Washington Dulles Airport parking
IAD Airport parking includes over 20,000 spaces on-site, which is a considerable amount for a mid-sized airport. These are supplemented by various off-site parking lots. The on-site parking garages and lots offer hourly, daily, economy and valet options, with electric vehicle charging stations available, too. A cell phone lot for pick-ups is located close to the economy lot and rental car center.
Picking up and dropping off
Pick-up and drop-off zones are signposted outside the arrivals and departures levels of the main terminal building. If you want to leave your car so you can see passengers off, hourly parking is available in the main parking lot immediately opposite the terminal. A cell phone lot is also available close to the economy lot, where you can stop if you need to wait for your passengers to clear customs and baggage reclaim.
The main parking lot opposite the terminal offers the most convenient parking options. A valet parking service can be found in the hourly parking lot; you just need to drop your car off and leave it to the valet to find a parking space for you. Add-on services such as a car wash and dry-cleaning can be provided; when you return, the car will be warmed up and waiting for you curbside at arrivals.
Valet parking is also available at off-site lots at IAD.
Hourly and daily parking
Short-term hourly and daily parking options can also be found in the main parking lot. Hourly rate parking is superbly located for the terminal and recommended for those stopping at the airport for just a few hours. The daily spaces are still very convenient and offer a more economical rate for passengers taking short weekend trips or traveling on business.
Two further parking garages are located just beyond the main garage, but are still within a few minutes’ walk to the terminal and offer a slightly more economical daily rate than the main parking lot, a great choice for passengers on weekend or week-long vacations.
The most economical on-site parking option is the economy lot, which is a short distance away from the terminal. It has regular free shuttle buses to departures, so, despite being further away, it only takes a few minutes to get from the lot to the terminal entrance.
Park and Ride
Extra parking options are available at a range of secure off-site lots, providing both self-park Park and Ride and valet parking facilities similar to the on-site services.
If you're not in a hurry and you want the best value for your money, Park and Ride is often the best choice. You park yourself off-site and catch a complimentary 10-minute shuttle bus to the airport. When you return, you can catch the same shuttle bus back to your car.
Guide to Washington Dulles Airport
- (+1) 703-572-2700
- VA 20166
- MT (Main terminal), CA/B (Concourses A and B) CC/D (Concourses C and D)
- Car, bus, rail, taxi, rental
- Free access throughout terminals
Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) is based in Virginia, just over 27 miles (43.4 kilometers) outside of central Washington DC. Almost 22 million airline passengers travel through the airport every year, primarily from the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan area, making it one of the 25 busiest airports in the USA.
United Airlines is the primary carrier at IAD Airport, with more than 10 times the passenger count of other major flight operators, such as American, Delta, Southwest and British Airways. United operates on almost every popular route, including domestic destinations such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver, and the major international routes, including London, Frankfurt, Paris and Dubai.
A regional strategy aims to move domestic flights to Ronald Reagan Washington Airport and all international flights to Washington Dulles, which will transform it into a key international gateway, particularly when it comes to transatlantic travel. Total passenger numbers have declined slightly over the last decade, but the international passenger count is increasing.
Current development and construction reflect this pattern, with expansions being carried out on the international terminal as well as considerable investment being made into its overall efficiency, including improvements like a new AeroTrain system. Long-term goals involve expansions such as new terminals, concourses and runways.
Location of Dulles Airport
Located to the west of Washington DC, about 27 miles (43.4 kilometers) from the Downtown area, Washington Dulles Airport is in the VA 20166 ZIP code. Primarily serving Washington DC, it is also an option for air travelers from Baltimore, Hagerstown, Frederick, Gaithersburg, Alexandria, Annapolis and even Richmond, Wilmington and Philadelphia.
There are two main options for reaching Dulles International from central Washington DC. The Dulles Access Road is the most direct route, whilst the alternative is the I-66 that runs from the Potomac River in the city to just south of the airport; you need to take exit 53 to reach the airport. From outside of Washington DC, the I-95 east-coast road connects to the I-66 in the city center. The I-270 is the main route into the city from the west; it connects with the I-66 via the I-495 loop road just outside DC.
Public transport options include the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrorail Silver Line, which runs from the east of Washington DC through the city center and out to the airport; the line stops short of the airport, but shuttle buses are provided for the remainder of the journey. Bus services are provided by Metrobus to connect with the city center and by the Fairfax Connector to connect with Wiehle-Reston East Station on the Metroline Silver Line.
