The route from Charlotte to Nashville takes you through charming small towns and the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As you drive through North Carolina and Tennessee, you’ll have the chance to stop at numerous attractions, parks, and more. In addition to driving, there are other ways you can get there you may want to consider.
If you’re looking to travel between the two cities, I’ve compiled your ultimate guide so you can plan your trip.
- Driving from Charlotte to Nashville
- Other ways to get there
- What's the cheapest way to get there?
- What's the fastest way to get there?
- What's the safest way to get there?
- What's the most environmentally friendly way to get there?
- Where to stay in Charlotte
- Where to stay in Nashville
- Things to Do Along the way
- The Bottom Line
Driving from Charlotte to Nashville
The driving distance from Charlotte to Nashville is about 408 miles. It takes about 6 hours 30 minutes to drive there, with traffic, on average.
The primary route is to take I-40 and ride it the whole way. You get on I-40 via I-85 to US-74 W, if you’re coming from Charlotte.
Even though it is a lot of highway driving, this is a scenic route once you get to the mountains. Just a few of the towns you’ll go through on this drive include:
You’ll also be close to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, which are both great mountain vacation towns.
Other ways to get there
In addition to driving, there are a few other ways you can travel between Charlotte and Nashville. You can also fly, take a Greyhound Bus, or ride an Amtrak. Each one has their pluses and minuses.
There are a number of airlines that offer non-stop flights between Charlotte and Nashville, including Spirit Airlines, American Airlines, and Southwest Airlines. The earliest flight leaves at 9AM, while the last flight leaves at 8:20PM.
The flight distance comes in a little shorter than driving, at around 300 to 330 miles. The total flight time is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. But you all will change time zones, so you will arrive only 30 minutes later, in Central Time, than you left Charlotte.
The direct flights offer fairly large planes, including the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737. They comes with 28-31″ of leg room, depending on the plane. Most of them also offer Wifi for an additional fee.
Greyhound is another option for traveling between Charlotte and Nashville. It is quite a bit longer than driving, with a total travel time of about 10-11 hours, depending on the exact bus ticket you book.
One nice thing is that you can just relax and let someone else do the driving. Greyhound also offers onboard entertainment and free Wifi.
Here are the two stations you’ll travel between:
Charlotte Bus Station
518 West 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
Main Phone: (704) 372-0456
Nashville Bus Station
709 Rep. John Lewis Way South
Nashville, TN 37203
Main Phone: (615) 255-3556
Unfortunately, the Charlotte station is not highly rated. At the time of this writing, there are 45 reviews on Yelp for the Charlotte Greyhound station. They are overwhelmingly negative reviews. Overall, Greyhound Charlotte is rated 1.5/5.
The Nashville station is rated the same – an overall rating of 1.5. with 78 reviews on Yelp.
You might read things about Amtrak online, but there are actually no Amtrak trains going to Nashville, because there isn’t a train station.
They have other stations in Tennessee, but they are too far out of the way to be practical. Amtrak has a full list of their routes on their website.
What’s the cheapest way to get there?
The total cost of each option depends on a number of things. Let’s start by looking more closely at the cost of each one.
Costs of driving
At 408 miles, most cars can get there on less than 2 tanks 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 four tanks of gas as your rough cost – two tanks 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.
Charlotte to Nashville is 408 miles one way, or 816 miles round trip. That means a round-trip drive between the two destinations would cost at least $440.
Costs of flying
Plane tickets are priced in person, of course, so if you’ve got multiple people traveling with you those costs add up very fast. However, the plane tickets are also cheap. I found prices as low as $41, although this depends greatly on the date and time you leave.
You’ll also want to factor in the cost of parking at the airport, any luggage fees, and whether or not you need to rent a car when you get to your destination.
Overall, though, considering how cheap the tickets are this may be one of the few trips you can take where flying could save you money over driving.
Costs of Greyhound
Greyhound is a little pricier than flying for this trip. Here again, it will depend on the date you want to leave, but I’m seeing the lowest price at around $135 – and that’s one way. So round trip tickets for one person could set you back $270.
You’ll also want to take into account parking near the bus station and the costs of a rental car when you get there, if you need one.
You can save some money with this option by using the Nashville Public Bus System, called the WeGo Public Transit.
Costs of Amtrak
There are no trains connecting Charlotte to Nashville with Amtrak. So you wouldn’t really be able to figure out a cost for the trip. The Amtrak train in Charlotte goes to Raleigh and New York and does not connect you to Tennessee.
