Ultimate Washington D.C Itinerary – An epic 48 hour how to

by Rebecca

Discover the best way to see the city in just 2 days with this complete, ultimate Washington D.C Itinerary.

Washington D.C is the capital of America, home to power politics and a wealth of culture and history just waiting to be explored. Visit some of the best museums in the country, learn about American politics and dive into D.C’s bustling food scene.

Everything you need is in this post, including where to stay, the best places to eat in Washington D.C, and the very best activities and sights to cram into an action-packed 48 hours.


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Washington D.C Itinerary

Where to stay in Washington D.C

From Budget-friendly hostels to luxurious historic renovations, D.C has accommodation options to suit every budget. Its modern mid-range hotels have everything to make your visit fuss-free. If you prefer independence, Airbnb also has many fantastic options.

Budget-Friendly accommodation in Washington D.C

Hi Washington D.C Hostel

Not only is this hostel a great budget-friendly option but it’s a prime location, free breakfast and range of free activities and events make it the perfect hub for exploring the city. Dorm prices start at around $24. Book Here.


There are some fantastic Airbnb options in Washington D.C, giving you great flexibility to stay in whichever neighbourhood you want. This is a great option if you are travelling in a group. I stayed in an amazing apartment in the H Street neighbourhood, which is in close proximity to Union Station. Search for options here.

Mid-Range Accommodation Options in Washington D.C

The St Gregory Hotel

A stunning boutique hotel located in Dupont Circle makes it within walking distance of some of D.C best sights including National Mall, Embassy Row and historic Georgetown. Prices for a deluxe room with a king bed start at around $88. Book here.

Hotel Hive

Stay at D.C’s first micro-hotel. It’s modern interiors and innovative features make for a fuss-free stay. Its location in Foggy Bottom means it’s only a short walk from Washington University and the Lincoln Memorial. Rooms are available from around $90 per night. Book here.

Pod DC Hotel

Why not stay in a pod? Located in Chinatown, in the heart of the U.S Capital city, the Pod D.C Hotel is a fuss-free and charmingly fun option. All you have to do is pick a Pod to suit your needs (did anyone say bunk beds?). Head up to the rooftop bar for stunning views across the city. Prices start at around $88. Book Here.

Luxury Accommodation Options in Washington D.C

Kimpton Hotel Monaco

After what once was D.C’s General post office, a landmark with a rich history underwent creative preservation, it became the interior wonderment it is today. The hotel has crafted a perfect juxtaposition between old and new, creating a space that feels somewhat magnetic. Prices start at around $158. Book Here.

The Jefferson

If 5* extravagance is something you seek, The Jefferson won’t fail to deliver an experience to exceed your expectations. The historic lobby skylight is a stunning must-see. Prices start at around $236. Book here.

W Washington DC

Staying at the W Hotel, you’d be tempted to spend the majority of your visit in its opulently glimmering Living Room Bar. Frequent one of the colourful and contemporary hotel restaurants during your stay. You’ll also be located just across the road from the White House. Prices start at around $222. Book here.

Washington D.C Itinerary

Day One- Washington D.C Itinerary

Have Breakfast at We Are Founding Farmers.

If the name pun isn’t enough of a reason to visit, maybe its sustainable ethos and support of small family farmers will sway you. It’s breakfast menu boasts truly American cuisine. Try the Breakfast Chicken And Waffles or the Whipped Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes.

Location: 1924 Pennsylvania Avenue

A Morning Of Museums

Spend the morning pursuing some of D.C’s best museums. The National Museum of American History, Air & Space Museum, National Museum Of African American History, National Gallery Of Art, National Portrait Gallery and the National History Museum are all examples of some of the impressive museums you can visit for free year-round.

There are also some great options that will cost a little extra. Learn all about the history of Espionage at The International Spy Museum or discover the history of the press and it’s relationship to freedom of speech at my personal favourite, The Newsuem. 

A Visit to Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial

A trip to Washington D.C isn’t complete without a stroll through the beautiful National Mall to see the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.

If you are lucky enough to visit D.C in the springtime, you will see the historical Cherry Blossoms come into a marvellous bloom. The peak month to view these blossoms, which were given as a gift from Japan, is in April. Why not stop for a picnic with a view?


Washington D.C Itinerary

Washington D.C Itinerary

Lunch At Martin’s Tavern

Head over to the historic neighbourhood of Georgetown for an afternoon of exploring. Martin’s Tavern is the perfect place to grab a hearty meal surrounded by history. If you’re lucky you might hear a few iconic stories from fourth-generation owner Billy Martin. The lunch menu is full of rich dishes with, many celebrating either local heritage or the Martin family’s Irish roots.

Location: 1264 Wisconsin Avenue

Free Walking Tour Of Georgetown

Free Tours By Foot offer a number of different walking tours across the capital, many of which are free. Every Saturday at 2 pm you can join them on a tour of Georgetown’s historic cobbled streets. Hear about the stories and secrets of the neighbourhood during this 2-hour jaunt.

