Metro from Airport: How to get to Downtown DC

Reagan National Airport is one of the most convenient airports in the entire country. It is so close to the city that you can actually see famous Washington, DC landmarks like the Washington Monument and the Capitol dome from your seat on the plane. The airport’s location makes it easy and cheap to get into the city. If you are traveling to downtown Washington, a ride on Metro will get you there for under three dollars per person.

METRO from DCA Airport to Downtown DC

Step one: know your terminal

One of the most important things you need to know when you’re flying into this airport is which terminal your airline uses. Terminals B and C are very close to the Metro station and you can walk there from your plane in only a matter of minutes.  

Terminal A, on the other hand, is a bit of a hike. If you’re arriving through Terminal A, you can either walk down a long hallway to get back to the main part of the airport. Or you can ride on a free shuttle bus that will take you directly to the Metro station.  

What if you checked luggage?

If you checked luggage, then you are going to arrive into baggage claim. After you have your luggage, you need to find an escalator and go back up into National Hall. If you’re walking over from terminal A or you didn’t check any luggage then you can go straight into National Hall. This is the beautiful public space that you see in all of the famous photos. Once you are in National Hall, signs will point you down the hallway to the Metro area.

What to do once you get to the Metro station

Once you reach the Metro station, you will see the fare machines on the side of the station. If you’ve never ridden Metro before and you need to buy a SmarTrip card, you can do that at a machine. Look specifically for the orange and blue fare machines which dispense SmarTrip cards. Once you load your SmartTrip card with money, you can proceed through the fare gate.

The airport station uses a split platform

The airport Metro station is what’s called a split platform. This means that there are two separate sets of escalators. One set goes to the southbound trains; the other set goes to the northbound trains. If you go up the wrong one, you are going to be facing the wrong direction. Once you’re on the platform, you will see that you have a choice of two lines: yellow and blue. The one you should ride depends on where you are trying to go.

What line should you take to DC?

It depends exactly where you are staying. If your hotel is near the Foggy Bottom station then the blue line is the one that you want. If your hotel is near the Gallery Place station, then the yellow line is the one that you want. To get to a station that’s served by both, like L’Enfant Plaza, the yellow line is much faster than the blue line because yellow makes fewer stops in between. If you’re unsure, take a look at the Metro map or ask a Metro employee if you need extra help!

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About Trip Hacks DC

Trip Hacks DC was founded by Rob, a veteran tour guide in the Nation's Capital.

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