A weekend getaway from DC to Norfolk is always a good idea when you need to escape the hustle of the city. While Norfolk, VA is still a city, it’s much smaller and low key than Washington, D.C. can be, especially during high season.
Too many people skip over Norfolk on their way to Virginia Beach, VA, but you will want to detour off the highway to see this beautiful and historic town.
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Travel from Washington DC to Norfolk VA
Whether you want to buy a ticket from Washington, D.C.’s Union Station, fly out of a DC airport, walk, bike or you are just looking to avoid traffic on your drive down with the best departure times, we can get you on your Virginia vacation with as little stress as possible.
Just remember, patience is a virtue, especially in DC traffic.
Driving directions from DC to Norfolk
- Head out of DC towards I-395 South Express Lanes
- Take the exit towards VA-648/I-95/I-495/VA-644/Franconia
- Merge onto I-395 South
- Exit 84A for I-295 South towards Rocky Mountain NC/Richmond
- Exit 28A for I-64 East towards Norfolk/ VA Beach
- Exit 277A – Tidewater Drive
- This will put you into downtown Norfolk on the waterfront
EZ-Pass Express Lanes
Anyone who has ever left Washington, D.C. in the afternoon, knows that the EZ-Pass Express Lanes headed south are the way to travel. I’ve zipped past cars at a standstill on the non-Express I-95 highway, and I pity those people.
If you are traveling south from Washington, D.C. to Norfolk, having an EZ Pass and utilizing the express lanes can save you minutes and even hours sitting in traffic. You will want to budget for the tolls, as the Express Lanes do cost, but I find it is worth it. Plus, you get to go at least 10mph faster in the Express Lanes.
Getting out of Rush Hour in D.C.
If you are leaving at rush hour, or anytime high-traffic may occur (summer, random Tuesday when the moon is in retrograde), you will want to hop on the Express lanes south if they are open. Generally, Express Lanes are open during rush hour in DC heading in the direction that the most people travel.
- Mornings Express Lanes in Virginia head north into D.C.
- Evenings, Express Lanes head south away from Washington, D.C.
- Weekends get switched up a bit, so watch for signs.
If these special toll lanes are open, use them. They are worth the added expense and can save you a lot of time.
Traffic issues getting to Norfolk, VA
Inevitablly, you can and will hit three or four slow downs as you drive from DC to Norfolk, VA.
Exiting Washington DC: The first is just getting out of Washington, D.C. Traffic can be painful, so check your traffic app before you take off.
Fredericksburg, VA: North of Fredericksburg you will slow down. Make any rest stops at least 20 miles before Fredericksburg, or you could get stuck. I have never driven up or down I-95 and not hit traffic around this city. There is no logic or reason, you just have to plan on it.
Williamsburg, VA: For the past six years it seems like there has been construction on I-64 East and I-64 West. I have no idea when they will finish, but you will come across lower speed limits, more constructions workers and more cop cars making sure you keep the workers safe.
Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel: This is a two lane tunnel (two per direction traveled) that is 3.5 miles and goes underwater. If there is an accident, you will be stuck. Make sure you have enough fuel to make it through, don’t speed and watch out for crazy drivers.
Flights from Washington, DC to Norfolk
United, American, Boutique Air and Southwest Airlines all offer nonstop flights from Washington, D.C. to Norfolk, VA. Most will cost you about $200-300 for a weekend getaway.
Your flight will last just under an hour, and depart from one of the three of Washington D.C.’s airports– BWI, DCA and IAD to ORF.
Bus Travel to Norfolk, VA
The bus to Norfolk, Virginia can be a more economical option when you want to leave DC. Depending on how many days in advance you book your bus ticket, travel dates, bus companies and the day of the week the bus leaves, will effect your ticket price.
Taking the bus from Washington, D.C. to Norfolk, VA can take about five and a half hours. You are subject to traffic on the bus too.
Both OurBus and Greyhound operate from Washington, D.C., with buses starting in early morning through early evening. These bus companies offer free Wi-Fi and charging ports/outlets.
Double check that you have a nonstop bus ticket before you book, as some require one transfer (generally in Richmond). Tickets cost around US$50 (one way), but again, it all depends on your departure date and time.
Your nonstop bus will depart from Washington Union Station and arrive at Norfolk Tinee Giant train station.
Amtrak Train from Washington DC to Norfolk, VA
The Amtrak Northeast Regional line will take you from DC to Norfolk by train in just over four hours. There are eight stops along the way, including Alexandria, Woodbridge, Quantico, Fredericksburg, Ashland, Richmond Staples Mill Road and Petersburg, VA.
Depart from Washington Union State and arrive at Norfolk Station. If you are staying downtown, you can either catch a rideshare, taxi, or you can walk the 20 minutes to the waterfront and most downtown hotels.
Bike to Norfolk, VA
It will take you at least 20 hours to bike DC to Norfolk, VA, so plan on a 2-3 day journey. You will hop on the Custis Trail and meet up with the Washington and Old Dominion Trail, taking several twists and turns as you head to Richmond to hop on the Cannon Creek Greenway and then the Virginia Capital Trail.
You can take the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry, bike a bit more and then take the Waterside- N Landing Ferry into Norfolk, VA.
It’s long and complex, but with a good GPS you can definitely do it. Just don’t forget to enjoy the scenery along the way.
How to Walk to Norfolk, VA
You can walk to Norfolk from DC, but it will take you three solid days to get there. Essentially you follow Route 1 south, hooking up with Rt. 626 to 161 to 301 before heading east on Route 460 up 624 and at last, 337 into Portsmouth. Take the Waterside- High Street Ferry into Norfolk.
REMINDER: Always check for travel restrictions before you book your tickets from DC to Norfolk. Travel insurance is also a great idea during uncertain times. We grab an annual Allianz Travel insurance policy to cover us anytime we are 100 miles or more away from our house.
LOOKING FOR A NORFOLK HOTEL? CHECK OUT OUR FAVORITES!
- Hilton Norfolk THE MAIN– #1 rated on TripAdvisor
- Residence Inn Norfolk Downtown– perfect for families who need space
- The Inn at Four Eleven York– Cute B&B with free parking and Wi-Fi
- Norfolk Waterside Marriott– Great views of the river
- Courtyard Norfolk Downtown–Budget-friendly hotel right downtown
Looking for more? Search for a great deal on Booking.com!
OR GRAB A NORFOLK, VA AIRBNB or VRBO Rental
- Private downtown Norfolk condo
- Entire House in Ghent Neighborhood (steps from downtown)
- Loft in the Norfolk Arts District
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