Terminal Drop-Off Charge

A £5 charge now applies to vehicles dropping off passengers at the designated drop-off zones, located directly outside the terminals. Discounts and exemptions will apply. Free drop-off will be available at the Long Stay car parks.

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Face coverings remain mandatory at Heathrow

Face coverings are mandatory at the airport and we encourage everyone to wear one at all times, unless they’re exempt. Passengers can purchase face coverings at several retailers at the airport including Boots and WHSmith. 

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  • Overview

    Its location handpicked by George Washington for its position between the South and the North, Washington D.C. is the patriotic and political heart of America. With its low-profile skyline, the capital is a city of green parks and open spaces, grand buildings, historic landmarks and marbled museums. Just beyond the celebrated monuments are quirky neighbourhoods supporting a thriving cultural scene with scores of top-notch restaurants, shops and evening entertainment.

    Shortly after the capital district was created in 1791, French architect Pierre L'Enfant was commissioned to plan the town out of a wilderness. As he pegged out streets 150ft (45m) wide and one grand avenue 400ft (122m) wide and a mile (1.6km) long, the local landowners thought he'd gone mad as was wasting valuable land that could be used for farming. But his forward thinking paid off as L'Enfant's layout of the city can still be clearly seen and navigated logically.

    After politics, tourism is the capital's main industry. It plays host to millions of people annually who come to explore famous sights such as the US Capitol, the stately White House, the Lincoln Memorial and the soaring Washington Monument. The most well-known sights are located along the National Mall, a green park stretching from the US Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial on the Potomac River, which includes several memorials to great US Presidents of the past, as well as the outstanding museums of the Smithsonian Institute. Almost all major attractions are free.

    Besides political sights, Washington is also a city of unique neighbourhoods, each with its own character and culture. The most celebrated of these is historic Georgetown, with elegant colonial houses, boutiques, classy restaurants and a lively nightlife. One of the most colourful neighbourhoods is the Bohemian district of Adams-Morgan with an assortment of eclectic stores, while the arty suburb of Dupont Circle is an affluent business and residential area with excellent restaurants, art galleries and shops that make up the centre of D.C.'s gay community.

    National Mall

    Extending for more than two miles (3km), from the US Capitol to the Potomac River, the tree-lined grassy strip known as the National Mall is the central hub for tourists in Washington DC. It's home to the tapering Washington Monument; the Lincoln, Roosevelt and Jefferson Memorials; the Capitol Building; the White House; the museums of the Smithsonian Institution; and the National Gallery of Art. The Mall is at the heart of the city's social life, it being a site for many celebrations and festivals, as well as joggers, picnickers, food vendors and strollers. The Tidal Basin, a beautiful lake famous for the blossoming Japanese cherry trees in spring, lies to the south.

    Transport: Smithsonian metro station
    Opening time: The park is open 24 hours daily.
    Website: www.nps.gov/nama
    The Washington Mall The Washington Mall Jorge Gobbi
    US Capitol

    Sitting atop Capitol Hill with its giant white dome visible from all over the city, the Capitol Building is probably the most prominent landmark in Washington DC. The heart of the US government, it contains the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. Statues of important historical figures fill its halls while paintings and frescoes decorate the rotunda, depicting 400 years of American history. The enormous circular space capped by the 180-foot (55m) high dome is the hub of the Capitol, with a symbolic fresco masterpiece at its centre.

    Address: East Capitol Street NE & First Street SE
    Transport: Union Station Metro, Federal Center NW or Capitol South stations are all within walking distance
    Opening time: The Capitol Visitor Center is open to visitors from 8.30am-4.30pm.
    US Capitol, Washington DC US Capitol, Washington DC Matt H. Wade
    White House

    The residence and headquarters of the President of the United States since 1800, the White House sits at the edge of the National Mall. The palatial building has undergone numerous alterations under each incumbent, like the exercise pool for Roosevelt's polio affliction, Jacqueline Kennedy's famous Rose Garden and the glitzy additions of a hot tub and humidor for Clinton. Tours visit several rooms on the Ground and State Floors, including the Oval Office, the State Dining Room and the East Room, the publicised scene of presidential receptions and other social events. American citizens can book these tours through their Member of Congress and foreigners must book through their embassy in Washington DC.

    Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Transport: McPherson Square, Federal Triangle or Metro Center metro stations
    Opening time: Tuesday to Thursday 7.30am-11.30pm, Friday to Saturday 7.30pm-1.30pm, closed Monday and Sunday.
    White House White House Mark Skrobola
    Washington Monument

    In recognition of his leadership in the fight for American independence, the Washington Monument was built to commemorate the first president of the United States, George Washington. The tallest structure in the city, the gleaming white obelisk offers 360-degree views of some of the most famous sights in the world, including the White House, the Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial. The monument, a 555-foot (169m) marble spire, stood uncompleted for 37 years and a change in the colour of stone halfway up marks the two building phases. Climbing its steps is prohibited but a free elevator conveys visitors to the gallery that provides unparalleled views of Washington DC and across the Potomac River.

    Address: 2 15th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
    Transport: Smithsonian metro station
    Opening time: Open daily 9am-10pm.
    Website: www.nps.gov/wamo
    Washington Monument Washington Monument Jeffrey
    Lincoln Memorial

    The grandiose Lincoln Memorial is a tribute to the 16th US president, who preserved the Union during the Civil War and ended slavery. In the centre of this temple is a huge marble statue of Abraham Lincoln, staring out over the Reflecting Pools towards the Washington Monument and Capitol Hill. Carved in the walls of the memorial chamber around the statue are inscriptions of two of his most famous speeches, the Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address. The memorial is the site of numerous demonstrations committed to justice, most notably the Civil Rights March in 1963 when Martin Luther King delivered his classic speech.

    Address: 2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW
    Transport: Foggy Bottom metro station
    Opening time: Open daily 24 hours.
    Website: www.nps.gov/linc
    Lincoln Memorial Lincoln Memorial Jeff Kubina
    Federal Bureau of Investigation

    The FBI Experience, a self-guided tour, is open to the public and explores the Bureau's past and present. The tour takes visitors through crime laboratories and past displays of thousands of confiscated weapons and illegal items seized during narcotics operations. There are exhibits on crime fighting techniques and counterintelligence operations, as well as terrorism, agent training and famous cases. Due to security reasons, the tours are only available to US citizens and tours must be booked at least four weeks in advance with FBI clearance needed to enter the building. Those in search of espionage history should rather go to the nearby International Spy Museum.

    Address: 935 Pennsylvania Avenue
    Transport: Federal Triangle metro station
    Opening time: Monday to Friday 9am-3pm.
    Website: www.fbi.gov
    J. Edgar Hoover Building J. Edgar Hoover Building Aude
    International Spy Museum

    The International Spy Museum features the largest collection of publicly displayed international espionage artefacts in the world. It is the result of years of planning and advice by former officials of the CIA, FBI and KGB. Interactive exhibits cover the history of spying and espionage techniques during the 20th and 21st centuries. There is also a section dealing with high-tech gadgets such as bugs and tiny cameras, with interactive stations exploring disguises, code breaking and threat analysis. There are several interactive exhibits like safe and code-cracking, escape rooms and polygraph tests, experiences which are combined with special effects and live action. The museum complex includes a restaurant, spy-theme cafe and shop.

