Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

How To Get Around Charleston


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Renata Smyth



Welcome to Charleston, a charming and historic city nestled on the coast of South Carolina. Known for its cobblestone streets, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture, Charleston offers plenty of adventures waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or a foodie looking for gastronomic delights, this city has something to offer everyone.


But before you dive into exploring all that Charleston has to offer, you need to figure out how to get around. Navigating a new city can be daunting, but fear not, because in this article, we’ll guide you through the best ways to get around Charleston effortlessly.


From public transportation options to walking tours, biking routes, and even the possibility of navigating Charleston’s waterways, we’ll cover it all. Whether you prefer a leisurely stroll, an adrenaline-pumping bike ride, or the convenience of public transportation, there’s a method of transportation for every type of adventurer.


So, buckle up and get ready to explore the nooks and crannies of Charleston. Let’s dive into the best ways to get around this captivating city!


Best Ways to Explore Charleston

Charleston offers a myriad of options when it comes to exploring the city. Whether you want to immerse yourself in its rich history or soak in its natural beauty, here are some of the best ways to experience all that Charleston has to offer:

  • Walking Tours: One of the most popular and immersive ways to explore Charleston is by taking a walking tour. The city is known for its well-preserved historic district, with buildings dating back to the 18th century. Join a guided tour and stroll through the charming streets, as knowledgeable guides regale you with fascinating stories and insights about the city’s past.
  • Biking Adventures: Charleston is a bike-friendly city, with numerous dedicated bike lanes and paths. Rent a bike and pedal your way through the city’s scenic routes, taking in the sights and sounds of this picturesque coastal destination. From waterfront trails to tree-lined park pathways, biking is a great way to explore at your own pace.
  • Horse Carriage Rides: For a whimsical and romantic way to discover Charleston, hop aboard a horse-drawn carriage. Let the clip-clop of hooves transport you through time as you admire the historic mansions and cobblestone streets. Carriage tours provide a unique perspective on the city and offer a chance to learn about its fascinating history.
  • Segway Tours: If you’re looking for a fun and unique way to explore Charleston, consider a Segway tour. Zip through the city’s streets and squares effortlessly on these self-balancing machines. With expert guides leading the way, you’ll cover more ground while still enjoying an engaging and informative experience.

Regardless of which method you choose, exploring Charleston on foot, by bike, or with a guided tour allows you to truly immerse yourself in the city’s charm and character. So, lace up your walking shoes or hop on a bike, and get ready to discover the hidden gems that Charleston has to offer.


Public Transportation Options

When it comes to public transportation in Charleston, the primary mode of getting around is the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA). CARTA operates a comprehensive bus system that covers various parts of the city and surrounding areas. With a network of routes and reliable schedules, utilizing the bus service can be an efficient and cost-effective way to navigate Charleston.


The CARTA bus system offers several convenient features, such as real-time bus tracking through their mobile app and bike racks on select buses, allowing you to combine cycling and public transportation for even greater flexibility.


Another popular public transportation option in Charleston is the DASH Trolley. The Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) provides free rides along a designated route in the historic district. Operating daily, the trolley makes frequent stops at popular landmarks, making it easy to hop on and off as you explore the city’s historic sites and attractions.


In addition to regular bus and trolley services, Charleston also offers a free ferry service. The Charleston Water Taxi connects downtown Charleston with Mount Pleasant and Patriots Point, offering a scenic way to travel across the harbor. Sit back, relax, and enjoy breathtaking views of the city skyline and iconic landmarks while you commute.


If you plan to use public transportation frequently during your stay in Charleston, it’s advisable to purchase a reloadable CARTA GoPass, which provides unlimited rides on CARTA buses and DASH trolleys for a set duration.


Overall, the public transportation options in Charleston provide a convenient way to explore the city and its surrounding areas. Whether you choose to hop on a bus, ride the trolley, or take the ferry, you’ll be able to navigate Charleston comfortably and efficiently.


Exploring Charleston by Bike

Charleston is a bike-friendly city with a plethora of bike lanes and a flat terrain, making it an ideal destination for cycling enthusiasts. Renting a bike is a fantastic way to explore the city and its surrounding areas at your own pace.


