One of the most confusing things for people to plan when they visit Washington DC is how to get from DC to Baltimore. It may seem simple to locals, but if you don’t understand your transportation options, you don’t know that, although Baltimore is only a 35-45 minute drive from Washington DC, if you don’t have a car, you will need to do a bit of planning to get you up to Charm City.
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What is the distance between DC to Baltimore?
There are just 40 miles that separate DC from Baltimore, with a variety of ways to get between the two mid-Atlantic cities. Without traffic, you can be in Baltimore in 45 minutes. With traffic, you are looking at over an hour or hour and a half sitting on I-95 or the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.
When’s the best time to travel to Baltimore?
Weekends see the least amount of traffic, as long as there isn’t a sports game. Rush hour is naturally the peek time to travel and have traffic. The middle of the day can be the easiest and fastest time to drive into Baltimore.
Trains are the opposite… sort of. Saturdays will be busy, while Sundays are quieter. Midday is quiet, but mornings and early evening are packed with commuters. When you are traveling between DC to Baltimore, just use your smarts. If you don’t have to travel during peek hours, don’t.
Driving from DC to Baltimore
Driving is quite possibly the easiest and fastest way to make the trip to Baltimore from DC. It is a straight shot out of the city up 16th Street NW to the Capital Beltway and east to I-95.
If you have a GPS or Google Maps on your Smartphone, use it. Getting out of Washington, DC can be painful if you don’t understand the quadrant layout.
Hate tolls? Us too! When you get off before the Baltimore Tunnel, you don’t have to worry about them. To avoid that pricey Baltimore Tunnel toll, get off at Exit 53 for Interstate 395N towards Downtown/Inner Harbor.
Pay close attention to your GPS as you navigate the Baltimore streets. You will be going right to immediately go left in some spots, depending on your destination. The Inner Harbor can get very confusing just past Camden Yards. Stay alert.
Need a rental car? Get the best price here.
Departing from Union Station
Most alternatives to driving will depart from Union Station and arrive at Penn Station in Baltimore. You can take an Uber, Lyft, bus or taxi to Union Station. You can also park at Union Station, but that will be extra money you might not need to spend (kind of like parking at the airport).
Parking rates at Union Station vary depending on how long you will be parking your car. Obviously, the longer you park, the less hourly rate you will pay. If you stay for three days, you can plan on paying at least $72.
Like most large city train stations, there are plenty of food options to grab a bite before your train or bus. Buy a hot beverage at the Starbucks inside, sandwiches at a handful of shops, or simply relax in one of the waiting areas.
Amtrak DC to Baltimore
There are several Amtrak trains departing from Washington, DC to Baltimore, MD. The Amtrak Northeast Regional is a few minutes slower, but by far the cheaper option over the Acela line.
I always do a search when we are traveling between the two cities, and the cost for Northeast Regional tickets versus the Acela Express arrival time usually out weighs anything else.
Amtrak Northeast Regional
The Amtrak Northeast Regional Train runs Washington DC to Baltimore several times per day, never leaving you stranded when you need to hop between cities. One-way tickets can be as low as $15, which gets you a seat on a specific timed train with Wi-Fi and outlets onboard. Quiet cars are included on most trains if you have to get a little work done.
Trains leave from Washington DC Union Station and arrive at Baltimore Penn Station within 40 minutes of departing.
Train station locations
- Union Station (DC): 50 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002
- Penn Station (Baltimore): 1500 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21202
Check the schedule and buy your train tickets here
Amtrak Acela Express
The Amtrak Acela Express line also stops in Baltimore, and can get you there just a little bit faster, sometimes in as little as 30 minutes. It will cost you more, and we don’t find it to be worth the extra price just to save a few minutes that aren’t guaranteed. Unless you want to avoid extra stops, take the Northeast Regional train.
If you want to take the regional train, you are looking for the MARC Penn-Washington Route. MARC has three different lines, so make sure you get on the correct one. Your ticket will be from Union Station Marc Washington to Penn Station Marc Sb. There are five stops between DC and Baltimore, and the trip will take you about an hour. A one-way ticket costs under $10. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about traffic on the rails, like you do on a bus.
- Union Station (DC): 50 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002 (Mass. Ave. and First St. N.E.)
