The distance from Gatlinburg to Nashville is about 223 miles and takes about 3 hours and 40 minutes. It will take you through a variety of landscapes as you traverse half the state.
Here, we’ll look at the route from Gatlinburg to Nashville, how to get there, what to do, and where you can stay.
- Driving from Gatlinburg to Nashville
- Taking a Bus from Gatlinburg to Nashville
- Flying from Gatlinburg to Nashville
- Taking a Train from Gatlinburg to Nashville
- What to See on the Way: Gatlinburg to Nashville
- What to do in Nashville
- Where to Stay in Gatlinburg
- Where to Stay in Nashville
- The Bottom Line
Driving from Gatlinburg to Nashville
Driving is the best way to get between Gatlinburg and Nashville. There are two main routes you can take. Let’s look more closely at each one.
Route 1 (the Google Maps Route)
The embedded map lists a different distance, but after opening up Google Maps you’ll see it is around 223 miles.
The most direct route is via I-40 W. This route covers approximately 223 miles and takes about 3 hours and 40 minutes to travel by car, without heavy traffic.
This route will take you past the city of Knoxville, offering you the chance to make a pit stop and explore this vibrant city.
Route 2 (Recommended)
This is the route, but I had to map it to a location (Breakout Games) right near the exit in order to get it to show up on Google Maps. You’ll take Exit 1D to get on I-40W from Townsend.
Traffic can be pretty bad in Knoxville, so a lot of people like to go through Townsend. Take 321 from Gatlinburg to Townsend, then get on 33 in downtown Maryville (on E Broadway Ave).
Take 33 to 140, which will be a left turn at Pellissippi Pkwy. This one is easy to miss, so it may be best to use a GPS.
You’ll then take exit 1D to get onto I-40W, which takes you all the way to Nashville. This avoids most of the mess in Knoxville.
Taking a Bus from Gatlinburg to Nashville
There are no direct bus routes between Gatlinburg and Nashville. But it is possible to take a bus from Knoxville to Nashville. Knoxville is about a 1 hour drive from Gatlinburg.
Greyhound is the main bus service provider and has several departures throughout the day. The buses are comfortable and equipped with free Wi-Fi and personal power outlets.
Taking the bus gives you the chance to relax and enjoy the scenery without the stress of driving, but the problem is needing to get to Knoxville first. Current ticket prices run around $60-65 one way.
Flying from Gatlinburg to Nashville
There are no direct flights between Gatlinburg and Nashville. McGhee Tyson Airport, in Knoxville, is your closest option for flights to Nashville, but there are no direct flights between McGhee Tyson Airport and Nashville International Airport (BNA).
Overall, flying would be an expensive and inconvenient option. Plus you would likely need a rental car once you got there.
Taking a Train from Gatlinburg to Nashville
There are no trains that travel between Gatlinburg and Nashville. Amtrak is the primary train system in the country and it does not have routes that go through either city.
What to See on the Way: Gatlinburg to Nashville
If you’re visiting Gatlinburg and not able to go regularly, then your first stop should be the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just a stone’s throw from Gatlinburg. It is one of America’s most visited national parks, with lots of outdoor activities like hiking and camping.
Next, you could visit Knoxville, with attractions like the Sunsphere and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame beckon. It is also filled with delicious dining options, from the popular cafe The Frothy Monkey to Southern classic joints like Tupelo Honey Cafe to awesome pizza from A Dopo Sourdough Pizza.
Finally, as you approach Nashville, you’ll be able to visit the Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson.
What to do in Nashville
Nashville has more to do than you could possibly put in one post. But here are a few to get you started.
The Grand Ole Opry is a must-see for country music lovers and history buffs alike. It’s a live radio show that has been showcasing the best in country, bluegrass, and folk music since 1925.
The venue has hosted some of the greatest names in the music industry.
For those looking to experience Tennessee’s whiskey-making tradition, Ole Smoky Distillery & Yee-Haw Brewery is the perfect stop. Here, you can tour the distillery and brewery, learn about the craft of moonshine and beer brewing, and sample a variety of spirits.
Known as the “Mother Church of Country Music”, the Ryman Auditorium is a historic venue that has hosted a myriad of musical talents since the 19th century.
Its intimate setting and exceptional acoustics make every performance memorable, and the backstage tours offer a glimpse into the stories of the stars who’ve graced its stage.
The Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery offers a unique blend of history, culture, and wine. Known for its beautifully preserved plantation house and grounds, this site takes visitors back in time to the Antebellum South.
After exploring the historic site, unwind at the winery and sample a selection of wines made onsite. It’s an ideal destination for history enthusiasts and wine lovers alike.
Where to Stay in Gatlinburg
If you’re looking for luxury hotels in Gatlinburg, properties like The Lodge at Buckberry Creek offer upscale rooms with mountain views.
If you’re traveling with family, consider Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort, which features indoor water parks and a game room. Gatlinburg also has plenty for budget travelers, with affordable options that are still highly rated, like the Econo Lodge.
Where to Stay in Nashville
For a luxury hotel, consider The Hermitage Hotel, with its grand architecture and top-notch service.
If you prefer something more intimate, the Germantown Inn, set in a historic house, offers a charming boutique experience. For a unique stay, consider booking a room at the Union Station Hotel, a restored 19th-century railroad station.
Nashville of course has numerous affordable options too, like the Comfort Inn Downtown.
The Bottom Line
Gatlinburg is not too far from Nashville. At 222 miles and a little under 4 hours, you can easily get there in a day. If you pick a nice place to stay, you can easily make a great weekend or 3-day holiday trip out of it.