Getting around Washington, DC

Public transport

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (tel: +1 202 637 7000; operates the city's Metro. Six subway lines (red, orange, blue, green, yellow and silver), known as the Metrorail, cover the city, extending into Maryland and Virginia.

The fare system is complicated with different prices worked out depending on the time of day, distance and date. The easiest way to pay is with a reloadable SmarTrip smartcard, which works on the Metrorail and Metrobus. You can pay as you go or load one up with a one-day or seven-day pass.

The DC Circulator bus (tel: +1 202 567 3040; is a particularly good option for tourists.


Taxis in Washington, DC are metered. There is a small surcharge for each additional passenger and for luggage carried in the boot. One of the main taxi companies is Yellow Cab Company (tel: +1 202 544 1212).


Washington DC's streets are laid out in a basic grid pattern, divided into four quadrants. Streets running north to south in the centre are numbered, while letters designate streets running east to west.

Parking restrictions apply during rush hour and some weekend hours. Street parking is available for two hours only. Free all-day parking is available along Madison and Jefferson drives in front of the Smithsonian museums, as well as south of the Jefferson Memorial in East Potomac Park, though spaces tend to go quickly. If you miss out on place, private car parks offer an alternative but can be expensive.

Car hire

Insurance is compulsory when hiring a car. The minimum rental age is generally 25 but, for a costly surcharge, some companies will hire cars to drivers aged between 21 and 24. You must be in possession of a valid driver's licence.

Most car hire companies have offices in the city, including Alamo (tel: +1 888 826 6893;, Avis (tel: +1 202 467 6582; and Hertz (tel: +1 202 289 6084;

Bicycle hire

Cycling is becoming an increasingly popular part of life in DC, with dedicated bike lanes in place along many of the most iconic stretches of road. Bike parking is found on most street corners and costs nothing to use.

Capital BikeShare (tel: +1 877 430 2453; is Washington DC's bikeshare scheme and has more than 350 stations. A flat daily fee applies, which is payable at automated kiosks located next to the bike stands. Usage fees vary but the first 30 minutes are free.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.