How to Travel From Charlotte to Asheville

Asheville, North Carolina
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Charlotte is a popular year-round destination for its parks and recreational activities, neighborhood shops and galleries, museums, award-winning restaurants, local breweries, and more. When visiting the Queen City, it's worth a day trip or weekend getaway to nearby Asheville. Located in the western part of the state, this eclectic mountain town offers some of everything: top-notch dining, ample craft beer, hiking and outdoor activities, historic homes, and a thriving arts scene.

Asheville is 130 miles (209 kilometers) from Charlotte, and the distance can easily be covered in a half a day or less. From plane to automobile to bus, there are a variety of transportation options for traveling between the two cities, depending on budget, preference, and time constraints.

With access to a personal or rental car, driving is the quickest option, especially if planning a quick day trip. The trip takes approximately two hours and 10 minutes.

Otherwise, traveling by plane or bus are alternatives to driving. If flying, American Airlines offers a few daily non-stop flights between the two cities daily. The flight is a quick 50 minutes, not accounting for check-in, security, and travel to and from the airport. Other air carriers travel between the two cities, but the flights require layovers and can take anywhere from three to seven hours point to point.

Greyhound offers bus service from Charlotte to Asheville, with one-way fares as low as $17. The trip is approximately three hours and five minutes, so just a bit longer than driving.

Here are the costs and times involved when traveling by car, bus, and plane from Charlotte to Asheville.

How to Get From Charlotte to Asheville
  Time Cost Best For
Plane 50 minutes $161 One-way travel 
Bus 3 hours $17 Eco-conscious travel
Car 2 hours, 10 minutes 130 miles (209 kilometers) Arriving on a time crunch

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Charlotte to Asheville?

Taking just 50 minutes, flying from Charlotte to Asheville is technically the fastest way to travel between the two cities. The non-stop flight is approximately 50 minutes and the costs starts at $161 for a one-way ticket (and $238 for round trip airfare). Flights depart from Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and arrives at Asheville Regional Airport, located about nine miles south of downtown. There are several multi-stop options between the two cities as well.

However, when factoring in time for check-in, security, and travel to and from the airport in each city, flying may take as long or even longer than driving, but can be a good option if one wants to avoid parking and driving in either city or is making Asheville a final destination in a longer, multi-city trip.

How Long Is the Drive?

Driving from Charlotte to Asheville is quick and easy. The fastest route is via I-277 N to I-85 S, US-321 N, and I-40 W to downtown Asheville, and the trip takes approximately two hours and 10 minutes from Charlotte's city center. Alternative routes include I-85 S to I-26 W south through Spartanburg, SC and north through the Blue Ridge Mountains, which takes two hours and 20 minutes and US-74 W to I-26 W, which takes two hours and 15 minutes. The best route depends on which part of town you're departing from or arriving to as well as local traffic conditions, so consult with a travel app to determine which option is the quickest for your trip.

From all three routes, consider a quick side trip to Chimney Rock State Park, located off Highway Alt-74. The 8,014-acre recreational area is named for its defining 535-million-year-old, 315-foot granite rock outcropping, which can be reached via a 30 second, 26-story elevator from the parking lot or a short but steep hike along the Outcroppings Trail. The park is also home to more than 90 rare species of plants, the 14-mile deep Hickory Nut Gorge, granite cliffs, hardwood forests, and water falls, making it ideal for hiking and mountain biking, rock climbing, and birdwatching.

Note that once you reach Asheville, daily and overnight parking can be expensive, particularly in the downtown area, but is readily available at most resorts, hotels, and attractions.

If renting a car in Charlotte, note there are several companies such as Hertz, Avis, and Enterprise, with outposts at the airport as well as city center, SouthPark, and other parts of town.

Is There a Bus That Goes From Charlotte to Asheville?

For an economical and eco-friendly alternative to driving, Greyhound offers bus service between the two cities. The trip takes approximately three hours and five minutes and trains depart once a day from the Charlotte Greyhound Bus Station in 518 W 4th Street just north of Uptown and arrive at the Asheville Bus Station at 2 Tunnel Road, just south of downtown. Fares start as low as $17 one way, and buses are outfitted with free Wi-Fi, personal chargers, and other amenities to keep you occupied during the journey.

Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport?

While Asheville does not have a subway system, the city does have a bus system, Asheville Rides Transit (ART). From the airport, take the South 3 Route to downtown. The ride costs $1 per person and takes approximately 35 minutes. Buses depart several times a day.

For those renting a car, the trip to downtown is 15 miles and takes approximately 20 minutes via I-26 W. Rental cars are available at the airport, and additional ground transportation options include taxis, ride share services, and hotel shuttles. Designated pick-up areas are located adjacent to the airport terminal.

Note that taxis charge a flat rate of $2.50 plus $2.50 per mile.

What Is There to Do in Asheville?

Asheville has plenty to offer visitors, from craft breweries to art galleries to award-winning restaurants, hiking trails, and eclectic shops.

Start your visit in downtown with a free or self-guided tour of the historic The Basilica of Saint Lawrence, designed by renowned artist Rafael Guastavino. Then stroll through some of the neighborhood's eclectic shops, like Malaprop's Bookstore, the Battery Park Book Exchange, Kress Emporium, and the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. Downtown is also home to some of the city's best restaurants, including Cúrate, Rhubarb, Chai Pani, and Early Girl Eatery.

After grabbing a bite to eat, head to the River Arts District, a cluster of 22 historic and formerly industrial buildings transformed into working art studios for more than 200 artists ranging from painters and potters to woodworkers and jewelry makers. Pop into the galleries to catch a glimpse of artists at work or purchase a souvenir to take home. The neighborhood is also home to several craft breweries, including Wedge Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewing Company, both of which offer tastings and tours.

Outdoor enthusiasts will want to take advantage of the area's many hiking trails, such as the free The North Carolina Arboretum, a patchwork of gardens and trails located in the southwest part of the city, or the Craggy Gardens Trail, a moderately-paced, 1.9-mile out and back trail whose summit offers panoramic views of wildflowers and the nearby rock formation, Craggy Pinnacle. 

Or view the area's picturesque landscapes from the comfort of your car by driving the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway, which spans 469 miles in North Carolina and Virginia and offers many scenic outlooks along the way.

Finally, no trip to Asheville is complete without a visit to the Biltmore Estate, the sprawling country home built by the Vanderbilt family in the late 1800s. Take a tour of the house, manicured grounds, or onsite winery.

For more about what to see and do in the city, read our guides to the top things to do in Asheville, the top Hikes in Asheville, and the best restaurants in Asheville.