Getting from New York to Washington DC (or the other way around)

by Roger on September 11, 2009

by Roger | September 11th, 2009  

airportsArguably two of the most important cities in the world are fairly close together, but getting between them can be a bit of a hassle if you don’t know exactly what you are doing. The four main methods are all explained below, so you can choose the one that suits you best and not waste time figuring it all out yourself from scratch.

New York City to Washington DC
Distance apart: 206 miles / 332 km
Driving distance: 227 miles / 365 km

Quick summary

If you can get a promotional fare on the train and you are going from city center to city center, then that’s the best option for most people. But curiously enough, the normal airfare is usually lower than the normal train fare, so if you are not connecting the city centers then that is probably your best method. Buses can be amazingly cheap, and they only take a bit longer than trains, so if your budget is limited that’s the way to go. Driving adds quite a few costs and hassles, and it isn’t cheap (thanks to all the tolls) unless your car is full.

Flying between New York City and Washington DC

Nonstop flight time: 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 25 minutes

As one of the most popular short routes in the United States, you’ll have plenty of options for flying between these two major cities. Flight time, as you can see above, is a bit more than an hour each way, which would be shorter if not for the circuitous route the planes take that is anything but direct. Another good thing about these flights is they are so frequent that if your airline is delayed for some reason, you can often get put on the next flight an hour or so later.

Fares between the cities are normally around $60 each way if you buy well in advance, and if you find a promotional fare it can be as little as $49 each way. If you want to fly at the last minute you could be looking at $100 each way or more, so if price matters you might consider the train in that case.

Airports to consider

New York: John F. Kennedy International (JFK), LaGuardia International (LGA), Newark International (EWR)

Washington DC: Washington National (DCA), Dulles International (IAD), Baltimore-Washington International (BWI)

Trains between New York City and Washington DC

These two cities are the two biggest hubs on what is known as the Northeast Corridor, so there are frequent trains in both directions. Trains leave about once an hour all day, so scheduling shouldn’t be a problem. The journey will take between 3 hours and 15 minutes to about 4 hours on the normal trains, and just under 3 hours on the express trains that cost quite a bit more and are meant for business travelers and the idle rich.

  • Normal coach one-way fare: $72
  • Promotional one-way fare (if available): $49
  • Express train one-way fare: $133

>>Amtrak website

Buses between New York City and Washington DC

You’ve got several choices for buses between these two cities. The best known service is the national Greyhound Lines that don’t have the best reputation for comfort and style, but at least they are dependable. The journey will take between 4 hours 20 minutes and 6 hours, and buses leave every hour of the day at least. Buying your ticket in advance on the internet will save you a lot of money and make this the cheapest way to go.

Web fare: $22 one-way
Walk-up fare: $37 one-way

>>Greyhound official site

Other bus companies

In recent years quite a few other bus companies have started going between major cities in the region, and there is a site where you can check all of them at once, including Greyhound. Fares for this route start as low as $1 for promotions, or $9 for regular fares if you get lucky.

>>Busjunction.com website

Driving between New York City and Washington DC

The driving distance is only 227 miles, but they are toll roads almost the whole way, so set aside at least $20-30 in addition to the fuel costs. Also, parking can be a nightmare on both ends, especially in Manhattan, so this isn’t really a great way to go unless you’ve already got a car and places to park on one or both ends. The scenery between the two isn’t much to look at either, and there aren’t many good attractions along the way, so it’s kind of a boring drive compared to many others in this country.

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