    Address: 800 F Street NW
    Transport: Gallery Place/Chinatown or National Archives/Navy Memorial metro stations
    Opening time: Open daily from 9am to 7pm.
    The International Spy Museum, Washington
DC The International Spy Museum, Washington DC David
    Smithsonian Institution

    Nicknamed the nation's attic, the Smithsonian Institution is one of the world's finest research centres, with 17 of its museums and a zoo located in Washington DC. The museums contain collections of historical importance on almost every subject. They include the National Air and Space Museum, packed with full-size space and aircraft, including the Wright brothers' plane; the Natural History Museum, with the Hope Diamond and the world's largest stuffed blue whale; and the American History Museum, displaying the original Kermit the Frog. Others include the Freer and Sackler Galleries of Asian Art, the African Art Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Arts and Industries Building, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the National Portrait Gallery. The Smithsonian Museums are a fantastic attraction for families in Washington DC, and a wallet-friendly one as admission is free.

    Address: Smithsonian Castle Visitor Center, 1000 Jefferson Drive
    Transport: Smithsonian metro station. The DC Circulator bus provides transportation between the museums.
    Opening time: Opening times vary depending on the museum - see the official website for details.
    Website: www.si.edu
    National Museum of American History National Museum of American History lorax
    US Holocaust Memorial Museum

    The United States Memorial Museum is a memorial to the millions of Jews murdered by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945. There are three floors, starting with the occupation of Poland, then the Holocaust and finally the aftereffects of the war and liberation of the camps. While the exhibits convey the scale of the genocide through voice recordings, personal belongings of victims and Nazi propaganda, the Hall of Remembrance remains a quiet place of reflection, filled with dozens of burning candles lit in memory of the victims. The permanent exhibition's graphic content can be disturbing and is not recommended for children under 11 years of age.

    Address: 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place
    Transport: Smithsonian metro station
    Opening time: Daily 10am to 5.20pm.
    Website: www.ushmm.org
    Tower of Faces, Holocaust Memorial
Museum Tower of Faces, Holocaust Memorial Museum Dsdugan
    Ford’s Theatre

    On April 14th, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated while watching a performance at Ford's Theatre in Washington DC. He was shot by an actor named John Wilkes Booth who sympathised with the Confederates in the ongoing Civil War. Today, Ford's Theatre is both an active performance venue and historical site, with the Ford's Theatre Museum containing artefacts related to the assassination, including the Derringer pistol Booth used. Across from the theatre is the Petersen House, which is where President Lincoln finally died early the next morning. Tours are limited to groups of 20 people at a time so should be booked in advance to avoid disappointment.

    Address: 511 10th Street NW
    Opening time: Opening times vary day to day - check the website for details.
    Ford Theatre, Washington DC Ford Theatre, Washington DC Ingfbruno
    National Archives

    While looking at historical papers may sound dull compared to some of Washington DC's more light-hearted museums, the National Archives is one of the most popular attractions in the city, housing priceless documents from US history, including the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation and even the 1297 version of the Magna Carta. All these documents are displayed to the public in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, along with other collections of photography and historical memorabilia. Apart from the historic documents, the impressive building itself makes a visit to the National Archives worthwhile.

    Address: 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Transport: Metrorail Yellow or Green line to Archives/Navy Memorial station. Metrobuses 30, 32, 34, 36, 53, A42, A46, A48, P1, P2, P4, P17, P19, and W13 stop at the National Archives.
    Opening time: Open daily 10am-5.30pm (last admission at 5pm).
    National Archives National Archives David Samuel
    Washington National Cathedral

    One of the largest cathedrals in the US, the Washington National Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, is a magnificent Gothic Revival structure standing 301 feet (91m) tall. The interior is just as grand, with the long, narrow sanctuary framed by buttresses, chancels, transepts and beautiful stained glass windows. The most famous of these is the Space Window, which contains a piece of moon rock brought back by Neil Armstrong from the Apollo 11 mission. The cathedral is the final resting place of noted figures such as Helen Keller, President Woodrow Wilson and Admiral George Dewey.

