Washington, D.C is the federal capital of the United States and the seat of the House of Representatives, the Government, and the Supreme Court, as well as many federal agencies. The city offers an unparalleled array of free, public museums spanning human history. Washington, although young, is a planned city in the style of baroque residential cities. The central axis is the National Mall between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial. Many monuments, museums and representative buildings document the claim of the richest and most powerful nation in the world. Overall, the city has emerged from its somewhat boring reputation and now presents itself as a vibrant, cosmopolitan and international metropolis.
The central element of the city structure and the focal point for all
travelers is certainly the Mall, a five-kilometer-long and
500-meter-wide park-like green space where the most important monuments,
buildings and museums are located.
While the mall has representative character, Washington is also a very lively metropolis that has a lot to offer in the surrounding districts.
Downtown: Here you will find the National Mall, many theaters, museums, the White House and Capitol, Chinatown, the business district, the Verizon Center and Convention Center, West Potomac Park, Kennedy Center, George Washington University and the new national park.
The National Mall East End West End Waterfront
Washington's vibrant neighborhoods are a destination for night owls. There are a variety of restaurants, bars, pubs, clubs and hotels. There are also many embassies here, some housed in beautiful buildings.
Dupont Circle Shaw, Washington Adams Morgan-Columbia Heights
Here you will find upscale Washington with historic Georgetown. Here nightlife, colonial architecture, fine cuisine and exclusive shopping are combined, as well as the zoo and the huge National Cathedral.
Georgetown Upper Northwest
Starting point for the exploration are the Capitol and the Library of Congress. Here you will find the imposing Union Station, Gallaudet and Catholic University, the historic African American Anacostia, "Little Vatican" at the National Shrine, the National Arboretum, the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and the Atlas District
Capitol Hill Northeast Anacostia
Relatively few of the city's residents are native
Washingtonians. Surveys have shown that up to approximately 50% of
residents lived in the city in less than five years. The transient
residents, who work in politics, administration and as external
consultants and lobbyists, are extremely well educated, young and
relatively wealthy. This fact is quite at odds with the local African
American population, which is deeply rooted in local society, and much
more the sociological diversity in the district - some neighborhoods are
among the poorest and most underprivileged in the entire country.
D.C., also known as Chocolate City, has been a primarily "black" city and the center of African American culture for the last half century. It was the country's first primarily black city and was home to the largest black community until the 1920s, when it was overtaken by New York. The U Street Corridor was also known as the Black Broadway. DC Long a favorite spot for Southern African Americans, it was on the border and known for its tolerance and advancement in dealing with people from diverse backgrounds. In addition, the city had the most important black university in the country, Howard University. Washington is no longer a black stronghold, but the influence is still felt everywhere.
In recent years, Washington has experienced some gentrification. Young professional experts with tight budgets are increasingly being driven to the poorer parts of the city with cheaper housing and good connections to the city. However, the inevitable changes in these residential areas have also given rise to a variety of culturally lively districts. For example, if you want to get a feel for it, you can hike up 18th Street or U Street in Shaw or Adams Morgan.
DC and the surrounding urban area is quite international. Every third resident was born outside the country. The largest group comes from Central America, with a particularly large number of them from El Salvador. The centers of Latino culture are in Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights. Another large layer is made up of immigrants from Africa. The Ethiopian community is particularly large. It is the second largest in the world after Addis Ababa and forms a Little Ethiopia in the city. The colorful mixture of cultures of the immigrants as well as the qualified workers migrating from all parts of America in search of work on the international stage make Washington the most international city in the country.
Local politics and dissatisfaction with the relationship between the city and the government unite all Washington residents. DC is under the custody of the U.S. Congress. Since 1973, residents have been able to elect a mayor and city council, but Congress has the power to overrule all city bylaws. The 600,000 residents have no representative in Congress because the district is not a state. D.C. license plates therefore carry the slogan "Taxation Without Representation".
Washington DC (overarching IATA:WAS) is served via
1 Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (IATA: DCA), 2401 S Smith Blvd Arlington, VA 22202. Tel: +1.703.417.8000. It is located across the Potomac River in Arlington, about 2 miles south of downtown. It is served almost exclusively by national flight routes. There are international flights only to countries that allow US immigration clearance, i. H. Canada and the Caribbean. For transportation into the city, there are: The blue and yellow lines of the metro, which stop directly at the airport (Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport station). The journey time from the city center is 15 minutes and costs around 2 USD. A taxi costs about 15 dollars. Features: free WiFi
2 Washington Dulles International Airport (IATA: IAD). 16 miles west of the city in Dulles, also in the state of Virginia, on the edge of Chantilly and Herndon. The main building made architectural history with its airy architecture and curved roof. The functionality suffered a bit, you have to reckon with long distances. The strange vans between the main building and the terminals are (thank God) history, the airport now has a modern underground people mover system. The airport dates back to a time of unrestricted belief in the automobile and therefore had no rail connection for a long time. The transfer was correspondingly complicated if you didn't continue your journey with a rental car, had someone pick you up or paid around 80 to 100 USD for a taxi. In the meantime, the regional planners have recognized the mistake and extended the Silver Line metro line to the airport. In November 2022, the metro station at the airport was opened.
Metro bus 5A. It runs between the airport (platform 2E outside the terminal) and L'Enfant Plaza (Green, Yellow, Blue, and Orange Metro). This is not far from the National Mall. There are stops at Herndon, Tysons Corner and Rosslyn tube station (Blue and Orange Metro). The clock frequency is 40 minutes. Travel time is approximately one hour for the entire route, depending on traffic. A ride is $7.00, credit card or cash, pay appropriately. Attention: This is a normal city bus that only has one luggage rack, which is almost never sufficient.
Washington Flyer Coach. between the airport and the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station (Silver Metro). Every quarter of an hour, travel time depending on traffic approx. 10 minutes. Departs opposite Exit D on the Arrivals level. $5.00 one way, tickets in the airport building, modern coaches. The metro ride takes around 45 more minutes to L'Enfant Plaza and costs between USD 2 and USD 5 depending on the day of the week, the time of day and the type of ticket. Attention: Passing through the turnstiles at the entrance and exit of the metro stations is a challenge for every traveler with large luggage.
Washington Flyer Taxi. , exclusively serving the tour to the airport. The 40 to 60 minute ride will cost you $60-80.infoedit
ShuttleWizard. +310 626-0067 Airport Transfer, Private Car Service, SUVs and Limousines.
super shuttle. ,offers a door-to-door service with minibuses. Here you share the vehicle. The first passenger in a group is $29 (one-way) or $53 (return) and each additional passenger is $10 per trip. You can book them online in advance. At the airport, the cars are waiting in section 1E–1D. Tickets are available at entrance 1G. Departure is when the car is full or 20 minutes after the first passenger has boarded.
If you have some time at Dulles Airport, you can also visit the Smithsonian Institution's nearby Udvar-Hazy Center.
Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. is furthest from Washington. It is located 30 kilometers northeast of the city and 10 kilometers south of downtown Baltimore near Glen Burnie, Maryland.
Metro bus B30. runs between the airport and the Greenbelt metro station (Green Line). The ride costs $6 and takes about 40 minutes, and the metro ride downtown takes another 25 minutes. The stop is on the lower level outside Terminals A (Southwest Airlines) and E (International Flights).
ICC Bus 201 connects the airport with Gaithersburg every hour. It stops at the Shady Grove Metro Station (Red Line), among others. The ride costs $5 and takes 70 minutes, the Metro takes an additional 35 minutes to downtown. This bus also departs from the lower level outside Terminals A (Southwest Airlines) and E (International Flights).
MARC (Commuter Train). operates between BWI Rail Station and Union Station with a stop at New Carrolton Metro Station (Orange Line).
Amtrak. A free Amtrak/MARC shuttle runs between the terminal and the train station every 12 minutes (journey time 10 minutes). Travelers in a hurry can use a taxi ($8-9)
super shuttle. also offers door-to-door service for this airport. The first passenger is $37, each additional passenger is $12. You can book them online in advance. Departure is when the car is full.Edit info
A regular taxi takes 60-90 minutes and costs around $100.
The city's largest and most important train station is
Union Station, near the Capitol, where all long-distance trains stop.
Amtrak. offers connections in all directions of the country, but especially in the Northeast Corridor (Boston <> Richmond). The Capitol Limited comes from Chicago and Pittsburgh. Travel times with the high-speed train Acela (on a TGV basis, however, adapted to American safety standards and therefore heavier) to New York is less than three hours, the trains run every hour on weekdays. For price-conscious travellers, there are also trains that stop more often and are therefore somewhat slower overall.
Union Station is connected to the metro network via the subway station of the same name. The representative station building from 1907 is a sight even if you don't intend to travel.
Some Northeast Corridor trains also stop in Alexandria, Virginia. There is a metro connection to King Street station (blue and yellow lines).
If you're driving from Florida, you can also take the Amtrak Auto-Train, which runs daily from Sanford, Florida (near Orlando) to Lorton, Virginia, which is about 25 miles from DC. The train carries cars and passengers and takes a good 17.5 hours one way.
