search Buscar

    Washington DC how many days? Day by day itinerary of 2, 3 or more days

    Who I am
    Lluis Enric Mayans

    Item Feedback:

    content warning

    Deciding how many days to spend visiting Washington DC is an important enough question to resolve if you are planning an east coast itinerary. Although the American capital is a bit (unfairly) snubbed, especially by those who are organizing a trip to the United States for the first time, there are many interesting things to see.

    So let's find out how to organize ourselves in the best way to see as many attractions as possible without being too disappointed and at the same time avoiding overloading and getting too tired.


    • How many days to visit Washington DC? Preliminary information
      • How to calculate the times?
      • So how many days will I really need?
    • What to see in one day
    • What to see in Washington in two days
    • What to see in Washington in three days
    • From three days upwards
    • Some final considerations

    How many days to visit Washington DC? Preliminary information

    Let's start by saying that just to see the most important monuments, memorials, museums and attractions that the city has to offer one day is not enough. If you are a fan of American history and culture, you could very well spend an entire morning inside one of the dozens of free museums in Washington DC. So here we are faced with the first question to be addressed: how long does it take to visit a particular attraction?

    How to calculate the times?

    At the Smithsonian Museum information desk I was personally told to consider at least two hours to visit every single museum of theirs. Considering that there are 12 of them in Washington, you understand that to visit them all without interruption it would take you 24 hours. All this without counting all the historic buildings or structures that do not refer to the Smithsonians such as the National Gallery of Art, the Botanic Gardens, the Holocaust Museum, the National Archives and the Library of Congress, just to name the most important ones.

    Also consider this: to walk all over the National Mall, without going inside the museums, you will have to consider at least half a day. If you want to add to this a visit to the United States Capitol you will have to at least consider an hour for the tour only, as well as if you want to enter the Washington Monument. Furthermore, if the Washington weather is not optimal, the half day could also turn into a full day.

    Moving away from the National Mall, if you want to visit the great Arlington cemetery in a complete way you could also put us there 2 hours and a half. Finally, if you want to discover the historic Georgetown neighborhood, to see only the essentials you will have to consider at least half day, while if you want to go to the bottom of the exploration then you will have to take into account a full day.

    Are you headed to Washington? You discover...
    • The best areas to sleep
    • What to see in 1 day
    • How to get around the city
    • I National Mall
    • How to outline an itinerary based on the days available
    • The Best Time to Visit Washington
    • Where to eat in Washington

    So how many days will I really need?

    Obviously it depends on what your interests are, but if your goal is to discover as much of the city of Washington as possible you will have to consider from 5 to 7 working days,. I understand, however, that not everyone can afford to organize their own itinerary by dedicating so many days to the American capital. For this reason, in the article I have tried to outline possible alternatives for those who do not have all this time available.

    In my opinion, the fixed and immovable point cannot be separated from a visit to the National Mall, starting from this we see how other stops can be inserted depending on the days you have available to visit Washington DC.

    What to see in one day

    As I anticipated, unfortunately very little. If you have no way of planning a multi-day visit, you will have only two alternatives in front of you:

    • study well the museums and monuments of Washington and choose (at most) the two to visit for good
    • read our article on what to see in Washington on a day when you will find a itinerario thanks to which you will be able to see most of the most important monuments along the National Mall (from the outside only).

    You will therefore have to choose whether to visit a few things for good or superficially many more. This we could define the classic dilemma of the tourist with little time available.

    If you reach the American capital with your rental car, I also recommend that you read our in-depth analysis on where to park in Washington DC, as the city offers some solutions at a good price near the most important attractions. Leave the car in one strategic position will allow you to better optimize travel times.

    What to see in Washington in two days

    If you have two days available, the suggestion could be to organize the days in the following way:

    • the first day: a walk along the National Mall combined with a visit to at least one museum, plus a tour of the Capitol and admission to the National Archives.
    • day two: visit Georgetown and, in the time remaining, if you are feeling patriotic enough, you can take your time visiting the moving Arlington Cemetery.

    What to see in Washington in three days

    In my opinion, three days are the minimum to consider to be able to enjoy the city of Washington DC in more tranquility.

    • You can in fact dedicate a whole day to visit the National Mall in its entirety, pausing along all the memorials and monuments (perhaps even climb to the top of the Washington Monument and enjoy a spectacular view from above on the capital) accompanied by a tour inside the Capitol.
    • The second day you can thus devote entirely to the museums that interest you most (trust that you will not regret it). I particularly recommend a visit to the Museum of American History and the National Air and Space Museum.
    • Finally on the third day divide it between Georgetown and Arlington.

    From three days upwards

    From three days on, you can truly visit Washington at a leisurely pace, even starting to experience the city more thoroughly, for example by taking a stroll in Dupont Circle, where clubs of a certain level abound, and long shopping Connecticut Avenue. In addition, with a few more evenings, don't miss a long walk U Street where lovers of Jazz and Blues music will be able to find numerous places where live music is played.

    Finally, if the days to spend in the American capital are approaching a week, you can certainly add some excursions out of town. Among the most interesting we point out:

    Colonial Williamsburg
    Eastern Shore
    • Eastern Shore Tour: the advice is to reach it from Maryland crossing the impressive Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It is the perfect excursion if you want to experience atmospheres that recall those of deep south of the States with characteristic wooden churches, farms and the typical post boxes positioned along the road that we have come to know thanks to many Hollywood films.
    • A leap into the past with the Virginia Historic Triangle: Star-striped history lovers in Washington are sure to find something for their teeth, but if that's not enough, they could organize an excursion along the Virginia Historic Triangle, which will take them to visit the towns of Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. In particular, traveling through the historic district of Colonial Williamsburg, you will feel like you have made a real journey through time in an 18th century city, thanks to the perfectly preserved buildings and the figures wearing period clothing.
    • Visit of Annapolis: this is the capital of Maryland which over time has managed to keep its charm of a typical town overlooking the sea with its small streets and picturesque dwellings built in brick or wood. Another aspect for which it is worth visiting this city is the renowned culinary offer, in particular I recommend not to miss a delicious crab cake. The goal can be easily combined with the excursion to the Eastern Shore.
    • Excursion at Great Falls Virginia: before reaching Washington, the Potomac River forms pretty waterfalls. Definitely an interesting stop for those who want to immerse themselves in nature and get away from the hustle and bustle of a big city for a while.
    Great Falls Virginia

    Obviously the more days you have available, the more you will be able to insert these stages into your east coast itinerary.

    Some final considerations

    Do not try to put too many things to see in your itinerary, especially if you are short on time. This is because reality does not always go as we have planned, and it is very easy to accumulate delays on your schedule for the most diverse reasons: from too much queue at the entrance to accumulated tiredness, from the desire to deepen something that intrigued you at the time needed to getting from one point of the city to another, which can sometimes take longer than planned.

    So in case you have little time available, choose only and exclusively those two or three attractions that really interest you by cutting out everything else. You will still be left with the feeling that you have not seen everything, but at least you can say that you have fully enjoyed something.

    add a comment from Washington DC how many days? Day by day itinerary of 2, 3 or more days
    Comment sent successfully! We will review it in the next few hours.