Aerial view of the United States Pentagon, the Department of Defense headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, near Washington DC, with I-395 freeway and the Air Force Memorial and Arlington Cemetery nearby

Traffic on the Wilson Bridge crossing the Potomac River. Photo from Solutions LLC


“How far away is it from the PentagonFort Belvoir, or (fill in the blank here) to Alexandria?”


This is one of the first questions military families ask when researching homes in Alexandria, VA. Alexandria isn’t far from most VA and DC military bases, generally between 10 or 15 miles away. 


The more accurate question should be, “How long will it take to get home, and how do I get there?'


The problem lies in the disconnect between miles and actual drive time. Commuting is a big deal in Alexandria. However, it is one of the better places in the National Capital Region to commute, which is why so many people love to call it home. But, there are strategies involved whether you drive, ride, or bike to work.


As a general baseline, the drive to the Pentagon or Fort Belvoir will take about 20 to 30 minutes if you avoid peak times. Public transportation to either location will take 30 to 45 minutes without any delays or dense traffic.


If you’ve never been a map person, the time has come to hone your skills. Study as many as you can and prepare to become familiar with primary colors and directional signs.

Driving from Alexandria

If the car is your preferred choice of transportation, the major source of anxiety that comes with privilege is parking. Learning to leave home and work at a very specific time for the shortest ride in the car is your second commute problem to solve. 

Fort Belvoir

Driving to Fort Belvoir? You shouldn’t have a problem. You’ll just need to become familiar with gate opening and closing times. The George Washington Parkway offers a quick ride home from Fort Belvoir to many parts of Alexandria. After a couple of trial and error runs, you’ll fine-tune your departure times to take advantage of when the lines in and out of the gates are the shortest.

aerial view of the Pentagon

Aerial view of the Pentagon. Photo from Christensen.

The Pentagon 

The Pentagon presents a more significant challenge. Just because you work there doesn’t mean you have a parking spot waiting for you each day. In fact, many people don’t, and if they do, it could be up to a mile away from your office, adding more walking time to the commute. Parking isn’t a simple task, as the spaces are so restricted. Typically, your incoming office handles parking assignments.


It’s also not unusual to pay for parking, even at your government office building. Such is the case in nearby Crystal City, now known as National Landing, thanks to Jeff Bezos and Amazon H2Q. Policies on reimbursement vary, so it's vital to check with your incoming office. You can also expect to pay for parking at any Metro station you might use.

Catching a Ride from Alexandria

Let’s start with the good news. Through the Mass Transportation Benefit Program, the government subsidizes public transportation costs for those who qualify (military: yes, contractors: no). Employees in the National Capital Region can apply for transit passes. This program has many disqualifiers, so familiarize yourself with the guidelines.


Now for the bus and train options. Remember, using each entity’s app or text capabilities for frequent updates on delays and route changes is always a good idea.

The Virginia Railway Express (VRE)

“The Virginia Railway Express is a commuter rail service that operates Monday through Friday from the Northern Virginia suburbs to Washington, DC. We primarily travel northbound in the morning, towards Washington, and southbound during the evening, towards Manassas (along I-66) and Fredericksburg (along I-95).”


Alexandria has a station on the VRE. Check the site for maps and more info. 

Fairfax Connector

Fairfax County created a bus system to assist commuters in the area. Alexandria riders from Fort Hunt, Kingstowne, Fort Belvoir, and the Mount Vernon Area are particularly well served by these bus routes, which run to important Metro and VRE stops.




The DASH bus system is specific to the City of Alexandria and helps commuters get to and from connections between Metro trains and buses, the VRE, and local bus routes.


Washington DC metro

Underground station, Washington, DC. Photo from prochasson


Metrorail trains and buses move a lot of commuters to and from Alexandria. The official website for maps, schedules, and locations answers many of your questions and will calculate your best commute options between rail and bus

Metro Buses

Metro buses are prolific and have stops all over the city. Many times, their stops are very close to popular neighborhoods like Fort Hunt or in Old Town. Your home’s location is another huge consideration for figuring out your personal commute system, especially if working out of the Pentagon


More people than you’d think bike to work from Alexandria. It’s very doable, given the bike trail access on the George Washington Parkway and the ability to load bikes on and off Metro trains and buses. 


Constitution Avenue in Washington, DC, heading towads the Capitol

Constitution Avenue in Washington, DC, heading towards the Capitol. Photo from


Two resources to check for designing your route include the City of Alexandria’s Bikeways Network and Bike Washington.


It's easy to see that there are plenty of ways to get to work, not just for the servicemember but also for the military spouse who intends to work while living in Alexandria. Coordinating schedules and routes takes some practice, but learning to ride the rails or bus will be second nature quickly!

Moving to Alexandria? Download your free guide to the area below!