For commuters are important:
Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC). - Offers service to Baltimore's Camden Station and Penn Station. Both run to Washington's Union Station. Only the Penn Line also stops at BWI Airport. Other services run west via the Brunswick Line to Frederick and Harpers Ferry (West Virginia) through the suburbs of Silver Spring, Kensington, Rockville, Gaithersburg and Germantown.
Virginia Railway Express (AER). operates between Union Station and Fredericksburg or Manassas.
The storied Chinatown Bus, which brought thrifty
immigrants from East Coast Chinatowns to Washington, revolutionized the
region's bus transportation when the public realized that it was
possible to travel to New York City for $10. A number of bus companies
are now competing in the market with similar offers - a cheap direct
journey from point to point (boarding and alighting at a street corner
at a certain time). This circumstance also forced the industry leader
Greyhound to adjust prices downwards. For destinations off the popular
corridor D.C. ↔ Philadelphia ↔ New York City, the provider remains the
BestBus. Phone: +1-202-332-2691. - To/from Penn Station in New York City ($30); Additional to/from Dewey Beach and Rehoboth Beach in Delaware on weekends and summer ($39); Arrives/departs at Union Station and Dupont Circle. The New York buses also serve the Vienna Franconia-Springfield metro stations.
BoltBus. Phone: +1-877-265-8287. - To/from New York City and Newark. Arrive/depart at Union Station or Dupont Circle. Fares range from $1 to $33 depending on departure time and advance booking.
Eastern Shuttle. Phone: 212 244-6132. - To/from New York City ($20 weekdays, $22 weekends); Arrives/Departs 715 H St NW, near Chinatown metro station, with limited pickup from Rockville. This was the only Chinatown bus company not shut down in a May 2012 Department of Transportation raid.
greyhound. Phone: +1 800 231-2222. - From/to any major city in the country. Arrive/depart at the Greyhound bus station at 1005 1st St NE, near Union Station and the New York Avenue metro station. Trips to New York City range from $20 (book in advance online) to $40 (ticket purchased on the day of departure). Additional Greyhound bus terminals are located in Silver Spring and Arlington.
HolaBus. Phone: 202 509-9600. - To/from New York City and Richmond. Arrives/Departs 715 H St NW, near Chinatown metro station, with limited pickup from Rockville. $20 one way, $35 return.
megabus. Phone: 877 462-6342. - Serves 17 major cities in the Northeast including New York City, Baltimore, Boston, Toronto, Philadelphia and Buffalo. Prices start at $1 for bookings well in advance. Arrive/depart at Union Station; sockets, suitable for wheelchairs.
Peter Pan. Phone: 800-343-9999. - To/from New York City ($17-18) and other New England destinations; Arrive/depart at the Greyhound bus station at 1005 1st St NE, near Union Station and the New York Avenue metro station.
Tripper bus. Phone: 877 826-3874. - To/from Penn Station in New York City; Arrive/depart from Bethesda and Rosslyn Metro stations; $27 (early booking discounts); sockets.
Vamoose bus. Phone: 301 718-0036. - To/from Penn Station in New York City; Arrive/depart from Bethesda and Rosslyn Metro stations; $30-40; If you get four tickets, you get one more for free. A daily bus runs as the "Gold Bus" with leather seats and extra legroom ($60); sockets;
Washington Deluxe. Phone: 866 287-6932. - To/from New York City ($21 early bird weekdays, $25 weekends and walk-in booking); If you get eight tickets, you get one more for free. Arriving/departing at Dupont Circle and Union Station in D.C. and 34th street, Chinatown, and Prospect Park in New York City; sockets.
Washington is connected to all parts of the country
with freeways that lead to a ring road (I-495, also known as The
Beltway) that goes around the city. Numerous branch motorways and mostly
multi-lane arterial roads lead from the ring road into the city.
Chronically congested, I-495 is still the only way to travel between the
capital's suburbs most of the time. For directions, Inner Loop means
clockwise direction and Outer Loop means counterclockwise direction.
Washington is on the east coast highway I-95, which runs from Maine to
Florida. This leads past the city to the east, partially merging with
the ring road. From the south, I-395 enters the city as an extension of
Other important routes in the capital area are:
I-270 connects I-70 in Frederick to I-495 in Bethesda.
I-66 starts at West Downtown and travels 75 miles west to Front Royal, Virginia. Note: Inside the ring road, I-66 is an HOV-2 zone (each car must have at least 2 passengers): eastbound 6:00am-9:30am and westbound 4:00pm-6:30pm. The regulation affects the entire highway. Alternatives are US-50, US-29, and the George Washington Pkwy.
US-50 crosses the city and the whole country in an east-west direction. Head east to Annapolis and Ocean City. West it leads into Northern Virginia and beyond to Sacramento, California
The Baltimore-Washington Pkwy (also "B-W Pkwy") runs from I-295 in Anacostia, through Central Maryland, past near BWI Airport to Baltimore. Connections between the B-W Pkwy and the Southeast-Southwest Fwy in D.C are difficult at times due to incomplete connections.
Washington has a strict parking policy. On weekdays, visitors will hardly be able to avoid parking in multi-storey car parks. On-street parking is regulated citywide by parking meters or resident parking lots. In the business areas there are parking meters with a limit of 2 hours. Incidentally, the city center is divided into 8 parking zones. Parking there is free during the day, but also limited to two hours. If you like, you can drive your car through the city's 8 parking zones during the day and look for a parking meter overnight. Admittedly, this is not very practical. The rules are a little more relaxed on weekends, but this can change.
Parking at hotels can cost up to $30 extra, although this may be a matter of negotiation (at Union Station it's $20 for a spot - maybe this is a bargaining chip). If you have friends in town, you can get a 15-day visitor parking permit from the local police station. Better parking options and prices are often found near subway stations outside of the city center. Three of them have long term parking lots: Greenbelt, Huntington, and Franconia-Springfield. If you don't want to pay there, you have to look for a parking space in the residential areas near the underground stations.
Washington is actually very easy to explore on foot. The city also
has a reputation as the fittest in the country. Even those who take the
metro or bus to get to the city center will quickly find themselves
walking back. Many of the city's attractions are close together,
especially all the museums along the National Mall. Everyone should take
this into account when planning their trip and pack good walking shoes
and comfortable, light clothing in their suitcase. Sunscreen and enough
drinking water are therefore important for the summer. Especially in the
hot season, it is advisable to visit the museums during the midday heat
and the monuments in the early morning or later in the evening.
Washington, D.C. has a well-developed local transport network, which actually makes the use of cars unnecessary. The subway, buses and bicycles are inexpensive and used intensively. The District Department of Transportationinfoedit provides detailed information about public transportation for travelers.
Washington is divided into four somewhat unequal quadrants radiating from the Capitol: Northwest (NW), Northeast (NE), Southeast (SE), and Southwest (SW). The northwest quadrant is by far the largest, the southwest the smallest. Addresses in Washington always include the quadrant, e.g. B. 1000 H Street NE. If you don't pay attention to this, you'll quickly end up at the other end of town and not at your actual destination. The streets are arranged in a grid and are labeled east-west with letters and north-south with numbers. In addition, there are some diagonals. They are the main thoroughfares and often bear state names. Washington was smaller when it was built. Streets outside of the area, also known as "L'Enfant City", no longer fit the grid scheme so precisely. Visitors will quickly discover that there is no street with the letter "J". This is due to the poor distinguishability of the written letters "I" and "J". The "I" street is also often written as "Eye" street to distinguish it from the "L" and the "Q" can also be found as "Que", "Cue" or "Queue".
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) maintains
an excellent public transport network of trains and buses in the city.
Public transport is the best option, especially for tourists. On the
other hand, a car in the city turns out to be more of an obstacle.
The Metro is D.C.'s rapid transit system and the central element of the mass transit network. It consists of 6 colour-coded rail lines that operate underground in the city center and above ground in the suburbs. There is always a train station within easy reach at all the important places in the city and in the most important suburbs. Washingtonians are quite proud of their clean and convenient metro system. A downer can be the irregularity of the traffic. The rails are regularly maintained at the weekend. This can sometimes lead to periodic failures. The background is a major collision in 2009. Unannounced waiting times of up to 30 minutes are therefore occasionally possible. The subway draws a particularly large number of riders on the Fourth of July and during major mall events.
The price system of the metro is a bit confusing. Prices depend on
day, time of day and distance. Two children up to the age of 4 can
travel free of charge per adult. Seniors can get a discount, but require
a purchasable SmarTrip Card, which is available at Metro Center Station.
Not worth the effort for a short stay.
*Travellers with a paper fare card (see below) must pay an additional fee of $1.00.
You can buy one-way tickets (paper fare card) from machines at every station. The fare can be found in tables next to the machines. The cards are now reusable and rechargeable, so you don’t necessarily have to pay attention to the exact fare. For now, you can just top up $5 to $10 and top up as needed. With $1 added to all trips, it's often worth buying a $2 SmarTrip card. In addition to the Metro, it is also used for the Metrobus, the D.C. Circulator and some suburban buses available. It is read out by short-range radio and you only have to hold it up to the appropriate reader when you get in. The cards are also required for parking at metro stations. You can get the cards online, at all metro stations and all CVS stores in the city. Parking is free on weekends and public holidays.
