Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee, are about 212 miles apart and it takes about 3 hours to drive between the two cities. Both are awesome places if you are a music lover, but there are plenty of things to do for the outdoorsy types and the foodies too.
Along the way, you’ll encounter captivating sites like Montgomery Bell State Park, Natchez Trace State Park, Jackson, Dunbar Cave, David Crockett State Park, Tennessee Safari Park, Holly Springs National Forest, the Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge, and the famous Graceland.
In this guide, you’ll discover the best route to travel between Nashville and Memphis, the best way to get there, top-notch activities to indulge in, and the best places to stay in both destinations.
- How Far is Memphis from Nashville?
- Driving Between Nashville and Memphis
- Other ways to get there
- What is the Fastest Way to Get There?
- What is the Cheapest Way to Get There?
- What's the most environmentally friendly way to get there?
- What's the safest way to get there?
- Things to Do in Nashville
- Things to Do in Memphis
- Where to Stay in Nashville
- Where to Stay in Memphis
- The Bottom Line
How Far is Memphis from Nashville?
Memphis is approximately 212 miles (341 Km) from Nashville.
The driving distance can vary slightly depending on the route, but it usually takes 3 to 3.5 hours of drive time. The drive mainly follows the interstate, so you can expect a relaxing and enjoyable journey without major cities causing heavy traffic and delays.
Driving Between Nashville and Memphis
There are several routes you can take driving from Nashville to Memphis. Here are three of the best routes
Route 1: Interstate-40 (I-40)
Distance: Approximately 212 miles
Drive Time: About 3 to 3.5 hours
The most common route from Nashville to Memphis is Interstate 40 (I-40) West. This is the direct and fastest route with minimal traffic delays or detours. This route will lead you straight to Memphis, passing through scenic landscapes and offering easy access to various attractions along the way as you stop along the exits.
Route 2: US Highway 64 (US-64) and I-40
Distance: Approximately 223 miles
Drive Time: About 3 hours and 48 minutes
Route 2 follows US-64 W and I-40 W, passing through various scenic sites and small towns. This route includes taking I-40 West and then getting off on TN-22 South in Parkers Crossroads.
From TN-22 Alt S, TN-100 W, and US-64 W, you’ll get on I-40 West in Bartlett and continue to Memphis.
Route 3: Take a Detour to Memphis via Natchez Trace Parkway (NTP)
Distance: Approximately 260 miles
Drive Time: Depending on stops and driving speed, it can take longer than highway routes
If you’ve got extra time and enjoy a slow-paced road trip, driving along Natchez Trace Parkway (NTP), a US Scenic Highway, offers by far the most scenic route from Nashville to Memphis.
Starting just southwest of Nashville, the NTP offers a leisurely drive with a speed limit varying from 35-45 mph. Along the way, you can make a detour to visit the historic US Civil War battlefield of Shiloh, about 1-2 hours into your trip. Afterward, you can rejoin US 64 or take US 72 in Corinth, MS, and then travel through northern Mississippi to Memphis.
Other great places to stop along the route are Natchez Trace Parkway, Loretta Lynn’s Ranch, and Casey Jones Home and Rail Museum. The total travel time is longer, but you may want to consider this route if you’ve got the time.
Other ways to get there
In addition to driving, you can also fly, take a Greyhound bus, or take an Amtrak.
When considering travel options from Nashville to Memphis, flying may not be the best option. Despite the relatively short distance of 200 miles, no direct flights are available. Additionally, small regional airlines don’t operate flights between these Nashville International Airport and Memphis International Airport.
You can choose flights from major airlines like United or Southwest if you decide to fly. But flying can still take a considerable time ranging from 3 to 12 hours. So the flight time alone is almost as much as driving.
These flights often require a layover in hub airports, such as Atlanta or even as far as Miami, adding to the overall time and potential inconvenience.
Taking the bus from Nashville to Memphis offers easy, affordable, and hassle-free travel. Greyhound offers direct, non-stop services daily, with four convenient departures. The bus ride takes about 3.5 to 4 hours and costs around $42. Booking your ticket online is simple and convenient through the Greyhound website.
Onboard amenities include free WIFI, power outlets, and entertainment options. By taking the bus from Nashville to Memphis, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride, arriving at your destination without worrying about driving.
