Transportation to, from and around Fairfax County
Need assistance getting here? We've assembled some helpful transportation tips and links for visitors planning Fairfax County vacations. This should help you plan your journey to, and around, Northern Virginia.
Visitors who choose to drive to Fairfax County and the National Capital region can utilize four major interstates to get you here. Interstates 66, 95, 395, and 495 all run through Fairfax County and are the main transportation arteries by which many people arrive here.
Interstate 495 - commonly referred to as the Capital Beltway - wraps around Washington D.C. and runs through Fairfax County, other portions of Northern Virginia and Maryland. To help make your trip more predictable, and faster during rush hours, you can use the new 495 Express Lanes. The 495 Express Lanes are tolled lanes that operate alongside the regular lanes on the Virginia side of I-495. All drivers need an E-ZPass to use the Express Lanes. More information is available on the 495 Express Lanes website.
Interstate 95 is also another direct route into the region from both the North or South. I-95 recently opened up new HOT lanes that operate in the middle of the interstate from Stafford County into Fairfax County and are about 30 miles long. The lanes are reversible and are also tolled similar to the I-495 lanes. Buses, carpools with three or more people (HOV-3+) and an E-ZPass Flex switched to HOV mode, motorcycles and emergency vehicles can use the Lanes without paying a toll. Learn the access routes here and find out more about the new lanes here.
If you are arriving by plane then you have multiple arrival options as well. Washington Dulles International Airport,Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and Baltimore/Washington International Airport all serve visitors to Fairfax County. Dulles is located in western Fairfax County while Reagan National is approximately 5 miles away from the county's eastern border. BWI is within a 45 minute drive of Fairfax and interstate access makes this an easy drive.
Fairfax County is served by ten Metrorail stations located at West Falls Church, Merrifield/Dunn Loring, Vienna/Fairfax/GMU, Huntington, Franconia/Springfield, McLean, Spring Hill, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, and Wiehle-Reston East. Many of these stations also offer daily parking facilities and bicycle racks, though not all stations have parking. Metrorail expansion will continue with Phase 2, adding additional stops in Reston and Herndon, and will extend out to Washington Dulles International Airport. Phase 2 is scheduled for completion around 2020. Please note: Metro sometimes conducts maintenance projects that cause delays and disruptions. Please visit their website for specific information on how it may affect your travel plans.
Some helpful tips and tricks for using the Metrorail:
- Metro charges two different rates for any given trip, depending on the time of day. "Peak SmarTrip Fares" are charged on weekdays from opening to 9:30am, and from 3:00-7:00pm, and on weekends from midnight until closing. All other times a lower rate is charged.
- An additional service fee is incurred when using a paper farecard instead of a SmarTrip card for each trip at all times of the day.
- The machines can only return a maximum of $10 in change, and it comes in all coins.
- To pass through the turnstile, locate a fare gate with a green/white arrow, not the red dash. Insert the farecard face up with the arrow pointed towards the feed on the side of the gate. Remove your card to open the gate. SmarTrip holders need only to "scan" their card over the SmarTrip logo on the turnstiles. Note that you will need your card to exit, so keep it in a convenient location!
- When going up and/or down the escalators, stand to the right and walk to the left.
- As the train arrives, look at the color and destination on the front train car to ensure you board the correct train. (i.e. If you're heading to stops on the way to Vienna, make sure you're riding the Orange Line car that says "Vienna.")
- When preparing to board a metro train, let passengers leaving the train get off before you try to get on.
- SmarTrip cards are now required for Metro-operated parking areas. Sufficient funds must be on the card to pay the full cost for parking in order to exit or enter the parking facilities.
- Parking at Metro-operated lots is FREE on weekends and federal holidays.
- There is no food, beverage, or smoking allowed on Metro.
The Virginia Rail Express operates two commuter rail lines: one from Manassas and the other from Fredericksburg to Union Station in Washington, D.C. Five stations are located in Fairfax County: Lorton and Franconia/Springfield on the Fredericksburg line and Backlick Road, Rolling Road and Burke Centre on the Manassas line. All Fairfax County VRE stations offer park-and-ride lots.
Amtrak is the national passenger rail service between Union Station in Washington, D.C., and major eastern cities, with connections to other areas. Auto ferry service (the AutoTrain) is available from Lorton, Virginia to Sanford, Florida. You can also take Amtrak's Northeast Regional line from parts of Southern Virginia (such as Lynchburg or Norfolk) straight to Burke Centre in Fairfax County.
Metrobus operates routes in many parts of Fairfax County including Annandale, Burke, Baileys Crossroads, Seven Corners, Tysons Corner, Alexandria, Fort Belvoir, and Springfield. You may catch Metrobus at any Metrorail station or at any of the Metrobus bus stop signs along the route. Almost all Metrobus routes connect with Metrorail stations.
Use any of these links to find information on the different transportation options offered to individuals coming to Fairfax County and the Capital Region.