History of Dulles Airport
Washington Dulles Airport came about when the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) decided Washington DC needed a second airport to serve it after World War II. A range of sites were considered, but the current one was eventually chosen in 1958 and named after John Foster Dulles, the US Secretary of State at the time under President Eisenhower.
Flights began in 1962, but the airport initially drew criticism as a white elephant due to it is distance from the city. One of the unique design fixtures may not have helped; Dulles was fitted with mobile lounges that carry people from the terminal building to their flight, which affected efficiency.
Passenger numbers grew throughout the 1960s with carriers like American, Braniff, Delta, Eastern and Trans World Airlines (TWA) all utilizing the airport and the area around it was developed into the Dulles Technology Corridor; a conglomeration of technology and defense companies sometimes called the Silicon Valley of the East. Jumbo jets arrived in the 1970s, which eventually brought about the first flights between Dulles and Europe, so a round of expansions was initiated to cope with growing demand.
The development and construction extended throughout the 1980s to introduce larger terminals and concourses, an on-site Washington Dulles Airport hotel and parking lots. A surge in passenger numbers ushered in the 1990s and drove a further series of major expansions, including an International Arrivals Building. By the end of that decade, 20 million travelers were using the airport every year and it was one of the fastest growing in the world.
Dulles Airport currently has a great offering of food, drink and shopping, but there are several improvements underway to extend the diversity further still. A variety of options can be found on every concourse, but Concourse B has the widest choice for shopping and food at present.
All concourses lead on from one another beyond the main terminal building, so it’s easy to find your way around. If you do need any help, look out for the Airport Ambassadors in their yellow and blue uniforms or the Travelers Aid team. Either can be found at information desks and throughout the airport.
If you have any advance inquiries about special assistance, for example, it's often best to contact your airline first. For any other questions, you can call Dulles Airport customer services on (+1) 703-572-2700.
- Short-term parking
- Long-term parking
- Economy parking
- Valet parking services
- Covered parking garages
- Cell phone lot
- Accessible parking
- Electric vehicle charging stations
- Complimentary tire inflation and jump starts
- Train connections and bus stations
- 24/7 free airport shuttle buses and Aerotrain
- Rental car center
- CLEAR and TSA PreCheck
- Nearby hotels
- Hotel shuttles
- Airline lounges including shower facilities
- USO lounge
- Gifts and souvenirs
- Duty free
- Fashion apparel, luggage and accessories
- Gadgets, technology and entertainment
- Books and newsstands
- Fast food and snacks
- American, Mexican, French, Asian and Italian food
- Bakeries, desserts and yogurt
- Deli, sandwiches and subs
- Art program
- Live music performances
- Interfaith chapel
- Smoking lounges
- Nursing stations
- Children's play area
- Pet relief areas
- Airport Ambassadors
- Travelers Aid
- Currency exchange
- Meeting spaces
- Lost and found
Washington Dulles Airport hotel and parking
Hotel and parking packages are offered by several hotels located nearby to provide up to two weeks of free parking for any passengers who stay at least one night in the accommodation.
Packages need to be booked in advance, but cancelations are almost always allowed and each hotel provides a complimentary shuttle bus to the airport terminal.
Plenty of familiar hotel chains provide the packages, ranging from high-end to budget. Homewood Suites by Hilton Dulles offers a fully equipped suite with a kitchen, a stove, a grocery shopping service, a hotel gym and free breakfast. The Wingate by Wyndham Chantilly/Dulles and Best Western Dulles have fitness centers and free breakfasts and the Sheraton Herndon Dulles Airport Hotel provides room service and hotel restaurants.
At the cheaper end of the scale, Comfort Inn Dulles and Hyatt Place Herndon Dulles both provide a free breakfast with your room, whilst Aloft Dulles Airport North simply provides a comfortable room with WiFi and TV.
Top things to do in Washington Dulles Airport
Enjoy the airport arts program
Dulles International Airport exhibits a range of artwork and performances all-year-round to celebrate the creativity and beauty of the Washington DC region.
This ranges from installations specific to the area to rotating temporary exhibitions featuring local subjects, by local artists and local schoolchildren.
There are historical displays like the record-holding, human-powered Daedalus 87 aircraft and popular live entertainment performances by musicians, singers and dancers, including a classical music series throughout November. Check with the Dulles International Arts Program website for the latest information on performances.
Opportunities to unwind before flying
Everyone unwinds differently, so Dulles Airport provides a range of options to suit all preferences. The Be Relax Spa has concessions on Concourses A and B to provide simple, quick massages and beauty treatments that are easy to fit into limited time at the airport; there are back, neck and hand massages as well as manicures, pedicures and facials available, plus a shower to freshen up afterwards.