There are also season tickets – the Metro pass. These cards are also available at Metro stations, but are rarely a lucrative deal for the common tourist. Some cards are also subject to restrictions. The 7-day ticket costs $16 for the bus and $57.50 for the metro. It is loaded onto a normal SmarTrip card, all others come as a fare card.
All cards are required both at the entrance and after the ride at the exit. They should be kept separate to be on the safe side. Mobile phones could possibly demagnetize the cards and make them unreadable. In such cases you can ask one of the employees in the exit area. If the amount loaded at the exit is not enough, a machine is available for additional payment.
The subway lines are color coded. In some areas, different lines
share the same platform. Here you should definitely pay attention to the
color and the designated end station of the trains.
If you are traveling late at night, you should pay attention to when the last train leaves the desired station. This information is available both online and at the station itself. The last trains of the evening always go to the regular terminus, even if the service has theoretically ended. You don't have to be afraid that you won't reach your desired station.
The consumption of food and drinks is not permitted either on the train or in the stations. Metro employees, police officers and even fellow passengers will ask people to dispose of the food if they do not comply. Otherwise, fines or, theoretically, arrest are due.
Adhering to certain behaviors makes sense in this busy mode of transport, especially in the summer when many out-of-towners use the trains. You should try not to lock the doors at the stations if you don't want to get off. Luggage should not be placed on the seats. Stand on the right side of the station escalators so that other passengers in a hurry can pass quickly on the left side.
Metro doors have no sensors and are notorious for trapping passengers or their luggage. With very full trains you should consider waiting for a train instead of being manhandled by the door. If your luggage gets stuck in the door, you can simply wait until the train driver releases the door again to secure your belongings. Please never use force, this can damage the door or the luggage.
The once opaque bus system has now become much more visitor-friendly.
You can now use the buses to reach any destination that the metro cannot
The DC circulator. is a kind of shuttle tailored to the needs of travelers. The buses run on a fixed route according to a timetable and connect the most important sights. All buses run every 10 minutes and cost one dollar per trip. The money has to be put into an ATM. It must be kept ready, as the machines cannot change.
Georgetown-Union Station “Yellow Line” — Georgetown ↔ Union Station Sun-Thu 0700-2400, Fri-Sat 0700-2400 (and 0000-0200 between Georgetown and Farragut Sq).
Union Station-Navy Yard “Navy Line” — Union Station ↔ Navy Yard near Nationals Stadium Mon-Fri 06:00-18:00. Extended service on weekends and public holidays.
Woodley Park-Adams Morgan-McPherson Square "Green Line" — operates a low-stop route through the "Liquorridor" between the Zoo, Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, U Street, Logan Circle and McPherson Square Sun-Thu 07:00- 24:00, Fri-Sat 07:00-03:30. This stretch is home to some of the city's best known bars, restaurants and clubs.
Dupont-Georgetown-Rossyln "Blue Line" — runs between Rosslyn Metro station in Virginia and Georgetown or Dupont Circle; Sun-Thu 07:00-24:00, Fri-Sat 07:00-24:00.
Potomac Ave-Skyland "Orange Line" — operates between Capitol Hill and Skyland Shopping Center via Barracks Row and historic Anacostia Mon-Fri 0600-1900 (Oct-Mar), Mon-Fri 0600-21: 00, Sat 07:00-21:00 (Apr-Sep)
metro bus. The old and reliable has hundreds of lines throughout the
capital region. As a traveler, the network may seem a bit difficult to
understand and less comfortable. There is no central bus station, no map
is available at many bus stops, and routes sometimes follow meandering
paths through the suburbs. However, if you know the routes, you can very
easily reach places that you would not find on the Metro and Circulator
Bus. The Metrobus website provides schedules and routings for all routes
in the D.C. and also for the routes into and to Maryland and Virginia.
Most routes cost $1.70 ($1.50 with the SmarTrip card). Pensioners pay
half. Two children up to the age of 4 can travel free of charge per
There is a very useful service - the NextBus. Each bus stop has a number that is posted at all stations. The service's website or the hotline +1 202 637-7000 gives you very precise information about when the next bus will arrive. Online, the whole thing even comes with active tracking on Google Maps.
Some important lines along the most popular routes are mentioned here:
16th St Line (S2, S4, S9) — North-South service on 16th St between Silver Spring Metro Station (Red Line) and East End. With it you can reach, among other things, the Fitzgerald Tennis Center and the Carter Barron Amphitheater at Rock Creek Park.
Massachusetts Ave Line (N2, N4, N6) — runs along the Massachusetts between Friendship Heights and Farragut West Metro stops. The line offers a view of the 50+ embassies along Embassy Row. This is also a good way to get from Dupont Circle to the difficult-to-reach National Cathedral and American University.
U St-Garfield Line (90, 92, 93) — intercity line from Zoo at Woodley Park through Adams Morgan/18th St, U St, Gallaudet University to Eastern Market.
Pennsylvania Avenue Line (31, 32, 36) — Another good cross-town route along Pennsylvania Avenue through Capitol Hill, downtown, Georgetown, and along Wisconsin Avenue. Running 24 hours a day, these buses serve destinations inaccessible by other modes of transportation, such as Georgetown, Glover Park, and the National Cathedral.
DC seems to be one of the last bastions of the free taxi market.
There is an almost incalculable number of smaller taxi companies. The
largest in the city area are likely
DC Yellow Cab. Tel: +1-202 544-1212 (+1 202 TAXICAB). and.
American Cab Association. Phone: +1-202 398-0529. be. The city administration offers an alphabetical list of all licensed taxi companies. Taxis are a flat rate of $3.00 for the first 1/6 of a mile. Each additional sixth costs ¢25. There is no charge for rush hour traffic, however ¢25 for each minute of waiting or driving slower than 10 mph is an additional $1.50 for each additional passenger over the age of 5 years. Bags cost between ¢25 and $2.00 depending on their size. Credit cards are very often declined. Printing a receipt is possible in all taxis.
In Maryland are the largest providers
Barwood. Phone: +1-301 984-1900. in Montgomery County and.
Silver Cab Tel: +1-301 277-6000. in Prince George's County. In Virginia mainly drives.
red top Phone: +1-703 522-3333. , in both Arlington County and Alexandria City.
Taxi drivers are required to take their passengers anywhere in the Washington metro area, although they sometimes grumble about trips to Maryland or Virginia. The only restriction is the airport. Driving on the motorway costs the usual tariff and has no upper limit. Non-D.C. taxis are not allowed to take passengers from the airport to D.C. carry. The ones from D.C. but also not to Virginia or Maryland.
For the motorist living in Washington, D.C. is on the way, there are
two messages. The good news: Road traffic is not subject to an
entertainment tax. The bad news, it's no fun either. Restricted and
expensive parking, reckless forcing of parking spaces, traffic lights,
bad roads, frequent construction sites and detours, the country's worst
traffic jams make driving discouraged. According to locals, this is for
the purpose of confusing enemy invaders.
If you don't let yourself be put off, here are a few tips: Parking on the street is usually limited to 2 hours. If you want to park longer, you should be prepared for a parking garage, which costs 10-25 dollars per day. If possible, you should avoid commuter traffic (weekdays, 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.). Finally, it is essential to follow the signs regarding the parking rules. Otherwise, your own vehicle would have been confiscated in no time at all.
Washington boasts some beautiful routes worth seeing:
Pennsylvania Ave from 14th Street NW to the Capitol.
Rock Creek Pkwy, which follows Rock Creek and then the Potomac River to the Lincoln Memorial.
Reservoir Rd from Georgetown along leafy Clara Barton Pkwy to the Capital Beltway.
Embassy Row - Massachusetts Ave between Scott Circle and Wisconsin Ave.
George Washington Memorial Pkwy - Follows the Potomac on the Virginia side to Mount Vernon.
Biking is becoming increasingly popular among both D.C. residents and
tourists. The city government is doing a number of things to support
this trend. Additional bike lanes will be created (even on the famous
Pennsylvania Ave) and parking spaces will be created. In addition to the
usual bike rental options, Washington, D.C. with Capital Bikeshare, a
rental system with fixed locations that can be used by everyone (similar
to the Call-a-Bike system in Germany). Here you need a credit card with
which you can make the booking at the machines, you pay USD 7 for 24
hours or USD 15 for 72 hours and can then use a bike as often as you
like within this time for a maximum of 30 minutes and at any time return
the station. Surcharges apply for longer use in one go. Rentals lasting
several hours (i.e. for bicycle tours outside the station area) are
therefore unattractively expensive. The next bike can be borrowed from 2
minutes after a successful return. Attention: A security deposit of 200
USD per bike will be blocked on the credit card! The station density is
medium and the area served extends beyond the district and also includes
neighboring communities. A road map with cycle paths and all stations is
available at each station, so that you can also plan longer tours
through the city, including changing bikes.
A maximum of two bicycles can be rented with one credit card. Groups should therefore have several credit cards with them.
Caution: when returning the bike to the station, make sure that the bike clicks into place correctly (first yellow, then green light and confirmation tone), otherwise the bike will not be considered returned and it can get really expensive. Sometimes it helps to lift the bike up at the back.