After the tour, explore the array of shops in the area. hunt down vintage treasures at Georgetown Emporium or check out American/Holiday for a selection of charming homeware and gifts.

Dinner With Thought At Busboys And Poets

Busboys And Poets is more than just a place to eat; it’s a community gathering place and a celebration of artists, activists, writers, thinkers and dreamers. Browse the Busyboys And Poets book store to pick out a volume by one of the many local authors on offer before dinner. The menu offers a great selection for both meat-eaters and vegetarians and vegans. Try the hearty Vegan Burger or the Pan-Roasted Chicken followed by the Hazelnut Chocolate Cake. If you’re lucky you may even be able to catch one of the many events going on, including open mic nights and talks by authors.

Location: 2021 14th St

After Dinner Drinks

If cheap canned beer and restrained eclecticism sound like your cup of tea, visit Red Derby for chilled and budget-friendly evening drinks. Visit on Wednesday nights to test out your Mario Kart skills and win prizes, or on a Thursday for all night long happy hour.

Location: 3718 14th St NW

Washington D.C Itinerary

Day Two- Washington D.C Itinerary

Breakfast at Buffalo & Bergen

The ultimate hair of the dog and morning after saviour has to be Lox’d And Loaded Bagel and Bloody Mary combo at Buffalo & Bergen. Specialising in New York-style bagels with a large menu devoted to all different fillings cements Buffalo and Bergen as a top D.C breakfast and brunch spot.

Location: 1309 5th Street


Take A Tour Of The Capitol Building

Instead of just pursuing the visitor’s centre of one of D.C’s most iconic landmarks and home of The United States Congress, why not do one better and take a guided tour? Reserving a tour of the Capitol building is easy and can be done online here. It is better to book in advance, especially during busy tourist seasons. The tour will take you through the history behind the formation of The U.S.A’s democracy. Whilst there, you may be able to stop by the visitor’s gallery and catch Congress in session.

Washington D.C Itinerary

Self-Guided U Street Food Tour

After you tour the Capitol building, head to U Street where you can take a self-guided food and history tour set up by D.C By Foot.

This neighbourhood developed during the civil war and is a trove of African American history. Not only are there plenty of historic places to explore during the tour, but also the tour includes some of D.C best foodie hotspots. If you visit D.C By Foot Website you can find information to help guide you including; a map of all the stops (as included in this post), where to visit and information on each location including recommended ‘must-try’ dishes.

After all this amazing food you’ll almost be too full to move.

Location: start at Ben’s Chilli Bowl, 1213 U St NW (Pictured Below)


Catch Something Cultural

With a vast array of art, film and music to experience, spend your evening at one of the capitals cultural hotspots.

The Kennedy Centre has a great selection of events on offer year-round, including some great free shows- great if you’re on a budget. You can book easily through their website.

During the summer months, Sunset Cinema holds outdoor screenings in Georgetown. Not only can you watch some amazing films at the beautiful Georgetown waterfront park, but each show also has a great schedule of food vendors lined up to help you snack your way through the movie.

If music is your thing then a visit to Blues Alley is a must. This jazz club only has been hailed as one of the best nightspots in D.C and has a great selection of live music on offer every night. Visit the website to view upcoming shows.

Washington D.C Itinerary

Extend your stay In D.C

Looking to stay in the area longer and see even more after completing this Washington D.C Itinerary?  There are so many fantastic day trips on offer that it really is worth lengthening your time in D.C. I love Pink Caddy Travelogues guide to the best day trips from D.C. Check it out for some awesome inspiration.


Check out my Favourite travel resources

My recommendations

For amazing cheap flight deals, I love Jack’s Flight Club.

To get great train passes across Europe, Interrail is the place to go.

Check out this site for awesome last minute travel deals.

To book onto a fabulous group tour, check out Contiki. 

You may want a guide book for your travels if so I love Lonely Planet.

Never leave for a trip without travel insurance! You’ll never know when you may need it.


Thank you for reading my Washington D.C Itinerary, and I hope you feel inspired and ready to explore D.C.

Want help planning your next trip? Then check out Travel Resources To Help You Plan Travel Like A Pro

Don’t forget to connect with me on social media, as I love hearing about your adventures.

Connect with me on facebook to keep up to date with new content.

You can follow my travels on Twitter.

Be inspired by my travel photography over on Instagram.

And get pinning some travel inspo over on Pinterest.

See you on the road,

Rebecca Rayner

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Harmony, Momma To Go 03/02/2018 - 12:37 pm

so i lived in dc from 95-02 and its changed so much! I do love me bens chili bowl! that area used to be so sketchy! ANyway, i cant wait to take my kids back someday! They want to see all the politcal stuff and the museums.

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