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Washington

The White House, Washington D.C.

Practical Info about Washington

Getting around the city

Getting around Washington DC is relatively easy as most attractions are within walking distance of each other. 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 during the week, and Metrorail stations stay open until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays. 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. Both buses and trains charge a standard fare. 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 any other major city in the US; instead of meters they operate on a zone system with flat rates displayed, although several surcharges apply, including ordering one by phone.

Time

GMT -5 (GMT -4 from March to November).

Electricity

120 volts, 60Hz. Plugs are mainly the type with two flat pins, though three-pin plugs are also widely used. European appliances without dual-voltage capabilities will require an adapter.

Currency

The official currency is the US Dollar (USD), which is divided into 100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are widespread and credit cards are widely accepted. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.

Communication

The international country dialling code for the United States is +1. Mobile networks cover most of the country, including all urban areas, however unless you have a tri-band phone it is likely your cellular phone from home will not work in the United States. Internet cafes are prevalent in most towns and cities.

Emergency number

Emergencies: 911

Visa and health information

Everything about visa and health information

Public holidays

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2014 2015
New Years Day 1 Jan 1 Jan
Martin Luther King Day 20 Jan 19 Jan
Presidents Day 17 Feb 16 Feb
Memorial Day 26 May 25 May
Independence Day 4 Jul 4 Jul
Labour Day 1 Sep 7 Sep
Columbus Day 13 Oct 12 Oct
Veterans Day 11 Nov 11 Nov
Thanksgiving Day 27 Nov 26 Nov
Christmas Day 25 Dec 25 Dec

Climate

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While the city of Washington DC's weather is highly seasonal, with extreme variations between summer and winter, the weather is also known to be unpredictable. Summers tend to be very hot and humid; 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; sudden rain or snowfalls are possible though. In winter the city is subject to heavy snowfalls, averaging 17 inches (43cm) a year, and sudden arctic blasts or frozen rainstorms.

Washington-Dulles International Airport

www.metwashairports.com

Getting to the city

The Washington Flyer Coach Service provides a direct link between the airport and the West Falls Church Metrorail, operating every 30 minutes to downtown, with a fare of $10. The coach service tickets can be bought at arrivals door 4 in the main terminal. A public bus service is available at the station for transport to areas not serviced by Metrorail. SuperShuttle operates a door-to-door shared van service. Hotel/Motel courtesy transportation can be arranged by using the phone hook-ups attached to the hotel courtesy boards on the Baggage Claim Level.

Car rental

Car rental companies include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz and National.

Airport taxi's

Taxis are available from the lower level of the main terminal. The only taxi service that is authorised by the airport is Washington Flyer. Taxis charge upwards of $60 for the 30-60 minute drive into the city; credit cards are accepted.

Facilities

There are ATMs and foreign exchange services available. Other facilities include restaurants, bars, shops and duty-free shopping, business services, cellular phone rental, 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 $5, going up to $36 per day. Daily parking garages 1 and 2 are cheaper and are connected to the terminal by shuttle buses.

Internet

Laptop and tablet users can access free wifi throughout the terminal. There are also a number of internet kiosks after security in the terminal.

Airports nearby