    Address: 3101 Wisconsin Avenue NW
    Opening time: Visiting hours vary depending on the day and the planned church services - check the official website for details. Guided tours are conducted at 10.15am Monday to Saturday and at 1pm on Sunday.
    Washington National Cathedral Washington National Cathedral Agnostic Preacher's Kid
    Kennedy Center

    One of the most prestigious performing arts centres in the US, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is also its busiest, hosting roughly 2,000 performances each year for an audience totalling nearly two million people in its eight separate performance halls. It is home to the National Symphony Orchestra, and has commissioned hundreds of new works in various disciplines, including theatre, dance and jazz and folk music. Each year five artists or groups are awarded the Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime contribution to American culture and the performing arts in a gala ceremony televised nationally. There are a number of interesting tour options for those who don't have the time or money to take in a performance.

    Address: 2700 F Street NW
    Transport: Metrorail Orange or Blue line to Foggy Bottom/George Washington University Station. Metro bus #80 stops at the Kennedy Center.
    Opening time: Tours depart roughly every 10 minutes. Building opens daily at 10am.
    Kennedy Center for the Performing
Arts Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Steve
    National Zoo

    The Smithsonian National Zoological Park, commonly known as the National Zoo, is a wonderful attraction for families on holiday in Washington DC. As part of the Smithsonian Institution, the zoo has no entry fee and offers visitors the chance to explore 163 acres (66ha) of habitats containing more than 1,800 animals, a fifth of which are endangered. The star attractions of the zoo are definitely the giant pandas while other popular exhibits include the Great Ape House, Elephant Trails, Lion/Tiger Hill, Cheetah Conservation Station and Seals and Sea Lions.

    Address: Rock Creek Park, 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW
    Transport: Metrorail Red line to Cleveland Park station. Metrobus lines L1, L2, and L4 stop at the Zoo's Connecticut Avenue entrance, and H4 stops at the Harvard Street entrance.
    Opening time: 8am to 7pm, last admittance at 6pm.
    National Zoo National Zoo David

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    While the city of Washington DC's humid subtropical climate has distinct seasons, with extreme variations between summer and winter, the weather is also known to be unpredictable. Summers (June to August) tend to be very hot and humid with average highs of 88°F (31°C); the conditions exacerbated in the heart of the city by all the concrete and steel. Autumn and spring are the best seasons to visit, when days are chilly but bright and clear; although sudden rain or snowfalls are possible. In winter (December to February) the city is subject to heavy snowfalls, averaging 17 inches (43cm) a year, and sudden arctic blasts or frozen rainstorms, with average low temperatures in winter around 27°F (-3°C).

    Washington DC has a humid subtropical climate, and the nation's capital experiences four distinct seasons. Summers are usually hot and humid, while winters are chilly and damp. The hottest months of the year are usually July and August, with average high temperatures of about 80°F to 88°F (26°C to 31°C). Thunderstorms are common in the summer due to the combined heat and humidity. Winters can be very cold, often with snowstorms, and temperatures in December to February average between 28°F and 43°F (-2°C and 6°C). Spring and autumn are the mildest times of year, with high temperatures in April and October averaging comfortably around 68°F (20°C). Spring is usually the best time to travel to Washington DC, when temperatures are mild, humidity is low and the cherry blossoms are in bloom.

    The city's many politicians and their expense accounts ensure that Washington DC has some fantastic dining options to suit every budget and taste. From glamorous upmarket restaurants dripping with style, to roadside stalls and eateries, this city offers many kinds of cuisine for many different budgets.

    Fresh seafood, crab, oysters and rockfish are among the most popular choices on restaurant menus, with special emphasis on dishes made with locally-caught crabs, such as crab cakes, blue crabs, crab legs, crab soup and even crab chips, potato chips unique to Washington DC. A popular spice is Old Bay, which is locally made and used to season just about everything from peaches to popcorn.

    Most restaurants are centred around the Midtown, downtown and Penn Quarter areas with the very upmarket eateries close to Capitol Hill and frequented by businessmen and businesswomen. Dupont Circle and the West End are also great areas for restaurants. A tip of about 15 percent is expected in restaurants and it is customary to make reservations before dining out.

