A road trip from Atlanta to Chattanooga is a scenic journey that takes you through some of the most beautiful parts of Georgia and Tennessee. As you leave the bustling city of Atlanta behind, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Appalachian Mountains and lush green forests.
Here, we’ll learn more about the two cities and also talk about the distance between them, including drive time. We’ll look at some other ways you can get there too. Finally, we’ll explore some things to do along the way so you can make the most of your trip.
- How far is it?
- Driving from Atlanta to Chattanooga
- Other ways to get there
- What's the fastest way to get there?
- What's the cheapest way to get there?
- What's the most environmentally friendly way to travel?
- Where to stay in Atlanta
- Where to stay in Chattanooga
- Things to do along the way
- The Bottom Line
How far is it?
The total distance between Atlanta and Chattanooga is about 118 miles. The drive takes about two hours depending on traffic and road conditions. The flight distance is nearly the same, at about 106 miles. Mileage varies slightly too if you take a Greyhound or an Amtrak train.
Driving from Atlanta to Chattanooga
If you’re planning on driving from Atlanta to Chattanooga, there are a few routes you can take. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular and give you some driving directions.
The fastest route is via I-75, which takes you through scenic views of the Appalachian Mountains. This route goes through the towns of Cartersville, Adairsville, and Calhoun. It is the shortest distance and the highways mean you’ll get a better average speed than other routes, so this is the easiest way to get between Atlanta and Chattanooga.
One other possible route is to take I-75 until you get to Adairsville. Then, get off at Exit 306 in Adairsville. Make a left to get on Highway 140. It will eventually turn into Highway 27. You then make a right on Gore Sublinga Road, at the Dollar General. It will turn into Highway 151.
This route can be a little tricky, so if you take this route I recommend printing out a map or using your GPS. The actual travel distance will of course be more than Route 1 also, but if you want to avoid highways this route does it as much as possible.
Other ways to get there
In addition to driving, there are a few other ways you can travel. You can fly or take a bus. There are no Amtrak trains going to Chattanooga.
There are direct flights between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport (CHA). Delta Airlines offers non-stop flights, which take a little under 1 hour. It covers a flight distance of about 106 miles – just a bit shorter than the driving distance.
Airplanes you’ll fly on for this flight include the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A319.
Take a Bus
You can also take a Greyhound bus, which is both cheap and convenient. The fastest bus route will take just 2 hours and 10 minutes – the same as driving. And with this trip, the travel time is nearly the same no matter which ticket you purchase.
With a bus trip, you can sit back and relax, without worrying about driving. They have onboard entertainment, including free wifi.
You will travel between these two bus stations:
Atlanta Bus Station
232 Forsyth St
Atlanta, GA 30303
Chattanooga Bus Station
740 E 12Th St
Chattanooga, TN 37403
There are no Amtrak trains going to Chattanooga. In fact, one of the closest stations is Atlanta, and there is another one in Gainesville, GA, which is right outside Atlanta.
What’s the fastest way to get there?
The fastest way to get there is going to clearly be either driving or taking a Greyhound. While the flight time is of course shorter, it’s only by an hour. And you have to get in and out of the airports, go through security, and check baggage. And keep in mind, Atlanta is one of the busiest airports in the world, so it will take some time to navigate.
At around 2 hours, most people will find they can travel between the two cities without making any stops. Of course, if you do stop, you will need to add that into your total travel time, but it is still unlikely to add up to the time it takes to get in and out of the airport.
What’s the cheapest way to get there?
Whether flying or driving, the two most popular options, are cheaper depends on a number of things. That includes the current price of gas, the fuel efficiency of your car, and the cost of flights at the time of your trip.
The overall cost of your trip is probably going to be lowest if you use Greyhound or Amtrak. But they are also less convenient options. Let’s look a little more closely at the cost of each one.
Costs of driving
At 118 miles, most cars can get there and back on around one tank of gas, even if you’re carrying several people. Driving also gives you the ability to pack as much as you want without worrying about luggage fees or restrictions. So you might think of two tanks of has as your rough cost – one tank there and one tank to get back.
However, owning a car isn’t only about the fuel costs. It’s also about the cost of ownership, including purchase, registration, and repairs. According to the American Automobile Association’s 2022 report on driving costs, the average cost to own and operate a new car in 2022 was over $10,000. The cheapest car to own was a small sedan, coming in at around 54 cents per mile.
Atlanta to Chattanooga is 118 miles one way, or 236 miles round trip. That means a round-trip drive between the two destinations would cost at least $127.
