The Washington DC metro area has two airports (three if you count Baltimore-Washington / BWI). Washington National Airport (DCA) is in northern Virginia directly on the Potomac river across from Washington DC. Dulles International Airport (IAD) is also in northern Virginia, but much further west in the far western exurbs. I have flown in and out of both DCA and IAD, such as on a trip to Machu Picchu Peru. where we had to travel from DCA to IAD.
How to get from DCA to IAD – car, taxi or Uber
You can get from DCA to IAD by taxi or Uber of course, but depending on traffic, you’re going to be either paying an arm and a leg… or TWO arms and TWO legs :-). How far is it from DCA to IAD? About 28 miles – see map below
It will take you about 45-60 minutes if there’s no traffic (and there’s almost NEVER no traffic). How much will it cost to get from DCA to IAD? A taxi will run you $75-100, and Uber will cost anywhere from $50 to $75 (depending on traffic and surge pricing.
(SEE ALSO: What is going on with Uber?)
If you do want to take a taxi, you can generally get better rates if you book it through a service like Carmel Limo — plus you can save $4 off using this link.
There are a variety of airport shuttles as well which will cost about the same amount to get from downtown Washington DC to Dulles Airport. You can check out GO Airport Shuttle, and use coupon code GOWEB to save $5 off your ride anywhere between IAD, DCA, BWI and points downtown.
The cheapest and best way to get from DCA or downtown Washington to IAD
My preferred way to get from DCA to IAD and what I think is the best way to get from DCA to IAD is taking public transport. Washington DC has a fairly robust transit system (Metro) and both Dulles Airport and Washington National / DCA are directly accessible from the Metro. Washington National is on the blue or yellow line, while Dulles Airport is on the Silver Line (see map below)
When I first traveled between DCA and IAD back in 2017 the Silver Line did not go all the way to Dulles but thankfully it now does. So going from DCA to IAD or from Washington DC to IAD airport can be done fairly easily and inexpensively using the Metro.
Using the Silver Line to get from Washington DC to Dulles Airport
Up until a few years ago, the Silver Line ended at the Wiehle-Reston East stop. However now the Silver Line extends out to Dulles Airport (and a few stops further), which makes it super easy to use the Silver line to get from Washington DC, DCA or anywhere in the area to Dulles Airport. You’ll connect on the Metro to the Silver Line however it is most convenient, depending on where you’re coming from. If you’re going from DCA to IAD on the Metro, you should take the blue line from National Airport to Rosslyn, then switch to an Ashburn-bound Silver Line train.
You’ll get off at the Washington Dulles airport metro station, and it is about a 5-10 minute walk from the Dulles Airport Metro station to the main part of the airport
Cost varies on where and when you’re coming from, but should be between $2 and $6. My off-peak ticket from the Smithsonian station to Dulles Airport on the metro cost $3.85.
The Bottom Line
The total trip from DCA to IAD should take you about 60-70 minutes, including the transfer at Rosslyn. If you’re traveling off-peak with no traffic, a car ride will definitely take less time, but if you’re traveling during rush hour or peak travel times, taking the Silver Line is likely to be SIGNIFICANTLY faster (and cheaper!) to get from Washington DC to IAD.
Readers – any other tips on how to get from DCA or Washington DC to IAD?
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I’ve used Metro to IAD a few times now from my neighborhood station Eastern Market on the Silver line. It takes over an hour but no traffic snarls and I feel safer! I love the view of the Terminal from the Metro Station. If you are able the walk to the Terminal can be mostly above ground through the surface parking lots so more views of the Terminal
If you have a 6:30 am flight out of IAD and you need to be at the airport at least an hour or two before flight time, you cannot take the Silver Line because it doesn’t run 24 hours from any DC, MD or VA location