Asheville travel guide

Asheville Tourism | Asheville Guide

You're Going to Love Asheville

Creative, friendly and beautiful, Asheville, North Carolina, truly deserves its reputation as one of the most pleasant places to live or vacation in the United States.

This Art Deco jewel of a city has retained its period charm and avoided the plague of high-rise development that has ruined other cities. Instead, Asheville is studded with stunning architecture, wonderful accommodation and galleries, music venues and stores.

Visit during the fall to witness an exquisite array of reds, golds, and oranges. Spend an afternoon picnicking at the foot of picturesque waterfalls like Rainbow Falls, and head back to town for a craft ale and a pizza at the Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company. Then try to think about leaving. It won't be easy.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Asheville

Music

Asheville is Appalachia's cultural capital, and its music scene is the primary reason for its nickname, the "San Francisco of the East." Whether you love banjo and fiddle hoedowns or cool jazz piano, Asheville will always have an event on to suit your tastes.

Architecture

Central Asheville hasn't changed much in the past 100 years, which is fortunate as the city has some extraordinary historic buildings. From the bright pink stone of the City Building to the enormous Biltmore Estate and the Victorian homes of Montford, Asheville is a treat for architecture lovers.

Natural Beauty

The city is also a gift for anyone who appreciates the beauty of nature. In autumn, the abscission is one of the most beautiful in America, while the area around Asheville is dotted with easy to reach waterfalls like Crabtree Falls or Rainbow Falls.

The Relaxed, Welcoming Culture

Asheville always ranks highly in surveys of America's best places to retire, and the easy-going attitude of the locals is one of the prime factors. The city is also a bohemian center, with plenty of bookshops, cafes and boutiques, and a range of civic events that you'd expect from a much larger city.

Art and Crafts

Along with music, Art is Asheville's other great cultural obsession. The list of small art galleries in the center of town seems endless. Galleries like Ariel Gallery and Bella Vista are the perfect place to pick up quality artworks by local painters, while craft stores like the Appalachian Craft Center are the best place to stock up on souvenirs.

Music

Asheville is Appalachia's cultural capital, and its music scene is the primary reason for its nickname, the "San Francisco of the East." Whether you love banjo and fiddle hoedowns or cool jazz piano, Asheville will always have an event on to suit your tastes.

Architecture

Central Asheville hasn't changed much in the past 100 years, which is fortunate as the city has some extraordinary historic buildings. From the bright pink stone of the City Building to the enormous Biltmore Estate and the Victorian homes of Montford, Asheville is a treat for architecture lovers.

Natural Beauty

The city is also a gift for anyone who appreciates the beauty of nature. In autumn, the abscission is one of the most beautiful in America, while the area around Asheville is dotted with easy to reach waterfalls like Crabtree Falls or Rainbow Falls.

The Relaxed, Welcoming Culture

Asheville always ranks highly in surveys of America's best places to retire, and the easy-going attitude of the locals is one of the prime factors. The city is also a bohemian center, with plenty of bookshops, cafes and boutiques, and a range of civic events that you'd expect from a much larger city.

Art and Crafts

Along with music, Art is Asheville's other great cultural obsession. The list of small art galleries in the center of town seems endless. Galleries like Ariel Gallery and Bella Vista are the perfect place to pick up quality artworks by local painters, while craft stores like the Appalachian Craft Center are the best place to stock up on souvenirs.

What to do in Asheville

1. Biltmore Estate: A Mogul's Magnificent Mansion

The Biltmore Estate could be the last word in luxury living. Built by one of the world's richest men, George Washington Vanderbilt, in the 1890s, it was and remains the country's largest private home. But it's not so private that visitors can't enjoy the magnificent gardens (created by Frederick Law Olmsted) and the house that contains a huge collection of vintage clothing, artistic masterpieces and, naturally, an indoor bowling alley. The tours are fascinating and the surroundings are sublime.