So what’s the cheapest?
This is one of the rare cases where flying may be your cheapest option. You’ll still want to weigh the costs of multiple plane tickets for larger groups, luggage, parking at the airport, and any rental cars. But with tickets that cheap, you may still come out ahead compared to driving there.
One thing to keep in mind about driving, though, is that you’ll pay insurance and registration regardless of how much you drive. So your costs may be a little lower than that. But considering it’s over $400, you will probably do better by flying.
Greyhound is pricey and inconvenient considering how much you need to pay for the tickets.
What’s the fastest way to get there?
Charlotte is a busy airport, so it does take some time to get in and out. You’ll also need to get in and out of the airport in Nashville. But considering the flight is only around an hour and a half, and it can take 6 and a half hours with a car, flying still comes out ahead for the fastest path between the two.
Keep in mind, too, that if you drive you’ll likely want to stop at least once for a trip that long. That will add to your time, so you may end up needing to plan 7-8 hours of total travel time this way.
Greyhound is the slowest option, coming in at over 10 hours of travel time.
What’s the safest way to get there?
According to the National Safety Council, your chances of being involved in an accident are significantly higher when driving compared to flying. The tightly regulated aviation industry and the rigorous training pilots undergo make flying one of the safest modes of transportation.
Driving, statistically, is also more dangerous than bus or train too. According to those same statistics, which tracked data over a 10-year period, the passenger death rate per 100,000 miles for driving was more than 20 times higher than buses, 17 times higher than passenger trains, and 595 times higher than flying.
So, by far, flying is your safest option. And keep in mind these are averages – Charlotte and Nashville have notoriously bad traffic that can lead to a lot of traffic accidents. According to US News and World Report, Nashville is the 16th worst city in America for traffic accidents, while Charlotte came in at number 27.
What’s the most environmentally friendly way to get there?
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.
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.
While there are no trains connecting the two, so I can’t weigh on that option, Greyhound is likely to be your most environmentally friendly option for this trip. In general, public transportation carries a lower carbon footprint than personal cars.
Where to stay in Charlotte
If you’re traveling the opposite direction, from Nashville to Charlotte, then you’ll need a place to stay. Charlotte, like all other major cities, is filled with great accommodations. So there are far too many to include in this post.
Below are a few good options, depending on what you are looking for. It’s a good idea to shop around and check where you plan on visiting so you can get the right hotel choice for you.
Luxury option: The Ritz Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton is a luxury option that gives you a lavish setting with plenty of amenities, including a spa, a swimming pool, complimentary breakfast, and free WiFi.
Boutique Options: The Ivey’s Hotel or the Dunhill Hotel
The Ivey’s Hotel, situated in the heart of Uptown Charlotte, is a charming little boutique hotel located near the Bank of America Stadium. They are also pet friendly, so it’s a great option if you’re traveling with your best friend.
For history enthusiasts, The Dunhill Hotel, a historic gem in Uptown Charlotte, could be your perfect fit. It’s conveniently located within walking distance from the Bank of America Stadium, Spectrum Center, and the Charlotte Convention Center. It’s also just a short 15-20 minute drive from Charlotte Douglas Airport.
Budget option: Hampton Inn and Suites
The Hampton Inn and Suites is a great budget option, located close to the South Park neighborhood. Clean hotel, nice amenities, and a fair price.
Great Camp Spot: McDowell Nature Preserve
If camping is your thing, McDowell Nature Preserve is an awesome location. It provides campsites with picturesque views of the lake, hiking trails, and even opportunities for fishing.
Where to stay in Nashville
There are lots of places to stay in Nashville too, so do your homework before booking. But below is a list to get you started, sorted again for a variety of different travelers.
Luxury option: The Hermitage
The Hermitage is one of Nashville’s signature, landmark hotels. Located walking distance from all the action on Broadway, this hotel is the very definition of luxury. Rooms are complete with premium bedding and Frette Italian sheets. You can also enjoy their spa while you’re here.
This hotel is pet friendly, so feel free to bring your furry friend.
Budget option: Best Western Plus Executive Residency Nashville
The Best Western is an affordable option that is still in a great location. It is under a 10 minute drive to Broadway, Nissan Stadium, and Riverfront Park, and only about 15 minutes from the Nashville International Airport (BNA).
