2 Days in Washington DC: all you need to see, eat and do in 48 hours

August 5, 2019
washington dc itinerary guide map capitol national mall
The USA's capital houses iconic monuments, vast museums (most of them are free) and restaurants serving food from all over the world. Whether you are into politics or not, Washington DC deserves a visit.

We spent 48 hours in Washington DC and on this post I'm going to tell you how to make the most of 2 days in this amazing city. Our itinerary was pretty packed and we didn't have time for everything but we saw the most important places thanks to a carefully planned trip.

Let's take a look at where you can stay, best things to do in DC and our favorite restaurants. Plus, you can find a map with the whole plan and itinerary at the end of this post that you can take with on your trip.

Here's our 2-day Washington DC tour.


HOW TO SPEND 2 DAYS IN WASHINGTON DC: DAY 1


Getting downtown from the airport using public transport is fast and easy...the process of using the metro ticket machine not so much, you'll see what I'm talking about when you get there. We took the metro (blue line) and in 20 minutes we were in our hotel, Capital Hilton. The room was lovely, the best we had during our east coast itinerary. The decor was of a classic luxury apartment. Both the room and the bathroom were huge. The room consisted of a sitting-room area with TV, coffee table and sofa and the area with the bed and bedside tables. We couldn't feel cozier and more at home.
washington dc itinerary guide map duke's grocery restaurant
washington dc itinerary guide map duke's grocery restaurant
washington dc itinerary guide map street brick house
After unpacking it was lunch time so we looked for a place I had seen recommended on our Lonely Planet Guide: Duke's Grocery. Great place for a relaxed meal and for drinks later in the day.
Afterwards we took M street all the way to Georgetown University. On the way we found a lovely shopping area where you can find the best American brands.

Georgetown University amazed us with its beautiful architecture. Founded in 1789, Georgetown was the first Roman Catholic University. Look for Healy Hall -which reminded us of Harry Potter's Hogwarts- and Dalghren Chapel.
washington dc itinerary guide map georgetown university healy hall
washington dc itinerary guide map georgetown university burying ground

HOW TO SPEND 2 DAYS IN WASHINGTON DC: DAY 2

washington dc itinerary guide map capitol national mall monument
We devoted day 2 of our Washington DC trip to National Mall. A.k.a. "America's front yard", it holds all the major monuments and museums: the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, the Smithsonian...,etc.

We had made tour reservations to see the US Capitol (book here). The tour is free and totally worth it. Our guide was wonderful, he was extremely friendly and funny and made the experience very enjoyable. The US Capitol is where the countries' laws are written. It houses the Senate and the House of Representatives.

If you see the Capitol, you can't miss the stunning Library of Congress (also free). In fact, there's a tunnel that connects the two which makes it very easy to access especially on a rainy day like the one we had!

Library of Congress is hands down the most beautiful library I've ever seen. Look for the Jefferson Building to see the most spectacular reading room ever. It's the world's largest library with 164 million books, maps, manuscripts and other items among which is the Gutenberg Bible.
washington dc itinerary guide map capitol national mall
washington dc itinerary guide map capitol tour dome national mall
washington dc itinerary guide map capitol national mall jefferson building library congress
washington dc itinerary guide map capitol tunnel national mall library congress
It is possible to do a White House tour as well if you are an American citizen. Tours must be arranged in advance. You have to apply via on of you state's members of Congress. Applications are taken from 21 days to 3 months in advance. If you are not an American citizen, check your countries' embassy in DC. Unfortunately for us, the Spanish embassy is not taking applications at the moment so we could just see the White House from outside.
washington dc itinerary guide map national mall white house
There are many amazing museums on both sides of the National Mall including the National Air and Space Museum and the National Gallery. Most of them are free but we didn't have time to go inside.

One of the most impressive things to see in the National Mall is Washington Monument. 555 ft high and 36,000 blocks of stone make up the tallest construction in DC. In fact, nothing in DC can be taller than it.
washington dc itinerary guide map capitol national mall monument
washington dc itinerary guide map capitol national mall monument
Last but not least, the Lincoln Memorial. We had seen the image in countless movies and TV shows, but finally being able to see Abe in his chair was one of our favorite moments.

Other places at National Mall that you can't miss include:
  • MLK Jr Memorial
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • National WWII Memorial

On this day we had Mexican food for lunch at Oyamel Cocina Mexicana. The owner, Spanish chef Jose Andres, is one of the most famous cooks in DC. He is best known for bringing traditional Spanish food to America which he serves at Spanish tapas restaurant, Jaleo. Nowadays he owns many restaurants in DC and all around the US.
washington dc itinerary guide map restaurant oyamel cocina mexicana menu jose andres
washington dc itinerary guide map restaurant oyamel cocina mexicana menu jose andres

WASHINGTON DC ITINERARY MAP

This DC map includes all the things you need for your trip: what to do, what to eat, where to stay and where to shop. The blue pins are the sights, yellow pins mark places to eat and the green ones are the location for my favorite shops. Click on the star next to the title to save to your maps in Google and take it with you on your trip.
WEAR THIS HERE

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washington dc itinerary capitol jefferson building pinterest pinneable guide map

48 comments

  1. MoreThanDestinationAugust 5, 2019 at 9:32 AM

    I can share your enthusiasm for the Library of Congress. I had less than an hour before its closing, but walk as fast as I could to see it. :)

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  2. Looks like a great trip! My brother works at the Capitol and has given my kids private tours -- they love it!