2. Appalachian Trail: Fresh Air and Fantastic Scenery

The Appalachian Trail actually runs from Georgia to Maine, but it passes right past Asheville. Just a few miles from the downtown district, you can soak up some gorgeous mountain scenery. Follow the trail to beauty spots like Roan Mountain or Clingman's Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains, see the towering Fontana Dam, or try some rafting at Nantahala. You can camp if you like, but there are hotels along the route, and dipping into the trail while based in central Asheville couldn't be simpler.

3. North Carolina Arboretum: Heaven for Nature Lovers

Get a flavor for the natural majesty of the Appalachians without hitting the trail by touring this stunning arboretum in Bent Creek, just west of Asheville. Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead but opened in 1986, the arboretum stretches across 434 acres of North Carolina forest. Highlights include a world-class Bonsai Exhibition Garden, a garden filled with colorful native azaleas, and the Rocky Cove Railroad, a cute little model railway that's an exact replica of late 19th century steam railways in the Tar Heel state.

4. Chimney Rock Park: Natural Fun for all the Family

Another one of Asheville's stupendous natural wonders, Chimney Rock State Park is famous as one of the premier fall-watching locations in the eastern USA. But it's a lot more than a seasonal color show. At any time of year, the park is a mecca for climbers, but it's also set up for families. Kids will adore following discovery trails filled with sculptures and educational exhibits as well as locations like the Animal Discovery Den. And, if it's running when you visit, be sure to ascend the park elevator, which rises 258 feet inside a granite mountain to the spectacular Sky Lounge.

5. Botanical Gardens at Asheville: An Appalachian Treat

Located right next to the University of North Carolina Asheville, the Botanical Gardens are an urban jewel where you can relax and learn all about the state's incredibly diverse flora. However, don't expect dazzling rose gardens or gimmicks. The gardens here are designed to mimic nature and show how natural processes unfold. Every week, new flowers from the Appalachians come into bloom, just as they would in the mountains themselves, giving a wild, organic feel to the gardens. Educational and beautiful in equal measure, there's no better showcase for the region's remarkable natural riches.

1. Biltmore Estate: A Mogul's Magnificent Mansion

The Biltmore Estate could be the last word in luxury living. Built by one of the world's richest men, George Washington Vanderbilt, in the 1890s, it was and remains the country's largest private home. But it's not so private that visitors can't enjoy the magnificent gardens (created by Frederick Law Olmsted) and the house that contains a huge collection of vintage clothing, artistic masterpieces and, naturally, an indoor bowling alley. The tours are fascinating and the surroundings are sublime.

2. Appalachian Trail: Fresh Air and Fantastic Scenery

The Appalachian Trail actually runs from Georgia to Maine, but it passes right past Asheville. Just a few miles from the downtown district, you can soak up some gorgeous mountain scenery. Follow the trail to beauty spots like Roan Mountain or Clingman's Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains, see the towering Fontana Dam, or try some rafting at Nantahala. You can camp if you like, but there are hotels along the route, and dipping into the trail while based in central Asheville couldn't be simpler.

3. North Carolina Arboretum: Heaven for Nature Lovers

Get a flavor for the natural majesty of the Appalachians without hitting the trail by touring this stunning arboretum in Bent Creek, just west of Asheville. Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead but opened in 1986, the arboretum stretches across 434 acres of North Carolina forest. Highlights include a world-class Bonsai Exhibition Garden, a garden filled with colorful native azaleas, and the Rocky Cove Railroad, a cute little model railway that's an exact replica of late 19th century steam railways in the Tar Heel state.

4. Chimney Rock Park: Natural Fun for all the Family

Another one of Asheville's stupendous natural wonders, Chimney Rock State Park is famous as one of the premier fall-watching locations in the eastern USA. But it's a lot more than a seasonal color show. At any time of year, the park is a mecca for climbers, but it's also set up for families. Kids will adore following discovery trails filled with sculptures and educational exhibits as well as locations like the Animal Discovery Den. And, if it's running when you visit, be sure to ascend the park elevator, which rises 258 feet inside a granite mountain to the spectacular Sky Lounge.

