A main street trolley at the Jefferson Station

Nashville to Memphis (How to Go, By a Local)

The trip from Nashville to Memphis is a popular one for visitors, especially those who love music. After you’ve finished checking out all the cool things to do in Nashville, you’ll want to head to Memphis to see what’s going on there.

As a local to Nashville, I’ve made the trip between the two cities many times. In this article, I’ll tell you about all the different options to get from Nashville to Memphis and help you decide which method is best for you. Here’s what you need to know!

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4 Ways to Get From Nashville to Memphis (& Back)

The four main ways to get from Nashville to Memphis are by rental car, by tour bus, by bus, and by flight. Driving is my preferred way of getting to Memphis. 

However, depending on your budget and which of the best activities in Memphis you plan to try out during your time there, the best way to get from Nashville to Memphis might vary. 

I don’t recommend flying, but I’ve included it as an option along with the method I recommend for those who normally prefer to fly. 

Let’s take a look at each method of getting from Nashville to Memphis.

From Nashville to Memphis by Rental Car

🚍 Best for: saving time, comfort, freedom to explore
💵 Cost: ($$$)
👉 Where to Book: Discover Cars

The Tootsies Orchid Lounge and cars passing by it in Downtown Nashville
Downtown Nashville

Driving a rental car is one of the top ways to get from Nashville to Memphis. The route between the two cities along Interstate 40 is easy to drive. You can make the trip one-way in about 3-4 hours depending on traffic.

Taking a rental car is ideal if you plan to explore Memphis outside of the downtown area. While there is public transportation in Memphis, it’s much easier to get around the city with a vehicle. You’re able to go places on your own schedule and use the vehicle as transportation in Nashville, too. The biggest downside to a rental car is that parking may be expensive.

You can use Discover Cars to compare prices on rental cars and get the best deal. I wrote an entire article about how to rent a car in Nashville to make the process as easy as possible.

Pros of a rental car: 

  • Offers flexibility
  • Interesting stops along the way
  • Better able to explore attractions

Cons of rental car: 

  • More expensive than a bus
  • Need a driver’s license
  • May have to pay for parking

From Nashville to Memphis by Tour Bus

🚍 Best for: comfort, convenience
💵 Cost: $$$
👉 Where to Book: Viator

The author, Elizabeth Demolat smiling for a photo inside a Sun Studio
Me on a tour of Sun Studio

The absolutely easiest way to get from Nashville to Memphis is with a guided tour like this one for a Nashville to Memphis day trip. By taking a pre-planned day trip, you can see some of Memphis’s biggest attractions including Sun Studio and Graceland without having to arrange plans and extra transportation. There’s even a little time to explore Beale Street.

A guided tour with transportation included is the best option for visitors who are short on time and want a quick taste of Memphis’s highlights. 

Most tours focus heavily on Memphis’s musical heritage, so guided tours are perfect for serious music fans.

Pros of a tour bus: 

  • Easy and convenient
  • Perfect for visitors with limited time
  • Includes a guide who can tell you about the area

Cons of a tour bus: 

  • Little flexibility
  • More expensive than other methods

From Nashville to Memphis by Bus

🚍 Best for: saving money
💵 Cost: $$
👉 Where to Book: Busbud

Clear blue sky over the Beale Street entrance in Memphis
Beale Street and the surrounding downtown Memphis area is walkable (photo: JustPixs / Shutterstock)

Taking a bus from Nashville to Memphis is the best option for visitors who want to save money and for those who aren’t interested in driving a vehicle. Multiple Greyhound buses travel between the two Tennessee cities each day.

The Greyhound bus station is located in downtown Nashville about half a mile from the County Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The Greyhound bus station in Memphis is less centrally located. You’ll need to book additional transportation to get to downtown Memphis or to other attractions in Memphis like Graceland.

Riding a bus from Nashville to Memphis typically takes between 3.5 to 4 hours. This is only slightly longer than it takes a rental car to get between the two cities.

