How to Get From Charlotte to Asheville: 4 Best Ways (2024)

Trying to find the best way to get from Charlotte to Asheville, United States without wasting time so that you can make the most of your trip?

These are some highly-visited cities in North Carolina as they both have so much to offer and are relatively close to each other!

Caleb and I have spent long weekends in Charlotte and Asheville and made lots of mistakes along the way while getting there, so we have all the ins and outs to make your journey simple and easy!

Culture Craving Couple contains affiliate links and is a member of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase using one of these Amazon links, we may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting us! You can see our disclosure policy.

Whether you’re going to eat all the amazing food in Asheville, see the Biltmore Estate and explore the many waterfalls in Pisgah Forest, or just want to spend time in each city among the gazillions many craft breweries, you will need to know the best ways to get from one city to the other!

There are 4 realistic ways to go the distance from Charlotte NC to Asheville NC and vice-versa. You can fly, take a shuttle, rent a car, or take the bus.

We put this guide together to show you the cost, durations, and logistics for all of these options. By the end, you’ll be able to get from Charlotte to Asheville stress-free in the way that makes the most of your visit!

NoDa in Charlotte - brick buildings with an artsy feel

The Grove Arcade in Asheville - an indoor mall with european stone architecture

4 Ways to Get From Charlotte to Asheville

Here is a quick overview of each of the 4 options with a quick comparison chart:

  • Fly – This is the most expensive option and fastest option in terms of actual flight time. But, if you add getting to the airport 1 hour before your flight, it’s close to the same length as driving. This is the best for people who really hate drives and would rather spend some time zoning out to an airplane movie.
  • A Shuttle – This is slightly less expensive than flying but can get pricey quickly. It is the same length as driving so it’s good for those who do not want to fly and also do not want to deal with driving themselves, parking, etc.
  • Driving or renting a car – This is the absolute best way to get from Charlotte to Asheville, especially if you’re just going for a weekend. It’s not as cheap as a bus but it allows you to see more things and do the drive as slowly or quickly as you want, giving you more flexibility.
  • Taking the bus – this is the longest but cheapest option and is best for those visiting North Carolina and wanting to save money wherever possible. 
Mode of Transportation Time Price Best For
Flying 1 hour $150-$300 one way Those who really hate driving
Shuttle 3-4 hours $100 Those who don’t want to deal with flying or driving but want to save time
Driving 2-3 hours $40-$60 per day Those who want flexibility
Taking the Bus 3-4 hours $20-$25 one way Those on a budget

Distance from Charlotte to Asheville

The distance between Charlotte and Asheville is roughly 130 miles and will take you 2-3 hours by car depending on traffic. You can expect 3-4 hours by bus. 

Option 1 -Charlotte to Asheville Flights

While flying does not save you much time in the long run, it is the most convenient. The flights leave from Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) and there are quite a few direct flights to Asheville Regional Airport available.

Inside an airport in North Carolina

How much is the flight from Charlotte to Asheville?

The flight from Charlotte to Asheville NC is very expensive for the short distance you are traveling. As of September 2023, the prices range from $150 to $300 one-way per person.

This does not include a checked bag, which is usually about $30-$50.

How long is a flight from Charlotte to Asheville?

If you snag a direct flight, the flying time from Charlotte to Asheville is only around 45 minutes to one hour.  Keep in mind you have to get to the airport an hour early for domestic flights, so that adds time to your flight trip.

What airlines fly from Charlotte to Asheville?

American Airlines is the largest airline that has Charlotte to Asheville flights and is the only airline with direct flights. They have many flights taking off each day, so you can easily find one to fit your schedule. You can find some Delta or United flights, but they always have layovers.

Credit: Canva

Option 2 – Charlotte to Asheville Shuttle

Unlike when you are navigating from Raleigh to Asheville and a shuttle is not an option, that is not the case when traveling between Charlotte and Asheville!

If you don’t want to fly or bother with driving yourself and the craziness of North Carolina drivers, you can either:

  1. Hire a private shuttle (more expensive)
  2. Take a public shuttle (cheaper)

How many hours is a shuttle from Charlotte to Asheville?

Taking a public or private shuttle from Charlotte to Asheville will take about 3-4 hours, based on traffic. A public shuttle is usually a little bit longer as they take scheduled bathroom breaks and you have to deal with waiting for everyone to arrive for the shuttle.

How much does a shuttle from Charlotte to Asheville cost?

The cost of the shuttle from Charlotte to Asheville will vary based on whether you do a public or private shuttle.

If you opt for the public shuttle, you can expect to pay around $100 one way per person. However, usually the second person is only $50-75.

If you opt to take a private shuttle, you can expect to pay $300-$500 one way for two people.

