Cheap Flights to Washington DC
- Area Federal : 177.0 km² (68.34 sq. mi)
- Area Codes : 202
- Currency : Dollar (USD)
- Population Federal : 672,228. Metro: 6,097,684 (2015)
- Official Language : English
- Time Zones : EST (UTC-5) Summer (DST): EDT (UTC-4)
- Airports : National Airport (DCA)
Dulles International Airport (IAD)
Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood
Marshall Airport (BWI)
Washington DC is served by the above three airports but the majority of international travellers will land at IAD.
- DCA commonly referred to as the National Airport is located in Virginia and the closest airport to Washingtons downtown area. Its short runway limits larger aircraft from landing and the airport offers mainly domestic flights with a few to the Caribbean and Canada. The Metro will get you from the airport to the city.
- IAD located in Chantilly, Virginia is 26 miles from downtown Washington and takes, outside rush hour, around 40 minutes by car. Passengers can also take numerous shuttles and taxis to get from the airport to the city.
- BWI referred to as BWI Airport is situated south of Baltimore and convenient for travellers going to suburbs in Maryland. Passengers can take the MARC or Amtrak trains to Union Station in the city. This airport is also a test site for the Dept. of Homeland Security where new security methods are tried out, sometimes causing long security queues.
Travellers from South Africa can fly to IAD from Cape Town with the following airlines:
- South African (via Johannesburg, Accra) 21h 55m+
- KLM (via Amsterdam) 22h 15m+
- Air France (via Paris) 22h 40m+
- British Airways (via London) 23h 30m+
Airlines taking 24 hours and longer comprise:
Airlines touching down at IAD include:
- Aer Lingus
- Air Canada
- Air China
- Korean Air
- Royal Air Maroc
- Silver Airways
- Virgin America
- Virgin Atlantic
Reasons to Visit Washington DC:
- The capital of the United States, Washington D.C. (D.C.) is an elegant, planned city that lies on the Potomac River with Maryland and Virginia states bordering it. Its a compact city with striking neoclassical buildings and monuments and a string of fabulous attractions to visit. DC emerged with the Residence Act approval in July 1790 for the creation of a national capital on the Potomac River. 1814 had British forces invading the capital in a raid known as the Burning of Washington where the White House, the Capitol and the Treasury were burned and gutted.
- Take a relaxing stroll through the National Mall, a large park located between Lincoln Memorial and the United States Capitol thats home to a range of (free entry) museums, historical monuments and numerous war memorials. The park is often used for political protests, festivals, concerts and presidential inaugurations. South of the Mall, the Tidal Basin shows off rows of Japanese cherry blossom trees, originally gifts from the Japanese nation that are a delightful sight in spring. Located around the Tidal Basin are additional memorials including that of Martin Luther King Junior.
- Travellers have a great range of backpackers that vary in prices and some with 2-Star status and there are 3 and 5-Star hotels as well as lots of affordable B&Bs. Theres an abundance of excellent eateries that serve cuisines from around the globe as well as great cafes and fast food outlets for appetising inexpensive meals. Pop into one of a fabulous range of bars, nightclubs, live jazz and music venues or Latin/Salsa clubs to dance the night away or take in a play at one of over 20 theatres.
When to Go Washington DC:
The best time to visit DC is during autumn from September to November (shoulder season) with temperatures shifting between 50°F and the upper 70s and lows around 40°F, requiring warm clothing. Tourists are fewer but accommodation deals are not easily had. Alternatively, the start of spring from March to May is also good with temperatures providing brisk weather that starts reaching the mid-70s by May.
The low season of winter from December to February offers the lowest rates but the weather is freezing, requiring winter clothing and thermal underwear. The peak summer months of June and August are hot, sticky and uncomfortable with plenty of tourists.
- The Smithsonian Institution, a striking eye-catching building founded in 1846 for the increase and diffusion of knowledge is the worlds largest museum and research facility that comprises museums, galleries, research centres and the National Zoological Park thats commonly known as the National Zoo. It opened in 1889 and has all types of animals from big cats to Giant Pandas and regularly hosts numerous events. With free admission, its open every day, a definite must for families.
- The National Museum of Natural History established in 1910 is the DCs most popular museum and the worlds largest natural history museum that displays more than 120 million objects, offers a virtual tour and educational resources. Check events taking place while youre visiting.
- A great place for the whole family to appreciate is the National Museum of American History with its collection of over 3 million artefacts focusing on American history and culture.
- Enjoy a service or experience the Washington National Cathedral with a free guide. Its a splendid structure of neo-Gothic architecture, a medieval styled garden and some sinister looking gargoyles. Construction began in 1907 and was completed in 1990. Participate in gargoyle hunts, bird walks or tower climbs that need to be pre-booked.
- Step back in history and enjoy a show or tour at the Victorian Fords Theatre that opened in 1863 and where President Lincoln was assassinated in 1865; visit the Spooky Action Theatre for entertainment with a difference; be captivated with Shakespeare at the Lansburgh Theatre; enjoy a meal and drink with an American production at the Arena Stage at the Mead Centre for American Theatre that seats 1393 patrons; the enchanting Victorian and Neo-classical styled Lincoln Theatre, built in 1922 puts on marvellous musicals and comedies; the John F. Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts enthrals patrons with ballet and theatrical productions; the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company is known for its original productions and on a pleasant day, take in a concert at the 4000-seater Carter Barron Amphitheatre that opened in 1950 honouring the 150th anniversary of DC as Americas capital.
- A shopping experience with a difference will be had at The Mansion on O Street, a hidden treasure with four floors, more than 100 rooms packed to capacity with a plethora of items and 32 secret doors. The mansion is actually four row houses and also serves as a hotel so not all rooms may be open when you visit, albeit hours will be spent going through each themed room. If you want to enjoy one of their popular tea events, a brunch, lunch, dinner or concert, youll need to book online. Its open to the public on Sundays, Mondays and public holidays. A definite must experience.
Getting Around Washington DC:
Due to its layout, Washington DC is an ideal city for walking around with numbered streets running south to north and lettered streets running east to west. You may get a bit stuck with state-named avenues that run diagonally but at the next block youll encounter a numbered or lettered street to get back on track.
The DC Metro makes getting around easy with trains clean and safe and just a few places it doesnt reach. No food is permitted on board and service stations dont have restrooms or rubbish bins. One day passes can be purchased for travel more than once in a day and tourists aged over 65 years, visiting for a few days should consider purchasing a senior SmarTrip card, saving half the cost. Trains arrive almost every 10 minutes during the day and at night possibly 20 minutes.
DC Circulator Bus:
These bright red buses have five routes and reach places the Metro doesnt. The buses are new, clean and arrive every 10 minutes with bus stops identified by a red/silver circulator sign. Once on board you can get a Circular Map.
Taxis can be waved down on the street or found outside reputable hotels. There are additional charges for extra luggage, passengers and for travel during emergencies in the snow or during rush-hour. To arrive timeously and in style theres plenty of Limousine services available but its still best to book in advance. Elite Limo will provide a quotation first.
If youre going to be driving, stopping and parking then check out DCParking.org or Parking Panda, both sites assist drivers with tips and costs for parking garages and to make parking experiences a pleasure. To save money, try out peer-to-peer car rentals where residents put up their own vehicles (including sports cars) for hire, at much cheaper rates along with full insurance, go to: www.relayrides.com. To hire a vehicle from your favourite car rental, many reputable companies are located at all three airports.