    1789 Restaurant

    Located in an 18th-century townhouse, the antique setting combined with the food makes 1789 a premiere dining experience. Its menu is contemporary and seasonal, enhanced by the fresh regional ingredients, along with excellent wine pairings. There is also a good-value pre-theatre menu available, as well as an after hours menu. Reservations essential. Open for dinner nightly.

    Address: 1226 36th Street NW

    Zaytinya is one of Washington DC's top restaurants, Greek or otherwise. Travellers with adventurous palates can dig into mezze delicacies like goat flatbread, crispy veal sweetbreads and grilled octopus, while vegetarians will find plenty to choose from. There is a reduced-price lunch menu offering sandwiches, salads and shawarmas, and even a brunch menu available until 2.30pm.

    Address: 701 Ninth Street NW, Edison Place
    Belga Café

    For Belgian cuisine at its very best, look no further than Belga Café. This stylish eatery with tasteful décor is a favourite in Washington DC with locals and out-of-towners alike. Sample its delicious four cheese croquettes or the Lotte mit Jenever, bacon-wrapped monkfish fillet with Jenever beurre blanc. Open Monday to Friday for lunch and dinner. Saturday and Sunday brunch and dinner only.

    Address: 514, 8th Street, SE
    Bombay Club

    A favourite dining spot for the Clintons when Bill was in office, Bombay Club is known for its gorgeous setting and regional, gourmet Indian cuisine. Dishes range from fiery green chilli chicken and tandoori dishes, to rogan josh, biryanis, dals and lobster malabar. The Sunday champagne brunch is popular. Lunch Monday to Friday, dinner daily. Reservations essential.

    Address: 815 Connecticut Avenue NW (Downtown)
    Capital Grille

    If you're in the mood for a steak, there's no better place to go in Washington DC than the aptly-named Capital Grille. The elegant mahogany-panelled dining room creates the perfect backdrop for the restaurant's famous dry-aged steaks and fresh seafood, accompanied by an extensive wine list with thousands of choices.

    Address: 601 Pennsylvania Ave NW
    Fogo de Chao

    Carnivores will be in heaven at Fogo de Chao, Washington DC's top Brazilian restaurant. Waitrons deliver skewers of meat while you tuck into the signature churrascarias beef. The name means 'ground fire' and refers to the gaucho method of roasting meat. Unfortunately, vegetarians will have to content themselves with the salad bar and vegetable sides.

    Address: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave NW
    Birch and Barley

    Birch and Barley is loved by both locals and tourists for its delicious comfort food, like pan-seared rainbow trout, honey-glazed duck breast and their special bratwurst burger. The brunch menu is equally tasty with offerings that include waffles, French toast and sticky buns, with 555 varieties of beer for drinks. Brunch is served on weekends, dinner daily, but the restaurant is closed on Mondays.