- Penn Station (Baltimore): 1500 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21202
NOTE: The MARC train runs on a modified schedule on weekends
The DC Metro, the city’s public transportation, does not go all the way up to Baltimore. You can take the Metro to Union station to catch Amtrak, but that is the best the Metro will do for you.
DC to Baltimore Bus Service
The Greyhound is an easy option that leaves about every 20 minutes from the Greyhound Bus Station at Union Station in Washington DC. There are 28 buses per day headed to Baltimore (and onward to other places). Express buses take about 55 minutes, while regular buses will roll in to the Baltimore Downtown Bus Station, south of Camden Yards, about an hour and five minutes after departure.
The Peter Pan bus also has about 12 departures per day from Washington DC to the Baltimore Downtown Bus Station several times per day. Both buses cost about $10 for a one-way ticket. You are also at the whim of traffic. If a massive backup happens on I-95, there are no bus lanes to help you bypass rush hour or accidents.
On the plus side, both buses provide free Wi-Fi and power outlets, while some offer extra legroom and reclining seats. So, at least you will have something to do while you wait in traffic.
DC to Baltimore bus terminals:
- Washington Union Station: 50 Massachusetts Avenue., NE Washington, D.C., 20002
- Baltimore Bus Terminal: 2110 Haines Street, Baltimore, MD 21230
The BoltBus is a very economical option, although not the fastest, to get you from DC to Baltimore. There are also multiple pick-ups in Washington DC if you don’t want to go all the way down to Union Station. Wi-Fi and power outlets are available onboard, as well as a bit more legroom for you to stretch out.
Washington DC BoltBus pick ups
- Union Station: 50 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002 (inside Union Station, up the stairs from the Food Court, on the Mezzanine Level of the Union Station Parking Deck)
- DuPont Circle: 1610 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC, 20009 (near the Redline Metro Stop)
Baltimore BoltBus Drop Off
- Baltimore, 1578 Maryland Avenue., Baltimore, MD, 21201 (near Marc-Penn Station)
The Megabus Route M32 offers nine trips per day between Washington DC to Baltimore. The fastest bus makes the trip in one hour and 15 minutes. Buses offer Wi-Fi, outlets, and Megabus onboard entertainment. Megabus is also Green Certified, if you are looking for a more earth-friendly transportation option. We’ve seen bus tickets online as low as $2 plus a $2.50 transaction fee if you book far enough in advance.
- Union Station: 50 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002
- Baltimore White Marsh Mall, 8200 Perry Hall Blvd, Baltimore, MD 21236 (JC Penney Outer Parking Lot)
A note about arrival in Baltimore: You will need to take a taxi or Uber to get to where you need to go in Downtown Baltimore or elsewhere in the city.
Walking to Baltimore will take you at least 13 hours. Your trek will take you up Route 1, but if you have the time, you could cut through some beautiful city and Maryland state parks.
Rock Creek Park is always worth the detour as you head up 16th Street NW. As you make your way through the suburbs you can head east to walk through Patuxent Research Refuge.
Alternately, you could go west to check out the T. Howard Duckett Watershed and Patapsco Park.
Lyft and Uber are both available in Washington, DC. Prices will range from $25-$90 depending on the time of day and price surging. Uber Pool tends to be the cheapest option. Your Uber X, XL, Black and Lift Lux class vehicles could cost you upwards of $250.
Flights from DC to Baltimore
While no commercial flights that we found will fly you from Washington DC to Baltimore, you can take a helicopter from one city to the next.
Grandview Aviation and Monumental Helicopters will both take you from the Nation’s capitol up to Baltimore and back, but it will cost you a pretty penny. Mostly executives and politicians use this option, but if you want a nice little tour or are short on time, you should definitely check it out.
Monumental Helicopters picks up at College Park Airport, Potomac Airfield and Washington Airpoark.
Other options are available, but may require additional fees. Grandview Aviation offers private charters to get you up to Baltimore and back, and up to a 250-mile radius around Washington DC (New York, Philadelphia, etc.), seating up to six passengers plus luggage.
What is the cheapest way to get from DC to Baltimore?
Your cheapest option would be the DC to Baltimore bus, unless you plan on walking or biking.
Megabus is the cheapest we have seen recently, for about $4.50 one-way when you book in advance, but remember, prices do vary.
You also will spend more time on a bus than you will on a train. Chances are, you will also have to deal with more people than if you drove your own car.
