Gettysburg Day Trips from Washington DC

Dare to see the bloodthirsty side of American history. Gettysburg will leave you fascinated with every tale of its past.

Andressa García

Andressa García

10 min read

Gettysburg Day Trips from Washington DC

Gettysburg | ©kjarrett

It's not for nothing that the town of Gettysburg has a reputation for being spooky and spooky, as one of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War was fought on its fields. In addition to thousands of dead and a decisive outcome, the Battle of Gettysburg put the town at the top of the list of things to see and do in Washington.

With this in mind, Gettysburg becomes one of the most interesting places to visit if you are passing through Washington DC. The area is located just an hour and a half from DC, so many tours and excursions depart from there to Gettysburg.

How to book a tour to Gettysburg

Getting to know Gettysburg| ©Ken Krach
Getting to know Gettysburg| ©Ken Krach

Online you can find multiple options for visiting Gettysburg from Washington. It is important that when choosing your tour, you make sure that you have all the basic amenities covered on your trip. Once you have seen which option suits you best, it's time to make a booking request.

When making the reservation you have to ask all the necessary questions to clarify any doubts you may have about the trip, the reservation and the costs involved. Among other aspects, you should be clear about the cancellation policy, for what reasons the activity might be suspended and what is the route to follow to start the excursion.

Generally this type of booking is made up to 24 hours in advance, but if you want to book it with less time in advance, you may be lucky and get into the group that will go on the excursion at the time you want to do it.

As for cancellations, most tour companies ask that if you wish to cancel your booking, you must do so within 24 hours of the start of the trip.

Duration of tours to Gettysburg

At Gettysburg| ©Bruce.Emmerling
At Gettysburg| ©Bruce.Emmerling

These tours are usually offered for a full day, leaving Washington DC early in the morning and arriving back in the evening. If you do it this way, you might be able to make it back to the city in time to take one of the Washington city tours; I assure you it's a perfect activity to include in your list of things to do in the city at night.

Approximately the entire trip from DC to Gettysburg takes about 12 hours, with the drive from the capital city to Gettysburg taking about an hour or an hour and a half. Then, the tour of the entire town, battlefields and other attractions, could be about eight to ten hours.

In Gettysburg, once you arrive, you have to take the time to listen to every story, visit every place and pay attention to the finer details, which is why the visit to Gettysburg is so long. You have to take into account that you will spend the whole day in the village, making a kind of time travel back to the 19th century.

Of course, the length of the trip can change depending on whether it is a half-day or a full-day tour. Shorter tours usually give a quick tour of the most interesting sites in town and have to do with the Battle of Gettysburg only.

Full-day tours, on the other hand, stop to tell you the most incredible stories not only about the battle, but also about the war and what life was like in those days.

Book an evening city tour of Washington DC

What will I see on this type of tour?

Lutheran Seminary| ©mbell1975
Lutheran Seminary| ©mbell1975

The itinerary varies depending on the type of tour, but on most of these plans you'll get to visit Gettysburg and learn about its history from your tour guide.

At each stop you'll see informative exhibits about how the battle unfolded, historical facts about the events, and a miniature cyclorama that recreates the war. One of the informative attractions on each tour is the miniature cyclorama recreating the war.

The National Military Park at Gettysburg is almost always the centre of attraction as it determines the area where the battle took place.

You can also take a tour of the entire battlefield and enjoy a show that recreates part of the battle. You will have the opportunity to learn about the daily life of the soldiers. In the park's museum you will see many of the artefacts used during the war.

If you take the ghost tour, you will have a spooky yet entertaining and unforgettable experience in each of these places and others such as:

Tips for a trip to Gettysburg from Washington DC

Gettysburg Scenery| ©Bruce.Emmerling
Gettysburg Scenery| ©Bruce.Emmerling
  • In case you are going with children I don't recommend you to take a Gettysburg ghost tour because it can be very scary for children.
  • I recommend that you wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to do a lot of walking because one of the most popular things to do on this type of tour is to walk around the local landmarks.
  • Depending on the time of year you are travelling, I recommend that you dress in layers, as it may be sunny and then suddenly get chilly.
  • If you are going on the tour with someone in a wheelchair, make sure that the vehicle you are travelling in is wheelchair friendly.
  • Make provisions in case you want to stay longer on your own after the tour is over.
  • Take extra money for food along the way, as lunch or other snacks are often not included in these tours. Although this is not always the case, many offer snacks and drinks.

How much does a Gettysburg tour from Washington DC cost?

Gettysburg buildings| ©Ken Lund
Gettysburg buildings| ©Ken Lund

Travel from Washington DC to the Gettysburg area can cost between 120 and 180 euros per person. The cost may be lower or higher depending on the tour route, whether it offers hotel pick-up and also whether it includes food or drinks.

The tour usually takes 8-10 hours to complete, so the price of the tour includes that amount of time. In case you hire a half-day tour, it could cost between 70 and 90 euros per person, and usually lasts between 4 and 6 hours.

Tour prices may be higher depending on the services included. The price usually includes a transfer from a meeting point in Washington to Gettysburg. If you want a transfer from your hotel, you will most likely have to pay an additional fee.

Other additional costs may include entrance fees to museums and other local activities. If you want to take a guided tour of the town to see the battlefield and other interesting sites, then you will also need to bring additional money.

