With some of the best beaches, golf courses, and history our country has to offer, Charleston, South Carolina has everything you need for a getaway. The downtown historic district is filled with National Landmarks that remind us of the rich history and past of our country. Between the painted houses of Rainbow Row, the Monument at Fort Sumter, and the lush rolling fields and plantations, Charleston, South Carolina is full of beauty and charm that cannot be found anywhere else, but does it have public transportation available?
Charleston, South Carolina has 3 main forms of public transportation: Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) bus services, Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) Trolleys, and Horse-drawn Carriages. Because the streets are easy to navigate, many choose to walk instead.
The streets of Charleston attract people from all over the world. With thousands of visitors coming each year, there is a need for accessible and quality public transportation. If you are planning on moving or visiting Charleston, South Carolina any time soon, keep reading to find out more about their public transportation!
Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA Bus services)
Being the first form of public transportation in the area, The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) has served the area of Charleston since its early development. CARTA bus services help with public travel in primarily the outer Charleston area.
With a plethora of bus routes, tourists and locals can get from the Charleston International Airport to anywhere in the Charleston area. CARTA bus services have options available for express travel because of how many bus routes are available at one time. This service is faster and more direct. Wherever your location, CARTA has services available to help.
CARTA has over 17 routes with routes surrounding the entire outer edge of Charleston. Bus services make stops at the Charleston International Airport, grocery stores, libraries, hospitals, and many more necessary locations. With an easy interactive map, CARTA can help you plan trips and pinpoint which route you need to take.
CARTA bus services may run as early as 5:00 am and as late as 1:00 am. Understanding your specific bus route can help you plan your trips and allow for stress-free CARTA bus travel. CARTA offers a variety of times to best help meet your need and your schedule.
CARTA Fares are cheap and affordable. Whatever your situation may be, CARTA is here to help you get to where you need to be. For frequent riders, CARTA has passes and discounts available to help you get a deal on your travel.
|Children (under 6 years old with paying customer)||Free|
|7-Day (weekly) – Express||$25.00|
|31 Day – Express||$99.00|
Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) Trolley
The Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) Trolley provides transportation around downtown Charleston and the Charleston peninsula. Since 2010, this new system has been the primary source of transportation within the Charleston downtown Historic District.
DASH is made to be easy and convenient transportation within city limits. With each route running from roughly 6:30 am-9:00 pm, every traveler has plenty of time to travel around Charleston, South Carolina.
DASH Trolley has 3 main routes. Each one takes its passengers around Downtown Charleston ensuring that they are able to see and do everything they are planning.
Purple (Route 213)
Traveling along the Northwest side of Charleston, the Purple Route takes passengers around the Joseph Riley Football Stadium, home to the Citadel Bulldogs. The trolley also takes passengers past Ashley River Hotels and into central downtown Charleston.
Orange (Route 210)
This route makes stops for passengers at the South Carolina Aquarium, Charleston University, and the Fort Sumter Visitors Center. Traveling in the heart of Charleston, these Trolleys come about every 15 minutes.
Green (Route 211)
With stops traveling up and down the streets of Charleston, the Green trolley will get you everywhere from shopping, to museums, and to the Waterfront Park. You can get almost anywhere in Charleston using this trolley route.
The Downtown Area Shuttle runs every day from roughly 6:30 am-9:00 pm. Holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s are observed and services are canceled.
As a courtesy to those traveling in Charleston, the DASH trolley services are free. Anyone and everyone are welcome to ride this complimentary service.
Taking us right back to the 19th century, Charleston uses horse-drawn carriages as an alternative way to take tourists around the city. As if the city wasn’t enough by itself, the horse-drawn carriages paint the perfect southern picture. Helping you get into the history, touring the historic district in a horse-drawn carriage creates a day-in-the-life perspective.
Tours cover 30 blocks of Downtown Charleston to help you learn about 300+ years of Charleston history. With stops at some of the most well-known homes, you can learn about architecture, local figures, and the way life was once lived hundreds of years ago in Charleston.
Horse-Drawn carriage tours run every 20 minutes from 9:00 am-4:00 pm each day. Tickets are available to purchase, and tours are given on a first come first serve basis. After going on one of Charleston’s Famous carriage rides, I recommend taking a horse-drawn carriage tour during one of the earlier sessions. This helps you beat the crowds and beat the heat. The city of Charleston is filled with horse-drawn carriage tours all day. This is an experience you cannot get anywhere else, so you will not want to miss out!
Charleston is known for its quaint streets and little shops. This makes window shopping and exploring one of the best things to do in Charleston. When you’d rather be on the streets than in a seat, one of Charleston’s walking tours may be for you. Charleston has a variety of walking tours available to show tourists every side of the city. Whatever piques your interest, whether it’s an architecture tour, ghost tour, window box tour, or even just a historic tour, Charleston is full of amazing wonders that can best be seen on foot.
While walking is free and easy, North Carolina adds tours throughout the city to make walking more and more pleasurable. Below, we have listed a few great tours around Charleston for your next trip to the city!
The Charleston Architecture tour is currently available as a private tour. The Architecture tour takes you past some of Charleston’s wealthiest colonial family homes as well as showing off Charleston’s beautiful architectural styles in the landmarks.
Here is more information on the Architecture Tour:
- Schedule: Friday and Saturday
- Start Time: 1:00 pm
- Duration: 2 hours
- Cost of Tickets: $3
Ghost Story Tour
The Charleston Ghost Tours meets to tell wild tales of Charleston’s ghoulish past. Mixing Charleston history and ghoulish lore, you are sure to feel a little scared with each creepy story. This walking tour takes you past old graveyards, churches, and alleyways to give each walker a fright.
Here is more information on the Ghost Story Tour:
- Schedule: Sunday, Monday, and Thursday
- Start Time: 8:00 pm
- Start Place: Meet at the pineapple fountain at Waterfront Park
- Duration: 60 minutes
Window Box Tour
For all things, gardens, flowers, and botanicals, the Window Box tour is for you! This tour winds you through the streets of Charleston showing and telling you about the botanical beauties in season. With thousands of flower species, Charleston is sure to wow you with their floral displays.
Here is more information on the Window Box Tour:
- Schedule: Tuesdays
- Start Time: 9:30 am
- Start Place: Nathaniel Russell Home Garden
- Duration: 90 minutes
Charleston Historic Tour
Last but not least is the famous Charleston Historic Tour. Being one of the oldest cities in our country, Charleston is full of beauty and charm. The Charleston historic tour takes you past everything from old churches, to fountains, parks, theaters and so much more! Showing off hidden gems while traveling the city, The Charleston Historic tour will inform and delight you.
Here is more information on the Charleston Historic Tour:
- Schedule: Daily
- Start Time: 9:30 am (Tuesdays and Wednesdays 1:00 pm)
- Start Place: Southeast corner of Church Street and Lingard Street – next to Tommy Condon’s Restaurant
- Duration: 2 hours (1.5 miles)
However, whether you own a walking tour or just walk on your own, Charleston is known for being one of the best cities for walking transportation. There are restaurants, shops, churches, and monuments around every corner. Walking is one of the best ways to see it all and enjoy some time soaking in the city.
Although Charleston doesn’t have bumper-to-bumper traffic like most major cities, being able to drive into town and then walk around can be one of the easiest ways to see all the sights. Charleston has street parking available as well as lot parking. Parking outside of Charleston is also popular because of the free DASH shuttle service that takes individuals into the city free of charge.
We wish you the best of luck when it comes to using public transportation in Charleston, South Carolina!