The Greyhound Bus station in Nashville is conveniently located downtown, near 5th Avenue South, making it accessible to most of the area’s attractions and hotels. If you take a bus, here are the two stations you’ll travel between:
Nashville Bus Station
709 Rep John Lewis Way South
Nashville, TN 37203
Memphis Bus Station
3033 Airways Blvd
Memphis, TN 38131
There are no Amtrak trains in Nashville. You can view a full list of routes in the South here. The Amtrak station in Memphis connects only Chicago and New Orleans.
What is the Fastest Way to Get There?
The fastest way to get to Memphis from Nashville is by driving through the I-40 route. The drive takes about 3 hours to cover approximately 212 miles without any breaks or detours. Driving on the interstates is simple and user-friendly, so don’t worry if you’re new to this part of the US or anxious because you’re from another country.
Other transportation options like flying or taking a train or bus have longer travel times and limited availability.
What is the Cheapest Way to Get There?
The total costs of each travel option depend on a number of things, such as the current price of gas, the fuel efficiency of your car, the fare of bus and train, and the cost of flights. But for this route, driving will be much cheaper and faster than flying.
Greyhound Bus will probably be the cheapest option overall, but that depends on how many people are traveling with you.
Let’s look more closely at the cost of each of your options.
Costs of Driving
At 212 miles one way, you can probably get to your destination on one tank of gas. So round trip you may be looking at 1-2 tanks of gas, depending on your vehicle’s range.
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.
Nashville to Mempis is 212 miles one way, or 424 miles round trip. That means a round-trip drive between the two destinations would cost at least $228.
Costs of Flying
Flying may not be a cost-effective option for traveling between Nashville and Memphis, and there is no direct flight. On average, you can expect to pay from $100 to $300 for a round-trip flight. Additionally, flying comes with additional expenses, such as transportation costs to and from airports, parking fees, etc.
Remember, plane tickets are priced per person. So, while you may be able to find single plane ticket might be cheaper than the total cost of gas, it quickly becomes more expensive as you add more passengers. Overall, flying will be an expensive and inconvenient way to go between Nashville and Memphis.
Costs of Greyhound
The cheapest way to travel from Nashville to Memphis is usually by bus. Greyhound provides direct and non-stop bus services between the two cities, and the cost is usually lower compared to other transportation options like flying or taking a train.
On average, you can get bus tickets for Nashville to Memphis as low as $42, making it a cost-effective option.
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.
Costs of Amtrak
There are no direct routes from Nashville to Memphis on Amtrak, and it would be impractical to use Amtrak because you would need to take a bus to a station further away than Nashville to even take a train.
What’s the most environmentally friendly way to get there?
While the expense is a considerable consideration in choosing between air travel and driving, the environmental consequences of your decision should also be considered.
Regarding carbon emissions, driving tends to be more eco-friendly than flying, particularly when several individuals share the car. This is because airplanes release carbon dioxide directly into the high atmosphere, where it does more harm.
However, the calculation can become more complex if you’re traveling solo. It’s because aircraft can become more energy-efficient when they are fully occupied.
Of course, the kind of car you drive plays a significant role. Vehicles that are fuel-efficient or electric have a lower carbon footprint compared to those that consume a lot of fuel. But even if you own an average vehicle that isn’t mainly green, driving could still be a more sustainable choice if you’re traveling in a group.
Overall, Greyhound is likely to be your best bets in terms of environmental friendliness.
What’s the safest way to get there?
According to the National Safety Council, your chances of being in a car crash are far higher than your chances of being involved in a plane crash. The airline industry is highly regulated, and pilots undergo rigorous training, making flying one of the safest travel methods.
Statistically, driving is also more dangerous than taking a bus or train. The National Safety Council also tracked data over a 10-year period and found 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 flying is by far your safest option.
And keep in mind these are averages. Nashville ranks #25 for the worst traffic in America, which can put you at a higher risk of accidents. Even worse, Memphis tops the chart for the least safe US cities for driving, according to US News and World Report.
Things to Do in Nashville
Nashville, known as Music City, boasts an abundance of bars, music venues, and recording studios, in addition to a wide variety of dining options, museums, historic sites, and outdoor activities. There’s no shortage of great things to do in this vibrant city.
