Renting a car would be the best way, but you can take the TTA bus (Triangle Transit Authority http://www.triangletransit.org ) or a taxi. Any chance you'd want to take the Amtrak to Durham instead or are you wanting to tour Raleigh? Durham to Chapel Hill would be quicker. It's probably about a 2 hr bus ride from Raleigh to Chapel Hill vs a 40 minute car ride. Durham to Chapel Hill via bus is about 40 min. Most people definitely drive in North Carolina rather than rely on public transport, but Chapel Hill and its sister town Carrboro have a fantastic free bus system that is heavily used within town limits.Edited: 26 March 2014, 16:06
pancho is right about the Amtrak to Durham, that's where my daughter and her friends take it, then use public transportation buses to Chapel Hill. While most people do drive, my daughter survived quite well her 4 years of undergrad in Chapel Hill without a car, it's not as good as in some other countries, but the area has the best public transportation in our state. After finishing grad school this Spring, daughter's planning to move back to the Chapel Hill/Durham area, 2 of the companies she's interviewed with offer incentives for their employees to use public transportation to/from work. Makes me hopeful about the rest of our state/country. :)
BTW, if you were to rent a car, be careful. Traffic between Raleigh and Chapel Hill (Durham, too) is very heavy most of the day, and at times slam on brakes type, stop and go. I've driven it many times, but still can be a bit unnerving.
I ve just found out that travelling from Savannah to Durham on Amtrak will take around 9hours including an hour at Wilson where we change trains. Does this sound right? Maybe I'll just have to fly which is very expensive, around $700 each. Does anyone know roughly how long it would take to drive from Savannah? This could be an option.
Sandra, what does your whole trip look like and what are your interests? We might be able to advise you on some good places to see in NC. What is your interest in Chapel Hill, specifically? It's a great town, but if getting here is a big hassle it might not be worth it. Raleigh and Durham also have quite a bit of interesting things to see and do, good restaurants, etc. Of course, if you're wanting to look at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill with an idea toward attending in the future you'd need to go to Chapel Hill, but if you're just wanting to tour in the area, you might want to weigh your options.
Generally, the most appealing places in NC for tourists are the beaches and the mountains. Most people don't come to Chapel Hill, Durham or Raleigh for vacation/holiday. It's a great area to live and work, but not a tourist hotspot. Renting a car would give you a lot more flexibility. Train and bus travel is fairly limited in North Carolina, especially train travel.
You might like to check out the Train Travel forum tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g1-i12483-Train_Tr… . I haven't spent much time there, but if you're wanting to travel by train they should have some tips.
The road trips forums is very helpful and moves pretty fast. tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g1-i12567-Road_Tri… . They can also offer some advice on train travel as combining train travel and renting a car is not uncommon. That forum specializes in car trips across several states.
Train travel in the US is especially recommended in the Northeast (Washington DC to NYC to Boston, etc). For the rest of the country it can be fun, but you have to really WANT to travel by train. Train travel is the preferred way for lots of folks to travel in the congested Northeast because they have good metros, subways, etc and you don't need a car in the cities, but city transportation in the rest of the country (except Chicago) is really not that great and most people find it easier to get around using a car.
There are some places that have a good city system, like Chapel Hill's bus system, but you will run into these problems of how do I get from the Amtrak station in City A to City B with the good bus system all over the country. In a lot of cities the buses are not used much by the general populace, but are used by folks who can't afford a car. That said, there are some folks who use them to be eco-conscious or because they don't like driving and in some city centers they have buses that travel around a popular area that lots of folks use. In Raleigh, for example, there is the downtown R-line which is free. It just stays in the downtown area. www.godowntownraleigh.com/get-around/r-line . Durham has a similar free bus line, the Bull City Connector, that just travels in a certain small section of town http://www.bullcityconnector.org . But those bus lines don't go all the way to Chapel Hill. You'd need to make connections to the TTA buses or from Durham to Chapel Hill get on the DATA bus.
If you can drive I'd suggest renting a car. Driving is really not bad for the most part in the US and we can help you avoid congested areas (Atlanta!).
This might be helpful:
Thank you for all that info. We are going to Chapel Hill to visit our son who attends UNC. We wanted to see where he lives etc. we will stay the weekend and then we will be all going to Quebec for Xmas. We have decided the best option is to rent a car in Savannah and drive to Chapel Hill and also visit the sorroundng area while we have the car.
I think that's a good call. Unfortunately train and bus travel between cities in this part of the country is just not fast or convenient. It's both in the Northeast, but here, as in most of the rest of the country it's just not. Renting a car is usually the best option and certainly gives you the most flexibility.
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