How to Travel from Myrtle Beach to Charleston by Bus, Car, and Plane

downtown Charleston

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The coastal cities of Myrtle Beach and Charleston are of two of South Carolina’s most-visited destinations. With its candy-colored historic homes, cobblestone streets, award-winning restaurants, world class museums, and nearby beaches, Charleston is a perfect getaway for food lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and history buffs alike. Only 98 miles separate the two cities, making it an ideal day trip or weekend getaway.

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United offer flights between the two cities, but none of them are non-stop. With at least one layover, the flights range in time from three to eight hours, so this option takes longer than driving. But for visitors traveling from further away wanting to make a stop in Charleston without renting a car or navigating Charleston’s downtown streets, it is a valid option. Driving between Myrtle Beach and Charleston is the fastest way to make the trip, with the scenic, 98-mile (158 kilometers) drive taking approximately two hours and 15 minutes. Traveling by bus is the cheapest option but with a transfer and several stops, the route takes up to nine hours. Learn more to determine which option is the best for your next trip.

   Time  Cost Best for
 Plane 2 hours, 45 minutes  $208 (one way), $426 (round trip) Traveling without a car 
 Bus 9 hours $22  On a budget
 Car 2 hours, 15 minutes  98 miles (158 kilometers)  Getting there quickly

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Myrtle Beach to Charleston?

Taking a bus is the cheapest way to get between the two cities, with fares starting as low as $22 for one-way tickets. Greyhound offers bus service between Myrtle Beach and Charleston, which can be a cheaper, lower-stress alternative to driving and navigating parking in the Holy City.

However, there is only one bus route between the cities daily, and the trip begins at 12 p.m. and ends at 9 p.m. The nine-hour route includes a transfer in Columbia, SC, as well as a four additional stops, so pack a good book or download your favorite podcast or playlist for the journey.

Fares start at $22 for direct, one-way service ($37 for flexible fares)  and busses are outfitted with free Wi-Fi, personal chargers, extra legroom, and other amenities. Trips begin at the Myrtle Beach Bus Station at 511 7th Ave N. and end at 511 7th Ave N. in downtown Charleston.

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Myrtle Beach to Charleston?

At two hours and 15 minutes, driving between Myrtle Beach and Charleston is the fastest way to travel between the two cities. Ideal for those traveling with children or a group, the scenic route follows I-17 S along the coast through the beach communities of Surfside and Pawleys Island and then historic Georgetown. Consider a stop in the latter, a quaint waterfront town just 60 miles north of downtown Charleston. Explore the area's history at the Gullah Museum, the South Carolina Maritime Museum, and the Georgetown County Museum, then stroll the scenic Georgetown Harborwalk, which starts at the Visitor's Center and ends at the Kaminski House Museum. 

The point to point trip from Myrtle Beach to Charleston is 98 miles (158 kilometers), so easy to do in a single day. Note that parking can be pricey in downtown Charleston, and the one-way streets can be confusing for newcomers. While not a major city, Charleston does experience rush hour traffic, so plan on extra driving time if arriving between 4 and 7 p.m. on a weekday.

How Long Does it Take to Fly?

Flying from Myrtle Beach to Charleston can take anywhere from two hours and 45 minutes to eight hours, depending on the number of connections. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United offer flights between Myrtle Beach International Airport and Charleston International Airport, but none of them are non-stop. Fares start at $75 for one-way trips and $109 for round-trip ones, so flying is an economical choice if you don’t have access to a car or are planning a multi-city trip in South Carolina or throughout the Southeast. 

While the plane flight from Myrtle Beach to Charleston is inexpensive, when factoring in layovers,  parking, security, and the cost of travel to and from the airport it is definitely not the fastest option.

Does Charleston Have Public Transportation and Ride Share Services?

For those renting a car or driving a personal car, note that parking can be expensive inside the city limits, especially downtown.  If you want to park your car for the duration of your stay in Charleston, the downtown area is easily walkable. However, ride share services like Lyft and Uber are readily available in all areas, and CARTA (Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority) offers bus service throughout the city. In addition, CARTA offers a free downtown shuttle (DASH), which provides riders with free trips to points of interest in the peninsula, including Waterfront Park, the Visitors Center, the South Carolina Aquarium, and historic Meeting Street.

Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport?

Located just 12 miles northwest of downtown in the city of North Charleston, Charleston International Airport is a compact, easy to navigate regional airport.

CARTA offers bus service to and from the airport. The fare is $2 for one way, and the Airport Express route from the airport to downtown takes approximately 30 minutes. This route also serves the Tanger Outlets and hotels in North Charleston. Buses depart from the covered area located on the curb at the end of the terminal outside of baggage claim.

Rideshare services Lyft and Uber offer pick-up at the airport as well. Exit baggage claim and follow the rideshare signs (over both roadways, then turn right at the last sidewalk) to a covered waiting area.

Some area resorts offer shuttle service to and from the airport, but those must be arranged in advance and directly with transportation companies.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to Charleston?

Charleston is beautiful year-round, but the best times to visit are in the spring and fall. From March to May, the magnolia trees and azaleas are in full bloom, the temperatures are mild, and annual events like the Charleston Food & Wine Festival and Spoleto Festival USA are in full swing. The city is a particularly popular destination during the Easter holidays and spring break, so expect hotel rates to soar and attractions to be crowded. In the fall (between September and November), the temperatures cool off, the humidity is less stifling, and the city is ideal for walking and exploring with fewer crowds than in spring or summer.

What Is There to Do in Charleston?

First-time visitors will enjoy wandering the streets of downtown, whether that's to enjoy the stately old homes, waterfront views, or to pop into one of the numerous galleries and retail shops, especially those on historic King Street. Other must-visit attractions include the Charleston Museum, the Fort Sumter National Monument, Patriot's Point Naval & Maritime Museum, the South Carolina Aquarium is a must for families and the Gibbes Museum of Art. Outdoor enthusiasts will want to take a beach day to enjoy activities like biking, boating, and golf in nearby areas like Sullivan's Island, Kiawah Island, and the Isle of Palms.

And don't forget to fuel up for your adventures: the city is home to several award-winning restaurants like HuskFIG, Rodney Scott's BBQ, and The Ordinary, as well as local distilleries and breweries.

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