Here is a short list to get you started.
Known as the original site of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974, this iconic venue hosts country legends and offers tours for an unforgettable experience.
Located on Music Row in downtown Nashville, this large museum is among the best places to learn about country music, celebrating all aspects of the music genre.
Meet animals and enjoy family-friendly experiences at Nashville Zoo. The zoo features a carousel, animal exhibits, animal shows, zip lining, and a variety of dining options.
For a scientific adventure, head to Adventure Science Center, a non-profit museum with over 175 interactive exhibits, including climbing structures and the Sudekum Planetarium.
Experience the magic of country music at the Grand Ole Opry, one of the popular attractions in Nashville. Take a guided tour or attend a live event showcasing country legends and new stars. You can also stay at the famous Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, which features luxurious facilities, including a spa, golf course, and water park.
Explore the State Parks
Nashville boasts numerous state parks like Natchez Trace State Park, Montgomery Bell State Park, and David Crockett State Park. These state parks are filled with outdoor activities, like swimming, boating, biking, camping, wildlife watching, hiking, and many more.
Taste Nashville Food
Nashville is also home to some fantastic restaurants and bars. Jack’s Bar-B-Que has delighted visitors for generations with its delicious smoked pork. And when it comes to seafood, Nashville also offers some of the best seafood restaurants.
If you’re interested in a party bike, I’ve got a great guide to Party Bikes in Nashville too. It’s a great way to taste the Nashville craft beer scene.
Things to Do in Memphis
Known as the “Birthplace of Rock n’ Roll” and “Home of Blues,” Memphis features an abundance of activities, attractions, and rich history to explore. Here are some of them to make the most of your trip to Memphis from Nashville.
Immerse yourself in the evolution of blues music from delta sharecroppers to rock n roll and learn how it transcended racial barriers.
Explore Graceland, the 13-acre estate where Elvis lived for two decades, and gain insight into the life of the King of Rock n Roll.
Sun Studio is the legendary recording studio where Elvis Presley recorded his hit song “That’s All Right” in 1954.
Immerse yourself in the soul music universe, and admire the iconic costumes, music, and dances that helped Memphis become the center of soul music. Don’t miss Isaac Hayes’ beautiful Cadillac Eldorado.
Take a trolley bus to this museum built around the historic Lorraine Motel and follow over 400 years of history as people marched for freedom. Witness iconic moments such as Rosa Parks’ bus and the coach of the freedom riders. You can also visit the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum, which provides a glimpse into the city’s involvement in the Underground Railroad.
Visit Beale Street
Visit Beale Street, the official home of the blues, for a dynamic evening filled with jazz, blues, R&B, rock, and gospel. BB Kings Blues Club is a must-see for live music and delicious southern cuisine.
Taste Memphis Food
In Memphis, you can’t miss out on the soul food and southern BBQ, some of the best in America. Some of the most famous restaurants are the Arcade Restaurant, Rendezvous, Gus’s Fried Chicken, The Beauty Shop Restaurant, and many more.
Other popular attractions in Memphis include the Memphis Zoo, the Memphis Botanic Garden, and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame. Memphis also holds events throughout the year, such as the Memphis in May Festival, which features live music, barbecue contests, and cultural events.
Where to Stay in Nashville
If you’re traveling the other direction and going from Memphis to Nashville, you’ll want a place to stay when you get there. There are a lot of choices, so check where you’re planning on being. But here is a list to get you started.
High End Luxury Option: Loews Vanderbilt Hotel
The Loews Vanderbilt Hotel is a great choice if you’re looking for a landmark, luxury hotel. It is just a short drive from some of Nashville’s main attractions, like 12 South, The Gulch, and Downtown Broadway.
This hotel has a bar and lounge, coffee shop, and restaurant all onsite. It is also pet friendly. Up to 2 pets are allowed for an additional $75 per stay. Service animals are exempt from the pet fees.
Overall, this an outstanding hotel, but you pay for it – it is one of the most expensive hotels in Nashville.
Alternative Luxury Option: Four Seasons Nashville
Located in downtown SoBro, Four Seasons Nashville offers stunning riverfront views and easy access to major attractions like the Fine Art Museum, Bridgestone Arena, Ryman, and many restaurants and bars.
