How to get to Washington by train
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Washington, DC is the capital of the United States, and as such, it offers many points of interest of governmental and historical value. DC is home to several iconic landmarks, including the White House where the U.S. president resides, the Capitol building that houses the meeting chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and the National Mall, where you can stop by the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the World War II Memorial. One of the reasons Washington, DC is among the best destinations to visit with your family is because it is home to so many world-famous museums, including the Smithsonians – 16 museums scattered across the District, most of which are open every day of the week, and even better, every single one is free.
D.C. is not just about politics and museums, though. The city’s active nightlife fittingly ranks it among the biggest party hubs in the country. Head to the vibrant Dupont Circle neighborhood to check out some of the finest restaurants that the nation’s capital has to offer, or join a food tour of Georgetown to get a taste of the area’s culture along with its cuisine.
Opened more than 100 years ago in 1907, Union Station is the largest transportation hub in Washington, D.C. with almost 5 million travelers passing through it every year. As the official headquarters of Amtrak, Union Station is the main train station in the U.S. capital. It is also a major hub for intercity bus travel, serving as the main bus station in D.C. for a number of carriers, including Greyhound, BoltBus, Peter Pan Bus Lines and OurBus. Union Station offers easy transit connections to places all over D.C. with dedicated stops for the city’s metro, bus and streetcar services, as well as commuter rail for travelers to and from the surrounding areas. Additionally, with a full blown shopping mall on the premises, Union Station is also among the most popular shopping destinations in the nation's capital.
Popular train stations in Washington:
What train companies travel to Washington, District of Columbia?
Located in District of Columbia, Washington is accessible by train from 349 other cities. You can choose from 1437 daily scheduled trips when you search for trains to Washington on Wanderu. Amtrak Northeast Regional usually has the most trains on any given day.
Looking for other ways to get there? Bus tickets to Washington are also available..
Train companies serving Washington
|Train||Routes||Avg. Time||Avg. Price|
|Amtrak Northeast Regional||47||3h 24m||$153.67|
|Amtrak Silver Service||39||6h 5m||$200.81|
|Amtrak Crescent||31||4h 14m||$195.19|
|Amtrak Vermonter||28||3h 17m||$159.16|
|Amtrak Cardinal||27||3h 29m||$190.19|
|Amtrak Carolinian||23||3h 19m||$140.82|
|Amtrak Palmetto||20||3h 2m||$126.58|
|Amtrak Capitol Limited||15||10h 59m||$175.23|
|Amtrak Acela||11||3h 5m||$311.40|
Amtrak is the largest passenger railroad service in America, offering daily intercity trains to hundreds of destinations across the contiguous United States, as well as several cities in Canada. Every Amtrak train comes equipped with comfortable seats with extra legroom, as well as several four-seat areas with tables in the middle. In addition, each car has a freshly cleaned restroom, free WiFi and power outlets at every seat. There are also snack bars where you can purchase drinks or food during your journey.
The Northeast Regional is Amtrak’s passenger rail service that runs between Boston, MA and Virginia Beach, VA, connecting over 50 cities in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. While the line’s downtown-to-downtown train service makes traveling between the biggest cities in the Northeast convenient and hassle-free, the train’s amenities make the journey comfortable and relaxing as well. Amtrak passengers can enjoy large seats with extra legroom and power outlets, as well as free WiFi and clean bathrooms. The Northeast Regional is the busiest and most popular among all Amtrak routes.
The Silver Service is an Amtrak train line that runs from New York City to Miami, connecting the largest cities in the Mid-Atlantic region with key destinations in the South and many places across the Sunshine State. Two trains, the Silver Meteor and Silver Star, collectively comprise the Silver Service. The trains come equipped with a variety of sleeper cars that travelers taking an overnight train can choose from, as well as a variety of amenities like free WiFi, power outlets, and a café car.
The Crescent is Amtrak’s passenger train service that runs from New York to New Orleans by way of Atlanta. As an overnight service, the Crescent offers a variety of amenities and accommodation options. There’s also a café car where you can enjoy freshly prepared meals and a variety of soft and alcoholic beverages. Like all Amtrak trains, the Crescent offers free WiFi, power outlets and extra legroom.
The Vermonter is an Amtrak passenger train that connects St. Albans, VT to Washington, D.C. by way of New York City. The journey is renowned for the beautiful scenic views that it presents as it passes through the Green Mountains and the Berkshires. Aboard the Vermonter, passengers can enjoy free WiFi, power outlets at every seat and extra legroom. You can also grab a bite to eat or enjoy a refreshing beverage from the train’s café.
The Amtrak Cardinal is a long distance passenger rail service from New York to Chicago, connecting a total of 31 cities. As one of Amtrak's most scenic train routes, the Cardinal is a popular train line connecting the Northeast to the Southeast, and offers top-notch comfort thanks to its seats with extra legroom, free WiFi, power outlets, and snacks available for purchase in the Cardinal Café.
The Palmetto is an Amtrak train service that runs a total of 829 miles from New York City to Savannah, GA, connecting 20 cities from the Northeast to the Southeast along the way. Traveling is comfortable on the Palmetto, thanks to the train’s free WiFi, power outlets, and seating with extra legroom.
