Fly to the political heart of the United States of America, breathe in its history and experience this lively cultural metropolis to the fullest. Visitors are often surprised at just how green and multifaceted the American capital is. From visiting some of the world’s most popular museums, strolling through idyllic residential neighbourhoods, or catching some live jazz music – Washington D.C. has it all. A non-stop flight from Zurich (ZRH) to Washington (IAD) takes you to this vibrant city swiftly.
Since 1800, the seat of the US government has been the cradle of republican democracy and one of the most important centres of international affairs. D.C. is home to the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court, and many world-class national and international institutions. While many civil servants, congressmen and women and diplomats pass through, Washington, D.C. is far more than just an administrative city.
The numerous cultural hotspots, international visitors and artists provide a breath of fresh air. The Smithsonian Institution is one of the world’s largest and most important museum complexes, with a rich heritage in natural sciences, art and culture. Meanwhile, the art galleries exhibit innovative contemporary artists. In addition, the US capital has a wealth of music to enjoy – from outstanding operas and symphonies, to bluegrass and jazz.
After your flight from Zurich (ZRH) to Washington, D.C. (IAD), you’ll find plenty of high quality hotels, as well as restaurants serving deliciously diverse local and international cuisine. Relax in one of the many parks and beautiful residential areas. In the city centre, you can also stroll along the water or marvel at the historic residences of former presidents.
It’s no wonder that Washington D.C. is such a tourist magnet. Many visitors succumbed to the city’s charms, some of which choose to stay long-term. The growing art and music scenes are testament to this, among many other factors. So don’t miss out – you have the opportunity to fly from Zurich (ZRH) to Washington (IAD) several times a week.
- All timetable details may be subject to change. Insofar as is permitted by law, SWISS accepts no liability for the correctness and completeness of the details provided.
When is it best to visit Washington, D.C.?
Flying from Zurich (ZRH) to Washington, D.C. (IAD) is well worth it all year round.
You can enjoy the museums, monuments and government buildings, as well as shopping sprees during any season. The weather in July and August is hot and humid, while it’s a bit milder from March to June. The wintry months from December to February are perfect for taking in the Christmas decorations, ice skating in the parks, and marvelling at the snowy landscape from the roof of the Watergate Hotel.
How do I get from the airport to the city centre?
You can get to the city very quickly after your flight from Zurich (ZRH) to Washington, D.C. (IAD) with one of the taxis at the airport, which are available around the clock. There are also numerous car rental companies close to Dulles International Airport, which a shuttle service will take you to for free.
The public transport links take a little longer. The Silver Line Express bus connects the airport to the metro network, departing every 15 to 20 minutes to the Wiehle-Reston East station. By changing to the silver metro line here, you can reach the centrally located Smithsonian Station within 45 minutes.
Alternatively, you can catch the 981 or 5A bus to the nearest metro station. The terminus of the 5A bus line is L’Enfant Plaza. The station is close to the National Mall.
Tip: Got some time to kill at the airport? Then the popular Air and Space Museum, conveniently located right next to the airport, is well worth a visit. The 981 bus stops directly in front of the Udvar-Hazy Center buildings. Historic aircraft, an IMAX cinema, and flight simulators will make your stay at the airport much more enjoyable.
How can I get around Washington, D.C.?
The American capital has an extensive network of metro and bus lines to help you get around, and everywhere is accessible by car. However, since the centre is not quite as vast as in many other US cities, exploring by foot or bicycle is also possible.
What currency and payment methods do I need to use?
As in the rest of the United States, the local currency is US dollars (USD). Most types of credit and debit card are widely accepted in the city, such as in shops and restaurants. Nevertheless, it’s worth withdrawing some cash as a backup. Note that ATMs accept the majority of card types, except V-Pay.
The most beautiful sights in Washington, D.C.
Monumental stately buildings, and broad boulevards on the one hand, quaint parks and charming neighbourhoods on the other: this juxtaposition characterises Washington’s cityscape. The city, which was founded in the 18th century, is brimming with awe-inspiring neoclassical buildings. The government buildings in particular were inspired by ancient Greek and Roman architecture. Make sure not to miss the following monuments and locations:
- Washington Monument
- Smithsonian Institution museums and galleries
- Lincoln Memorial
The iconic white dome of the Capitol, standing atop a hill, dominates the city skyline. No other building is allowed to be higher than the seat of Congress, which is partly the reason that D.C. seems relatively tranquil compared to other US cities. There is plenty of room for green spaces here, as opposed to being dominated by towering skyscrapers. Beautifully landscaped parks, the grassy banks of the Potomac River, and rather calm streets surround the political city centre.
Don’t miss out on a tour of the Capitol. Like many state institutions, it is open to tourists, although it does have strict security checks. It’s therefore best to bring your passport with you and leave any large bags at your hotel. If congress is in session, you can watch proceedings from the visitors’ gallery located in the southern wing of the building. If not, the National Statuary Hall alone is worth visiting – a beautifully decadent room, devoted to sculptures of prominent American figures.