Every transportation method has its pros and cons. The bus is by far the cheapest way to get from DC to Baltimore though.
Looking for a Washington DC Hotel?
- Hotel Hive – Affordable, trendy, pet-friendly hotel
- Eaton Hotel – Stay in the heart of DC
- Four Seasons Hotel Washington DC – DC luxury at it’s best
- Kimpton Hotel George – Great for families and pets
- Willard InterContinental Washington – Historic hotel right near the White House
Need a car? Get the best rental car rates HERE.
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Washington, D.C. Travel Resources
Your Washington, D.C. vacation doesn’t have to be stressful. We’ve got the resources you need to plan your trip and make the most out of your time in the city and surrounding area. If this is your first time to the capital region, check out our Washington, D.C. trip planner and itineraries.
For transportation, check out our D.C. driving guide and our guide on how to ride the metro. For those flying in, you’ll want to read our guides to BWI, DCA and IAD airports.
Dive into our things to do in D.C., which is always being updated and evolving to make sure you have the latest and greatest activities to fill your checklist of things to do. Don’t forget about food, the real reason we all travel, right? Our Washington, D.C. restaurant guide will get you started and lead you into neighborhoods full of delicious treats.
Where to Stay in Washington, D.C.
Budget: When it comes to Washington, D.C. budget hotels, prices vary depending on the season. In the middle of October, a four-star hotel could be under $150, while in December it may be over $400. At any given time of year, though, Hotel Hive is a safe bet for value when it comes to resting your head. If you are looking for a hostel, Hi Washington D.C. Downtown is well located for exploring all of the D.C. museums, restaurants and bars at the fraction of the price of a hotel. Check rates and availability here.
Mid-range: Every USA hotel chain can be found in Washington, D.C., but stay at the St. Gregory Hotel when you want a local touch. The modern, light-filled rooms will welcome you to the city, whether you are in a studio or suite with wraparound terrace. The hotel is walking distance to Georgetown, the National Mall and Embassy Row, making it easy to explore without a rental car. Check rates and availability here.
Luxury: You are spoiled for choice when it comes to luxury hotels in Washington, D.C. We love cozying up at the Graham Georgetown, a sweet little boutique hotel in one of the hottest neighborhoods in the city. Check rates and availability here. Major hotel brands like The Fairmont, Mandarin Oriental, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons Hotel Washington D.C. and St. Regis Washington D.C. all have outposts here as well. If you want something a bit more historic, we recommend The Jefferson, Washington D.C. Ninety-nine rooms in this luxury boutique hotel bring together an attentive staff, petite spa, and the Michelin-starred Plume restaurant with all of the history you could hope for when you are in the nation’s capital. Check rates and availability here.
Family-friendly: We always gravitate towards the Kimpton hotels whenever we are traveling with kids. Kimpton Hotel Monaco Washington D.C., once the General Post Office building, is located in the Penn Quarter neighborhood just four blocks off the National Mall near the National Gallery of Art. Price point is mid-range, depending on the time of year you visit. Parents will love the nightly wine events and evening nightcap perks as well as complimentary coffee and a tea bar each morning. Kids will love that they can borrow a fish friend for their stay, and that there is always a treat on hand that they can enjoy, and the robes are just their size. Kimpton also has adult and child-size bikes to borrow so you can cruise around town during your stay. Check rates and availability here.
Looking for Washington DC Rentals? Check HERE for the best location, size and rates.
Washington DC Rental Car
If you just flew in , you probably need a rental car. Although you can certainly take the Metro most places, especially if you fly into DCA, you may want a rental car to get out and explore. Find the best priced and availability HERE.
Planning a Trip to Washington, D.C.? Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
Whether you are traveling domestically or coming from an international destination, travel insurance is a must for anyone coming to Washington, D.C. You will be exploring both inside and outdoors; hiking may even happen if you get adventurous. You could find yourself on a Segway or bike tour. The city is highly populated and accidents and crime do happen. This is not to scare you, but to prepare you for what could occur when you are checking out the free museums, exploring neighborhoods, finding the best food and learning about the local street art. Should something happen, travel insurance has you covered.
We recommend and use Allianz Travel insurance. Our family is covered under a household plan, but their individual plans are just as robust if you are a solo traveler or a couple looking to get away. I’ve been a customer for more than five years and have always been in good hands with the Allianz team.
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