Welcome to Washington!
Washington DC is located in the north-eastern part of the United States of America. Washington DC is the capital city and has the 20th largest population in the US. It is the third most visited city in the USA and is home to US politics.
Washington is on Eastern Standard Time.
The drinking age in Washington Dc and throughout the United States is 21, and smoking is banned in public places throughout the city. This includes bars, restaurants, subways and taxis, and public parks and beaches.
In Washington DC and throughout the United States, the US dollar is the standard currency. Credit cards are widely used and ATMS are plentiful.
Washington is now one of the safest cities in the US. As with any city, please exercise common sense and take reasonable precautions to protect your personal safety plus your belongings. Always make sure that you have adequate travel insurance, declare pre-existing medical conditions and make sure that your insurance covers you for all the activities that you will undertake whilst you are in the USA. Only ever use licensed taxis and if you are ever unsure it’s better to be safe than sorry. Your hotel concierge should be able to help you with any questions or concerns. A useful resource is 311, the city’s official government services and information hotline.
Please do not use any other website to apply for your ESTA other than the official website. You may face higher charges which aren’t always applicable visas. Fee for application should only be $14.00 USD.
Visitors to Washington from outside the United States need a visa to enter the country. The UK and other countries are part of a Visa Waiver programme called the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Before you travel to the US, you must have a Visa or an ESTA, otherwise you will not be able to travel. More information can be found here
US Customs and Border Protection
Waiting times at the US border can range from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on time of day, how many flights land at the same time plus any restrictions that might be in place. US customs officers are trained to be inquisitive and suspicious. All you can do to prepare is to have all your documentation handy. More information on what to expect can be found here
There are two ways to use your smartphone in the US: you can either roam on a UK-based SIM card or you can buy a new US-based SIM card upon your arrival in the States. Check with your network provider before you go as you might be able to pay a bit extra to have peace of mind without getting hit with a bill on your return.
Below we have listed some important phone numbers.
- Emergencies (police, fire or ambulance): 911
There are two main airports connected to Washington.
Washington Dulles International Airport
Washington Dulles International Airport is located 25.6 miles from the centre of Washington
Car > Travel time by car to the city centre is around 35 minutes. There are over 10,000 car parking spaces at the airport and nine hire car companies.
Taxi > Washington Flyer taxi cabs exclusively service Dulles Airport. Taxi stands are located outside the main terminal and a ride into DC will cost about $60-$70.
Bus and Metro > Washington Flyer offers a Silver Line Express Bus that drops off at the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail station about 15 minutes away. Silver Line Express Bus fare is $5 for one way and you can purchase tickets inside the airport at Arrivals Door 4.
Important! be aware journey times on public transport can vary and we recommend checking times before departure. Prices for the transports are subject to change.
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is located just across the Potomac River in Virginia and is the closest airport to DC. Its only 4.4 miles to the centre!
Car > Travel time by car to the city centre is around 15 minutes. There are over 5000 car parking spaces at the airport and nine hire car companies.
Taxi > DCA Taxis service Ronald Reagan airport and can be found outside each terminal. Cost for a taxi is around 15$ and DCA taxi’s will accept both cash and card. The journey to the centre of Washington should take around 15 minutes.
Metro >The Metro takes around 10 minutes and is direct from the airport. Tickets can be purchased at the machines located at all entrances to the Airport. The maximum fare to any station on the metrolink is $6.
Getting around the City
Apart from running, Washington is also great for walking. On foot you will really get a feel for the place and you’ll feel the buzz of this great city. If you are ever in a hurry or you need to travel a bit further, you can use the metro, buses or taxi’s.
Bus > There are around 1400 buses running throughout Washington daily.
DC Circulator > The bus is $1 for all riders and travels along six specific routes designed for easy-on, easy-off access at points of interest throughout the District.
Bikes > There are two main bike rentals in Washington these are Unlimited Biking who offers rentals from two locations in DC, and Capital Bikeshare who have over 350 stations across DC. Its fleet includes more than 3,000 bicycles, with access to bicycles 24 hours a day. The first 30 minutes of each trip is free, with each additional half hour incurring a fee.
- The state of Washington was named in honour of George Washington, the first U.S. president.
- The first ever Starbucks was opened in Washington
- There are underground tunnels beneath the Washington
- Home to the White House to US presidents kept pet alligators
- The Smithsonian Institution Museums boast a collection that includes nearly 138 million objects, works of art and specimens