A very different kind of wind-down is available for younger travelers at the FunWay play area. It’s a great way to exhaust young passengers before they fly and there are plenty of seating points and charging stations around for parents to use.
Unusually for a modern airport, Dulles also offers smoking lounges inside the terminal building if you don’t want to go back outside to smoke. You’ll have to pay a small fee, but you won’t have to go back through security to get back to your traveling party.
Browse the airport shopping
Concourse B is the place to go shopping for a great selection of high-end brand names.
You can find fashion apparel and accessories from Michael Kors and Vera Bradley, luggage from Coach and Tumi, jewelry from Landau, gifts from Swarovski and cosmetics from Estee Lauder, MAC, Kiehl's and L'Occitane.
Concourse A, which is in the same satellite building, also offers Burberry, Erwin Pearl and Montblanc stores. Of course, the airport also offers plenty of bookstores and general apparel for essentials or forgotten items of clothing.
Relax in an airline lounge
One of the best ways to wait out a delay or layover is inside an airline lounge; few passengers realize you can buy a day membership for most of the lounges at IAD.
There are plenty of options at Dulles Airport, with all of them providing a comfortable member's lounge, free snacks and drinks, WiFi, newspapers and TVs. The lounges that stand out are those provided by Lufthansa, British Airways and Air France, since they all have the luxury of shower facilities, which is something a rarity in modern airports.
Find the best airport restaurants
You can find some exceptional fine-dining experiences and delicious local flavors throughout the various concourses at IAD.
Wolfgang Puck has been establishing restaurants at many an airport, including, of course, Dulles. Its internationally influenced menu sports a variety of Italian, Asian and American dishes. Local outfit, Chef Geoff's, is all about superbly crafted American favorites, with the burgers a top choice, whilst another DC favorite, &pizza, serves up bespoke quick-cooked pizzas.
For something a little different, though, it has to be Bistro Atelier for all the flavors and quirks of a French bistro amidst the busy surroundings of an American airport.
Top things to do near Washington Dulles Airport
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Free to the public 364 days a year, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is the third-most visited museum in the world and, indeed, the most visited in the USA. Its collection of over 127 million specimens is located 27 miles (43.4 kilometers) from Dulles International Airport, exhibiting geology, human origins, paleobiology, mammals, insects, the oceans and human culture amongst many other temporary displays.
It’s just the kind of family activity you’ll need if you’ve got a few hours to kill in DC.
Sat nav instructions: 10th St. and Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20560
National Portrait Gallery
Another part of the Smithsonian Institution about 28 miles (45 kilometers) from Dulles International Airport, the National Portrait Gallery shares a building with the Smithsonian American Art Museum and focuses on portraits of famous Americans and world stars.
The combination of paintings and photography includes portraits of American Presidents like Lincoln, Washington and Franklin all the way through to Obama and Trump. Artists and entertainers are also represented, including Charlie Chaplin, Beauford Delaney and Ethel Waters, and significant historical figures like John Brown, Frederick Douglass and Osceola.
Many of the pieces are iconic images that are a thrill to see in front of you. Despite this status, the museum is usually comparatively quiet due to its location away from the National Mall, so it’s a real pleasure to explore at any given time.
Sat nav instructions: 8th St NW and F St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Home to the US Congress, the Capitol building sits at the top of Capitol Hill about 31 miles (49.9 kilometers) from Dulles International Airport.
The Capitol is an impressive neoclassical building that includes separate wings for the House of Representatives and the House of Congress, all sheltered under a cast-iron dome weighing around 4,500 tons (8.9 million lbs).
Tours are provided daily for tourists with expert guides who wonderfully convey the history and functions of the building and the legislature it houses. There's also a museum, cafeteria and a direct tunnel to the Library of Congress.
The US Capitol is a must-visit for history and politics buffs, but, even for those with a passing interest, it’s a delight to take in the awe-inspiring architecture, murals and sculptures inside.
Sat nav instructions: East Capitol St NE and First St SE, Washington, DC 20004
International Spy Museum
As a unique museum concept and the largest of its kind in the world, the International Spy Museum feels quite fitting in a city that is home to the Pentagon and the FBI.
Based 27 miles (43.4 kilometers) from IAD Airport, the museum covers all aspects of the craft, history and role of espionage, ranging from evidence of spying in Biblical times to present day cyber-surveillance.
