Reagan International Airport may be smaller than its Virginia counterpart, Dulles Airport. But it’s the preference of most DC locals for a reason. With less than 4 miles driving distance to the Washington Monument, DCA ranks highest in terms of convenience and cost of transportation into the city.
Even with so many options, it’s a good idea to plan out your best method of travel, especially if this is your first foray into the DC Metro system.
Thankfully, Reagan is quite a bit smaller than Dulles, and its transportation layout is generally easier to follow when you need to get to your Washington DC hotel. The terminal just outside of security has plenty of signs overhead to direct you towards the various ground transportation options.
Note: if your plane lands at gates 1 through 9, you’ll have a bit more walking to do. To reach ground transportation, make a right and pass through the Conference Center and Historic Lobby, following signs towards Gates 10-59.
Metro to DCA
Hopping the Metrorail usually shakes out as the fastest transportation mode between Reagan Airport and most destinations inside DC city limits.
Blue and Yellow Metro Lines
Both the Blue and Yellow lines can be picked up from the airport Metro stop. The blue line runs along the Virginia side of the Potomac River. Largo Town Center-bound trains stop near the Pentagon, the Arlington Cemetery, and Rosslyn before crossing over into DC.
If you are headed to the National Mall or thereabouts, the Blue Line will take you all the way there. The ninth stop from Reagan Airport is Metro Center, the central station connecting most Metro lines in the city.
Transferring to the Red Line
From there, you can hop the red line towards either Shady Grove or Glenmont. A Shady Grove-bound Red train will take you past Dupont Circle, the zoo, and Cleveland Park, before crossing over into Maryland and through Bethesda. In the other direction, Glenmont-bound trains pass through NoMa near Gallaudet University and Brookland before heading towards Silver Spring and continuing into Maryland.
Metro to the DC Suburbs
If you are headed from the airport farther out into Virginia, you can take the Blue Line running in the opposite direction towards the Franconia-Springfield station, which runs South along the Potomac, passing through Alexandria.
To hit more northern Virginia destinations, take a Largo Town Center-bound Blue train to Rosslyn and transfer to a Vienna-bound Orange train or a Wiehle-Reston East-bound Silver train, which will both take you to Arlington and Falls Church.
The other train line accessible from Reagan’s Metro stop is Yellow, which crosses over the Potomac near Southwest DC and continues North. This line is the best way to get to any location just south of the National Mall, Chinatown, Howard University, Columbia Heights, and Petworth.
Yellow lines stop at Fort Totten, but you can easily hop a Green line train in the same direction to continue East into Maryland all the way to Greenbelt.
Bus from the Metro
Buses can all be accessed right outside the main security level, the same place that passengers are dropped off. You’ll also notice a number of overhead signs pointing in the direction of the Metro station. The station is located at the end of a walkway veering off from the terminal.
How to Ride the Metro
Once there, you’ll see the blue boxes labeled “Fare Vending” near the turnstiles. You can use these to buy or reload your SmarTrip card, which you can use on any Metrorail or Metrobus throughout your time in DC.
Learn how to ride the DC Metro
Ride Sharing Apps
When it comes to a private ride, if your destination is near central DC, you’re probably better off catching an Uber or taxi from Reagan than any of the other airports, since it’s far and away the closest to the city’s center. An Uber or Lyft to the National Mall, for instance, will probably run you just upwards of $20, depending on the time of day and surge levels.
Ride sharing drivers stop at all terminals of the airport, so all you need to do is walk directly outside from baggage claim on the Arrivals level. After you request a ride, the app will assign you a door number, which you can easily spot once you’re on the curb outside.
Lastly, taking an Uber from DCA may require a little patience! Unfortunately, the pickup circle is designed so that a bottleneck is often created at busy times, so don’t panic if it looks like your driver is moving a little slowly as you are waiting on the curb.
Taxis from reagan to DC
Unlike Dulles Airport, regular taxi cabs are available at Reagan Airport, if you prefer them over an app. You can book a taxi at one of the booths near the exit in each terminal.
From Terminal A, taxis will be directly on your right as you leave baggage claim. In Terminals B and C, exit through Doors 5 or 6, and you’ll spot the taxi dispatch sign clearly marked.
Fares run around the same as that of Ubers and Lyfts: a ride to the US Capitol is estimated at $14, not including the $3 airport fee that is attached to any ride. Of course, these cabs will have meters, so it may be best to avoid them if traffic on the roads is heavy and you expect the ride will be delayed.
GO The Airport Shuttle
Another option for those who prefer a private ride is the DCA GO Airport Shuttle. These convenient rides can be reserved in advance on the official website, or over the phone at 1-800-776-0323.
I recommend this option if you have a long way to travel to your destination, or if you need to go directly from DCA to another airport in the vicinity.
GO also offers multiple price tiers, with the most common being the standard shuttle that seats 11 passengers.
For a higher price, GO will pick you up in a black sedan or limo. Of course, these shuttles are probably the most expensive option, with a standard white shuttle ride costing upwards of $100 to get into DC city limits, and a private sedan costing more than $130.
Also, GO charges a late night fee of $20 for rides between the hours of 11pm and 6am.
GO The Airport Shuttle will pick you up from wherever is most convenient, so all you’ll need to do is coordinate a door or spot on the Arrivals level and then keep an eye out for either a white van with the “Go” logo or a black sedan, depending on which you opted for.
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