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On my recent trip to Machu Picchu Peru, our longhaul flights to Lima both departed and returned from Washington DC (Dulles / IAD).  On our way TO Peru, our connecting flight from Cleveland to Washington was on United and flew into Dulles as well, so there was no problem connecting to our LAN flight to Lima (other than the 5 hour delay!).  On the way back from Peru, our connecting flight back to Cleveland was on American Airlines and departed from Washington National Airport (DCA), so we needed to know how to get from IAD to DCA.

How to get from IAD to DCA – car, taxi or Uber

You can get from IAD to DCA 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 IAD to DCA?  About 28 miles – see map below

a map with a blue circle

Map copyright OpenStreetMap contributors

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 IAD to DCA?  A taxi will run you $75-100, and Uber will cost anywhere from $50 to $75 (depending on traffic and surge pricing.

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.Invalid request error occurred.

There are a variety of airport shuttles as well which will cost about the same amount to get from Dulles to Washington DC.  You can check out GO Airport ShuttleInvalid request error occurred., 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 IAD to DCA (or downtown Washington)

My preferred way to get from IAD to DCA and what I think is the best way to get from IAD to DCA 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 on either the blue or yellow line (see map below)

a map of a subway system

When I first wrote this guide back in 2017 the Silver Line did not go all the way to Dulles but thankfully it now does. So going from IAD to DCA or from IAD to Washington DC can be done fairly easily and inexpensively using the Metro.

Using the Silver Line to get from Dulles to Washington DC

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 Dulles Airport to Washington DC, DCA or anywhere in the area.

After you head towards baggage claim, just follow the signs for the Metro station

a blue sign on a concrete wall

It is about a 10 minute walk out to the Dulles Airport Metro station.

a glass doors of a subway station

Cost varies on where and when you’re going, but should be between $2 and $6. My off-peak ticket to the Smithsonian station cost $3.85. When you get up to the train platform for the Silver Line from IAD to DCA or from Dulles Airport to Washington DC, you’ll want to get on the “Largo Town Center” side to head into Washington DC. Then at Rosslyn, you’ll transfer over to the Blue Line if you’re heading to DCA. If you’re just heading into Washington, you can take whichever stop is most convenient for you. For us, going to the Washington Monument, we stayed on the Silver Line and got off at the Smithsonian station.

an escalator and a sign in a station

The Bottom Line

The total trip from IAD to DCA should take you about 50 minutes.  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 IAD to Washington DC

Readers – any other tips on how to get from IAD to DCA or Washington DC? 

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