Costs of flying
On the other hand, plane tickets are priced per person. So, while a single plane ticket might be cheaper than the total cost of gas, it becomes more expensive as you add more passengers. Plus, this is a short trip, so that is going to make it even harder for you to save either time or money by flying.
Additionally, when you factor in the cost of getting to and from airports, parking fees, and car rentals or taxis at your destination, flying can add up.
Costs of taking a bus
Greyhound is the cheapest option for traveling between the two cities. But you’ll likely need a rental car once you get to your destination, which can add to the costs of either one. You may also need to pay for parking at the station during your trip, so that’s something to keep in mind.
One option to save money when you get there is to use the city’s public transit system. Chattanooga’s bus system is called CARTA. You can check routes on their website.
Currently, you can get bus tickets between Atlanta and Chattanooga for as low as $23.99. The price for the shortest trip is currently only $26.99. Of course, ticket prices vary depending on when you are leaving, but overall Greyhound is a very affordable option.
Costs of taking a train
There are no Amtrak trains going to Chattanooga, so taking a train is not really an option. In fact, the closest train station to Chattanooga is Atlanta and Gainesville, which is right outside of Atlanta.
So what’s the cheapest?
If you’re traveling with a group, then driving may be your cheapest. It may also be your cheapest option if you’re going to need a car when you get to your destination.
If you can take public transit or are traveling solo, it may be well worth considering Greyhound.
What’s the most environmentally friendly way to travel?
While cost is a significant factor in deciding between flying and driving, it’s also worth considering the environmental impact of your choice.
When it comes to your carbon footprint, driving usually beats out flying, especially if you’ve got several people in the car. Planes also emit carbon dioxide directly into the upper atmosphere, where it’s more harmful.
But this can become more difficult to determine if you are traveling alone. That’s because planes gain some efficiency when they are able to fill up the plane. But the problem with a relatively short flight like this is the fact that the carrier usually flies smaller planes. Assuming each plane is full, larger planes are more fuel efficient, in terms of fuel spent per person.
This obviously depends greatly on the type of vehicle you own. Fuel-efficient and electric cars are obviously much better for the environment than gas-guzzlers. But even if you have an average car that isn’t the most eco-friendly, driving can still be the greener option if you’re traveling with a group.
Here again, Greyhound and Amtrak are going to both be your most environmentally friendly options.
Where to stay in Atlanta
Atlanta is one of the largest cities in the U.S., and so of course also has plenty of options for accommodations. Because there are so many options, you’ll want to do your research before booking a hotel. But this list can get you started on your search.
If you’re visiting Atlanta, be sure to check out my post on the Best Hotels Near Truist Park for more great recommendations.
Luxury option: Four Seasons Hotel
For a grand experience, consider staying at the Four Seasons Hotel located in the heart of Midtown. Their location puts them just a 10 minute walk from Piedmont Park, and a little over a 20 minute drive from the Atlanta International Airport.
Four Seasons offers luxurious rooms, fine dining, and are in proximity to popular attractions like the High Museum of Art and Atlanta Botanical Garden. Amenities include free wifi, a pool, a hot tub, and an onsite bar, restaurant, and spa.
They are also pet friendly. Pets are welcome for $100 per pet, per stay. Service animals are exempt from pet fees.
Budget Option: Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown
The Hampton Inn & Suites Atlanta-Downtown provides a comfortable stay in a prime location without breaking the bank. They are in a pretty good location, too: an 8 minute walk from the World of Coca Cola, a 15 minute walk to the Mercedes Benz Stadium, and a 20 minute drive to the airport.
Hampton Inn provides basic amenities, including free breakfast, laundry onsite, and free wifi. Coffee and tea is available in the common areas.
Hampton Inn is also pet friendly. Both dogs and cats are welcome for a fee of $75 per accommodation, per stay. You may bring up to 2 total pets, and service animals are exempt from pet fees.
Great Camp Spot: Stone Mountain Park
For the nature lovers, Stone Mountain Park, located on the outskirts of the city, offers both campgrounds and cabins. This allows you to relax and rejuvenate amidst nature after the long drive from Charlotte, while also being just a short drive from all the action in Atlanta.
Where to stay in Chattanooga
Chattanooga is a beautiful town, with some great places to stay. Many have scenic views of the river and put you right in the center of the action. Here is a brief list to get you started, if you’re looking for accommodations in the area.
Luxury Option: The Edwin Hotel, Autograph Collection
The Edwin Hotel is one of the most well-known luxury hotels in Chattanooga. It is located right on the Bluff River, close to the bridge, just a 4 minute walk from the Tennessee Aquarium and a 14 minute drive from the airport.
This is a very highly rated hotel, at 4.5/5 on TripAdvisor. Amenities include an onsite pool and spa, free wifi, and a gym. For breakfast, there is a coffee shop and cafe or you can get a full breakfast for $15.