Other private tours departing from Washington DC that aim to show you the entire Gettysburg countryside can be found for up to 1,000 euros. These types of tours tend to be more expensive because of their private nature, which means that the experience is for you and your group only.

What are the must-see places and/or activities in Gettysburg?

Gettysburg Battlefield| ©S Pakhrin
Gettysburg Battlefield| ©S Pakhrin

Obviously the guided tour from Washington DC to Gettysburg is an ideal activity, especially to include in the list of things to do in Washington with children, because it is a historically enriching activity.

But there are certain places that you can't miss during your visit and that, if not included in the trip, I recommend that you do them on your own, so that you don't miss them.

Gettysburg's historic downtown

Of course, when you go to Gettysburg, you can't miss the historical narratives told in the town. During your visit to the town of Gettysburg , you must visit the town's most iconic homes, where you can learn first-hand how 19th century settlers lived in the midst of the Civil War.

In the town's historic centre, you'll not only have the opportunity to visit authentic wartime homes, but also different museums where you'll be told the story you were never told in school about the atrocities of the war and how it was organised during the days of the battle.

If you go on an overnight tour (which would be staying in Gettysburg for one night, not included in the tour from Washington), you can embark on the spookiest ghost stories the town has to tell. The ghost tour is one of the ideal activities to include on your list of things to see and do in Washington at night or at least close to the capital.

If you're a lover of paranormal experiences and want to learn about the dark history of Gettysburg, this is a must-do experience when you travel to Washington DC.

Gettysburg Battlefield

The Gettysburg Battlefield is protected as a park to visit and experience the soldiers who fought in the battle up close. The battlefield tour is one of the essentials you can't miss if you're visiting Gettysburg from Washington DC.

To tour this place, you have multiple options. One of the most typical options is by car or bus. Generally, this is the way to travel from Washington. If you want to get away from the routine, you can try a Segway, bicycle, carriage or even horseback ride.

One of the best ways to get around is on horseback, but I only recommend this option if you don't have back problems or limited mobility. On horseback you will be able to visit each of the places where the battle took on a more intense significance.

Gettysburg Heritage Centre

Gettysburg Heritage Centre exterior| ©Richard S
Gettysburg Heritage Centre exterior| ©Richard S

This is one of the most interesting places to learn about the details of the war and specifically the Battle of Gettysburg, as well as to see a wealth of perfectly preserved artefacts from the Civil War period.

The Battle of Gettysburg Visitor Centre is a great place to get an up-close look at how the battle was organised. There is even an incredible cyclorama depicting the battle as it unfolded during the three-day conflict.

This museum also has a souvenir shop where you can take back souvenirs from your trip to Gettysburg, including brochures and other information about the battle and the lives of the soldiers during the Civil War.

In this shop you can also get different brochures with stories of real people who lived through the conflict and suffered from the war.

Devil's Den

This is one of the most interesting places to visit on the Gettysburg battlefield. It is a rock formation that is arranged in a way that functioned as a trench for one side of the war.

Behind these large boulders the soldiers fighting in the battle took shelter. The place was used especially during the second day of the battle to place artillery equipment. It was from here that the various fire attacks on the opposing side were launched.

Since the end of the war, this place has been preserved as one of the best preserved historical memorials. On your trip you will have the chance to see at close quarters and imagine what it must have been like for the soldiers to maintain a battle trench here.

Little Round Top

This is one of the key sites of the Battle of Gettysburg and one that undoubtedly changed the course of the war. If you are a lover of literature, you will surely know that this place is the protagonist of the novel Killer Angels, where the actions taken during the Battle of Gettysburg that led to the victory are narrated in the form of fiction.

This place is one of the interesting sites to see during your trip to Gettysburg from Washington DC. It's an activity that I recommend including on your list of things to do in Washington DC in the summer, as the site is best seen in clear weather.

The Little Round Top is a small hill that sits right next to a larger hill called Big Round Top, which was also really important during the conflict, helping soldiers to protect the area and achieve better results during the battle.

Both places are part of the historical memory of the Gettysburg battlefield and are definitely not to be missed during your visit to Gettysburg.

Book your tour bus in Washington DC

What are the advantages of taking a guided tour vs. visiting Gettysburg on my own?

Inside the countryside| ©S Pakhrin
Inside the countryside| ©S Pakhrin

Guided tours of Gettysburg are definitely the best way to get to know the town, because they allow you the chance to see some of the most incredible stories that you wouldn't be able to see on your own.

But travelling on your own may also have some advantages. Here are some of the most important advantages of travelling with a guided tour rather than on your own.

  • Guided tour
  • Transportation for you and your family from Washington to Gettysburg and back.
  • Multilingual guide who will show you all the interesting places within the Gettysburg area.
  • Access to all attractions and historical sites within the Gettysburg population.
  • Organised itinerary to make the most of your time and see as many sites as possible.
  • On your own
  • You must drive yourself to Gettysburg or rent a vehicle with a driver but without a tour guide.
  • Some places have tour guides to tell you all about the site, but you won't have access to the tour guide for the entire trip.
  • You may not have access to all of the attractions offered in the town of Gettysburg, and if you can access them all, you will have to pay for each attraction separately.
  • If you are new to Gettysburg, this itinerary will most likely not be ideal for making the most of your time and seeing all the sights.