How Much to Budget for Washington DC
I visited Washington DC three times in 2022 and while I think it’s a great place for solo female travelers that has way more to offer than memorials and monuments… boof is it expensive. How do you know how much to budget for Washington DC travel? Below are my penny for penny budget breakdowns for each trip I took, including a 3-day Washington DC itinerary and a 5-day Washington DC itinerary.
Quick note: You can spend much, much less than I do in Washington DC! As a resident of Virginia, I am not allowed to stay in the city’s hostels, but they do exist and cost as little as $40 per night.
Table of Contents
April 2022 3-Day Budget for Washington DC
$28 round trip train
$30 Metro card
Total Transportation Budget: $58
$372 two nights at Sonder near Navy Yard
$14 dinner at District Winery
$22.23 groceries at Harris Teeter
$60 dinner at Gatsby
$20.10 lunch Pret a Manger
$15.28 lunch at Tatte
$4.15 tea at Nicoletta
$15.33 lunch at Tynan
Total Dining Budget $151.09
$49.50 District Winery tasting event
$9.02 Dumbarton Oaks
Total Attractions Budget $93.17
Total: $674.26 or about $225 per day
June 2022 3-Day Budget for Washington DC
$22 round trip train
$18 train trip protection
$17 round trip train to Fredericksburg
$30 Metro card
Transportation Budget Total: $87
$329 two nights at The Architect Hotel
$13.86 lunch at Bagel Uprising
$45 dinner Zaytinya
$6.34 coffee Hyperion
$10.13 breakfast at Peets
$4.38 coffee at St Elmos Coffee
$6.55 coffee at Starbucks
$57.20 dinner at Pitchers Bar (treated a friend to their meal)
$29.90 brunch at Unconventional Diner
$12.47 lunch at Capital Ale House
$14.55 breakfast at Blue Bottle Coffee
Total Dining Budget $200.38
$30.29 birthday gift for my sister at Union Kitchen
Total: $646.67 or about $215 per day
June 2022 5-Day Budget for Washington DC
$43 one-way train
$50 Metro card
Total Transportation Budget: $93
$629 four nights at Sonder in Dupont Circle
$29 dinner at Oki Bowl
$13.51 lunch at Pret a Manger
$29.07 groceries at Trader Joes
$25.81 groceries at Whole Foods (stocking up for road trip farther north!)
$33 dinner at Pisco y Nazca
$37.70 brunch at Dukes
$8.47 breakfast at Firehook
$20.01 lunch at Union Market
$52.80 dinner at Flight Wine Bar
$7.43 gelato at Dolcezza
$7 beer at Capitol City Brewery
Total Dining Budget $263.80
$28 community theater play (and a glass of wine, maybe two)
$11.66 Dupont Underground
Total Attractions Budget $39.66
$90.40 like two years’ worth of loose leaf tea at Tea Mansion
Total: $1115.86 or about $225 per day
So how much does it cost to enjoy a budget to mid-range trip in Washington DC?
Between $200 and $250 per day. This will get you basically unlimited transportation around the city, a private hotel room or apartment-style rental in a safe neighborhood, at least one higher end restaurant meal, and at least one paid tour, event or attraction. If you can book a hostel dorm instead, your Washington DC travel budget is more likely to cost $125 to $175 per day.
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I have never been to Washington but would love to do this is going to help so much with planning when I get around to it. Thanks so much for the great tips!
I am also from VA and currently live in DC, and I always get a kick out of reading posts like this! It’s a great guide though. I had no idea Virginians couldn’t stay in hostels here! It makes sense, just not something I’ve ever looked into.
I always find it fascinating to see the breakdown of costs per trip. You inspire me to keep better track of my spending on future travels. I start off strong and usually lose my way 1/2 way through. What is your best tip for keeping track of all details your entire trip?
For these trips, it was pretty easy as all my expenses went through a card. When I’m traveling with cash, I just keep a small notepad in my day bag and jot everything down as I go.
I love that you spent twice as much on tea as on attractions! 🍵
The thing about DC is there are so many free things to do. It’s really easy to keep an attractions budget low!
Thank you for sharing the detailed breakup.