The Edwin is pet friendly. Pets are welcome for a $150 fee per accommodation, per stay. Service animals are exempt from fees.
Budget Option: MainStay Suites
MainStay Suites is one of the most highly rated hotels in the area for the price point. It is rated 4/5 on TripAdvisor – impressive for a hotel at this price point. They are located about a 10 minute drive from the airport and a 7 minute drive from the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum.
Breakfast is included here, and free wifi is available throughout the property. The rooms are basic, but very clean.
Pets are not allowed here, although service animals are welcome and are exempt from fees.
Great Camp Spot: Raccoon Mountain
Raccoon Mountain is a cool camp and RV site that also has cabins available for rent. They are located just outside of town, only about 15 minutes from downtown Chattanooga, so you are still in a very convenient spot. They are also home to some pretty cool caverns and you can go panning for gold with the kids here.
The campgrounds have plenty of amenities to be sure you are comfortable. In addition to standard amenities like a bathhouse and laundry facility, they’ve also got more luxurious amenities you won’t find at most campgrounds. These include a fitness center, a pool, free wifi at full hookup sites, a playground, and a pool. There are also hiking trails onsite, as well as a variety of games like basketball and shuffleboard.
One of the best amenities for dog lovers is the Bark Park. Not only does Raccoon Mountain allow pets, but they welcome them and provide them a dedicated place to run and play. But reserve early, because only certain cabins are pet friendly, if you choose to rent a cabin.
Things to do along the way
Atlanta is Georgia’s capital city and has been an important cultural and economic hub in the Southeast since the late 1800s. With a population of nearly 5.8 million, it is the ninth-largest city in the United States. As Georgia’s primary economic hub, Atlanta is home to many Fortune 500 companies. It is also the home of Coca Cola and the Atlanta Braves.
Chattanooga is a located in the southwestern corner of Tennessee. Founded in 1788 by a colony of renegade Scotch-Irish, the city has grown to become a vibrant cultural center and the third-largest economic center in the Southeastern United States after Atlanta and Nashville, Tennessee. It has some amazing things to do, and we even rated it a top place to live in Tennessee.
There is far more to do on this drive than we could post in one article, but here are a few top choices to get you started.
Coolidge Park is a vibrant and picturesque park located in the heart of Chattanooga and has become a beloved destination for both locals and visitors alike. It hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including the Moon River Music Festival.
One of the park’s most iconic features is the antique carousel, which was originally built in 1894 and has since been restored to its former glory. The carousel is adorned with hand-carved animals and painted in bright, cheerful colors, making it a delight for children and adults alike to ride. In addition to the carousel, Coolidge Park also features a large interactive fountain, which is a great spot to cool off on hot summer days.
The park’s riverfront location provides stunning views of the water and the surrounding mountains, and is a great place for a relaxing stroll or a picnic with friends and family. Visitors can also rent bicycles or paddle boats to explore the river on their own.
Red Top Mountain State Park is located in Cartersville, Georgia, just north of Atlanta, so either at the very beginning or very end of your drive. The park’s main feature is Lake Allatoona, which has plenty of places for swimming, fishing, boating, and other water sports. There are a few marinas so you can launch your own boat.
The park also has 15 miles of hiking trails, camping, and mountain biking. You can learn about the park’s history at the Iron Hill Trail, which features interpretive signs and remnants of the iron mining industry. They have cabins and even yurts available for rent too!
The Barnsley Resort is a luxurious destination resort located in Adairsville, just over an hour’s drive north of Atlanta. Its history dates back to the mid-19th century when Godfrey Barnsley, an Englishman, purchased the land and built a grand estate for his wife.
Today, the Barnsley Resort offers guests the opportunity to stay in luxurious accommodations that blend traditional Southern charm with modern convenience. You can choose from guest rooms and suites or a variety of cottages and villas, each with its own unique charm.
The resort offers a world-class golf course, a spa and wellness center, horseback riding, fishing, clay shooting, and more. Guests can also take a leisurely stroll through the resort’s beautifully landscaped gardens, which include hundreds of varieties of flowers and plants.
The Bottom Line
Atlanta and Chattanooga are about 118 miles apart, and it takes about 2 hours to drive between the two cities by car.
They are great places to visit if you’re looking for a quiet weekend getaway from the city. The cities are small enough that you can walk around and explore them, and they have very affordable lodging options as well. It’s a great way to spend a weekend and see two different cities while staying in one place.
Be sure to check out the Best Coffee Shops in Chattanooga so you don’t miss out on the delicious coffee Chatt Town has to offer!