5. Botanical Gardens at Asheville: An Appalachian Treat

Located right next to the University of North Carolina Asheville, the Botanical Gardens are an urban jewel where you can relax and learn all about the state's incredibly diverse flora. However, don't expect dazzling rose gardens or gimmicks. The gardens here are designed to mimic nature and show how natural processes unfold. Every week, new flowers from the Appalachians come into bloom, just as they would in the mountains themselves, giving a wild, organic feel to the gardens. Educational and beautiful in equal measure, there's no better showcase for the region's remarkable natural riches.

1. Biltmore Estate: A Mogul's Magnificent Mansion

The Biltmore Estate could be the last word in luxury living. Built by one of the world's richest men, George Washington Vanderbilt, in the 1890s, it was and remains the country's largest private home. But it's not so private that visitors can't enjoy the magnificent gardens (created by Frederick Law Olmsted) and the house that contains a huge collection of vintage clothing, artistic masterpieces and, naturally, an indoor bowling alley. The tours are fascinating and the surroundings are sublime.

2. Appalachian Trail: Fresh Air and Fantastic Scenery

The Appalachian Trail actually runs from Georgia to Maine, but it passes right past Asheville. Just a few miles from the downtown district, you can soak up some gorgeous mountain scenery. Follow the trail to beauty spots like Roan Mountain or Clingman's Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains, see the towering Fontana Dam, or try some rafting at Nantahala. You can camp if you like, but there are hotels along the route, and dipping into the trail while based in central Asheville couldn't be simpler.

3. North Carolina Arboretum: Heaven for Nature Lovers

Get a flavor for the natural majesty of the Appalachians without hitting the trail by touring this stunning arboretum in Bent Creek, just west of Asheville. Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead but opened in 1986, the arboretum stretches across 434 acres of North Carolina forest. Highlights include a world-class Bonsai Exhibition Garden, a garden filled with colorful native azaleas, and the Rocky Cove Railroad, a cute little model railway that's an exact replica of late 19th century steam railways in the Tar Heel state.

4. Chimney Rock Park: Natural Fun for all the Family

Another one of Asheville's stupendous natural wonders, Chimney Rock State Park is famous as one of the premier fall-watching locations in the eastern USA. But it's a lot more than a seasonal color show. At any time of year, the park is a mecca for climbers, but it's also set up for families. Kids will adore following discovery trails filled with sculptures and educational exhibits as well as locations like the Animal Discovery Den. And, if it's running when you visit, be sure to ascend the park elevator, which rises 258 feet inside a granite mountain to the spectacular Sky Lounge.

5. Botanical Gardens at Asheville: An Appalachian Treat

Located right next to the University of North Carolina Asheville, the Botanical Gardens are an urban jewel where you can relax and learn all about the state's incredibly diverse flora. However, don't expect dazzling rose gardens or gimmicks. The gardens here are designed to mimic nature and show how natural processes unfold. Every week, new flowers from the Appalachians come into bloom, just as they would in the mountains themselves, giving a wild, organic feel to the gardens. Educational and beautiful in equal measure, there's no better showcase for the region's remarkable natural riches.

Where to Eat in Asheville

Asheville's dining scene includes pretty much every kind of cuisine you can think of, and features plenty of high-class eateries. If Japanese food is your favorite, try Heiwa Shokudo, while Mexican food fans will love Limones. Great Italian food is served at Cucina 24 while Chop House is the best place to tuck into a huge, perfectly cooked steak. In the north of the city, the Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company is also worth a look. It doesn't just serve great pizza, but also offers craft ale and movie nights. Expect to pay $15 for a good mid-range meal and over $30 at Asheville's high-end restaurants.

