How do I get to/from Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C.? I've reviewed the options on the website and it's hard to tell what's actually the combination easiest/cheapest way.

We're staying near Eastern Market if that makes a difference.

3 Answers 3



  • Dulles (like BWI) lies a considerable distance from the District; there are no "obvious" options because each involves a tradeoff of time or money. Only Reagan National (DCA) is truly convenient to the city.
  • If you have a large party or many bags, a taxi may be worth the hassle. There is no place to store bags when using public transportation, and a single ride on Metro can involve six or seven escalators— which these days are often out of service.
  • The Metro system is undergoing considerable construction and maintenance on evenings and weekends; at other times it can be quite crowded. This has negatively impacted its speed and reliability.

Silver Line Express bus

While the Silver Line Metrorail doesn't reach Dulles yet, its first phase to Wiehle-Reston East is in operation.

The Washington Flyer shuttle to West Falls Church has been discontinued. The Silver Line Express is its replacement, and is both cheaper and more frequent than its predecessor (but see below). It departs every 15–20 minutes from Wiehle-Reston East between 6am and 10:40pm weekdays, 7:45am-10:45pm on weekends. From Dulles, Silver Line Express tickets will be sold on the arrivals level of the Main Terminal, and the bus will depart from Door #4 (where the Washington Flyer used to depart).

For the return, the Washington Flyer stops inside the north parking garage at the Wiehle-Reston East station, and there should be signs. You will purchase tickets after you arrive at the airport.

The fare is a flat $5 each way. Note that this bus is operated by the airports authority, not by Metro, and the WMATA SmarTrip card is not accepted for payment.

The coaches are dedicated to the purpose, and include a luggage compartment below the cabin. Free Wi-Fi is promised on-board.

The more frequent and faster connection to rail is made possible because of the shorter distance the bus travels, but of course this means a slightly higher Metro fare to cover that distance.

For a super-frugal alternative, you can take the Fairfax Connector bus 981 or 983 to Wiehle-Reston, for which the fare is $2.

Metrobus 5A

A second, potentially cheaper option is to take the WMATA Metrobus 5A to Rosslyn (~45 minutes), then transfer to the Blue/Orange/Silver Line and ride into the District (~25 minutes to Eastern Market). You can also stay on the 5A all the way to the end of the line at L'Enfant Plaza and transfer to Blue/Orange/Silver/Green/Yellow from there. This will take longer and mean more time on the bus, but if you arrive during the morning rush hour, it may be more civilized to keep your seat on the bus than to contend with the crowds at Rosslyn.

The 5A is an express service that makes only one or two stops before Rosslyn; however, it is an ordinary public bus, so at best it will have overhead racks for small bags, and it is often crowded. On the other hand, the fare is only $7.50, whether using cash or a SmarTrip card. Change is not given, so try to bring exact change.


The Washington Flyer Taxi has a monopoly on service to the airport and its rates are fixed (about $75 to Eastern Market plus surcharges and tips).

You can privately arrange for a different taxi or car service to pick you up, however, just as you might ask a friend or family member to pick you up. You can avoid the hassle of the taxi stand and maybe a few dollars as well, and if you come to Washington frequently, may be worth the investment of getting to know and keep a favorite driver.

Uber / Lyft

Uber and Lyft were made legal in Virginia in 2015. Prices range from $50 for UberX to $105 for an UberSUV.

Shared Van

Another option is to take one of the shared van services. SuperShuttle's Dulles franchise is operated by the same company which runs the taxi fleet. Supreme Airport Shuttle began operating around 2012. The vans make the most sense if you are traveling alone to a destination not well-served by Metro, but the rides can take a very, very long time if you are one of the later passengers to be dropped off. From Dulles, I generally only recommend this service for people traveling to the Virginia suburbs.

One-way car rental

Yet another option that makes sense for some is to rent a car from Dulles and return it to Reagan National the same day. Some rental agencies may waive the one-way fee on certain rate codes. If you have a good-sized party or many bags, this is sometimes an option. Of course, at least one person will need to take Metro or a taxi from Reagan National back to where you are in Eastern Market, and driving this route can be dicey during rush hours or if you are unfamiliar with the area.

  • D'oh! Should have checked travel yesterday! My house is walking distance to Reston-Wiehle Avenue... I can attest to the Silver Line being nice, once you get there. Busses are frequent. It would cost you about $20 to take a taxi to Wiehle, a lot more to take a taxi to Eastern Market (probably about $70 - $80), and a lot less for the bus. Oct 10, 2014 at 19:13
  • I used the 5A, and it works reasonably fine. I stayed on it until L'Enfant Plaza, but it would have been wiser to get off at Rosslynn, as the bus got stuck in some trafic.q
    – Bernhard
    Oct 10, 2014 at 19:17

Can you wait a couple of years? They're extending the DC metro to the airport at the moment... The metro should reach Tyson's Corner in 2013, and the airport a few years later (2018 is apparently the latest date).

If you don't want to wait several years, it all depends how much of a hurry you're in, and when you're going. During peak hours, your best bet is to take the bus between the airport and Rosslyn metro station, and the Orange line between the city and there. Traffic can get really bad on the freeway at peak times, so you can smugly speed past it on the metro. The bus ticket is $6 (exact change only), metro onwards is a few dollars depending on your destination, and the 5A timetable is here. I've done this myself, and I found it fine, even with a moderate size bag.

However, because of the work to extend the metro, evenings / weekends can see a lot of engineering work taking place on the Orange metro line. For those times, you'll be better off taking a bus from downtown to the airport. There are both private and public ones, with differing costs / comfort. The MWAA site lists the various options

From next year, I think the best bet will be bus to Tyson's Corner, then the new metro line into town.

  • There is no "Combined ticket" for the bus and the metro. The 5A bus is $6 (exact cash required!), and the Metro is an extra few dollars (depending on destination, and whether you catch the bus to Rosslyn or L'Enfant Plaza metro stations). The other option is to use a SmarTrip card, but you can't buy these at the airport so it's unlikely a tourist will have one.
    – Doc
    Aug 12, 2012 at 16:49
  • Thanks for the tip, edited. I've only done it in reverse (flew into BWI), so I didn't know the restriction
    – Gagravarr
    Aug 12, 2012 at 17:47
  • I last used 5A/Metro in both directions 2 weeks ago, so it's fairly fresh in my mind :)
    – Doc
    Aug 12, 2012 at 18:30
  • 1
    In 2018, I'd thankfully now appear to still "only" be waiting to 2020.
    – dlanod
    Jul 2, 2018 at 3:23
  • 1
    Given how 2020 turned out, I suppose we should be glad that it's "only" been delayed one more year (tentatively.) Dec 17, 2020 at 1:43

When I was there last I used SuperShuttle. Its dead simple (just walk to their counter) and reasonably priced at about $30, if you are traveling in a group, additional passengers cost $10. Compared to taking a cab by yourself or with one other person, this saves a bundle.

Of course it is a shared shuttle service so it will take a bit longer than a cab ride, but it will get you all the way to your hotel. The only cheaper alternative is to take the bus to where the metro ends and take it into town. This will be cheaper but will likely take longer, especially if the metro does not stop close to your final destination.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.