Where to Fly: Cheapest or Closest airport to Downtown DC: BWI vs DCA vs IAD

DC area is serviced by three airports: BWI (Baltimore, MD), DCA (Arlington, VA) and IAD (Dulles, VA).

Which airport should you fly into? That depends. How much time do you have?

BWI is [usually] the cheapest. A weekend flight from FLL to BWI (travel dates 4/1 – 4/4) is $153 per person. That same weekend, to DCA is $170/per person.

However, DCA is the closest. The flight cost savings of flying to BWI translates into time spent commuting. As people say “time is money”.

Here’s how to get to the White House/Downtown DC:

  • BWI – Take a [free] shuttle from the airport to Amtrak; Amtrak ($7) to Union Station (40 minutes); Red line ($1.75) towards Farragut North; walk to White House.
    • Distance to Downtown: 36 miles
    • Time: 2.5+ hours. You have to wait for the shuttle, then wait for the Amtrak, which runs every 30 minutes. Once you get to Union Station, you will have to walk to the metro and catch the Metro towards Downtown. Lots of waiting time. Going towards DC is not bad, but headed back towards the airport takes some serious planning, especially on the weekend when Amtrak does not run as frequently.
    • Cost: $8.75
Washington DC Capitol
DC Capitol Building


  • IAD – Take Bus 5A ($4 – express fare) to Rosslyn Station; Blue/Silver/Orange Line ($2.15) to McPherson Square.
    • Distance to Downtown: 27 miles
    • Time: 1 hour. This option has less waiting, but can take well over an hour due to delays.
    • Cost: $6.15
DC Sign
This way to the White House



  • DCA – Walk towards Metro station in airport and grab Blue line ($2.15) towards McPherson Square.
    • Distance to Downtown: 5 miles
    • Time: 30 minutes
    • Cost: $2.15
Washington DCA Airport
Standing on the DCA Airport platform

Have you traveled to the DC area? Which airport did you prefer?

Thanks for stopping by. Safe travels.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close Cart

Close Cart