Pros of a bus: 

  • Relatively cheap, especially for just one person
  • No parking fees
  • Don’t have to worry about driving or gas

Cons of a bus: 

  • Not flexible
  • Not able to explore along the route

From Nashville to Memphis by Flight

🚍 Best for: not recommended
💵 Cost: $$$
👉 Where to Book: Kayak

The Nashville International Airport signage at the entrance
The Nashville airport may be international, but it doesn’t go to Memphis (photo: University of College / Shutterstock)

Both Memphis and Nashville have an airport. However, there are no direct flights from Nashville to Memphis. You can book a flight with a connection in a different state, but flying is not a good option unless you have airline miles and extra hours to burn.

A better alternative to flying is a luxury bus like Vonlane. The bus tickets are not a bargain, but it’s a good option for business travelers. 

Pros of a flight: 

  • A bargain airline might be cheaper than a rental car
  • The Nashville International Airport was recently remodeled

Cons of a flight: 

  • No direct flight
  • Takes longer than any other option

5 Tips For Getting Between Nashville and Memphis

Take a Break in Jackson

Historic buildings from the outside in Jackson
Historic buildings in Jackson (photo: Sabrina Janelle Gordon / Shutterstock)

Jackson, Tennessee is a convenient stop on the way from Nashville to Memphis (and back). There are several playgrounds for those traveling with kids. And, there are dog parks for those traveling with canine friends. It is possible to make it from Nashville to Memphis without a stop, but I always get out in Jackson to stretch my legs. 

Jackson is also home to the Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum plus some other interesting attractions.

Make Stops Along the Way

East Tennessee has the best reputation when it comes to beautiful scenery, but there are interesting places to visit in Tennessee on the route from Nashville to Memphis. 

Make a detour to Centerville, home of the Grand Ole Opry’s Minnie Pearl, if you have time. Or visit one of Tennessee’s many state parks like the Natchez Trace State Park, along the way.

Avoid Rush Hour

Clear blue sky over Downtown street in Nashville
Downtown streets in Nashville (photo: melissamn / Shutterstock)

The journey from Nashville to Memphis is fairly straightforward along I-40 for almost 200 miles. However, try to avoid beginning or ending your trip during the morning and evening rush hour in either city. Hitting major traffic can transform a 3-4 hour ride into a much longer one!

Give Yourself Enough Time to Visit

The author, Elizabeth Demolat posing for a photo with the State Line in Memphis
Me at the state line in Memphis

Nashville and Memphis are both interesting cities with very different atmospheres and both are worth visiting. It is possible to stay in one and do a day trip to the other. However, I’d suggest spending several days in both cities if time allows.

Download Directions and Media

The route between Nashville to Memphis goes through rural areas. You could lose cell phone service or Wi-Fi depending on which network you use. You’re unlikely to get lost on I-40, but save the directions just in case. Also, it’s worth downloading some music and podcasts in advance, especially if you’re taking a bus from Nashville to Memphis. 

FAQs about How to Get from Nashville to Memphis

Is the drive from Nashville to Memphis easy?

The drive from Nashville to Memphis is an easy drive along I-40 for a little less than 200 miles. There is nothing challenging or difficult about the drive.

Is Nashville or Memphis a better place to visit?

Nashville is a more popular place to visit when it comes to Nashville vs Memphis. Nashville has all kinds of attractions, great restaurants, and lots of family-friendly options. That being said, Memphis also has many historic sites and is the more budget-friendly destination. 

The two cities have very different atmospheres despite being in the same state. Both Memphis and Nashville are worth seeing.

Can you Uber from Memphis to Nashville?

It is unlikely a driver with Uber would take you from Memphis to Nashville. The trip is between 3-4 hours one way. It is possible to book the trip through the app, but you may or may not find a driver willing to go that far.

Is there a train between Memphis and Nashville?

There is no train between Memphis and Nashville. Memphis is a stop on Amtrak’s City of New Orleans line. Nashville is not a stop on any train line and does not have passenger rail options.

Map of How to Get Between Nashville and Memphis


Thanks for reading my guide on how to get from Nashville to Memphis. Be sure to check out the best day trips from Nashville before you go for more ideas!

(Featured Image Credit: M Julian Photography / Shutterstock)

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