A row of rental cars in Raleigh North Carolina

Option 3 – Charlotte to Asheville Drive

Renting a car and driving from Charlotte is Asheville is what we recommend doing! It gives you the flexibility to stop along the way or go outside of the city once you reach Asheville instead of relying on Uber or public transport.

It also saves you the headache of figuring out bus schedules, dealing with late buses, or having to make small talk with the person beside you on the plane when you just want to watch your movie thank you very much. Not speaking from experience….

How many hours is the drive from Charlotte to Asheville?

The Charlotte to Asheville drive time is around 2 to 3 hours if you drive it straight through, depending on traffic and if you have to stop to use the bathroom, get gas, etc.

Charlotte follows the standard rush hour of most big cities in the United States. We always recommend leaving Charlotte between 9 am and 2 pm or after 7 pm to avoid the rush hour traffic.

Is Driving Hard in North Carolina?

We’ve driven all over the world, including countries where we drive on the opposite side of the road, and we both agree that driving in North Carolina is the craziest. There are A LOT of speeding and running “yellow” lights that have clearly been red for multiple seconds. Maybe the North Carolina heat makes people crazy?

Not to freak you out of anything, but just make sure you’re not getting too deep in your questions to ask on a road trip that you don’t pay attention to, you know, the actual road.

Inside Enterprise Rental Car in Raleigh North Carolina

The Best Route From Charlotte to Asheville

This is highly debated by North Carolinians, but we think that the best route to get from CLT to Asheville is to take I-85 to US 321 N at Gastonia to I-40W.

While this is a large Interstate, you drive through big mountains with views of Mt. Mitchell. There can be more traffic, but it’s a very large interstate with many lanes which can speed things up.

However, you can also take I-85 S to Hwy 74 W to I-26 W and follow that into Asheville. Some find this more scenic but it goes through a lot of small towns with lots of stop lights and sometimes more construction.

Traffic aside, both ways take about the same amount of time to drive.

Best Stops From Charlotte to Asheville

Of course, you could drive straight on through if you just want to get to Asheville as quickly as possible. However, since the drive is so short, we recommend making a couple of stops. These are our favorite stops along the recommended route of going from I-85 to US 321 N at Gastonia to I-40W:

Stop 1: Hickory – 60 miles/1 hour from Charlotte, depending on traffic

Things to do in Hickory:

  • Explore Union Square– the main square downtown is where all the action is. Explore the bars, restaurants, and shops in this area.
  • Explore the Downtown Hickory Farmers Market – This is a great spot if you’re staying the night and cooking dinner in an Airbnb and want local produce.
  • Meet “Under The Sails” – a bi-weekly event downtown with live music and plenty of seating. Check the schedule before you go!

If you’re staying overnight, we recommend The Holiday Inn Express Hickory. Like most places we recommend, it’s not fancy but it’s in a good location, clean, and has a free breakfast!

Local tip: if you do stop in Hickory and plan to do the hike listed below, stop at Hatch Sandwich Bar to pick up sandwiches to eat on your hike! Delish! 

Stop 2: Catawba Falls – 56 miles/55 minutes from Hickory and 110 miles/2 hours from Charlotte, depending on traffic.

If you need to stretch your legs and burn off some of the amazing North Carolina ribs that we hope you’ve been sampling, get a hike in at the Catawba Falls.

This 3-mile round-trip hike will take you about 3 hours and is pretty easy.

NOTE: This trail is closed until Spring 2024 for improvements!

Honestly, this isn’t really much of a place to stay, so we recommend stopping, hiking, and moving on.

Stop 3: Black Mountain- 12 miles/20 minutes from Catawba Falls and 114 miles/2 hours from Charlotte, depending on traffic.

Things to do in Black Mountain:

  • Explore the slower-paced Downtown with tons of local shops and eclectic restaurants. There are even rocking chairs located around town to unwind.
  • Get your drink on at many of the breweries, cideries, and distilleries such as Pisgah Brewing or Black Mountain Ciderworks + Meadery
  • Stroll around Lake Tomahawk to get a little more nature.

If you’re staying overnight, we recommend staying at the Hampton Inn Black Mountain. Like Hickory, it’s a mid-budget kinda spot that is central to everything downtown that is clean, and has free breakfast.

The waterfalls around Asheville are gorgeous!

Rest Areas from Charlotte to Asheville 

While you can always stop at gas stations, there are two main “official” rest areas on the I-40 Westbound. You’ll find the Catawba Rest Area and McDowell Rest Area.

The Catawba Rest Area is 1 hour from Charlotte, depending on traffic.

The McDowell Rest Area is 1 hour and 45 minutes from Charlotte, depending on traffic.

How much is a rental car from Charlotte to Asheville?

