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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 is 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 left 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. This area is located just an hour and a half from DC, so there are many tours and excursions departing 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 to visit Gettysburg from Washington. It is important that at the time of choosing the tour, you make sure that you will have all the basic amenities covered within the trip. Once you have seen which option suits you best, it is time to make the respective reservation 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 must be clear about the cancellation policy, for what reasons the activity could be suspended and what is the route to follow to start the excursion.

Generally this type of reservations are made up to 24 hours in advance, but if you want to hire it with less time in advance, you may be lucky and get into the group that will leave the excursion at the time you want to do it.

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

Duration of the excursions to Gettysburg

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

Usually these tours are offered for a full day, leaving Washington DC very early in the morning and arriving back in the evening. If you do it this way, you may be able to get into town in time to take one of the Washington city tours; I assure you it is a perfect activity to include in your list of things to do in the city at night.

Approximately the whole tour from DC to Gettysburg takes 12 hours, with the drive from the capital city to Gettysburg being 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 most precise details, that's why the visit to this town 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 to the 19th century.

Of course, the length of the trip may change depending on whether it is a half-day or full-day excursion. 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 of the battle, but of the war and also about what life was like in those times.

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, in most of these plans you will be able to visit the town of Gettysburg and learn part of its history from the tour guide.

At each stop you will see informative exhibits about how the battle unfolded and historical facts about the events. One of the informative attractions that each tour offers is the cyclorama that recreates the war in miniature.

The National Military Park located in Gettysburg is almost always the center of attraction since 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 artifacts 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 kids I don't recommend you to take a Gettysburg ghost tour because it can be very scary for kids.
  • I recommend that you wear comfortable shoes and be willing 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 the year when you travel, I recommend that you dress in layers, because the day may be sunny, and then suddenly it starts to get cold.
  • If you are traveling with someone in a wheelchair, make sure that the vehicle in which you will be traveling is wheelchair friendly.
  • Take the necessary precautions in case you want to stay longer on your own after the tour is over.
  • Take extra money to eat on the way, because many times these types of excursions do not include lunch or other snacks. 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 per person. The cost can be lower or higher depending on the tour route, whether it offers hotel pick-up and also whether it includes food or drinks.

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

The prices of the excursion could be higher depending on the services included. Generally the price includes the 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 various museums and other activities in the locality. If you want to take a guided tour of the town to see the battlefield and other interesting places, then you will also need to bring additional money.

Other private tours departing from Washington DC and seeking to show you the entire Gettysburg countryside can be found for up to a thousand euros. These types of tours tend to be more expensive because of their private nature, which means that the experience will be just for you and your group.

What are the places and/or activities I should not miss 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 kids, because it is an enriching activity historically speaking.

But there are certain places that you cannot miss during your visit and that, if not included in the trip, I recommend you to do them on your own, so as not to miss them.

Gettysburg Historical Center

Of course, when you go to this town, you can't miss the historical narratives that are told in the town. During your visit to the town of Gettysburg you must visit the most iconic houses of the town, where you can learn firsthand how the people of the nineteenth century lived in the midst of the Civil War.

In the historic center of the city you will not only have the opportunity to visit authentic houses from the time of the war, but also different museums where they will tell you the story they never told you in school about the atrocities of the war and how it was organized during the days of the battle.

If you go on a night tour (which would represent staying in Gettysburg for one night, without this stay being included in the tour from Washington), you will be able to embark on the spookiest ghost stories that the town has to tell you. The ghost tour is one of the ideal activities to include in the list of things to see and do in Washington at night or at least near the capital.

If you are a lover of paranormal experiences and want to know the dark history of the town of Gettysburg, this is a must experience when you travel to Washington DC.

Gettysburg Battlefield

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

To tour this place, you have multiple options. One of the most typical options to do the tour is by car or bus. Generally in the route from Washington you make the trip this way. If you want to get out of the routine, you can try the tour by segway, bicycle, carriage and even on horseback.

Undoubtedly one of the best ways to tour the place is on horseback, but I only recommend this option if you do not have back problems or reduced mobility. Going on horseback you will be able to visit each of the places where the battle took on a more intense meaning.

Gettysburg Heritage Centre

Exterior of the Gettysburg Heritage Centre| ©Richard S
Exterior of the Gettysburg Heritage Centre| ©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 large number of perfectly preserved artifacts from the Civil War period.

The Battle of Gettysburg Visitor Center is an excellent place to get an up-close look at how the battle was organized. There you can even see an incredible cyclorama depicting the battle as it occurred during the three-day conflict.

This museum also has a souvenir store where you will have the possibility to take souvenirs of your trip to Gettysburg, you can even take brochures and other informative material about the battle and the life of the soldiers during the Civil War.

In this store you can also get different brochures with stories of real people who experienced the conflict and suffered the ravages of war.

Devil's Den

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

Behind these large rocks were sheltered soldiers fighting in battle. The place was used especially during the second day of battle to place the artillery equipment. From this place the different 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 memory centers. On your trip you will have the chance to get a close-up view and imagine what it must have been like for the soldiers to maintain a battle trench at this location.

Little Round Top

This is one of the key sites of the Battle of Gettysburg and 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 it is narrated as fiction, the actions taken during the Battle of Gettysburg and that led to the victory.

This place is part of the interesting sites to see during your trip to Gettysburg from Washington DC. It is an activity that I recommend you to include in your list of things to do in Washington DC in summer, since this place can be appreciated much better in clear weather.

The Little Round top is a small hill that is located right next to another larger hill called Big Round Top, which was also really relevant during the conflict, serving for the 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 definitely not to be missed during your visit to this town.

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 to Gettysburg are definitely the best option for getting to know the town, because they allow you the chance to learn the most incredible stories that going alone you wouldn't be able to know.

But traveling on your own may also have some advantages. Here are some of the most important advantages of traveling with a guided tour instead of 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 the attractions and historical sites within the Gettysburg population.
  • Organized itinerary to make the most of your time and see as many places 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 will not have access to the tour guide for the entire trip.
  • You may not have access to all the attractions offered in the town of Gettysburg, and if you can access them all, you will have to pay for each entrance 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.