Getting Around Washington Metro Area

With its ideal mid-Atlantic location and comprehensive air and rail service, it's easy to get to Washington, DC. And, thanks to a quick and efficient Metrorail subway system, friendly tour guides and broad, welcoming streets, it's also easy to navigate the nation's capital once you're here.

Visitors can fly into one of Washington, DC's three airports, ride a train into magnificent Union Station or navigate the region's network of major highways for a speedy arrival and easy conveyance downtown.

Once in town, hop aboard a site-seeing trolley, or take to the scenic Potomac to experience the cityscape from a different angle. Either way, you will be delighted…and inspired.

The nation's capital is one of the easiest cities to navigate and a terrific city for touring, once you understand the basics. With one of the safest, cleanest and most efficient public transportation systems in the country serviced by Metrorail (subway) and Metrobus, Washington, DC's many attractions and neighborhoods are easily accessible. One of the best ways to experience Washington is on foot, with wonderful pockets including the inspiring monuments and museums found on the National Mall as well as the intimate museums, world-class theatres and splendid gardens, squares and circles throughout the District. There are also great guided tours of the city to get you oriented.

Here are a few tips to get you started: The District of Columbia is 67 square miles and is divided into 4 quadrants: Northwest, Southwest, Northeast and Southeast. The US Capitol building marks the center where the quadrants meet. Numbered streets run north and south. Lettered streets run east and west (there are no J, X, Y, or Z streets), alphabetically becoming two syllable names, then 3-syllable names as you travel out farther from the center. Avenues named for US States run diagonally, often meeting at traffic circles and squares.

Metrorail and Metrobus provide the safest, cleanest and most efficient way of getting around Washington, DC and the metropolitan suburbs. Five rail lines and an extensive bus system connect the District with the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Train lines are named for colors: Red, yellow, blue, green, and orange. Station entrances are marked by brown pylons, capped with the letter "M" and colored stripes indicate which lines are available. Route maps are posted at each station and inside each subway car. Metrorail opens 5:30 am weekdays and 7 am on weekends. It closes at midnight Sunday to Thursday. On Friday and Saturday nights, it stays open until 3 am.