There's extensive information on real-world operations and significant figures, particularly through World War II, and regular special exhibitions covering topics like espionage in the movies. Topping off the attraction are interactive experiences simulating a spy mission for visitors to try their hand at; it’s engaging, educational and plenty of fun for kids - don’t leave this stone unturned.
Sat nav instructions: 800 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004
Martin Luther King Jr Memorial
Washington DC has an endless list of memorials dotted throughout the city and particularly around the National Mall, but some stand out above the others; the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial is one of them.
Featuring a simple design approach, it conjures a special kind of atmosphere, particularly when it’s lit up at night. The inscribed quotes from some of King's most famous speeches will inspire you as much today as they did crowds when they were first spoken.
The memorial site, which is situated 29 miles (46.7 kilometers) from Dulles International Airport, covers four acres (1.6 hectares) and, despite its popularity, is a perfect spot for some contemplative thought.
Sat nav instructions: 1964 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20245
Washington National Cathedral
The sixth-largest cathedral in the world and one of the tallest structures in DC is located only 26 miles (41.8 kilometers) from Washington Dulles Airport.
Designed in the Neo-Gothic style found in many British cathedrals and complete with a striking rose window, vaulted ceilings and intricate stone carvings, the Washington National Cathedral is a building to behold. It features one of the most famous and contemporary stained-glass windows in the world - a commemoration of the Moon landings.
There's so much to take in that you can walk around the cathedral for hours and be stunned by the beauty and craftsmanship of it all. There are tours available to explain much of the history and design, whilst the building also includes an observation gallery with wonderful views across the city.
Sat nav instructions: 3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016, USA
Blues Alley is a spectacularly authentic back-alley jazz and blues venue in the Georgetown neighborhood, which is only about 25 miles (40.2 kilometers) from IAD Airport.
The legendary spot has hosted an incredible list of exceptional artists over the years; Tony Bennett, Eva Cassidy, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Gil Scott-Heron and Sarah Vaughan are just a small sample of the great names that have graced the stage.
The small and intimate performance room puts the stars within feet of the audience and the bar and kitchen provide the sustenance for gigs almost every night of the year.
Sat nav instructions: Blues Alley Northwest, Washington, DC 20007
Ford's Theatre has been an important theater venue in the city since 1860, but it’s perhaps most famous for being the site of President Lincoln's assassination.
It was closed for decades after the assassination in the belief that staging entertainment there was inappropriate, but it was eventually restored and re-opened as a theater in 1968.
A museum was added in the Petersen House next door in 2012 to create the Ford's Theatre National Historic Site. It's strongly recommended to visit both buildings to truly take in all the history that surrounds the site, which is around 28 miles (45 kilometers) from Washington Dulles Airport.
Sat nav instructions: 511 10th St NW, Washington, DC 20004
The White House
Probably the most famous building in the USA, the White House is located 27 miles (43.4 kilometers) from Washington Dulles Airport and is the official home and workplace of the President of the United States.
It was completed around 1800 only to be largely burnt down by British troops a few years later, but it was quickly rebuilt and refurbished for continued use by sitting administrations.
Exclusive pre-booked tickets could allow you to see most of the ground floor and take in the remarkable décor, art and other artefacts that have been collected over centuries’ worth of Presidential terms.
Sat nav instructions: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20230
Washington Dulles International Airport has an unusual layout for an airport, with a single main terminal leading on to two satellite concourse buildings placed one after the other. The first set of concourses are lettered A and B, followed by C and D in the second satellite building. Everything is connected by a complimentary AeroTrain people-mover.
Most airlines fly from Concourses A and B, with C and D reserved for United Airlines, which is the main carrier at the airport. A small set of gates in the main terminal building are referred to as Concourse Z where Air Canada and Frontier provide their departures and arrivals.
If you need help finding your way at the airport, look out for the information desks and for members of the Ambassadors program and IAD Travelers Aid. They can answer a range of basic questions about the airport and provide directions and instructions for reaching different concourses and other areas.
If you have any questions in advance of traveling, call IAD customer services on (+1) 703-572-2700.
|Delta Air Lines||CB|
|KLM Royal Dutch Airlines||CA|
|Royal Air Maroc||CB|
|South African Airways||CB|
|Southern Airways Express||TBC|
|SAS Scandinavian Airlines||CB|
|United||CA / CC / CD|
How to get to Washington Dulles Airport
In the VA 20166 ZIP code, Dulles International Airport is about 27 miles (43.4 kilometers) from the center of Washington DC. The most direct route traveling from the city center is the Dulles Access Road, which runs directly to the airport and takes 30-40 minutes.