When to visit Asheville

Asheville in January
Estimated hotel price
$184
1 night at 3-star hotel
Asheville in January
Estimated hotel price
$184
1 night at 3-star hotel

There's almost never a bad time to visit this lovely city. However, the best times to visit are probably spring and fall. The fall months from September to November are particularly pleasant, with mild temperatures and the colors of fall to enjoy. Then again, summer in Asheville isn't as humid as other nearby cities owing to its altitude, so it's a good time to escape the coastal heat.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Asheville

Plane

Asheville Regional Airport is a few miles to the south of the city and connects Asheville to destinations across the U.S.A., including New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Detroit. The cheapest way to get into town is by catching the ART S3 bus, which costs just $1. Taxis from the airport will cost $2.50 per mile, so work out at around $15-30 depending on where you need to go.

Train

The closest Amtrak stations to Asheville are in Spartanburg and Greensville (both in South Carolina). The best way to reach Asheville is probably by catching the train to Greenville, then transferring to a Greyhound bus to Asheville, which is just an hour and 20 minutes away.

Car

Driving to Asheville is particularly popular due to the scenic approach roads. In the fall, there's no better way to savor the colors of the local trees. Take I-26 from the south or north and I-40 from cities to the east or west of Asheville.

Bus

Greyhound buses stop at 2 Tunnel Rd and connect Asheville with cities across North and South Carolina and the rest of the country. You may need to change in Charlotte or Columbia to make the final transfer to Asheville.

Plane

Asheville Regional Airport is a few miles to the south of the city and connects Asheville to destinations across the U.S.A., including New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Detroit. The cheapest way to get into town is by catching the ART S3 bus, which costs just $1. Taxis from the airport will cost $2.50 per mile, so work out at around $15-30 depending on where you need to go.

Train

The closest Amtrak stations to Asheville are in Spartanburg and Greensville (both in South Carolina). The best way to reach Asheville is probably by catching the train to Greenville, then transferring to a Greyhound bus to Asheville, which is just an hour and 20 minutes away.

Car

Driving to Asheville is particularly popular due to the scenic approach roads. In the fall, there's no better way to savor the colors of the local trees. Take I-26 from the south or north and I-40 from cities to the east or west of Asheville.

Bus

Greyhound buses stop at 2 Tunnel Rd and connect Asheville with cities across North and South Carolina and the rest of the country. You may need to change in Charlotte or Columbia to make the final transfer to Asheville.

Airlines serving Asheville

Lufthansa
Good (4,691 reviews)
KLM
Good (848 reviews)
SWISS
Good (944 reviews)
British Airways
Good (4,551 reviews)
Delta
Good (4,624 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (2,298 reviews)
Air France
Good (981 reviews)
Austrian Airlines
Good (489 reviews)
Iberia
Good (1,594 reviews)
United Airlines
Good (4,963 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (2,122 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (2,455 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (5,888 reviews)
Brussels Airlines
Good (230 reviews)
Finnair
Good (872 reviews)
TAP AIR PORTUGAL
Good (1,182 reviews)
Alaska Airlines
Excellent (5,685 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (829 reviews)
Ethiopian Air
Good (406 reviews)
Cathay Pacific
Good (508 reviews)
Show more

Where to stay in Asheville

Montford – The heart of historic Asheville, Montford is where you'll find most of the city's best B&Bs. It's crammed with elegant Victorian-era homes built in the Queen Anne style and is the ideal place to base yourself during a stay in the "Paris of the South."

Popular Neighborhoods in Asheville

Biltmore Village – Just to the south of the city center, you'll find the lavish Biltmore Estate, the largest privately owned home on earth. The area around the estate is a prosperous neighborhood in its own right, with upscale dining options like the Corner Kitchen and the Red Stag Grill.

Downtown Asheville – Most of the sights in Asheville are located in the center of town. In the early 20th century, the city became the most prosperous in Appalachia, developing a collection of stunningly beautiful Art Deco buildings. Thankfully, most of these remain, including the striking pink City Building and the Buncombe County Courthouse. You can tour them all in the Downtown district.

