Best Washington, D.C. Airports

Written by Local Washington, D.C. Residents

Here are quick answers to common questions around flying into Washington, D.C. My wife and I have been offering advice on the best airports in Washington, D.C. for years. We can help you weigh the pros and cons of utilizing DCA, BWI, or Dulles International airport. Find out what airport in the greater Washington, D.C. area is best for you.


DCA vs. BWI vs. Dulles

Generally speaking when you compare Reagan National (DCA) vs. Dulles vs. BWI most travelers will prefer to flying into DCA because it is the closest to the National Mall, Arlington, and downtown Washington, D.C. Often travelers will find that flying into Washington, D.C. through Dulles or BWI is cheaper. If you’re flying to either of those airports keep in mind it will take on average an hour to get into Washington, D.C.

How Many Airports are Near Washington, D.C.?

There are three airports close to Washington, D.C. Its common for travelers to utilize DCA, Dulles and BWI when flying into Washington, D.C. Dulles and BWI are in the greater Washington, D.C. area and take about an hour to commute into downtown D.C.

What is the Closest Airport to Washington, D.C.?

The closest airport is DCA, also called Reagan National Airport. It is a 20 minute ride on the Metro from DCA to downtown or the National Mall. Without traffic driving to downtown from DCA is about 20 minutes.

What is the Main Airport in Washington, D.C?

Most travelers will consider DCA to be the primary airport around Washington, D.C.. Dulles will be connected with the Metro in the near future, but is easily accessible to Washington, D.C. by bus. Dulles would be considered the secondary airport. BWI is primarily Baltimore’s airport.

Where Are D.C. Airports Located?

DCA is located in Arlington, VA just across the river form downtown D.C. BWI is located 45 minutes north of Washington, D.C. and connected to D.C. by the MARC. Dulles is in the western suburbs of D.C. in Virginia.

Best D.C. Airport

best_washington_dc_airports

What is the Best Washington, D.C. Airport?

DCA is the best airport for flying into Washington, D.C. assuming plane tickets are equal at all three airports. If you’re staying in Northeastern D.C. suburbs flying into Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) is more convenient. For travelers who will be staying in western Virginia suburbs Dulles International Airport (IAD) is the best option.

What Airport is Closest to the National Mall?

Reagan National Airport is closest to the National Mall. It is a 20 minute commute from the National Mall to DCA, and it takes about 20 minutes to drive.

Which Airports Fly Internationally?

BWI and Dulles offer and receive international flights. Reagan National Airport, due to its short runway size, only offers domestic flights and flights to Canada and the Caribbean.

What Airport is Closest to Downtown?

Reagan National Airport is the closest airport to downtown Washington, D.C.. It is a 20 minute ride on the Metro to downtown D.C. from DCA. Without traffic it would take about 20 minutes to drive.

What Airport is Closest to the White House?

Reagan National Airport is the closest airport to the White House. It is a 20 minute ride on the Metro to the White House. Without traffic it would take about 25 minutes to drive.

What Airport is Closest to Arlington, VA?

Reagan National Airport is the closest airport Arlington, VA. The airport is located in Arlington, VA. The Pentagon is 2 Metro stops away from DCA and only 10 minutes via a cab or car.

Where to Stay in D.C. Quiz

Metro from the Airports

metro_to_washington_dc

Does the Metro connect with the D.C. Airport?

Reagan National Airport connects directly with the Metro. Dulles will have a Metro station that connects directly with the terminal in 2019. For now Dulles is connected via the Silverline connector bus. This is a bus that runs continuously between the Reston Metro station and Dulles airport. BWI does not connect with the Metro system.

How Long Does It Take to Get from DCA to D.C.

On the Metro it only takes about 20 minutes to get to either downtown Washington, D.C. or the National Mall.

What Airports Connect with the Metro?

DCA directly connects with the Metro. Dulles will directly connect in 2019.

DCA, Reagan National

washington_reagan_national_airport_dca
What is DCA?

DCA is Reagan National Airport, and that is the closest airport to Washington, D.C.

Where is DCA located?

Reagan National Airport is located in Arlington, VA across the river from Washington, D.C.

DCA to Downtown D.C.?

The best way to get from Washington, D.C. to DCA is to utilize the Metro. This will take about 20 minutes.

Dulles to Washington, D.C.

dulles_airport_washington_dc_iad

Express Bus from Dulles to Washington D.C.

The 5A express bus route connects Dulles with Rosslyn and L’Enfant Plaza on the National Mall. The bus is the best option to get from Dulles to Washington, D.C. Depending on the traffic anticipate spending between 30 to 45 minutes on the bus to get to either Rosslyn or L’Enfant.

How to Get from Dulles to the D.C. Metro?

Dulles will have a Metro station that connects directly with the terminal in 2019. For now Dulles is connected to the Metro via the Silver Line connector bus. This is a bus that runs continuously between the Reston Metro station and Dulles airport.

What is IAD?

IAD is Dulles airport located about 45 minutes outside D.C. in Virginia.

How to Get from Dulles to Washington, D.C.

The best way to get from Dulles to Washington, D.C. is to use the 5A express bus routes. The Metro will directly connect with Dulles in 2019.

BWI to Washington, D.C.

baltimore_airport_bwi
What is BWI?

BWI stands for the Baltimore Washington, D.C. airport. But, it is primarily used as Baltimore’s airport.

Where is BWI located?

BWI is located 45 minutes northeast of Washington, D.C. off I-95 and along the MARC train system.

How to Get from BWI to Washington, D.C.?

marc_train_to_washington_dc_from_bwi

You can get from Downtown D.C. to BWI by using the MARC. The most efficient method to get from BWI to D.C. is by taking the MARC commuter train into Union Station. This method is affordable and allows you to avoid much of the DC traffic. Another option is to take the Metrobus from BWI to Greenbelt metro station, and then take the Metro to Downtown DC. Anticipate spending at least one and a half hours to commute from the BWI airport into downtown DC.

Train from BWI to Washington, D.C.

The MARC train connects BWI and Washington, D.C. the MARC doesn’t connect directly with the terminal, but a shuttle will transfer you from the BWI terminal to the MARC station. From that point forward you can use the MARC to ride into downtown Washington, D.C. at Union Station, or get off at New Carrollton.

Express Bus from BWI to Washington, D.C.

There are two express bus routes that connect BWI to Washington, DC. These two routes are the 201 which connects the BWI terminal with the Shady Grove D.C. Metro station. The bus ride will take in a little under and hour without traffic. The B30 connects to the Greenbelt DC Metro station within 30 minutes (no traffic).

Additional D.C. Airport Tips

airport_guide_flying_into_washington_dc

When is the best time to fly into D.C. to avoid traffic?

The heaviest traffic is typically from 7am-9am and 4pm-7pm, so I suggest trying to get a flight that arrives between 11am-2pm to avoid the most traffic. Although flying in late is an option, travelers should be aware that the metro stops running at midnight, which could make the travel in difficult.

What is the best Airport in Washington, D.C. for Families with Kids?

The best airport for flying into Washington, D.C. for families with kids will be DCA because it offers the most nearby hotel options that have a shuttle from the Airport. It is also the closest hotel to the Washington, D.C.