Passing through seven states, 16 cities, and various National Parks, Amtrak Capitol Limited connects Washington D.C. and Chicago, on 750 miles of railroad. Taking over 17 hours for a complete trip, these trains offer various overnight accommodations and feature panoramic observation cars where passengers can enjoy exceptional scenery. The trains include various options for food; however, WiFi connectivity is not available onboard due to the rural nature of the route.
The Acela is Amtrak’s flagship high-speed rail service. Connecting 15 cities along the Northeast Corridor of the United States, the Acela is Amtrak’s fastest running passenger train, developing a speed of up to 82.2 mph. Acela trains are equipped with free high-speed internet, power outlets and extra comfortable seats. In addition, all Acela passengers have access to the line’s signature Corridor Café where they can unwind and enjoy a freshly prepared meal with a glass of wine. As it is Amtrak’s most premium service, the average Acela train ticket often costs more than other lines' offerings.
Which train carrier has the best service to Washington?
Based on customers travel reviews, travelers who booked on Wanderu rave about traveling to Washington by train with Amtrak Palmetto giving them a 4.6 rating out of 5.
Travelers also mentioned that Amtrak Vermonter had the most comfortable train service to Washington taking into account the seats and amenities that Amtrak Vermonter offers. They rate Amtrak Vermonter a 4.5 out of 5 when it comes to just how relaxing and enjoyable their experience was onboard.
If you are looking to arrive to Washington punctually, travelers suggest that Amtrak Northeast Regional has the best on time performance on their train schedules to Washington, rating them a 4.7 based on their on time arrivals.
Frequently Asked Questions
$5.46 is the cheapest price for a train ticket to Washington, according to recent searches on Wanderu. You can use our search to check if this price is currently available on buses from your city to Washington. In the last month, trains from Burke to Washington had the lowest average price at $8.19. In general, these cities tend to have the cheapest trains to Washington:
The main train station in Washington is Union Station. As the busiest station, it has the most train arrivals, although some trains may make other stops in and around Washington.
If you don’t mind staying outside of downtown, some of the most affordable in Washington, D.C. are Arlington, VA, and Alexandria, VA. Both towns lie across the Potomac River from D.C., but have convenient bus and train options into the city.
If you’re willing to pay a bit more, you can find reasonable accomodations in D.C. proper near Dupont Circle, a trendy area with cafés, bars, art galleries and shops. As a bonus, the neighborhood is a short walk away from the museums and monuments of the National Mall.
Baseball fans may consider staying near the Capitol Riverfront, about a mile south of the U.S. Capitol building. The neighborhood is a relatively new development, with hip bars and restaurants, and is just a short walk to Nationals Park.
The best way to get around Washington, D.C. is by taking the Metrorail. D.C.’s subway system, the Metrorail is incredibly convenient, with stops across the city. Fares vary based on time of day and the distance between stations, so if possible, avoid traveling during rush hour. The Metro bus system is equally easy to use, especially in the Downtown D.C. area.
The Smithsonian Metro Station is an important stop for anyone wanting to visit the Smithsonian Institution museums, as well as the monuments on the National Mall (such as the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument). Additional nearby Metro stations include Metro Center and L’Enfant Plaza, which may be a little less crowded than the Smithsonian station.
Many Metro stops are named after the sites they’re close to, making the system especially easy to navigate.
Washington, D.C. is full of free activities sure to keep you busy. A walk along the National Mall will take you to most of the monuments and the Smithsonian Institution buildings. The Natural History Museum and the National Air and Space Museum are arguably two of the most compelling museums. Smithsonian’s National Zoo is free, too. (All Smithsonian attractions are free.)
Baseball fans may consider attending a Washington Nationals game when in season. The team has only resided in Washington, D.C. since 2005, but has seen much success since making the move from Montreal, winning their division title four times since 2012.
Or if you prefer to do some casual perusing, head to Georgetown. DC’s oldest neighborhood is the perfect place for shopping. For those with a taste for history, visit the Mansion on O Street and see how many of the mansion’s 70 secret doors you can find.
Perhaps your most important meal in Washington, D.C. is the one you’ll eat after trekking around the National Mall and through the Smithsonians: Expect to be hungry, so plan ahead. Two great options just a short walk away are The Partisan and Oyamel Cocina Mexicana. Slightly farther but still close, you’ll find Old Ebbitt Grill, the oldest saloon in Washington.
Near Washington’s Union Station, if you want a quick bite before catching your train or after arriving, consider Fare Well — a classic diner with reasonable prices and killer buffalo cauliflower dip. A few blocks northwest, you could also try Busboys and Poets, which serves a solid brunch.
Other great options in the District include Le Diplomate, a French-style bistro, and the barbecue restaurant Federalist Pig, where you’ll find dishes inspired by politics.
Almost 2,000 trains arrive into Washington, D.C. daily, so there’s no bad time to visit by train. Because it’s the capital of the United States, a lot of people commute into the city for work, so you may want to avoid arriving or departing during rush hour.
In terms of seasons, summer in D.C. is humid and crowded, so it might be best to avoid the busy season. Spring has the blooming of Washington’s iconic cherry blossoms, and fall has impressive foliage, but allow us to make a case for visiting D.C. in winter. So many of Washington’s top sites are indoors (the Smithsonian museums), and you’ll be able to jump from one to the next without the crowds.
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