From Washington, D.C. to New York City: 4 Best Ways to Get There

Written by Lavanya Sunkara
Feb 26, 2020

From the heart of the U.S. government to the cultural capital of America, there are many ways to travel. Getting from Washington D.C. to New York is a breeze, thanks to planes, buses, and trains. The easiest mode still remains flying, but if you are looking for a more leisurely or affordable way to travel between these two big Eastern cities, there are many ways to do so.

Catch an early morning flight to reach NYC in time for lunch, followed by sightseeing and dinner and a Broadway show in the evening. Travel through states like Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey by way of train, bus, or car for a weekend in New York City. Allocate at least a few days if you are visiting for the first time to explore its world-class museums and cultural attractions, catch sports games and concerts, and dine at fine restaurants.

Start planning your trip to New York City from Washington D.C. with our list of the four best transportation options, along with things to keep in mind with each choice. The ideal way will ultimately depend on your comfort level, budget, and personal preferences, but keep your itinerary in mind when picking the right mode of transportation.

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1. From Washington, D.C. to New York by Train

Statue of Liberty and the New York City skyline

Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, train travel is a reliable and easy way to go from Washington D.C. to New York City, especially during the winter months, when other means experience extensive delays. Travel aboard the Amtrak Acela Express from Union Station to reach NYC's Penn Station in just over three hours, comparable to the time it may take you to get to and from the airport, go through security, and fly. The trains leave as early as 5am, reaching NYC around 8am.

More importantly, the train connects you to the centers of both cities; arriving at Manhattan's Penn Station makes it easier to get on with your day of sightseeing right away with help from connecting trains. Some of New York City's attractions, like Times Square and Broadway, are within walking distance of Penn Station; Central Park, the Museum of Natural History, and the Met are accessible via the subway.

While the Acela offers nonstop service with Business and First classes, the Northeast Regional train is a bit cheaper and only adds 30 minutes to the overall commute. Both trains have quiet cars and cafés and provide Wi-Fi, so you can stay connected.

2. From Washington, D.C. to New York by Car

Times Square at night

When you have the time and desire to drive, the ride from Washington D.C. to New York City can be doable in four to six hours, depending on traffic and road conditions due to weather. Driving is advisable if you are traveling with family or friends, or if you are bringing pets (Amtrak only allows small companion animals). Driving also gives you an opportunity to stop wherever, for a meal or to add a bit of sightseeing. Highlights along the way include Philadelphia's historic sites and attractions, Baltimore's National Aquarium, and the Jersey shore beaches.

The best route to take is I-95 North through Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, connecting to the New Jersey Turnpike and entering the city via the George Washington bridge, Lincoln tunnel (for Midtown), or Holland tunnel (for Downtown).

Keep in mind that there are several tolls along the way; an E-ZPass makes passage through toll plazas quicker. If you are renting a car and already have an E-ZPass, bring it with you to use, otherwise rental companies charge a daily fee to use their own transponders, or bill you later with an administrative fee.

3. From Washington, D.C. to New York by Bus

Sunset over the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan

Avoid the hassle of driving and save money otherwise spent on gas and tolls by opting for a bus ride, which takes approximately five to six hours. Catch a Greyhound bus from Washington's Union Station to Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City.

Other companies like Megabus, BoltBus, and Peter Pan also leave from Union Station and offer curbside drop offs in Midtown, while the Chinatown Bus has a few departure points in D.C. and leaves you in Chinatown. Most bus companies offer Wi-Fi onboard, power outlets, reserved seating, and onboard entertainment.

Bus lines have buses leaving regularly daily, with Greyhound leading the charge with double the number of buses. If you are looking to travel in more comfort, opt for the Washington Deluxe bus, which has fewer passengers, larger seats, extra legroom, and provides complimentary Wi-Fi, a bottle of water, and movies on your mobile device.

4. From Washington, D.C. to New York by Plane

Aerial view of Lower Manhattan

A convenient way to travel between Washington D.C. and New York is by plane. Major airlines like Delta, United, and American Airlines have non-stop shuttle service daily. Although the actual flying time is around an hour, time getting to and from the airport and clearing security could easily add two to three hours to your commute.

The airport closest to Downtown D.C. is Reagan National, which is accessible by a short cab ride or Metro. However, a shuttle to Dulles International or Baltimore/Washington International Airport can also get you to NYC airports with more flight options. Flights depart as early as 6am. Passengers can fly to any of the NYC area airports, John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia, or Newark International Airport, all of which have connections to public transit.

Take the AirTrain to connect to Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) or the MTA subway from JFK to reach various points in the city; the M60 bus from any terminals at LaGuardia brings you to 125th street in Manhattan, where you can connect to local trains with the free transfer; the AirTrain New Jersey Transit trains from the Newark airport will get you into Penn Station in the heart of New York City. NYC Airporter or Go Airlink NYC (the official airport shuttle partner) also offer shuttle buses and vans you can use to transfer from any of the area airports to major transportation hubs in the city.

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