Unfortunately, since 9/11, requests from foreign citizens to visit the White House are rarely approved. As a small consolation, the visitor centre has a range of exhibits and videos to offer an insight into life in the White House. The best view of the building is from the Ellipse – a park near the Washington Monument.
From the Capitol, follow the green park strip of the National Mall. The Obelisk of the Washington Monument is in the middle. The 169-metre-high white marble tower commemorates the first president of the United States of America, from whom the capital takes its name: George Washington. There is a lift to take you to the top of the obelisk. You can see the entire city from the visitor centre there.
If you continue your walk to the end of the National Mall, you’ll find the Lincoln Memorial. It honours the 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, for his contribution to the abolition of slavery and ending the civil war. This location is also iconic for public demonstrations, especially during the civil rights movement, where Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a dream” speech.
Both sides of this magnificent boulevard feature a wealth of important museums and galleries run by the Smithsonian Institution. All of these are free of charge. There is an abundance of fascinating exhibits which cover indigenous American culture, American history, African pottery, industrial architecture, modern art, and prehistoric cave painting. This makes the area ideal for a sightseeing marathon.
The National Air and Space Museum is one of the world's most popular museums. It tells the story of how humanity's dream of flying came true, covering all aspects of aviation and space travel. The collection includes the first aeroplanes and the lunar module of Apollo 11. There is also an IMAX and 3D cinema, a planetarium and children's programme to entertain younger visitors. You can also see dinosaur skeletons, living butterflies and the magnificent Hope Diamond at the National Museum of Natural History. A tip for families: the National Zoo is also part of the Smithsonian and therefore free of charge.
You can still experience even more greenery at the botanical garden below Capitol Hill, or the untouched nature in Shenandoah National Park, about an hour's drive away. If you are more into sports, a kayak trip on the Potomac River is highly recommendable. For a leisurely stroll, visit Arlington National Cemetery – the final resting place of the Kennedy brothers, among others. The Georgetown, Dupont Circle and Capitol Hill districts offer a small-town flair. Historic mansions, English gardens, boutiques and cafés characterise the atmosphere there.
Discover the cuisine of Washington, D.C.
Washington's culinary scene covers everything from regional cuisine to international food and American fast food. After all, state guests, congressmen and visitors from all over the world have a major influence on the culture of the capital.
High-quality establishments with cosmopolitan flair can be found here, as can affordable restaurants offering Asian and Latin American delicacies or rustic southern-style food.
Local specialities include crabs from Chesapeake Bay and fried oysters. The restaurants at Washington Harbour offer the ideal ambience. For dessert, Washingtoners love the "Brownie à la mode", a chocolate cake topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. "Cobblers" are also popular – fruits baked under a dough crust. Of course, there are also plenty of delicious burgers and steaks to be enjoyed. Remember: the prices on menus do not include taxes or a tip in the USA. Tax is normally around 10 percent, while a tip of at least 15 percent is considered reasonable.
Cafés and bars in Washington, D.C.
There is an array of cosy cafés in the former harbour town of Georgetown, as well as on practically every corner throughout the city. Many of these cafés offer various speciality coffees.
Georgetown is also a prime location to experience Washington's nightlife. Chic lounges, hip jazz clubs and authentic bars are plentiful, especially on U Street. Many Irish pubs and music venues serve imported beer and other drinks. Try the Southern drink Mint Julep, a sweet cocktail of bourbon whiskey and mint. Jazz legends like Miles Davis and Duke Ellington have played in several of the bars in this area. U Street crosses another nightlife hotspot: 18th Street in Adams Morgan. Here, too, musicians and a diverse audience create a lively atmosphere.
Washington’s shopping highlights
The perception that you can only buy business and formal attire in D.C.’s shops is a myth: a lively fashion scene has developed in the capital in recent years. The names of all the great designers are represented in the numerous boutiques and chic shopping centres. The same goes for modern artists, who are well represented in the galleries located in Dupont Circle.
You can find plenty of souvenirs in Georgetown's shops. Capitol Hill is also great for shopping. The district is home to the Eastern Market, where merchants offer their goods in the old brick hall. On weekends there is also a flea market.
Zurich - GenevaFlight duration: 00:50 hrs total, Frequency: 8 x daily
Departure ZurichTerminal: 1 / 3Counter opening time: 24 h prior to departure
Airbus A321-111Height: 11.80 mLength: 44.50 mSeats: 176-200
Crew:Pilots: 2Cabin crew: 5
Transit Geneva Arpt (GVA)Arrival: 10:20Transit time: 1h 20m
Geneva - WashingtonFlight duration: 09:25 hrs total, Frequency: 5 x daily
Arrival WashingtonDistance to city centre: 42 km