An alternative route is to take the I-66 out of the city, taking exit 53 north on Sully Road, which runs to the airport; this route takes 45-60 minutes.
If you're traveling from outside Washington DC, the I-95 connects the capital to the other major east-coast cities and connects to the I-66 for the airport via the I-495 loop road that encircles DC. Traveling from further west, the main routes into the region are the I-66 itself and the I-270, which also connects to the airport via the I-495 and I-66.
Various Metrobus services run to the airport, with one route running from L'Enfant Plaza Station in the center of DC out to the Dulles Terminal. Further services from the Fairfax Connector run to Wiehle-Reston East Station on the Metrorail Silver Line.
Greyhound buses run to Union Station in the city center, from where the Metrorail Red Line and then Silver Line (switching at Metro Center Station) will get you to the airport.
There are no direct routes to IAD Airport by rail, but the WMATA Metrorail Silver Line terminates about seven miles (11.3 kilometers) away, after which shuttle buses are provided to take you to the airport terminal. Amtrak services run to Union Station in central DC where the Metrorail Red Line can be caught to get you to the airport by switching to the Silver Line at the Metro Center.
Avoid the worst security queues
Early morning and mid-afternoon are generally the busiest times at Dulles Airport security checkpoints and bad weather conditions can exacerbate this problem. Friday afternoon is often the busiest time of the week as congressmen and their staff travel home across the USA. The airport management recommends arriving at least two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight; be sure to ask your airline about connecting flight times.
Workarounds to big queues
TSA at Dulles does a good job in speeding things up, but when it’s particularly busy, one other option is to skip the main checkpoints on the terminal mezzanine and head to the smaller, lesser-known checkpoint near baggage claim instead.
It’s an overnight ghost-town
Like most airports, IAD Airport is open 24 hours, but shuts almost completely overnight with no concessions remaining open in the terminals or individual concourses. If you need to sleep during a layover or delay, consider catching a complimentary shuttle bus to one of the nearby hotels; they’ll bring you back for free in the morning, too.
Be prepared for the mobile lounges
Dulles Airport features the rather unusual mobile lounges that are designed to transport you across runways to your waiting flight instead of having you walk endless trails through the airport. Don’t be surprised if you’re asked to get onboard a mini-lounge on wheels before you board your plane.
Washington Dulles Airport FAQs
Who is Dulles Airport named after?
Washington Dulles Airport was named after the 52nd Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, who served for President Eisenhower at the time when the airport was proposed and established. Dulles is mostly remembered for his role in the Cold War and strong stance against Communism. He was Time magazine's Man of the Year in 1954.
Where is Dulles Airport?
Washington Dulles International Airport is about 27 miles (43.4 kilometers) west of Washington DC's Downtown area, located in the state of Virginia but close to the state line with Maryland that runs along the Potomac River. The city is found close to the east coast of the USA, a little way south of the cities of New York and Philadelphia and connected to them by the I-95 east-coast route. It’s surrounded by the states of West Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania, too.
IAD is quite distant from its home city and it usually takes at least an hour to drive between them; buses take even longer. Metrorail is often the quickest route between DC and the airport, with a travel time of around one hour including the bus between airport and the Wiehle-Reston East Station on the Metrorail.
Can you smoke in Washington Dulles Airport?
Yes, besides the usual designated smoking areas outside the terminals pre-security, there are also smoking lounges in Concourses B, C and D.
Does Washington Dulles have Global Entry?
Yes, Global Entry and TSA PreCheck are both available at Dulles Airport.
How big is Washington Dulles Airport?
Around 22 million passengers travel through Washington Dulles International Airport every year to position it as one of the 25 busiest in the USA. It covers 13,000 acres (5,260.9 hectares), which makes it the fifth-largest airport in the country by land area.
Does IAD Airport have free WiFi?
Yes, once you're at the airport, check your device for WiFi networks and select the “FlyDulles” option. You’ll need to provide an email, ZIP or postal code and agree to the terms and conditions for full, free access to the airport WiFi network.
What does IAD Airport stand for?
The IATA code for Washington Dulles Airport is IAD, which stands for International Airport Dulles; it was originally set to be DIA, but that was changed to avoid confusion with DCA Airport, which is the code assigned to the nearby Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
How far is IAD Airport from Baltimore?
Dulles Airport is about 62 miles (99.8 kilometers) from the center of Baltimore, which is just to the north of Washington DC and IAD Airport.