As a result, bicycling is an attractive alternative for visitors to explore boroughs in Washington. The central area (bounded by Massachusetts Avenue to the south, Columbia Road to the north, Connecticut Avenue to the west, and Georgia Avenue/7th Street to the east) has many quiet streets with bike lanes. In addition, both the Capitol Hill and Georgetown areas have numerous worthwhile and easily accessible bike destinations. However, cyclists should be aware of the sometimes rough car traffic, especially on the main roads. Biking on the sidewalk is permitted except in the business district between the National Mall and Massachusetts Avenue. Cyclists can use the road even if there are cycle lanes. The Ride the City DC website can help with route planning to avoid the most dangerous corners.
There are some nice bike lanes in Washington to ride on
The popular Capital Crescent Trail is a commuter and recreational bike path that connects Georgetown and Bethesda to Silver Spring, Maryland.
The Metropolitan Branch Trail runs from Union Station to Silver Spring, Maryland and is a beautiful and safe way to see some of the Northeast's notable historic districts.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Towpath is a shaded trail from Georgetown to Cumberland, Maryland. Bicycle rental is possible in some rental stations. 15 miles upstream from Georgetown, the Potomac River Falls are accessible by this trail.
The 30-kilometer Mount Vernon Trail connects the National Mall to Alexandria, VA.
Washington's BikeStation offers bike rentals, repair services, bike storage and information at Union Station. As a convenient option, there are bicycle taxis that wait for customers, especially at tourist destinations. Prices are above taxes, but are negotiable. DC Pedicabs, Capitol Pedicabs, and National Pedicabs.
The city center with mall is mostly flat. Especially towards the north and west it gets hilly with some toxic gradients. The boroughs east of the Anacostia River are also rather hilly.
Numerous top sights are concentrated on the National Mall.
The National Mall with the status of a national park is
peppered with monuments, memorials, museums and
representative government buildings, not a few of them known
worldwide. The White House, the Capitol, the Washington
Monument, the Lincoln Memorial with the water basin, the
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the Vietnam War
Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Jefferson
Memorial, the National Gallery of Art, the Air - and Space
Museum, the National Museum of Natural History and the
Holocaust Museum are just the most famous, but by no means
all, attractions, all within walking distance of each other.
However, even if it looks smaller, the mall as a whole has
its distances. It is almost 5 kilometers from the Capitol to
the Lincoln Monument.
The visitor attractions are just one side. Along the mall there are also numerous buildings in which politicians act, whose actions can be felt in the last corner of the earth.
There are ample signage along the mall, especially near metro stations. A detailed map of the national park administration can be found here (pdf).
Other museums are north of the Mall such as the new dazzling Newseum, International Spy Museum, National Portrait Gallery, American Art Museum, National Archives, Guardian of the Constitution.
While the mall offers more than enough sights for even the most avid visitor, there are plenty of alternatives beyond that. The National Zoo at Woodley Park is one of the most prestigious in the country and the nearby National Cathedral is a striking testimony that Gothic and Baroque architecture can still be built today. The district around Dupont Circle is home to Embassy Row, an impressive ensemble of over 50 foreign embassies in both historic and modern opulent houses along Massachusetts Ave, but also some beautiful small museums such as the Phillips Collection, the Textile Museum, and the Woodrow Wilson House. Furthermore, the visitor should not miss the Library of Congress (Congress Library), with its impressive architecture.
The old core of Georgetown with its old colonial buildings, the 200+ year old Jesuit campus of Georgetown University, a beautiful waterfront and the infamous Exorcist steps. Drive or taxi to even more distant and little-visited attractions like the National Arboretum in the Northeast, or the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Anacostia. The red line of the subway (Brookland-CUA station) takes you to the Catholic Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Catholic church in North America.
Height restrictions, houses cannot be built higher than the width of
the adjacent street plus 20 feet, resulting in a downtown area without
skyscrapers and giving Washington a character of its own. The downside
is a reduced supply of office and residential space with correspondingly
high rents and thus living expenses. At the same time, the city is
expanding, including into the neighboring states of Maryland and
Virginia, at the expense of the city's tax revenues.
Even a small elevation or a slightly higher roof is enough for a wide view over the city.
There are some classic vantage points. Easily accessible, the Old Post Office Tower is not far from the Mall and has a good view of the nearby federal buildings and a helpful map for explanation. Ascension is free. Also free, the Kennedy Center's rooftop terrace (in the West End) gives a view with the Lincoln Memorial in the foreground. The Washington Monument is another free Mall alternative. However, the view from small porthole-like windows made of scratched plastic is clouded. For money, the Newseum (East End) is not only a must-see museum, but also offers a close-up view of downtown. Finally, note the rooftop bar and lounge at the W Hotel (West End), just a block from the White House, although that view comes at a price.
There are numerous parks for walking and cycling. Many of the inner
city parks are frequented by ball players of all kinds such as football,
rugby, baseball, even soccer. Then there are the inevitable Frisbee
throwers. The most famous park is The Mall, but there are numerous other
parks such as the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, the National Arboretum,
the Meridian Hill Park, and the C&O Canal Towpath.
Rock Creek Park
Just a look at the city map shows that Rock Creek Park is Washington's central recreation area. It divides the city north of the Anacostia River and extends over 2,000 acres of dense forest. As a national park, it's a sanctuary for deer (which thrive for lack of predators), squirrels, rabbits, raccoon birds and even coyotes. The paved bike and walking trail is in good condition and stretches all the way from the Lincoln Memorial out into Maryland. It also connects to the Mount Vernon trail in Northern Virginia). But there are numerous trails, nature trails (including park ranger-guided tours), picnic areas, a golf course, and boat rentals on the Potomac.
Green spaces are not limited to this park. South of Massachusetts Ave there is a westbound trail to the beautiful Dumbarton Oaks Estate and Gardens, and then on to the large Archibald-Glover Park, where the trails head south and west to the C&O Canal and Palisades Park. Following the main Rock Creek trail all the way down the valley south, under Whitehurst Fwy and onto the Mall where joggers enjoy the incredible trail along the Potomac in the shadow of the monuments.
Peirce Mill, Tilden St & Beach Dr NW. Tel: +1 202 282 0927. A historic watermill in the park and a National Historic Site.
Rock Creek Golf Course, 16th St & Rittenhouse St NW. Tel: +1 202 882 7332. 18 holes, fairly original. Open: dawn-dusk daily. Price: $16/nine holes, $23/eighteen.
Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium, 5200 Glover Rd NW. Tel: +1 202 895 6070. Deep within the park, the nature center features exhibits, guided nature walks, a "show beehive" and a planetarium. Good destination for children. Open: W-Su 9AM-5PM. Price: All free.
Roosevelt Island. Phone: +1 703 289-2500. Another gem far enough off the beaten track that most visitors miss it. The Teddy Roosevelt Memorial is in the center of the island. It houses a memorial to the former US President, several fountains and stone obelisks with quotes engraved on them. The rest of the island is a natural park of forest and wetland (the latter bridged by footbridges) in the middle of the Potomac overlooking Georgetown University to the northwest and Kennedy Center to the east.
Access to the island is via a stairway on the Rosslyn side of the Key Bridge—connecting Rosslyn to Georgetown—then east on the Mount Vernon Trail to the footbridge onto the island. Rosslyn has the nearest tube station. The parking lot north of the Roosevelt Bridge can be reached by car via the George Washington Pkwy in a northerly direction (and only in this direction).
State subsidies are within reach and are a constantly bubbling source
of free events of all kinds throughout the year, but especially in
summer. Many take place on the Mall. Highlights include:
A Capitol Fourth. Where better to celebrate Independence Day than in the heart of the capital? Fireworks over the Potomac, an Independence Day parade, and a big orchestra concert, big cinema. Enormous rush. Open: July 4th.
Monday Night at the National, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave NW. Tel: +1 202 783 3372. Any type of musical, stage or dance theater at the National Theater in the East End, free admission in the Autumn. You need tickets, which are issued from 30 minutes before the performance. Waiting in line patiently included. Open: M 6PM,7:30PM, fall.
National Book Festival, National Mall wikipediacommons. Sponsored by the Library of Congress, this festival celebrates books and authors. Author readings, autograph sessions, children's book characters, postage stamps from the USA and overseas territories in a separate pavilion. Open: One Saturday and Sunday in Mid to Late September.
National Cherry Blossom Festival wikipediacommonsfacebookinstagramtwitteryoutube. Whether the cherry trees know the festival dates and bloom on time depends on the course of winter. Either way, Washington is at its most beautiful during the cherry blossom season. The window of opportunity is short, a rain can wash away the splendor. The traditional Cherry Blossom Promenade is around the Tidal Basin, south of the Mall. Crowds of people, peak surcharges from the hotels. Open: late March - early April.
National Kite Festival (at the Washington Monument). Kite flying at the Washington Monument, also competing. On the ground stands on the history of the kite, types of construction and the use of wind energy. Open: end of March.
Screen on the Green (Mall between 4th & 7th St NW) wikipedia. Classic films, often with a political background, with free admission. 'Mr. Watching Smith Goes to Washington' with the Capitol dome in the background is awesome. Early show up for sure the best seats. Picnic blanket and mingle with the people. Open: Mon 7PM, July–August.
