Visiting New York City, but want to plan an excursion to Washington, DC? We help you consider the pros and cons of the various transportation options, whether you're thinking of flying, driving, taking the train or riding the bus. We've also added some options for one-day tours to Washington, DC from NYC if you'd prefer not to DIY.
Washington, DC is an ambitious, but do-able day trip from New York City. I recommend spending at least one night there to make travel worthwhile and enable yourself to really get a taste of Washington, DC.
1. New York City To Washington, DC By Train
Traveling to Washington, DC from New York City is a quick, low-stress option. Trains travel directly from Penn Station in Manhattan to Union Station in Washington, DC. Acela service takes less than three hours, while other trains take about three-and-a-half hours. You can purchase tickets in advance on Amtrak's website or in person at Penn Station.
Pros: quick, direct from Manhattan to Washington, DC
Cons: pricey (costs $75-250, depending on route & times)
2. New York City To Washington, DC By Bus
Bus service from New York City to Washington, DC is an easy, affordable option for visitors. Trips take about four-and-a-half hours, but can be longer depending on traffic. Only Greyhound departs from within Port Authority Bus Terminal, while other bus services depart curbside.
- Bolt Bus - 4 departures daily, $13-15
- Greyhound - 23 departures daily, $28-37
- Mega Bus - 19 departures daily, $5-19
Pros: cheap, frequent service
Cons: traffic, not as comfortable as train
3. New York City To Washington, DC By Plane
Flying to Washington, DC is the fastest way to travel, with the trip taking less than an hour in flight, but that doesn't include time spent getting to and from the airport, clearing security, etc. That said, shuttle flights from New York City to Washington, DC can be cheaper than the train and run frequently. Reagan National Airport (DCA) is the closest and most convenient airport to downtown DC.
Pros: fast, often less expensive than train
Cons: airport hassles, NYC airports are outside of Manhattan,
4. New York City To Washington, DC By Car
You can certainly drive from New York City to Washington, DC -- the route is fairly direct along I-95, but for most visitors it doesn't make a lot of sense, since you won't need a car in either city and parking can be troublesome. Plan on about five hours of travel time, though stops and traffic will add to overall time. You can rent cars in Manhattan, though rates at the airport tend to be cheaper.
Pros: good value if traveling with a group, no schedule to adhere to
Cons: traffic, parking
5. One Day Excursions to Washington, DC
Don't want to go the do-it-yourself route? No worries, here are some options for guided tours to Washington, DC.
- Washington, DC by Train from Viator - this self-guided tour includes train travel to DC, a food court lunch and a hop-on-hop-off tour of the city
- Washington, DC Bus Tour from Gray Line - this one-day guided bus tour includes admission to Madame Tussaud's wax museum, as well as the chance to see many DC landmarks/attractions