There are various bike rental shops located throughout Charleston, offering a range of bicycles, from standard bikes to electric bikes. With rental options available for hours, days, or even weeks, you can customize your biking adventure to fit your schedule.


One of the must-visit areas for cyclists in Charleston is the iconic Ravenel Bridge. This stunning bridge spans the Cooper River, providing breathtaking views of the city skyline and the waterfront. Take a leisurely ride across the bridge and immerse yourself in the beauty of Charleston’s natural surroundings.


For a more scenic experience, head to the West Ashley Greenway, a 10.5-mile paved trail that meanders through forests, wetlands, and marshes. This dedicated bike and pedestrian path offers a peaceful and enjoyable ride, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.


If you’re interested in exploring Charleston’s historic district, bike racks are available throughout the area, allowing you to conveniently park and explore on foot. This provides the flexibility to switch between biking and walking as you discover the charming streets and historic sites.


While biking in Charleston, it’s essential to follow traffic rules and be mindful of pedestrians. Always wear a helmet, use hand signals, and stay alert to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.


If you prefer a guided biking experience, there are also several bike tour companies in Charleston that offer guided tours, providing insights into the city’s history, culture, and architectural gems.


Exploring Charleston by bike allows you to uncover hidden gems, breathe in the fresh air, and enjoy the city’s beauty on two wheels. So grab a bike, navigate the city’s bike-friendly streets, and embark on a memorable adventure.


Walking Tours and Scenic Routes

Charleston’s rich history and well-preserved architecture make it a perfect city for exploring on foot. From guided walking tours to self-guided scenic routes, there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to exploring Charleston at a leisurely pace.


One of the most popular walking tours in Charleston is exploring the historic district. This area is known for its picturesque streets lined with colorful pastel houses, hidden gardens, and ornate ironwork. Join a guided tour led by knowledgeable locals who will share fascinating stories, historical facts, and legends as you wander through the charming streets.


For those who prefer to explore at their own pace, there are numerous self-guided walking routes available. The Charleston Museum Mile is a must-visit, showcasing six museums in a one-mile stretch, including the Charleston Museum, America’s first museum. You can also venture along the Battery & White Point Garden, a scenic waterfront promenade dotted with historic cannons and beautiful antebellum mansions.


Another iconic route is the King Street Shopping District, where you can stroll along the vibrant street lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and renowned restaurants. Immerse yourself in the local culture as you browse unique stores and savor the flavors of the city.


If you’re interested in exploring Charleston’s natural beauty, a visit to the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is a must. Take a walk through the picturesque gardens with trails leading to azalea-lined pathways, moss-draped oak trees, and tranquil ponds.


For a blend of history and natural beauty, visit the Middleton Place plantation. This National Historic Landmark offers walking trails that wind through the gardens and plantation grounds, providing ample opportunities to learn about the area’s history and appreciate its breathtaking scenery.


While exploring on foot, make sure to wear comfortable shoes and dress appropriately for the weather. Don’t forget to stay hydrated and bring along a map or a guidebook to help you navigate through the city’s charming streets and scenic routes.


Whether you join a guided walking tour or embark on a self-guided adventure, walking through Charleston allows you to truly immerse yourself in the city’s history, culture, and natural beauty. So lace up your walking shoes, take a leisurely stroll, and discover the hidden treasures of Charleston on foot.


Renting a Car or Using Ride-Sharing Services

While walking, biking, and utilizing public transportation are convenient ways to get around Charleston, there may be instances where renting a car or using ride-sharing services can offer flexibility and convenience.


If you prefer the freedom and independence of having your own transportation, renting a car is a viable option. Charleston has several car rental companies conveniently located at the airport and throughout the city. Renting a car allows you to explore not only Charleston but also the surrounding areas, such as the beautiful beaches and plantations that are a short drive away.


When renting a car, keep in mind the parking situation in Charleston, as it can be challenging, especially in the downtown area. However, there are parking garages available in various locations, which provide a safe and convenient option for parking.