Biltmore Village – Just to the south of the city center, you'll find the lavish Biltmore Estate, the largest privately owned home on earth. The area around the estate is a prosperous neighborhood in its own right, with upscale dining options like the Corner Kitchen and the Red Stag Grill.
Downtown Asheville – Most of the sights in Asheville are located in the center of town. In the early 20th century, the city became the most prosperous in Appalachia, developing a collection of stunningly beautiful Art Deco buildings. Thankfully, most of these remain, including the striking pink City Building and the Buncombe County Courthouse. You can tour them all in the Downtown district.

Where to stay in popular areas of Asheville

Most booked hotels in Asheville

The Inn On Biltmore Estate
4 stars
Excellent (9.3, Excellent reviews)
$729+
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Asheville Downtown
3 stars
Excellent (8.9, Excellent reviews)
$162+
Country Inn & Suites Asheville River Arts District
3 stars
Excellent (8.8, Excellent reviews)
$150+
Country Inn and Suites Asheville Downtown Tunnel Rd
3 stars
Excellent (8.7, Excellent reviews)
$161+
The Omni Grove Park Inn - Asheville
4 stars
Excellent (8.6, Excellent reviews)
$568+
Hotel Indigo Asheville Downtown
3 stars
Excellent (8.2, Excellent reviews)
$257+

How to Get Around Asheville

Public Transportation

Buses in Asheville are provided by Asheville Transit, but they may not be the most practical transit option. Buses are few and far between outside the center and as the Downtown area is easily walkable, waiting for the buses rarely makes much sense. If you do need to catch the bus the fare is a reasonable $1 for adults and just $0.50 for seniors.

Taxis

Taxis in Asheville operate at a flat rate, with a meter drop of $2.50 and then $2.50 per mile after that point. There's also a $2 surcharge for every passenger after the first two. Uber is slightly cheaper, with a meter drop of $1.50 and a cost of $0.85 per mile.

Car

Renting a car is a great option in Asheville, not least because it gives you the flexibility to see some of the beautiful locations in Appalachia. There's plenty of metered parking Downtown (at a reasonable rate of $1 per hour), and parking lots like the Civic Center Garage are even cheaper.

Public Transportation

Buses in Asheville are provided by Asheville Transit, but they may not be the most practical transit option. Buses are few and far between outside the center and as the Downtown area is easily walkable, waiting for the buses rarely makes much sense. If you do need to catch the bus the fare is a reasonable $1 for adults and just $0.50 for seniors.

Taxis

Taxis in Asheville operate at a flat rate, with a meter drop of $2.50 and then $2.50 per mile after that point. There's also a $2 surcharge for every passenger after the first two. Uber is slightly cheaper, with a meter drop of $1.50 and a cost of $0.85 per mile.

Car

Renting a car is a great option in Asheville, not least because it gives you the flexibility to see some of the beautiful locations in Appalachia. There's plenty of metered parking Downtown (at a reasonable rate of $1 per hour), and parking lots like the Civic Center Garage are even cheaper.

The Cost of Living in Asheville

Shopping Streets

Asheville's major shopping street is Merrimon Avenue, also known as "the Strip" by locals. It stretches north from the city center for three or four miles, with plenty of different stores to check out, including boutiques like Clothes Encounters, music stores and places to grab a bargain souvenir such as the Susquehanna Antique Company. If you are out and about in Downtown Asheville, try to check out some of the city's chocolatiers as well. The French Broad Chocolate Lounge and Chocolate Fetish are top-quality artisan candy makers, and well worth a visit.

Groceries and Other

Asheville has a number of chain supermarkets to choose from, including Publix, Whole Foods, Ingles Markets, Walmart and Aldi, so finding affordable groceries should be simple. Prices tend to be cheap across town with a pound of apples costing $2.50 and a gallon of milk $3.80.

Cheap meal
$18.01
A pair of jeans
$56.41
Single public transport ticket
$2.26
Cappuccino
$5.50