Not only is it affordable and comfortable, but it also includes free breakfast, free coffee and tea in the common areas, free wifi, a gym, and an outdoor pool. A 24-hour business center is available if you’re needing to get some work done.
Pets are unfortunately not allowed here. If you’re looking for a good, budget option that is also pet friendly, you may want to check out La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Nashville Airport/Opryland.
Great camp spot: Anderson Road Campground
Anderson Road Campground is right on the lake and is a beautiful little spot filled with greenery and wildlife. There are a total of 27 campsites here, which includes drinking water, a bath house, and a dump station. There is also a boat ramp onsite so you can easily launch your boat.
Other great things here include a playground for the kids, grills, and picnic tables.
Things to Do Along the way
There are some great things to do during your drive between these two cities. Here are a few to get you started.
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is a breathtaking botanical garden situated along the banks of Lake Wylie in Belmont, North Carolina. – right outside of Charlotte They have a number of unique gardens, like the Four Seasons Garden, the White Garden, and the Cottage Garden, that give you a chance to reconnect with nature.
The garden also boasts a conservatory dedicated to tropical plants and orchids and a network of walking trails. In addition to its natural beauty, the garden hosts a series of events throughout the year, so if you time it right you may be able to catch one.
There’s more to say about Asheville, North Carolina than could ever be written in one post. You can stay at the Grove Park Inn, join the drum circle in the summers, eat at one of Asheville’s many fabulous restaurants, or visit the French Broad Chocolate Lounge for an artisanal, chocolaty treat.
Asheville is well known as an outdoor haven. Hiking, mountain biking, and paddle boarding are just a few of the outdoor activities waiting for you here.
If you time your trip just right, you can check out the annual Hendersonville Apple Festival. They close much of downtown to feature farmers selling endless varieties of juicy, NC-grown apples, vendors making apple-inspired drinks, dishes, and desserts, and apple-related memorabilia.
What can I say – it’s America’s most-visited national park, and on this drive you’l be going right through it. Established in 1934, it is a pristine natural sanctuary sprawled across 522,419 acres in the states of Tennessee and North Carolina.
Here, you can see a wide variety of wildlife, including black bears, countless species of birds, and elk. It is also home to a network of 850 miles of hiking trails and 100 backcountry campsites. Apart from hiking, the park is also a favorite spot for fishing, sightseeing, and biking.
There’s just something about zoos that makes us excited. We can’t help but be charmed by the animals, and we can’t help but be amazed by their natural habitats. The Knoxville Zoo is no exception – it’s full of interesting animal species, beautiful gardens, and exciting attractions.
From monkeys to lions, the Knoxville Zoo has something for everyone. And if you’re looking for a fun and educational day out, there’s no better place to go than the zoo. Not to mention, the zoo is a great place to take kids – they’ll love all the interactive exhibits and learning opportunities. So if you’re in the Knoxville area, don’t miss out on the Knoxville Zoo – it’s definitely worth a visit!
Navitat is a great outdoor activity for all ages. It combines a ropes course that utilizes climbing safety gear with zip lining. Each course has obstacles that require you to walk/maneuver across.
The course is designed so your are always locked onto a cable system that is very stable. So, you can “fall” and be okay. I’ve seen small kids to older people doing these courses and it’s a lot of fun. I was sweating on their advanced one because it requires a good bit of strength and balance.
The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville is a tribute to the sport of women’s basketball and the players, coaches, and contributors who have made a significant impact on the game. The hall of fame features a permanent exhibition that showcases memorabilia from the history of women’s basketball, as well as interactive displays that allow visitors to explore the game from different angles.
The hall of fame is a great place to learn about the history of women’s basketball and to appreciate the accomplishments of those who have made a significant impact on the game. It’s also a great place to meet some of the players and coaches who have made women’s basketball such a popular sport.
Be sure to check out what Nashville has to offer once you’re there. There is some amazing food in Nashville, great outdoors, good music, museums, and plenty of parks and places to take your family. Visit Nashville has comprehensive information on things to do in the area.
The Bottom Line
There are a few different ways you can travel between Charlotte and Nashville. But depending on the size of your group, the cheapest and most convenient will be flying. You can also drive or take a Greyhound bus, but Greyhound is expensive and inconvenient. There is no Amtrak connecting the two cities.
Driving gives you the chance to explore the myriad things to do along the way. With stops like the enchanting Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden and the awe-inspiring Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’re sure to find something enjoyable for you and your travel companions.