Shakespeare Free for All, 610 F St NW (Harman Hall). Tel: +1 202 547 1122. Locals would vote the best summer festival for the annual free performances by the well-known Shakespeare Theater Company at the new Harman Center for the Arts. Tickets can be bought in advance via online lottery or on site on the day of the performance in line starting in the morning. Open: second half of August to early August September.
Smithsonian Folklife Festival wikipediacommons. This annual festival on the Mall usually has three themes: a country (2015: Peru), a region of the USA and another theme, which change from year to year. Open: late June–early July, including July 4
Washington has teams in the professional leagues of all five major US
team competitions. Here the population is divided into a CNN faction and
a sports enthusiasts faction. The latter is heavily recruited from the
suburbs and stands behind the Commanders.
The Washington Commanders are among the top teams in professional football and have been champions five times. The team is ranked the second most valuable in US professional football with an appraised value of $1.6 billion, and home games are played at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. To get there, take the Metro's Blue Line to the Morgan Blvd stop, then walk about a mile up Morgan Blvd to the stadium.
The Maryland Terrapins, collegiate team from the University of Maryland, also have many supporters in the area. The team plays at College Park just outside of Washington.
The Washington Capitals, coached by Adam Oates and led by star forward Alexander Ovechkin, are on a good run in the league. Home games are played at the Verizon Center in Chinatown.
The Washington Wizards also play at the Verizon Center. Until 1995, the team was called the Washington Bullets. Then the owner at the time, Abe Pollin, decided to change the name because he felt the name was inappropriate due to the high murder rate in the city at the time.
The Washington Mystics play in the WNBA Women's League and regularly hold the league's attendance record. The sporting success is clear, the fan group is all the larger. The Mystics also play at the Verizon Center.
The Georgetown Hoyas are the most popular varsity basketball team in Washington. They often play a more exciting season than even the Wizards. This team also plays at the Verizon Center because the college campus cannot accommodate the crowds.
The Maryland Terrapins also have a large following. The team plays just outside of town in College Park.
Three other NCAA Division I (college basketball) league teams play in the city, the George Washington Colonials in Foggy Bottom, the American Eagles in Tenleytown, and the Howard Bison in Shaw. A fourth team plays just outside the city limits, the George Mason Patriots of Fairfax County, Virginia.
The Washington Nationals, also briefly the Nats, formerly the Montreal Expos, have been playing in Washington in their new stadium on the waterfront since 2005. Also more successful in sport since 2010, star pitcher Stephen Strasburg brought baseball fever to the city for the first time in living memory and ensured sold-out stadiums. Earlier baseball teams such as the Washington Senators (1901-1960), later resurrected as the Minnesota Twins, and their 1960s revival, now in Arlington, Texas as the Texas Rangers) suffered from persistent failure.
Americans are often not aware that the country also has a professional soccer league. Washington is an exception to this, as the hometown of. DC United, the league's dominant side with four championships in 13 seasons to date. In addition, they mix successfully in the international championships CONCACAF and CONMEBOL with a CONCACAF championship and winner of the Coopa Interamericana. Last but not least, the international audience in the city and the many Latinos bring the soccer fever that the stadium of the D.C. United beyond Capitol Hill fills RFK Stadium. At least until it has moved, possibly to Poplar Point.
When it comes to classical theatre, there are essentially two
options: the large, state-run Kennedy Center in the West End and the
private Theater District in the East End. The Kennedy Center is also
home to the Millenium Stage, with daily free performances at 6 p.m.
(yes, Washington dazzles with plenty of free events). The Theater
District includes Ford's Theatre, the National Theatre, and the Warner
Theatre, all of which put on major Broadway-tested productions and other
classic plays, as well as the popular and internationally acclaimed
Shakespeare Theater Company, based at both the Lansburgh Theater and
also perform at the new Harman Hall. Whenever one is in Washington, a
visit there is always a highlight. But there is also a choice of
Shakespearean theater groups in this Shakespeare-crazy city: the smaller
and finer performances by the Folger Shakespeare Theater on Capitol
For smaller stages with lesser-known, avant-garde performances, there are various alternatives. The East End's Woolly Mammoth Theater is the best known, but there are other places to explore off the beaten track in the theater district. This leads to theaters as diverse as the Atlas Theater on H St NE, the GALA Hispanic Theater at Tivoli in Columbia Heights, or the Studio Theater in Shaw. For a spot of local color, head to the Synetic Theater Company's dance-heavy, intensely physical performances, most of which occur in Crystal City, across the 14th Street bridges.
Classical concerts are plentiful, largely due to the use of the Kennedy Center, home to the Washington National Opera and National Symphony Orchestra. The Kennedy Center dominates the local classical scene with its reputation and money; many alternatives have not emerged.
There are regular smaller concerts around town (the Dumbarton candlelight concerts in Georgetown!) but you have to look them up - the Washington Post's online events guide  is the most reliable source. Concerts, which are the most fun, are not open to the public - those who are well connected or good at flirting can try to get an invitation to one of the daily invitations from the embassies; the European embassies in particular have a reputation for good chamber concerts.
pop & rock
The two major music venues in town are the 9:30 Club and Black Cat, both in Shaw. Various other small music venues are also in this area — DC9, U Street Music Hall and Velvet Lounge are just around the corner from 9:30 Club. A few new hip spots for the local rock scene have popped up in the Atlas District, like the Red Palace and the Rock and Roll Hotel. Other big names perform at major venues downtown such as the DAR Constitution Hall, the National Theatre, the Warner Theatre, and the Verizon Center downtown. Out of town but within the metro area in the suburb of Silver Spring, Filmore has opened for medium to large concerts.
jazz & blues
It's a well-kept secret that Washington has some of the best jazz scene outside of New York City. Blues Alley in Georgetown remains premier, with an atmosphere straight out of a Spike Lee movie. But the center of the jazz scene is along Shaw's grown Afro-American neighborhood and around the U St Corridor, where Duke Ellington, who was born there, once played with, among others, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald.
Blues lovers need to look a little harder for good events. A good regular jam session takes place near the National Zoo, as does one at a Presbyterian church in the Southwest. The biggest event is the annual open-air blues festival at Carter Barron's in Rock Creek Park.
The official name of the American capital is District of Columbia. Columbia, derived from the name of the navigator Columbus, was a common poetic term for America at the time of the naming. The city of Washington is named after George Washington, the commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary War and the first President of the United States. When the cities of Washington and Georgetown and Washington County were abolished under the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871, it was determined that the portion of the district containing the former City of Washington should continue to be referred to as Washington. As pars pro toto, Washington, D.C. then became the usual name for the entire district.
When Europeans first arrived in what is now the District of Columbia
in the 17th century, it was inhabited by a Native American tribe, the
Nacotchtank, who settled along the Anacostia River. In 1749 the city of
Alexandria was founded on the Potomac as part of the Virginia colony,
and in 1751 a little further north and across the river, the city of
Georgetown, named after King George II, was founded as part of the
Province of Maryland colony.
In 1788, James Madison argued in the Federalist Papers (#43) that the future federal government must have control of the federal capital. In the United States Constitution, Congress was given the right to enact a 10 by 10 mile district for the seat of government by law. The first capital after the Constitution was ratified was New York City (1788–1790). George Washington was the first President of the United States to take the oath of office on the balcony of Federal Hall. The Residence Act of 1790 decided to make Philadelphia the capital for ten years while looking for a permanent place on the Potomac in the meantime. President Washington chose an area that included parts of both Maryland and Virginia. At that time the area consisted primarily of meadows and marshes. It was planned that the Congress would meet in the new capital on the first Monday in December 1800. So Washington is a plan capital.
In 1791, the District of Columbia was taken out of the states of Maryland and Virginia. It straddles the Potomac and was originally a square exactly 10 miles on a side, or about 10 miles. The situation came about through a bargain between Thomas Jefferson, a native of Virginia, and Alexander Hamilton, whose native New York City was the original seat of government: Jefferson supported Hamilton's plans for a national bank in exchange for Hamilton's approval of a southern capital.
Pierre Charles L'Enfant was commissioned to design the "Federal City". As inspiration, Thomas Jefferson presented him with various city maps that he had brought back from his trip to Europe in 1788, including maps of Frankfurt am Main, Karlsruhe, Amsterdam, Paris, Orléans, Montpellier, Turin and Milan. L'Enfant developed a first version for a city map, but then fell out with the clients from Congress, so that he was dismissed from the project. Further planning was then placed in the hands of surveyor Andrew Ellicott, who heavily modified L'Enfant's original plans.
The construction of the new capital began with the future official residence of the US presidents, the White House, on October 13, 1792. A commemorative plaque there still notes: “This cornerstone of the House of the President was laid on October 13, 1792, in the 17th year of the independence of the United States of America. President: George Washington, Commissioners: Thomas Johnson, Doctor Stewart, Daniel Carroll, Architect: James Hoban, Builder: Collen Williamson. Vivat Republica"
On June 11, 1800, Washington became the permanent capital of the United States. President John Adams moved his administration to Washington in June 1800. On November 17, 1800, Congress met for the first time in the new capital.