The hotel exudes refinement with elegant decor, impeccable service, and exquisite food and wine. Special packages provide exclusive access to unique experiences in the city, such as exploring the vintage guitar collection at the nearby Gibson Garage.
Four Seasons Nashville is pet friendly. Pets actually stay for free here! You can bring up to one pet weighing a maximum of 25 pounds. They also have food and water bowls for your best friend that you are welcome to use.
Overall, this hotel is a little more affordable, on average, than Loews, but still very expensive.
Budget Option: La Quinta Inn & Suites Nashville Airport/Opryland
La Quinta Inn & Suites is a very affordable option that also puts you in a convenient location. And even though it won’t break the bank, it’s still a very comfortable stay.
The best thing about this hotel is the amenities. They offer a ton of great things, like free airport shuttle service, free breakfast, extra beds and cribs, and soundproof rooms, so they are great for families with small children. Standard amenities are onsite as well, like a gym and laundry facilities.
La Quinta is pet friendly. Dogs and cats are allowed for a $25 additional fee per night. Up to 2 pets are welcome, each weighing a maximum of 75 pounds. Service animals are exempt from pet fees. There is also an off-leash section at this hotel so you can let your dog run around and get their energy out. Just book in advance, because there are only certain rooms that are for travelers bringing pets.
Great Camping Option: Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort
Located 10 miles from downtown Nashville on Percy Priest Lake, the resort is a thrilling waterpark and campground offering various recreational activities. From water slides and zip lining to pontoon boat rentals and an adventure course, Nashville Shores is a perfect destination for family fun.
You can even stay in cozy lakeside cabins, so you don’t necessarily need to camp to stay here either!
Where to Stay in Memphis
There are a wide variety of hotel options in Memphis. Below is a list to get you started.
Luxury option: The Peabody Hotel
Located a short walk from Rock and Soul Museum and Orpheum Theater, the Peabody Hotel exudes true Southern charm. The hotel features luxurious rooms equipped with a work desk, separate seating area, and bathrobes.
This pet-friendly hotel is famous for its resident ducks, which make a twice-daily appearance in the lobby’s fountain. Other amenities include an indoor pool, a full-service spa, a rooftop bar with summer concerts, and many more.
Cool Art Deco Hotel: Hu Hotel Memphis
Located in downtown Memphis, the Hu Hotel is a charming art deco hotel with contemporary decor that celebrates the city’s musical heritage.
The lobby features guitars and a baby grand for impromptu jam sessions. Enjoy sundowners at the rooftop bar where trendy locals and fellow travelers mingle.
Budget Option: Quality Inn Memphis Downtown
The Quality Inn is nothing fancy, but it puts you just a 3 minute drive from famous Beale Street. It’s also one of the most affordable hotels in the area, so this is a great place if you’re looking for a practical hotel on a budget.
Your stay here comes with free breakfast, free Wifi, and free parking – a bonus in an area where parking is at a premium. There is also a gym and laundry facilities onsite. Lastly, there are great amenities for families, like free use of a crib, an in-room microwave and refrigerator, soundproof rooms, and the option to use a rollaway bed.
Quality Inn is pet friendly. Up to 2 pets can stay here for $20 per night, plus a $100 deposit. Service animals are exempt from pet fees.
Great Camping Option: Graceland RV Park and Campground
If you want a memorable camping experience for a nature treat, head to Graceland RV Park and Campground. This campground is within walking distance from the iconic Graceland mansion, welcoming Elvis fans nationwide.
Nestled on 19 acres near Elvis Presley Boulevard, the campground offers 74 spacious RV sites with full hookups and back-in and pull-through options. With pet-friendly facilities and other modern amenities, it is a perfect haven for a memorable stay while exploring Memphis’s attractions.
The Bottom Line
Traveling between Nashville and Memphis offers various options, each with pros and cons. Overall, driving is going to be the best choice for most people, because it is affordable and the fastest option.
Greyhound is also a convenient and affordable option, while flying might not be the best option due to the lack of direct flights. Amtrak service is not available between these two cities.
Once you get there, both Nashville and Memphis have a ton of attractions and accommodations to offer, making each city a must-visit for various reasons.