How to get to Downtown Charleston from the airport?

This post provides details about airport transfers to the downtown area of Charleston, including information about buses, shuttles, private transfers, taxis, and more.

Charleston Airport Transportatin(1)

Free Hotel Shuttles

If you are staying at one of the major hotels in downtown Charleston, chances are that they actually offer free shuttles from the airport to their business.

This could be a great way to save not only money, but also a lot of time, as these shuttles run non-stop from the airport to the hotel.

Check this list of hotels and motels to see which locations offer this service to their customers for no additional charge.

Bus Transfer

This is the most affordable airport transfer in Charleston, and there are actually two different lines available that connect the airport with the city center.

The main line is CARTA Route 11, and it provides service 7 days a week during the following time frames:

  • Weekdays: 6:49 am – 8:10 pm
  • Saturdays: 7:39 am – 8:19 pm
  • Sundays: 10:08 am – 7:08 pm

Route 11 leaves the airport every 45 minutes on average during weekdays, while you can expect to wait at least an hour between departures on weekends.

This bus makes several stops on its way to downtown Charleston, so you can expect it to take a while to reach your final destination – roughly 1 hour on average.

Alternatively, if you want to reach the city faster, there is also an express bus route (XP4) that provides more direct service to downtown Charleston.

The XP4 line also provides service 7 days a week during slightly more limited time frames:

  • Weekdays & Saturdays: 8 am – 7:40 pm
  • Sundays: 12 pm – 5:50 pm

The main difference between these two bus lines is that the XP4 has an average travel time of 25-30 minutes, which is around half the amount of time it will take to reach downtown Charleston on route 11.

Sadly, the XP4 line is only offered once an hour or so, which means you might have to wait longer at the airport for the bus to arrive.

Here are the ticket prices for both services:

  • Route 11: $2 per ride
  • XP4: $3.50 per ride
  • Free for kids under 6
  • No charge for transfers

While ticket prices aren’t too expensive, bus transfers will likely require more waiting than all the other airport transfers in Charleston. If you need to reach the city quicker, consider another transfer service.

Another issue is that they don’t really offer much space for luggage, so if you have more than a few bags, this might not be the best transfer option to the city.

Both route 11 and XP4 connect with the DASH trolley, which is a free transportation option in downtown Charleston.


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Shuttle Transfers

If you’re looking for a transfer option that provides more frequent service than the bus, there is a shuttle into downtown Charleston that departs within 15 minutes of purchasing your ticket.

Even though it’s more expensive than the bus at a price of $15 per passenger, it’s also more convenient and you won’t have to worry about waiting for potentially an hour just to get on a bus to the city.

To purchase tickets ahead of time, you’ll need to contact the airport at (843)-767-7009 and ask them to connect you with the right people. 

Alternatively, you can go to the information desk in the arrivals hall to request a shuttle to downtown Charleston. The Charleston Airport Shuttles can be easily located outside the baggage claim area.

This is a shared ride, so be prepared to make several stops depending on how many passengers there are. 

Shuttles depart from the front of the terminal building, outside of the baggage claim area.

Don’t forget that there are also free shuttles provided by several hotels in Charleston, so if you’re planning to stay at a hotel in the city, you may want to check this list of hotels and motels and see if they offer this service.


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Taxi/Uber

For an even more prompt transfer, consider either a taxi or a rideshare service. 

While these options tend to cost a bit more, they’re also much more convenient and usually quicker than the buses and shuttles.

Taxis can be found at the center median outside the baggage claim and there is a $15 minimum charge for all taxi services leaving the Charleston airport. Rates are metered at $2.52 per mile.

Depending on how far into the city center you want to go, you can expect prices to range from $30-$40 on average for a taxi to downtown Charleston, but if you split the cost between 2-3 passengers, that could be as little as $10 per person – $5 less than the shuttles.

Alternatively, you can also use a rideshare service such as Uber or Lyft. This option is very similar to a taxi, with the exception that you may have to share your ride with another passenger or two if you select the cheapest option.

Rideshares a bit more affordable than taxis at a rate of about $20-$25 per ride.

Most taxis and rideshare services can get you to the city center in about 15-25 minutes, making this one of the fastest transfer services in Charleston.

All you have to do is download the rideshare app (Uber or Lyft) onto your smartphone and use it to schedule a pickup at the Charleston airport. 

If you do this well ahead of time, you won’t have to wait for your ride at all!


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Private Transfer

This is the most luxurious airport transfer option in Charleston, but it’s also the most expensive. 

If you’re looking for a ride that will provide a personal touch, this is your best bet.

Private transfers typically wait for you at the baggage claim area, put your luggage in the car for you, and take you to the city center without any stops in between.

While most private transfers use a luxury sedan, others will offer rides via SUV or minibus. 

These services range from $50-$70 on average, and you can expect your ride to take around 15-25 minutes. 

Purchase tickets for a private transfer from Charleston airport to the city center or learn more.


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About the author

Guide & Manager | Charleston, SC

Scott has led over 2,000 tours of Charleston and has more than 1000 5 star reviews. He started working in museums at the age of 16 (Unsinkable Molly Brown House) and hasn't looked back. He was the Executive Director of Heurich House and on the historic interpretation/ education staff at Mount Vernon, both in Washington DC, for over 6 years. Scott moved to Charleston in 2012 for a job with the Historic Charleston Foundation and began leading tours for Free Tours by Foot.