Alternatively, if you prefer to leave the driving to someone else, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft operate in Charleston. With just a few taps on your smartphone, you can easily request a ride and be whisked away to your desired destination. Ride-sharing offers the convenience of door-to-door service without the hassle of finding parking or navigating unfamiliar roads.


Ride-sharing services are particularly useful for getting to and from the airport or for exploring areas outside of the city center. They also provide a convenient option if you plan on enjoying Charleston’s nightlife and want a safe way to travel between venues.


Before using ride-sharing services, ensure that you have the necessary apps downloaded and set up on your mobile device. It’s also important to familiarize yourself with the pick-up and drop-off points in Charleston to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience.


Whether you prefer the convenience of having your own rental car or the simplicity of ride-sharing services, both options offer flexibility and ease of transportation in and around Charleston. Choose the method that best suits your needs and enjoy exploring the city and its surrounding areas at your own pace.


Navigating Charleston’s Waterways

Charleston’s coastal location and network of waterways provide a unique opportunity to explore the city from a different perspective. Navigating Charleston’s waterways offers a serene and picturesque way to experience the city’s beauty. Here are some ways to make the most of Charleston’s aquatic adventures:


1. Charleston Harbor Tours: Embark on a guided boat tour of Charleston Harbor to enjoy stunning views of the city skyline, historic forts, and the iconic Ravenel Bridge. Learn about the area’s history and hear tales of pirates, battles, and trade that shaped Charleston’s maritime heritage.


2. SpiritLine Cruises: Treat yourself to a luxurious cruise along Charleston’s waterways aboard a SpiritLine yacht. Indulge in a gourmet meal or enjoy a sunset cocktail cruise while taking in the sights of the city’s waterfront and its surrounding natural beauty.


3. Water Taxi: The Charleston Water Taxi provides both transportation and sightseeing opportunities. Hop aboard the water taxi to visit popular destinations like Patriots Point, home to the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier and the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum. Enjoy a scenic ride across the harbor, allowing you to take in panoramic views of the city and the harbor’s natural beauty.


4. Kayaking and Paddleboarding: For a more hands-on experience, rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore Charleston’s waterways at your own pace. Glide along the Ashley River or venture out to the creeks and marshes, where you can spot diverse wildlife, such as dolphins, birds, and turtles.


5. Fishing Charters: Charleston offers excellent fishing opportunities, whether you’re a novice angler or an experienced fisherman. Book a fishing charter and cast your line in the Charleston Harbor or venture further offshore for a chance to catch various fish species.


Keep in mind that safety is paramount when navigating Charleston’s waterways. Be mindful of tides and currents, wear appropriate safety gear, and follow all water regulations and guidelines. Additionally, check weather conditions before heading out on any aquatic adventure to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.


By exploring Charleston’s waterways, you’ll get a unique perspective on the city’s beauty and history. Whether you embark on a guided boat tour, cruise in luxury, paddle along the rivers, or cast your line for a memorable fishing experience, embracing Charleston’s waterways is sure to make your visit even more memorable.


Tips for Getting Around Safely

When exploring Charleston, it’s essential to prioritize your safety and ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Here are some tips to help you get around safely:

  • Stay Alert: Whether you’re walking, biking, or using public transportation, always stay aware of your surroundings. Be mindful of traffic, follow signals and signage, and watch out for pedestrians.
  • Use Well-Lit Areas: When walking at night, stick to well-lit and populated areas. Avoid isolated streets or shortcuts that may compromise your safety.
  • Secure Your Belongings: Keep your personal belongings secure at all times. Use bags with zippers or closures, and avoid displaying valuable items openly.
  • Stay Hydrated and Protect Yourself from the Sun: Charleston can get hot and humid, especially during the summer months. Stay hydrated by carrying a water bottle with you and apply sunscreen regularly to protect your skin from the sun’s rays.
  • Plan Ahead: Before venturing out, familiarize yourself with the city’s map and plan your route, especially if you’re using public transportation. This will help you navigate more efficiently and avoid unnecessary confusion or delays.
  • Follow COVID-19 Guidelines: As of now, it’s important to stay updated on the current COVID-19 guidelines and regulations in Charleston. Follow recommendations such as wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and maintaining good hand hygiene to protect yourself and others.
  • Be Respectful: Respect the local community, their properties, and cultural sites. Follow any rules or guidelines provided by attractions or tour operators. This will help maintain a harmonious environment for everyone.
  • Trust Your Instincts: Always trust your instincts and if something feels off or unsafe, remove yourself from the situation and seek assistance if needed.
  • Know Emergency Contacts: Familiarize yourself with emergency contacts such as local authorities, medical facilities, and your accommodation’s contact information. This will ensure you can quickly and efficiently reach help if required.