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  3. DC is a great short trip destination - great post!

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  4. Love, love, love the gorgeous photos you shared. I hope to visit Washington someday!


    Happy Monday!

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  5. This looks like a great guide to a couple of days in Washington DC. I have never been but will be referring to this when I do make a visit for sure.

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  6. I love visiting D.C.


    Thanks for linking up at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2019/08/mmmmmmm.html

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  7. Lovely post

    Happy mosaic Monday

    Much❤🕊❤love

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  8. You really hit all the best things in DC. I love that place and could go back again and again! Thanks for linking up with Hello Monday! Tanya - The Other Side of the Road

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  9. Washington DC is one of my favourite places to explore! I am amazed by all that beautiful architecture - isn't the Library of Congress breathtaking? Thanks for sharing all your beautiful photos!

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  10. We haven't been to DC in years, but I'd love to go back and properly see Georgetown! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  11. We have been to DC several times for family vacations, and it is always a joy. You certainly covered the highlights for a 2-day visit. Thanks so much for joining Mosaic Monday - hope to see you again soon!

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  12. Radostina BlagoevaAugust 6, 2019 at 8:48 AM

    I need to go there. My sis went there on a school trip once and said it was beautiful!

    www.fashionradi.com

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  13. Tom The Backroads TravellerAugust 6, 2019 at 4:17 PM

    ...you sure packed a lot into a short time!

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  14. Looks like a great trip. I haven't been in many years but I think I would have to fit in the National Zoo.

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  15. Wow! You sure know how to get the best of your time! What fabulous images and great information.

    I enjoyed your post at 'My Corner of the World' this week!


    My Corner of the World

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  16. Thank you for the tour & beautiful photos. The Library of Congress is really stunning.

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  17. Living on Cloud NineAugust 7, 2019 at 12:32 PM

    Great tips. My husband and I went last summer and only had two days there but we packed it in with many of these things. I love it there and you look precious!

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  18. Love that photo of the Lincoln Memorial, beautiful. I haven't been to DC in a really long time, but would love to go back.
    x, Julie | ThisMainLineLife.com

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  19. Great itinerary Cristina! I've done most of the things on your list, but I still think it's great for someone who hasn't yet been to DC.

    That sucks that the Spanish Embassy doesn't arrange White House tours. Of course, even as an American citizen, it's been many, many years since I toured the White House, and when I did I think it was as a student traveling with my school. It's hard to plan so far in advance!

    I'm definitely going to have to check out the Mexican restaurant you suggested next time I'm in DC. I'm always looking for yummy Mexican! :)

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  20. This is such a helpful post! The food looks absolutely amazing!

    https://colorandgrace.com

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  21. I'd love to spend a whole week there checking out all the monuments and Smithsonian museums! Looks like you really made the most of your two days.

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  22. Great guide! I love how you packed many things in two days.

    Jessica | notjessfashion.com

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  23. what an incredible trip. I was in DC years ago, before 9/11 and I remember just walking into the White House for a tour so easily. I also remember almost everything being FREE! Which I loved!

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  24. I'm glad you got to see it even if you didn't have much time

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  25. I hope you get to go soon, you'd love it!

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  26. It's an amazing city. Thanks for hosting!

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  27. Thanks!! I also hope you go too!

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  28. We loved Georgetown! Definitely worth a visit

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  29. It really is! I hope you get to go as well

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  30. We did! But we had an amazing time

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  31. Oh, I wish we had had time for that!

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  32. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed the tour

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  33. Thanks, Mandy! I'm sure you'd love the Mexican restaurant, the food was delicious!

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  34. That sounds so good, I wish I had had time for the museums

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  35. Glad you enjoyed Washington DC. So many places to cover, so little time. I know that feeling. We were lucky to have spent some time in DC over the years and know the place fairly well. The Smithsonian museums are exceptional. For next trip, don't miss the Museum of National History; it has an amazing exhibit of gems and stones, of which the Hope Diamond is most mesmerizing. And cherry blossoms in the spring!

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  36. 🦄 Travel Addicted Unicorn 🦄August 25, 2019 at 2:20 AM

    I am glad you enjoyed DC!! I visited few years ago and really like it...everything was clean and most attractions were free..Love the Library of Congress and the Reading Room!!

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