Layover In Washington DC: The Ultimate Guide 2022

Published by: Bounce19 August, 2022

Whether you are on a short or long layover, you can be sure that Washington DC will have more than enough on offer to make your visit a memorable one. Two important things to keep in mind: firstly, don’t try to do too much, and secondly, don’t try to haul your bags with you. 

Dragging luggage will put a damper on any visit to this iconic city. Instead, store your bags at a reliable DC luggage storage service and leave yourself free to enjoy your adventure while traveling light.

A Washington Dulles Airport layover requires some forward planning because to get into town you are going to need to first catch a bus to Wiehle Reston East Metrorail station and then ride into town on the metro. The combined journey time will be around fifty minutes. Another good reason to be carrying only the basics. 

Once you hit town, all of the travel issues will melt from your memory as you immerse yourself in all that this city has to offer.

6 hour Washington DC layover


After storing your luggage and traveling to the city your Washington layover is going to have become quite short. If you don’t mind walking, a stroll from the Capitol to Lincoln Memorial will allow you to take in some of the most iconic sites in the country in a short space of time.

You will get to see the Washington Monument, the Capitol, and the Lincoln Memorial. These might all seem somewhat cliched but they have huge historic significance and as you will see them regularly on television, it is nice to be able to put them into context and be able to say that you have been there.

A short detour will also take you past the White House. Don't worry, you won't be able to miss it. Along the way, you will also pass the world-renowned Smithsonian Museum and the National Air and Space Museum though time is short and you probably won't be able to visit.

  • You can visit several famous landmarks in one straight walk.

  • Don’t try to do too much and allow time for your return journey and to clear security.

8 hour Washington DC layover


With a couple more hours to spend in Washington DC, you can explore at least some of the city’s top cultural institutions. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is part of the Smithsonian Institution which includes nineteen museums and the Washington Zoo. You can easily lose half a day in just the Natural History Museum which holds more than 145 million artifacts of the natural world and aims to showcase our part in the future of the environment.

  • The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History can easily kill at least a couple of hours, if not more.

  • Large bags are not permitted inside, so make sure you leave them at a convenient luggage storage in Washington DC.

10 hour Washington DC layover


Ten hours means that you can start to delve more deeply into what Washington DC has on offer. Many of the more in-demand attractions are in close proximity to one another which helps.

If you are traveling with kids, another visit that they might enjoy would be a tour of the International Spy Museum which is not far from the Smithsonian. Here there are numerous interactive exhibits, along with dozens of displays that will expose them to the wonders of the world of espionage. It makes for a memorable experience and one that they will be talking about for weeks to come.

  • This city is cram-packed with museums so if neither of these appeals to you, you won't have trouble finding other options.

  • If you book tickets in advance, you will save yourself time and be sure of places being available to you.

12 hour Washington DC layover


On a long Washington layover, you will be able to start to consider visits that are a little further from the downtown area. One popular destination is the Wharf. This attractive riverfront area is a great place to stroll, grab a bite to eat or wander through some of its many green spaces. 

There are a number of options to cruise along the Potomac River and get a very different perspective of the city. Often referred to as the National River because of its many links to the nation’s history, you will not only see DC from a different angle, you will also learn some fascinating facts.

 There are wide-ranging possibilities from guided boat tours to dining excursions. Because you have that extra couple of hours on your hands, you might like to consider a cruise to Mount Vernon and see the estate which once belonged to George Washington.

  • The Wharf area offers wide-ranging possibilities from dining to a visit to the fish market.

  • Cruises on the Potomac River can be informative or purely for pleasure.

  • Most companies allow you to book in advance so that you won’t lose any time.

24 hour Washington DC layover


Choose your hotel carefully on your Washington overnight layover. Ideally, you want one that will provide easy access to the downtown area and to the metro so that you can get back to the airport easily.

Having found a place to stay, you are now able to start to consider your options for a night out in DC. You won’t be short of choices and much will boil down to personal taste. One option is to spend an evening at The Hamilton Live. Not far from the White House, this venue highlights American musical talent and features both well-known and established artists. You can also enjoy a meal while there.

If you would prefer to spend your evening taking in the local atmosphere then George Town is the oldest district in the city and here you will be able to find a restaurant that perfectly fits both your budget and your tastes. You could enjoy a waterfront seafood extravaganza or move a little closer to the University to find one of those popular student hangouts.

The area is known for its stylish homes and neat rows of houses, as well as for its university and the popular riverfront.

  • Choose a hotel that allows access to both the airport and the city.

  • If your flight leaves early a wake-up call might be an idea.

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