By following these safety tips, you’ll have peace of mind while exploring Charleston and can fully enjoy the city’s attractions and experiences.


Accessibility Options in Charleston

Charleston strives to provide accessibility options that accommodate visitors of all abilities. While exploring the city, you can find a range of services and facilities to ensure a comfortable and inclusive experience. Here are some accessibility options available in Charleston:

  • Accessible Attractions: Many of Charleston’s popular attractions, such as museums, historic sites, and plantations, have made efforts to provide accessibility for visitors with mobility challenges. Accessible entrances, ramps, elevators, and designated parking spaces are often available to ensure easy access for all.
  • Wheelchair Accessibility: Charleston’s sidewalks, including those in the historic district, are generally wheelchair-friendly, featuring curb cuts and smooth surfaces. Additionally, some transportation services, like the CARTA bus system and ride-sharing services, are equipped to accommodate passengers with mobility aids.
  • Assistive Listening Devices: Some venues, including theaters and performance spaces, offer assistive listening devices that enhance audio for individuals with hearing impairments. Inquire with the specific venue about available devices or services.
  • Service Animals: Charleston follows the guidelines set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regarding the use of service animals. Service animals are generally allowed in public spaces, including restaurants, hotels, and attractions, as long as they are under control and not disruptive.
  • Accessibility Resources: The Charleston Visitor Center provides information about accessible attractions, services, and facilities in the city. They can provide guidance on accessible tours, transportation options, and answer any questions you may have regarding accessibility during your visit.
  • Accessible Accommodations: Several hotels in Charleston offer accessible rooms equipped with features such as wider doorways, grab bars, and roll-in showers. When making accommodation arrangements, be sure to inquire about specific accessibility features to ensure they meet your needs.

It’s always a good idea to plan ahead and contact specific attractions or venues to inquire about their accessibility features and any additional services they offer. This will help you make informed choices and ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit to Charleston.


Charleston continues to work towards improving accessibility throughout the city, and while challenges may still exist, efforts are being made to create an inclusive experience for all visitors. Whether you have mobility, hearing, or visual challenges, Charleston’s accessibility options aim to provide equal opportunities to explore and enjoy the city’s beauty and history.



Exploring Charleston is an adventure filled with history, natural beauty, and vibrant culture. With a variety of transportation options available, you can discover the city’s hidden gems and iconic landmarks in a way that suits your preferences and needs.


From walking tours that bring the city’s history to life, to biking adventures along scenic routes, Charleston’s charm can be experienced at a leisurely pace. Public transportation, such as buses and trolleys, provides a convenient and affordable way to navigate the city and its surrounding areas.


For those seeking more flexibility, renting a car or utilizing ride-sharing services offers the freedom to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations and venture beyond the city center. Additionally, Charleston’s waterways provide a serene and picturesque backdrop for boat tours, cruises, kayaking, and fishing adventures.


While getting around Charleston, it’s important to prioritize safety and follow best practices. Stay alert, secure your belongings, and be mindful of traffic and local regulations. Plan ahead, dress appropriately for the weather, and stay hydrated to ensure a comfortable experience.


Charleston also strives to provide accessibility options for visitors of all abilities. From accessible entrances and facilities at attractions to wheelchair-friendly sidewalks and assistive listening devices, efforts have been made to ensure an inclusive experience for everyone.


In conclusion, whether you choose to take a leisurely stroll through Charleston’s historic streets, pedal your way along scenic routes, or embark on a boat tour to explore the city’s waterways, Charleston offers a wide array of transportation options to suit every adventurer. Embrace the charm, beauty, and history of Charleston as you navigate the city, and create memorable experiences that will stay with you long after your visit.