With the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801, the District of Columbia came under the direct administration of the federal Congress. The cities of Alexandria and Georgetown were incorporated into the District of Columbia, the area northeast of the Potomac was organized as Washington County, and the area southwest of the Potomac as Alexandria County.
Since elections were then organized by the states, residents of the
District of Columbia had no right to vote. Since most of them were civil
servants or government employees, this corresponded in a certain way to
the principle of the separation of powers. However, as the city of
Washington grew and non-government residents increased, this was
increasingly seen as an undemocratic anachronism.
On August 24, 1814, during the British-American War, the city was captured by a 4,500-strong British force of army and navy units. Among other things, the Capitol was destroyed and the White House damaged. President James Madison had to flee to Virginia with his administration. The British Washington campaign from August 19 to 29, 1814 had a more symbolic character and was intended to make it clear to the Americans not to mess with Great Britain ("Britain is not a country to mess around with").
Since the 1830s there have been efforts to re-incorporate Alexandria County, west of the Potomac, into Virginia. Reasons were the loss of the right to vote due to the special status of the District of Columbia, the economic decline due to the exclusive construction of federal buildings on the side of the Potomac facing Maryland and the fear that economically important slavery could be banned in the District of Columbia. After the Virginia General Assembly agreed to take back the territory in February 1846, Congress decided in July 1846 to hold a referendum on the return. In September 1846, Alexandria residents voted 763 to 222 for the return, Alexandria County residents voted 106 to 29 against; President James K. Polk then proclaimed the return. Due to reservations that residents of Alexandria County had not been adequately considered, Virginia accepted the return only after much debate on March 13, 1847.
The Compromise of 1850 prohibited the slave trade in the District of Columbia, but kept it. During the Civil War from 1861 to 1865, the number of inhabitants rose sharply due to the increased need for federal officials and escaped slaves. In 1862, the Compensated Emancipation Act ended slavery through mandatory government ransom before the Emancipation Proclamation the following year.
In the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871, the cities of Washington and Georgetown and Washington County were abolished and the District of Columbia was placed under unitary administration.
In 1902, a Senate commission presented a master plan for the
development of Washington, which became known as the McMillan Plan after
commission chairman James McMillan of Michigan. In particular, the
previous Victorian parks were replaced by the National Mall in its
current form as an open space with flanking public buildings. As part of
the New Deal, numerous new buildings were constructed or renovated in
Washington from the 1930s.
The city has had a city council since 1974 and elects a mayor. However, this representative body has only limited powers. The Congress always has the opportunity to pass resolutions for the capital beyond this local representative body. He can also dissolve the city council.
The voting rights of Washington citizens are also restricted at the national level. Only since the 23rd amendment, which came into force in 1961, have residents of the District of Columbia been able to vote for the president. However, the number of electors entitled to them is limited to that of the least populated state. As a result, the District of Columbia provides three electors; however, it would no longer be the case without this clause. The district has had a non-voting observer in the House of Representatives since 1970, but not at all in the Senate. This results in the globally unique feature that the residents of the capital of a democratic state are not allowed to vote for their parliament.
In 1978, an amendment was passed by Congress that would have allowed Washington citizens equal representation in Congress as if the District of Columbia were a single state. However, instead of the required three-quarters majority of 38 states, the amendment was only ratified by 16 states within the seven-year period. In January 2009, a proposal for the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009 was introduced into Congress that would make the District of Columbia a constituency for the House of Representatives. However, representation in the Senate is not planned. The bill passed the Senate with a clear majority, but stalled when Nevada Senator John Ensign proposed an amendment that would remove the District of Columbia's right to restrict gun ownership. This addition was also approved. So far, no agreement has been reached in the House of Representatives on how to proceed with the two proposals.
In January 2021, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act H.R. 51 re-introduced a legislative initiative that had already stalled in 2020 with the aim of making Washington, D.C. a regular state in its own right with its own MPs. It is not acceptable that 700,000 residents are not entitled to vote in Congress.
Few have Washington in mind as a shopper's paradise (in fact, even
locals happily gravitate to the many malls beyond the city limits --
Maryland and Virginia have lower sales taxes). Nevertheless, the city
has shed its somewhat outdated image in the last ten years and offers a
fresh fashion scene in addition to the classic souvenirs. The most
exciting boutiques, classic and quirky/modern shops are in Georgetown,
Adams Morgan, and around U Street. Of these, Georgetown is considered
the most established and well-known region. For upscale shopping, the
addresses are in Georgetown and Friendship Heights.
For department stores, Metro Center has a large Macy's and Filene's Basement surrounded by numerous smaller stores. The closest mall is Mall Pentagon City, across the Potomac in Arlington (Metro Pentagon City). Outlets are a little further away. However, Potomac Mills and Leesburg Corner are 40 minutes' drive away and difficult to get to without a car.
An art and gallery scene is also growing. Focal points are just north of Logan Circle. Most of the art galleries are still in Georgetown. The latter is more popular with casual buyers, as the Logan Circle galleries offer a lot of contemporary and generally high-priced work. It's worth browsing anyway.
Bookworms will rejoice in the educated areas to the west of the city. Barnes & Noble is the top dog, but specialty bookstores are plentiful, including Kramerbooks, Lambda Rising, and Second Story Books in Dupont Circle, alongside options on Capitol Hill and the East End. If you are willing to make the trek, politics & prose in Chevy Chase has a rightful claim to be the city's favorite.
Not surprisingly, all manner of souvenirs are for sale along and around the National Mall, as well as in the adjacent East End. Mostly street vendors offer their goods, often at a junk level that can hardly be topped. Some large, albeit expensive, gift shops are located at 10th & E St NW. You have a better deal in the Smithsonian museums, which all have excellently stocked gift shops.
Finally, the city's flea market, Eastern Market on Capitol Hill, is a popular Saturday or Sunday afternoon spot for antiques, secondhand books, local produce, as well as arts and crafts, photography and the like. Also a wonderful place to not buy.
Washington has a little of everything, from tasty foreign takeout
(it's easy to get Ethiopian, Afghan or Jamaican food here) to lobbyists'
fancy kitchens where credit cards can easily explode. High-end cuisine
is found in the West End, the East End, Georgetown, and especially
Dupont Circle—where dining experiences range from the steakhouse with
those suits to the six-seat nanokitchen restaurant with a $120,
30-course meal .
For cheaper dining, there are countless alternatives scattered around the city. The two notable foreign-cuisine enclaves are with wonderful Ethiopian food in Little Ethiopia and solid Chinese food in the remains of Washington's Chinatown. Salvadoran cuisine is plentiful in the north of the city, with a huge concentration of pupuserías in Columbia Heights. Pupusas are thick corn tortillas stuffed with cheese, roast pork, beans and other miscellaneous items, topped with a herb topping and an Italianate red sauce. However, any cuisine in the world can be found anywhere in Washington if you just search - as an international city it attracts people from all corners of the world for which there are expat cafes and restaurants. There are exceptions, namely Southeast Asia and Korea, but those are outside of the city limits in Maryland and Virginia.
Despite (or because of) cuisines from around the world, finding a Washington kitchen of your own is harder. But they exist: the D.C. Hot dog stand. They are everywhere, preferably around the mall. They sell the Washington-only sausage, half-smoked pork, half-smoked beef (hence called half-smokes). They have a firm bite and come on a hot dog bun, often topped with chili. Reputedly the best half-smoke out there, according to Ben's Chili Bowl on U Street.
In recent years, cupcakes have been trending, first locally but now nationally via TV shows like Cupcake Wars and DC Cupcakes. Star of the latter show, Georgetown Cupcakes, draws lines around the block with clientele from across the city and across the country. Other cupcakeries, without a TV show, easily keep up in terms of quality at a lower price. If you're in Georgetown and don't like the lines, try the delicious Baked & Wired or LA transplant Sprinkles instead. Downtown is the Red Velvet Cupcakery's destination for some of the best little cupcakes in town.
1 Amsterdam Falafel Shop, 2425 18th St NW. Very popular tiny Dutch Arabic fast food restaurant.
2 Moby Dick House of Kabob, 1070 31st Street NW. Good fast food restaurant with Persian cuisine.
Lalibela, 1415 14th St. NW. Ethiopian restaurant. Small but cheap Ethiopian restaurant with very good dishes.
3 DAS Ethiopian Cuisine, 1201 28th Street NW. Popular upscale restaurant serving Ethiopian cuisine.
4 Rasika, 633 D Street NW. Restaurant with highly acclaimed North Indian cuisine.Edit info
5 Zaytinya, 701 9th St NW, Edison Place. Hip, modern restaurant with Greek-Lebanese meze cuisine.
The legal drinking age in Washington is 21 and is strictly enforced.
Whatever bar or club scene you fancy, there's plenty of it. The hottest spots are in Adams Morgan around 18th St, Dupont Circle and nearby Logan Circle, and increasingly on K St near McPherson Square. Adams Morgan's scene is the trendiest of these three and attracts a colorful, young community. Dupont Circle's scene is arguably the largest and most established, with occasionally frighteningly opulent clubs catering to a very wealthy (partly foreign) clientele, alongside a lively gay scene. Nightlife around Logan Circle is less established than Dupont, but both areas share a lot of similarities.
If these goals seem a little high, head to the clubs towards U St and 14th St in Shaw, where an older, more sophisticated and self-proclaimed intellectual crowd meets. Shaw also offers superb live jazz with the sounds of Ellington from almost every restaurant, bar to world-class Saturday night venue. Georgetown also has its nightlife, but here the emphasis is on drinking rather than dancing. There are countless bars, with a more or less student atmosphere. Live jazz fans versus Blues Alley in Georgetown.
That's by far not all. Washington has evolved since the turn of the millennium from a city with a flat, 10-hour-closeout scene into one of the liveliest cities, with scenes spread across the city. In addition to the above-mentioned districts north of the center, Barracks Row, Woodley Park and Chevy Chase each have their own nightlife areas with mostly upscale bars that are worth a visit. Downtown is largely lacking in nightlife, Foggy Bottom is also fairly quiet despite the large student population, and the Penn Quarter is full of tourist traps. If you are looking for downtown nightlife, you should do some research beforehand.
Most visitors are looking for lodging near the Mall and Smithsonian
Museums; accordingly, most tourists end up in the East End. There are
numerous dining and nightlife options and the ability to stroll along
the mall and feels like you are in the middle of the city.
One should note, however, that proximity to the mall is not as useful as proximity to a metro station. For a more local vibe, stay at one of the many hotels just north in Dupont Circle or Logan Circle, or east in the historic Capitol Hill district. In these districts, the nightlife of the city dwellers pulsates. In addition, at least on weekends, you have the chance of curbside parking, which can save you $25-55 in parking fees charged by hotels.
The West End also offers good hotels near the Mall, catering primarily to business people in the K Street area. On the downside, the business district of the West End empties to the point of extinction in the evening. A little further west is Georgetown, perhaps Washington's most intimate district, with numerous smaller, expensive hotels surrounded by a great dining and nightlife scene. However, Georgetown doesn't have a subway station, so getting to the Mall or anywhere else requires a bus or taxi.
It is worth remembering that Washington is a comparatively small city by area and suburbs close to the city are well served by the subway. This is also a great way to save, the hotels are cheaper and charge less (or no) parking fees. In the outskirts, the hotel tax is also lower than the 14.5% in the city. It is particularly cheap to live on the outskirts of Washington Dulles International Airport, i.e. in the towns of Sterling and Chantilly, which can be reached from Washington by car in a good half hour.
Parts of Arlington and Alexandria, as well as Bethesda and Silver Spring, have good metro access and are travel destinations in their own right.
Washington has a long list of prestigious colleges. As a city shaped
by politics, the most well-known institutes are those with a political
background and connections. Georgetown University, George Washington
University, and American University programs are proven to be the best
academic programs for those with political ambitions. It also has the
best opportunities for international student exchange programs as these
universities are among the best in the world with a long list of
successful graduates from kings to African finance ministers to US
presidents like Bill Clinton.
Other major and respected institutions include Johns Hopkins SAIS, the Catholic University of America, and the University of the District of Columbia, alongside more specialized institutions such as Gallaudet University, the world's only deaf (dumb) university; Howard University as a "black" university; or the prestigious and highly exclusive National Defense University for the military elite.
It is clear that there are brilliant career opportunities for
politicians, diplomats, lobbyists, lawyers, journalists, industry
representatives (notably armaments) and public servants. Those who don't
have the right access here, especially foreigners, can easily find
accommodation in the various NGOs, in national campaign groups, or, with
top education, in embassies and consulates. Many ambitious young people
try to get their foot in the door via internships and the young
student-age population regularly increases in the summer.
With so many young career couples, the demand for childcare is almost inevitable. Nannies and au pairs, mostly through agencies, provide childcare for Washington's elite; the city has the highest rate of childcare at home in the country. However, U.S. citizens have a clear advantage, as safety concerns or negative press are not career-promoting in illegal employment. Wages can reach $800 per week for experienced workers, with free room and board.
As recently as the 1980s and early 1990s, Washington was at the
forefront of homicide counts. Since then, however, violent crime has
decreased significantly. Some neighborhoods in less-visited parts of the
city, especially those with low-income housing, still contribute to the
homicide rate. As a visitor, however, the probability of becoming a
murder victim is low: in the majority of murder cases in the USA, the
perpetrator and the victim know each other long before the crime. And
there aren't that many murders either - theft and robbery are the bigger
The greatest risk to security lies in the fact that the most dynamic areas in terms of going out and nightlife are also those that are strongholds for robbery. Robbery is a problem in the northbound Shaw/U Street and Adams Morgan-Columbia Heights neighborhoods. This contradicts the perceived perception that gentrification would have made these areas safer. The traveler does not have to avoid these districts, he would miss something, but be vigilant. Above all, avoid back roads after dark and stick to well-lit commercial streets, travel in groups, and stay reasonably sober to avoid trouble. Special attention should be paid to expensive electronic devices, which are popular items for pickpockets around metro stations.
Warnings are often given about the "Northeast" and "Southeast" sections of the city. But this well-intentioned advice is far too general to be of any real use. Some neighborhoods have real problems with violent crime, especially those with low-income housing. However, most areas in the east are quiet residential areas with significantly less violent crime than the gentrified areas of the inner-city north. And there are a number of worthwhile locations with NE or SE addresses: Capitol Hill/Barracks Row, the National Shrine, the National Arboretum, H St NE, Takoma, Nationals Stadium, etc.
Suffice it to say that the metro is comparatively safe. There is no need to be afraid to use them at any time of the day.
Smoking is banned in practically all public spaces, i. H. among
others in shops, restaurants, bars or clubs. Some, but by no means all,
restaurants allow smoking in separate rooms (there are no ashtrays,
check to be sure). There is a rumor that smokers should keep a certain
distance from the front door, but that remains a rumor. The ban on
smoking on the sidewalk in front of government buildings, on the other
hand, is not a rumor; a minimum distance of 50 feet applies here, which
is also locally signposted. The dying breed of smoking clubs, cigar
lounges etc are becoming rarer in this capital of smoke free campaigns.
Cell phones while driving cost a hundred bucks, and while police elsewhere in the country are generous, they are not in Washington. Pull over, park, then make a call. Hands-free devices are tolerated. However, if the police catches a driver committing any violation while on the phone, they are charged twice because of the distraction from the road - there are too many accidents because of this.
When visiting federal buildings or museums, you have to go through
metal detectors and a bag check. Some buildings, such as courts, also
prohibit cell phones or other recording devices. The Capitol can easily
be visited from Monday to Saturday. Backpacks are also permitted, but
not food and liquids. However, time should be allowed for the security
checks. Tours of the White House can be arranged through a congressman's
office or through the Capitol Visitor Center Visitor Services. It should
be noted, however, that German and foreign citizens are no longer able
to visit the White House for the time being.
Security guards are not the species that invented humor. Even quietly murmuring words like bomb or Bin Laden can cause real trouble. When visiting a major event or a government building, consent to the search of the person and property is required. Those who are not comfortable with searches always have the alternative of staying outside.
If the security fuss gets on your nerves, move away from the city a little, e.g. B. Toward the waterfront, particularly the Capitol Hill or Georgetown areas. Parks like Dumbarton Oaks Gardens in Georgetown or Roosevelt Island east of the Key Bridge (in Arlington) are also great for clearing your head. Better yet, get out of the city and take a relaxing stroll in Old Town Alexandria, followed by a quiet meal.
George Washington University Hospital, on Washington Circle in Foggy
Bottom, just off the Foggy Bottom metro station. In medical emergencies.
If the emergency room is full of security, it can take a while, then the
president is in there and he has priority.
Howard University Hospital
Georgetown University Hospital. University Hospital.
Washington Hospital Center
Children's National Medical Center
Farragut Medical & Travel Care, 815 Connecticut Ave NW. Phone: +1 202 775-8500. For short-term treatments. Open: Mon – Fri 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Washington Post. The Post is both one of the nation's leading newspapers and an excellent source of information on what's happening in Washington. The "Going Out Guide" on the website has listings for virtually every restaurant, bar, theater production, concert, etc. in town.
Washington City Papers. The City Paper, an alternative weekly newspaper distributed around metro stations, hotels on Thursdays. Event information on DJ performances, theatre, gallery openings at the weekend and during the week is on the back pages. The calendar on the website is practically designed. The cover story can provide a good insight into the everyday stories that are too far removed from the establishment for the Post.
Washingtonian Magazine. Includes event highlights around the city as well as recommendations for going out.
Where Magazine. "Where" is a monthly newspaper aimed at tourists and a good source of information for future events. The list of current exhibitions in the local museums is helpful (something that quickly gets lost in the daily press).
Washington, D.C. is located near the east coast of the country, about 35 km west of the Chesapeake Bay, a bay in the Atlantic Ocean. The elevation above sea level varies from 0 to 125 m. The city is located where the Anacostia River meets the Potomac River, on the left bank of the Potomac between the states of Maryland to the northeast and Virginia to the southwest.
The District of Columbia was formed from land ceded by Maryland and
Virginia in order to remove the federal government and Congress from the
grip of the then still very powerful individual states and to form a
well-planned, modern and representative capital city of the new
The original district had an area of 100 square miles (258.9 km²), which is the maximum limit required by the United States Constitution. It was a 10-mile (16.1 km) square with its corners pointing exactly to the four cardinal points.