Depending on the season, you can get a rental car in Charlotte to drive to Asheville for between $40-$60 per day. The longer you rent the vehicle the lower the price. The price also decreases if you book a round trip instead of picking up in Charlotte and dropping off in Asheville.

When booking rental cars we always recommend Discover Cars.

>> Click HERE to check out the current rental car prices in Charlotte! <<

A row of blue greyhound buses at the bus station

Option 4 – Charlotte to Asheville Bus

Taking a Greyhound from Charlotte to Asheville is the longest way to make this trip, but it’s also the most budget-friendly!

The Greyhound Buses from Charlotte leave from the Charlotte Bus Station and there is usually only one direct bus each day. The timetables can change so make sure you check the timetables on the Greyhound website.

How much is a bus from Charlotte to Asheville?

Bus tickets from Charlotte to Asheville range from $20 to $25 depending on the season and time of day.

Charlotte to Asheville Bus Schedule

Buses run all year from the Charlotte Bus Station, usually once a day at 3:10 p.m. But, the schedule is always changing so make sure you check it!

How long is the bus from Charlotte to Asheville?

The bus schedule says that the bus ride from Charlotte to Asheville takes 3 hours. Keep in mind this is a ballpark estimate and traffic could increase this by an hour or more.

Charlotte VS Asheville

Charlotte and Asheville are two very popular cities in North Carolina, but they have different vibes.

Charlotte is more of a bustling big city with lots of amenities, shops, restaurants, and bars. It’s a financial and banking center, making it feel more cosmopolitan and urban. It does lack some cultural variety but is great if you want that city vibe.

Asheville on the other hand is more of a laid-back, hipster mountain town that kind of reminds us of Portland, Oregon. It’s home to the famous Biltmore estate! It’s very liberal, has lots of great nightlife and music, and amazing restaurant options for the smaller size. It also has a beautiful old town area that is highly walkable and one of our favorite places in North Carolina!

How Many Days Do You Need In Charlotte?

Charlotte is a large city which means there is plenty to see, do, and eat and drink! To make the most of your stay, we recommend spending 2-3 days in Charlotte. This gives you some time to explore the city and the various areas – Uptown, The South End, and NoDa.

How Many Days Do You Need in Asheville?

Asheville is a lot smaller than Charlotte, but it’s such a popular city that there is still plenty to do! This is especially true if you love the outdoors. The Pisgah National Forest is next door and so is the famous Blue Ridge Parkway. We recommend spending 2-3 days here. 2 Days exploring the city and then a day getting into nature or driving along the parkway – especially if it’s fall and leaves are beautiful colors!


What is the cheapest way to get from Charlotte to Asheville?

The cheapest way to get from Charlotte to Asheville is to take the Greyhound bus, which will cost you $20-USD 25.

Is it better to drive or fly from Charlotte to Asheville?

It is much better to drive from Charlotte to Asheville instead of flying. It ends up being around the same amount of time once you factor in arriving at the airport early and it’s much cheaper.

Is it worth it to drive from Charlotte to Asheville?

The drive from Charlotte to Asheville is so short that it is absolutely worth the effort to make the trip. You could even do this over a weekend and still have plenty of time to explore Asheville!

How many days will it take to drive from Charlotte to Asheville?

It will take you less than a day to drive from Charlotte to Asheville – only 2 to 3 hours depending on traffic!

How Far is Asheville from Charlotte?

It is 130 miles from Charlotte to Asheville which is about 2 to 3 hours depending on traffic.

Does Amtrak go to Asheville NC?

No, the Amtrak does not go directly to Asheville NC, so there is no Charlotte to Asheville train.

How Scenic Is The Drive from Charlotte to Asheville?

If you take the suggested route along the I-40 the drive is quite beautiful as it winds through large mountains. This is especially true if you drive during the fall when the leaves have changed colors!

4 ways to get from Charlotte to Asheville Pinterest Pin

Conclusion/Final Thoughts: Charlotte to Asheville

Both Charlotte and Asheville are fabulous cities to visit loaded with things to do, amazing food, and plenty of awesome cocktail spots. Bonus: the drive from Charlotte to Asheville is super short and easy making it a no-brainer to do!

We highly recommend renting a car to make the most of your time enjoying the area while having the flexibility to explore the awesome things to do just outside of Asheville that will require you to drive.

We hope this answers all the questions you have about your short road trip between these two great cities!

Once you’re done with the cities, why not check out the beach?

Get Our Best Travel Tips

We’ll show you how to plan an epic vacay, have amazing experiences, eat the best food and save some $$!
A couple embraces while watching the sunset behind the Crystal Palace in Madrid's Retiro Park, a moment of romance and tranquility by the reflective waters.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *