A road trip is a destination. And the best thing about driving from Atlanta to Charleston is that you have three main routes, each offering a journey that can be unique and fun.

The journey from Atlanta to Charleston is about 305 miles and takes about 4 hours and 40 minutes via the I-20 E and the I-26 E. This route offers an infinite number of places to stop along the way to explore nature.

There are three main routes to choose from, depending on how fast you want to get to Charleston and where you want to stop along the way.

Read on to find out more about the best stops, sights and routes.

What is the distance between Atlanta and Charleston and how long does it take to get there?

The distance between Atlanta and Charleston is about 305 miles if you take the I-20 and I-26. Depending on how fast you drive, it takes between 4 hours and 40 minutes, with a maximum of 5 hours.

Route Distance Driving time
Fastest runway
(I-20 and I-26)
305 miles Five o’clock.
(via I-16)
350 miles 5 hours and 20 minutes
The longest distance is
(on I-85 and I-26).
350 miles 5 hours 30 minutes

If you stay in a good hotel, you can leave the house for lunch and prepare it before the end of dinner. This itinerary is also a good way to take a break.

Madison is a beautiful town, and it can easily be called one of the most beautiful cities in the United States. It’s only 59 miles away and it’s the perfect place to stop for a burger and stretch your legs.

Picturesque views of huge live oaks covering the empty road at Oak, South Carolina, like a tunnel in good weather
These oaks have covered the road at Oak, a sight you are sure to enjoy.

Denton Ramsay / Shutterstock.com

A little further on, Aiken could be the next place to rest or sleep. Because there is so much to do, Aiken is one of the most popular cities in South Carolina.

You can visit your local brewery or art centre, or you can get your supplies at Aiken County’s farmer’s market, where you’ll find a wide selection of fresh local produce.

Best route from Atlanta to Charleston

There are three main routes you can take on your way from Atlanta to Charleston. The best and fastest route from Atlanta to Charleston is the one mentioned above.

The journey via motorways I-20 and I-26 is 305 miles long and takes less than 5 hours to reach your destination non-stop.

You will visit cities such as Madison, Augusta and Orangeburg, where you have many opportunities to stop and rest along the way.

Alternative routes from Atlanta to Charleston

You also have two other routes from Atlanta to Charleston. Second section via I-16. This scenic route covers a distance of about 350 miles with a driving time of 5 hours and 20 minutes.

You can add at least half an hour driving time to the first route, but you’ll be driving through great places like Macon, Dublin and Savannah.

The third and longest route is I-85 and I-26. Travel time is 5 hours and 30 minutes and the distance between Atlanta and Charleston is 350 miles.

The best part of this route is that you go through Colombia, the capital of South Carolina. When you’re ready for an adventure, you’ll find exciting parks, gourmet museums and lots of fun outdoor activities for the whole family.

The two alternative routes are slightly longer, but both offer great places to explore. The duration of the trip depends on the weather conditions and traffic jams. If you don’t have time to explore and are wary, the first route is your best chance of getting to your destination on time.

Best ports of call between Atlanta and Charleston

One of the best aspects of road traffic is the freedom to change one’s mind. If you don’t like a certain place, you can just jump in the car and leave.

Conversely, you can decide at the last minute to visit a place you really like. With so many great places to see, choosing a route can be a difficult decision.

With this in mind, here are some options that are really remarkable.

Relaxation on Lake Okoni, Georgia

Lake Ocony is just an hour and 20 minutes from Atlanta, and is a great place to relax. The lake was artificially created in 1979 when Georgia Power completed the construction of the Wallace Dam, and its shoreline stretches 374 miles with an area of 19971 acres.

Beautiful orange sunset at Lake Aucony with the trees around the water
Relax after a long ride and stretch your legs while enjoying the view of Lake Aucony on your way to Charleston.

Benz travel photography/Shutterstock.com

There is plenty to do at Lake Okoni, you can play golf, kayak on the calm waters of the lake or choose one of the many hiking trails and explore nature.

To get in, take the I-20. An interstate highway connects Atlanta to the middle of the lake. If you’re in the mood for a nocturnal adventure, there are plenty of options to choose from and if you want to pamper yourself, choose the Reynolds Ritz-Carlton.

This hotel has a spa with sauna, luxury rooms and a private golf course. To make your stay even more relaxing, the hotel has a gym and not only one but also two heated indoor and outdoor pools!

In addition to a full view of Lake Okoni, each room has a 37-inch flat-screen TV with HBO cable channels, a fridge and a coffee maker.

Zoo and Coastal Garden, Colombia

The vibrant city of Colombia has many attractions, including a zoo and a garden by the river. This place is one of the most visited tourist attractions thanks to its 170 hectares of zoo and garden, where more than 2000 animals from all over the world live.

Interactive exhibits such as the reptile house, the bird complex and the zoo are ideal for exploring different species. Here you can even feed giraffes, take a closer look at lions and much more.

Colombia is a great place to dive. If you feel like extending your stay as you explore the city, Embassy Suites Columbia – Greystone is the perfect place to relax with your feet.

The hotel is located near Route 126, which is easily accessible, and very close to the center of Colombia. Riverbanks Zoo is located directly in front of the hotel, just a few minutes walk away. A free shuttle service is also available within an 8 km radius of the hotel.

In addition to microwave ovens, refrigerators and coffeemakers in your room, as well as a modern fitness centre and swimming pool, the hotel offers everything you need for pets when travelling with your plush friend!

What you should see on your trip from Atlanta to Charleston

A road trip can become a cheap family holiday. And the amazing thing about this special trip from Atlanta to Charleston is that there are so many places to explore and stop. Here’s a list of the best places.

  1. August, Georgia: If you travel on I-20 and I-26, Augusta is the best place to take a break. You can attend the golf tournament of the Masters, visit the Augusta History Museum or stroll through the tree-lined streets and along the Augusta River.
  2. Macon, Georgia: If you take the second route on the I-16 E, you can visit the Allman Brothers Orchestra Museum, the Museum of Arts and Sciences or the Tubman Museum to learn more about African-American culture and history.
  3. South Carolina State House, Colombia: The third route takes you to this historic place. South Carolina State House is an outstanding example of Greek Renaissance architecture and offers tourists the opportunity to visit the Revolutionary War Generals Memorial, the Confederate Monument, the George Washington Statue, the American-Mexican Military Monument and the African-American History Monument.
  4. Travel Guide for Athens, Georgia & Georgia: Athens is 115 miles from Atlanta and is a charming city with many museums and art galleries to visit, including Georgia Guide, a 19 foot high granite structure with 10 major conservation principles in 8 modern and 4 ancient languages.
  5. Okmulji Mounds National Historic Park: With over 2000 artifacts, 7 hills and 8 miles of hiking trails, there are many outdoor and indoor activities.
  6. Attractions of the steamship Savannah River: If you’re tired from the road, enjoy a break on the water. On the river boat you can visit the many attractions of the beautiful waterways and enjoy delicious meals.

Picturesque street with charming old buildings in pink, orange, green and powder blue at dusk in the historic centre of Charleston, South Carolina
Enjoy the view of these old buildings in the historic centre of Charleston.


Best time to get from Atlanta to Charleston

Spring is the best time to visit Charleston. From March to June you can discover azaleas, dog trees and other colourful plants that bloom in spring.

Temperatures are mild, heat and humidity have not yet arrived and the hurricane season has not yet begun. Spring is therefore an ideal time to visit the magnolia plantation.

It is one of the oldest and most beautiful public gardens in America, where you can see thousands of beautiful flowers and plants. This beautiful place offers a variety of impressions accessible to everyone.

For a less busy and quieter experience, you can also take a 45-minute drive from Charleston to Kiawa Island, where you can enjoy numerous golf courses and private beaches.

To enjoy the sun and water, summer is perfect for a road trip from Atlanta to Charleston. The city has 230 days of sunshine a year. Children don’t go to school in the summer and Charleston’s sunny days make it an ideal place for a beach holiday.

If you want to travel out of season, with fewer people and lower fares, the winter months are a good time to visit Charleston. The Festival of Lights, the Low Country Oyster Festival and Valentine’s Day make Charleston a great place to travel by car.

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