The area on the west bank of the Potomac, originally ceded by the state of Virginia, was returned to it in 1846 because the city had grown less quickly than expected (now Arlington County and part of Alexandria). This reduced the area to 177 km². Since then, the district consists only of areas that originally came from Maryland.
Geographically, Washington D.C. divided into the four quadrants Northwest (NW), Southwest (SW), Northeast (NE) and Southeast (SE), the borders of which meet at the Capitol. Politically, the city is divided into eight districts (wards), each of which elects its own representative to the city council.
The streets are mostly straight and numbered. The streets running from east to west are arranged alphabetically (cf. Mannheim squares), those running north to south are numbered. The numbering or literacy begins in all directions at the Capitol. The large diagonal streets are called avenues and are mostly named after states.
The most famous buildings are the White House and the Capitol. However, the equally well-known Pentagon is located just outside of the city in Arlington. There are no skyscrapers in Washington because no building can be taller than the width of the adjacent street plus 20 feet. However, three buildings are not covered by this rule because they were completed, or at least planned, before the law became law in the early 20th century went into effect: the Washington Monument, the tower of the Old Post Office, and the Washington National Cathedral.
Washington is located in the subtropical climate zone with
continental influences in winter and has a humid subtropical climate
according to Köppen (effective climate classification: Cfa).
The average annual temperature is 15.2 °C, the total precipitation is 1,062 mm. The greatest amounts of precipitation are reached in June and July. On average, 40.1 days are hotter than 32 °C and 60.0 nights are colder than 0 °C.
In 2015, the population was estimated at 672,228 people, an increase of 11.7% since the last census in 2010. Washington, D.C. had 2010 officially 601,723 inhabitants (US Census 2010), of which 50.7% Black or African American, 38.5% White, 3.5% Asian, 0.3% Indigenous, 0.1% Hawaiian or from other Pacific Islands. 2.9% belonging to two or more groups. 9.1% of the total population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.
The religious communities with the largest membership in 2000 were the Roman Catholic Church with 160,048, the American Baptist Churches USA with 51,836, the Southern Baptist Convention with 38,852 and the Anglican Episcopal Church with 19,698 followers. 60,479 inhabitants were Islamic and 25,500 Jewish.
Of the city's five universities, the best known are Georgetown University (founded 1789), George Washington University (founded 1821) and Howard University (founded 1867 and one of the oldest universities serving the African American population).
Because of its unique status as a federal district, Washington, D.C. and the political representation of the residents is distinguished by a number of special features:
Washington reports directly to the United States Congress, which has
ultimate decision-making power.
From 1802 to 1871, the district had a form of municipal government that retained the administrative structures of Georgetown, a former district town that had become a borough. As a result, there were separate administrations for Georgetown, the city of Washington, the county of Washington and - until the return to Virginia - the city of Arlington. However, certain tasks were shared, such as B. the administration of the city police, founded in 1861. This proved inefficient, so infrastructure couldn't keep up with growing Washington and living standards fell.
In 1871, therefore, the city government was reformed by Congress, which created a common government for the entire district. This consisted of an eleven-member upper house appointed by the president and a popularly elected lower house of 22 members. There was also a modernization authority. As in states, there was also a governor, but he was appointed by the president. The extensive modernization measures quickly led to the financial collapse of the city, which is why the government elected by the people was abolished after only two governors in 1874.
From 1874 to 1967, the city was run by a committee of three: two commissioners appointed by the President with Senate approval, and an engineer from the United States Army Corps of Engineers. One of the three was appointed as chairman and assumed the former role of governor. Beginning in 1967, the President appointed a mayor and 9 aldermen. Several attempts to introduce genuine popular representation failed between 1948 and 1968.
It was not until 1973 that legislation was passed giving the city a mayor and a city council with 13 councillors. The city is divided into 8 electoral districts, each of which elects a city councillor. The remaining 5 councilors are elected by the whole city. There are also advisory neighborhood committees.
All laws passed by the City Council require subsequent approval of Congress. Certain powers are also expressly taken away from the City Council. The jurisdiction of the courts in the district are not changed. The legal height limit for buildings in the district must also not be changed.
As of 2020, 11 councilors were Democrats and two were independents. Republicans have not held a city council since 2009.
The district elects a delegate to the House of Representatives, who
may vote on committees but not on general voting. The district has no
representation in the Senate.
Washington residents have been eligible to vote in presidential (and therefore vice-presidential) elections since 1964. The number of electors to be determined is calculated based on the population as if the district were a federal state. However, under no circumstances may it have more delegates than the smallest state. With the current population, the city would not be entitled to more, even without this restriction.
In the event that the electoral college cannot obtain a majority for a candidate in the election for president or vice president, the capital loses its right to vote again, since in this case the house of representatives or the senate conduct the election in which the district does not have ( voting) representation.
Washington DC is considered a stronghold of the Democratic Party. Since 1964, the majority of eligible voters have voted for the Democratic presidential nominee by a margin of at least 56 percentage points. The highest result by a Republican presidential candidate in Washington D.C. Richard Nixon reached 21.56 percent in the 1972 election. In the 2008 election, Barack Obama received 94 percent of the votes cast. The mayoral elections are usually similar.
With the exception of voting in presidential elections, Washington
residents have no guaranteed voting rights and are significantly
restricted compared to residents of the 50 states. This is repeatedly
criticized, especially by residents and local politicians in Washington.
The slogan "Taxation without representation" was also used on
Washington's license plates. This is based on the slogan No taxation
without representation from the American independence movement, which
denounced the lack of political representation of the British colonies
in North America, even though they also paid taxes. Similarly,
Washington is hereby notified that residents of Washington pay federal
taxes without having federal political representation.
Therefore, there have always been proposals to eliminate this unequal treatment. One obstacle is that the district is a Democratic stronghold, so improving residents' voting rights would mean winning votes for that party, which in turn is not in the interests of the other major party, the Republicans.
One variant, which has been introduced numerous times in Congress, is the establishment of representation by law. An attempt to treat the district like a state of the appropriate size failed in 2003 early in the legislative process. Subsequent proposals were limited to establishing representation in the House of Representatives. Some attempts were made to give the state of Utah, a Republican stronghold, additional mandates to compensate for party-political shifts. The last attempt to do this was made in 2009 and failed due to amendments that were not acceptable to both houses of Congress. In addition, the constitutionality of such an election law is disputed.
One constitutionally unchallenged proposal is to pass an amendment giving residents of the District of Columbia voting rights in Congress. This was successfully done as early as 1961 with the 23rd Amendment for the right to vote in presidential elections.
A corresponding amendment was approved by both chambers of Congress in 1978 with a large majority. This would repeal the 23rd amendment and give the district equal status in congressional and presidential elections, treating Washington like a state of similar size. In order to go into effect, this required the approval of three quarters of all states, i.e. 38 out of 50, within seven years. However, this was clearly missed. By the 1985 deadline, only 16 states had agreed.
The last time Senator Lisa Murkowski made such a proposal was in 2009.
return to Maryland
There is also the idea of making the district a part of Maryland again, allowing residents to vote in elections as Maryland citizens. The District of Columbia was originally formed from parts of the states of Virginia and Maryland. In 1846 the portion taken by Virginia was returned. This could also be done with the land ceded by Maryland, with the possible exception of certain areas in the center where government buildings stand. There are general constitutional concerns as a district is designated as the seat of government in the constitution, so these plans may require an amendment to the constitution.
Another variant of this proposal is to treat Washington citizens as Maryland citizens in national elections and, if necessary, increase the number of representatives in the House of Representatives accordingly. Between 1790 and 1801 this was done in exactly the same way, so that Congress could decide this. A corresponding proposal failed early in the legislative process in 2004.
conversion to the state
Another proposal is to convert the district into a state. Congress has the power to admit new states into the Union. In the 1980s there were two attempts to pass a constitution for a new state, New Columbia. This was also ratified by the residents of Washington. Such plans could not find approval in Congress. Most recently, in 1993, the House of Representatives rejected such a proposal with a clear majority. Last but not least, there are also constitutional concerns here, since the constitution provides for a district as the seat of government.
The gross domestic product per capita in the district was US$160,472
in 2016, which puts the GDP per capita higher than in all US states.
Washington D.C. owes its prosperity to especially its status as the
administrative and political center of the United States. The most
important sectors of the local economy include tourism, finance,
education, health and research. The state employs a large proportion of
Washington D.C. workers. Diplomatic institutions and private foundations
also employ a large number of residents. The unemployment rate was 6.4%
in November 2017 (national average: 4.1%). In a ranking of the most
important financial centers worldwide, Washington D.C. 49th place (as of
Despite the high average income, the city is known for its social problems. In 2013, 18.9% of the population lived in poverty, which is due to extremely high income inequality. The rate of residents receiving food aid from the state was the highest in the country that same year. A high crime rate also makes Washington D.C one of the most dangerous cities in the USA.
In a ranking of cities based on quality of life, Washington D.C. in 2019 ranked 53rd among 231 cities surveyed worldwide.