress: 1661 Pennsylvania Avenue NW; opening hours*: 10:00 am-5:30 pm daily, closed: Xmas.

Other Smithsonian museums

  • National Museum of the American IndianAddress: 4th Street, Independence Avenue SW; opening hours*: 10:00 am — 5:30 pm daily, closed: Xmas.
  • Anacostia Community MuseumAddress: 1901 Fort Place SE; opening hours*: 10:00 am — 5:00 pm daily, closed: Xmas.
  • Freer Gallery of Art – Address: Jefferson Drive, 12th Street SW; opening hours*: 10:00 am — 5:30 pm daily, closed: Xmas.
  • Arts and Industries Building – Address: 900 Jefferson Drive SW; opening hours: closed for renovation.
  • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture GardenAddress: Independence Avenue, 7th Street SW; opening hours*: Museum 10:00 am — 5:30 pm daily; Sculpture Garden 7:30 am — dusk; closed: Xmas.
  • National Portrait Gallery – Address: 8th Street and F. Street NW; opening hours*: 11:30 am — 7:00 pm daily, closed: Xmas.
  • National Museum of Natural History – Address: 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW; opening hours*: 10:00 am — 5:30 pm daily, closed: Xmas.
  • National Postal MuseumAddress: 2 Massachusetts Avenue NE; opening hours*: 10:00 am — 5:30 pm daily, closed: Xmas.
  • The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art MuseumAddress: 1661 Pennsylvania Avenue NW; opening hours: 10:00 am-5:30 pm daily, closed: Xmas.
  • Arthur M. Sackler GalleryAddress: 1050 Independence Avenue SW; opening hours:10:00 a.m. — 5:30 pm daily, closed: Xmas.
  • Smithsonian Institution BuildingAddress: 1000 Jefferson Drive SW; opening hours: 8:30 am — 5:30 pm daily, closed: Xmas.

* Due to pandemics, opening hours may vary. Please, visit the official website to make sure the museum is open.

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