    Address: 1337 14th Street NW
    Baltimore-Washington International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated 9 miles (14km) south of Baltimore and 32 miles (51km) north of Washington DC.
    Time: GMT -5 (GMT -4 from March to November).
    Getting to the city: The Amtrak train station has trains going to both central Baltimore and Washington DC; the BWI Marshall Station offers free and frequent shuttle services between the station and terminal, with a shuttle operating every 25 minutes. Both MARC and Amtrak run trains to Union Station in DC. A light rail service goes from the airport to Baltimore costing US$1.60. Taxis are available outside of baggage claims and cost about $25 to Baltimore and $63 to Washington DC. Public buses include Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Bus Service, which serves the greater Washington area. There are also various bus shuttle services to both cities, some dropping off at the central hotels. App-based ride services like Uber and Lyft are available.
    Car Rental: A car rental facility is linked to the airport terminals by a free shuttle service, which leaves from the lower level terminal every ten minutes. Car rental companies include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, Next Car, Paylesss, and Thrifty.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available from the lower level of the main terminal. The only taxi service that is authorised by the airport is BWI Airport Taxi. Taxis charge upwards of $60 for the 30-60 minute drive into the city; credit cards are accepted.
    Facilities: There are ATMs, bureaux de change and postal services throughout the terminal, as well as wifi. Facilities for the disabled are good. Other facilities include restaurants, bars, shops, a duty-free, a business service centre and information help desk.
    Parking The Hourly Garage is in front of the terminal and costs $4 per hour and $22 per day. The daily garage is connected to the terminal by shuttle buses and costs $12 per day. Long-term parking costs $8 a day.
    Washington Dulles International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated 26 miles (42km) west of Washington DC.
    Time: GMT -5 (GMT -4 from March to November).
    Getting to the city: The Washington Fly Silver Line Express Bus provides a direct link to the airport, operating every 20 minutes to the Metro Silver Line station, with a fare of around $5. The coach service tickets can be bought at arrivals door 4 in the main terminal. A bus service is available at the station for transport to areas not serviced by Metrorail.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies include Advantage, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National and Thrifty.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are also available all day and night from the lower level of the main terminal. The only taxi service authorised to serve the airport is Washington Flyer. Taxis charge around $68 for the 30 to 60 minute drive into the city; you may pay by credit card. Ride-hailing apps are available.
    Facilities: There are ATMs and foreign exchange services available. Other facilities include a multitude of restaurants, bars, shops and duty-free shopping, business services, tourist information, and hotel reservations.
    Parking Hourly parking at Washington Dulles International Airport is available in the parking garage adjacent to the terminal building and starts at $6 per hour, going up to $30 per day. Daily parking garages 1 and 2 are cheaper and are connected to the terminal by shuttle buses available at curb 2D and 2F.
    Ronald Reagan Washington Airport
    Location: Three miles (4.8 km) south of Washington DC.
    Time: GMT -5 (GMT -4 from March to November).
    Transfer Between Terminals A shuttle service is available throughout the airport to various terminals and parking. There are walkways between the terminals that allow passengers to walk between concourses without re-clearing security.
    Getting to the city: The airport has a Metrorail station connected to the concourse level of Terminals B and C which offers connecting service to downtown Washington DC. Metrobus provides service to Washington DC on weekend mornings when the Metro isn't operating. There are several shuttle companies that offer door-to-door service within the city.
    Car Rental: There are several car hire companies with offices at Ronald Reagan Washington Airport, including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty, Payless, and Enterprise. Rental car counters are located on the first floor in the Terminal Garage A.
    Airport Taxis: There are taxi stands located near the baggage claim exits of each terminal. The taxis are metred and charge additional fees per person and bag.
    Facilities: The airport has ATMs, charging stations for computers and cell phones, foreign exchange offices, a chapel, post office, a spa, and a number of shops and restaurants within the terminal. There is also a USO Lounge available for American military personnel. There is complimentary wireless internet access throughout the airport.
    Parking Parking at DCA costs $6 per hour in the terminal parking lots and $25 per day. The Economy parking has no hourly rate, but cost $17 per day. Shuttles are available to transport passengers from the parking lots to the terminals.
    Washington DC

    Atlas District is arguably DC's trendiest bar and club scene. Other popular areas include the Adams-Morgan neighbourhood, Dupont Circle along Connecticut Avenue , the Penn Quarter and historic Georgetown. The city's hippest nightlife can be found in these areas, with just about everything on offer, including dance clubs, jazz and rock bars and pubs. The best place to go for gay clubs is Dupont Circle.

    Arlington Row is a more laidback area that attracts crowds of all ages, where excellent live music is the order of the day. If a comedy show is what you're after, check out the Warner Theatre to see who's on stage. If you can't decide what you want, the Boomerang Bus stops at half a dozen venues, giving tourists a chance to sample some of the best of Washington DC's nightlife.

    Washington DC also has a first-rate performing arts scene, presided over by the renowned Kennedy Center. On any given night there is a wide variety of performances, both local and international, ranging from Shakespeare, opera and ballet to jazz, rock bands, and Broadway shows. Ticketmaster and InstantSeats.com offer tickets to pretty much any event, while TICKETplace at 407 7th Street offers discounted last-minute tickets to anything that isn't sold out.

    Shopping in Washington DC almost competes with politics for attention. The USA's capital offers everything from trendy boutiques and shopping malls, to 24-hour bookshops and renowned farmer's markets. Visitors to Washington DC will walk (or fly) away with their bags full!

    Some of the best shopping opportunities are in Georgetown, the nation's oldest neighbourhood, home to up-scale designer boutiques, or The Shops at Georgetown Park, containing designer labels like Ann Taylor, Polo, and Ralph Lauren. The Georgetown Flea Market is good for antiques, jewellery, books, rugs, toys, and linens. Dupont Circle, also an attractive historic neighbourhood, has designer boutiques such as Betsy Fisher and vintage shops like Secondi, as well as a good farmer's market. The Adams Morgan area, previously somewhat dilapidated, now contains a number of eclectic independent shops and boutiques. Penn Quarter is also a good shopping neighbourhood, particularly for antiques, art, home décor, and collectibles.

    On Pennsylvania Avenue, the White House Visitor Center and Political America sell authentic and reproduction campaign buttons, signed photos, letters, and other American memorabilia, which make wonderful patriotic souvenirs. The National Mall has great gift shops and museum stores, and is the best place to find popular Washington DC souvenirs like miniature replicas of the White House and various monuments. The National Archives Gift Shop also offers reproductions of the Declaration of Independence and other famous documents.

    Shoppers should keep in mind that a non-refundable sales tax is charged, but not included on the sticker price of items. Tax is added at the register in Washington DC shops, so prices will be a bit higher than first expected.

    Getting around Washington DC is relatively easy as most attractions are within walking distance of one another and the streets are fairly easy to navigate. The city is laid out in a circle around the White House, with 'spokes' radiating out from it. Washington DC has an excellent public transport system that includes buses and the Metrorail subway, which has stations at or near almost every tourist attraction. The system operates until midnight. The efficient Metrorail subway system provides services throughout the city, and to the Virginia and Maryland suburbs, and is used by means of a computerised fare card.

    The extensive Metrobus network fills in the gaps, but is more complex to use and is slower due to heavy traffic; bus transfers are free and valid for two hours from boarding. Bus, train, or combined one-day passes are available. Although most visitors to Washington DC arrive by car, it is often easier to use public transport as traffic is heavy, and parking in the city is difficult and expensive. Taxis are a good way of getting around for short distances and they are cheaper than most other major cities in the US.

    The bustling and exciting city of Washington DC contains a multitude of must-see attractions, including the iconic statues, buildings and museums that have become synonymous with the capital and have made regular appearances in TV shows and movies.

    The National Mall, lined with important landmarks, museums, and monuments, is the best place to start. Iconic attractions along this stately stretch include the Washington Monument, the White House, the Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial, all musts for history and politics buffs.

    Another world-renowned site in this area is the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, a thought provoking and hugely worthwhile exhibition. Culture lovers will enjoy the National Gallery of Art and kids of all ages will love the International Spy Museum. Another popular attraction on any tour of Washington DC is a drive along Embassy Row.

    On sunny days, the National Zoo is a great kids activity in Washington DC, with rare giant pandas making a visit particularly memorable. The city's many parks and gardens are also great for running off excess energy and enjoying the beautiful weather in spring and autumn. Children will love the cotton-candy pink Cherry Blossom trees in the Tidal Basin each April.

    Visitors intent on lots of sightseeing should purchase the Washington DC Explorer Pass, which entitles the bearer to admission to many of the top Washington DC attractions at reduced rates. However, many of the best things to see in Washington DC, including the Smithsonian Museums, the National Archives and Ford's Theatre are free to the public, making sightseeing in Washington DC a very affordable activity.