Alabama, a state nestled in the southeast of the United States, borders Tennessee to its north, Georgia to the east, and Mississippi to the west. The southwest tip of Alabama sits on the Gulf of Mexico, while the rest of the southern state line borders Florida. Famous for its southern hospitality and for being the birthplace of the civil rights movement, Alabama is deservedly a popular destination, especially from nearby Atlanta.
The fastest route from Atlanta to the Alabama state border takes 50 minutes to drive, via I-20 West. If you want to visit Birmingham, your drive time will be around 2 hours 15 minutes; and a trip from Atlanta to Montgomery takes 2 hours 20 minutes.
Read on to learn more about driving from the city of Atlanta, Georgia, to popular destinations in Alabama, including Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery and Birmingham. We'll also cover the main factors that might impact your journey and our best tips on how to drive from Atlanta to Alabama in the shortest possible time.
Time to drive from Atlanta to Alabama
|Atlanta to the Alabama State Border
|Atlanta to Huntsville
|3 hours 30 minutes
|Atlanta to Birmingham
|2 hours 15 minutes
|Atlanta to Montgomery
|2 hours 20 minutes
|Atlanta to Mobile
|4 hours 45 minutes
We're going to assume for the purposes of this guide that you are beginning your journey from downtown Atlanta near the Georgia State Capitol, and the distances are calculated on this basis.
From downtown Atlanta, you could choose to drive to Alabama along I-75 to Huntsville; I-20 to Birmingham; or I-85 towards Montgomery and Mobile, depending on your target destination within the state.
As you can see from the table above, all of these routes take under five hours from Atlanta, and the journey from Atlanta to the state border (along I-20) should take you just 55 minutes.
How long does it take to drive from Atlanta to Birmingham, Alabama?
If you're taking a road trip from Atlanta to Birmingham, Alabama, you can expect the drive to take around 2 hours 15 minutes.
All in all, this should be a straightforward drive. And at under two and a half hours, you can leave Atlanta after breakfast and comfortably reach the center of Birmingham in time for lunch.
Driving from Atlanta to the Alabama State Border
It's a relatively straightforward drive to get from Atlanta to the Alabama State Border. You'll start by taking I-20 out of Atlanta, being careful to avoid rush hour traffic (6-10am and 4-7pm).
I-20 is considered Georgia's most dangerous road bear in mind that accidents can happen, particularly around Atlanta.
This trip is a short one, at under an hour from Atlanta to the Alabama state border. That said, you could stop at Douglasville if you'd like to break up the journey and get a breath of fresh air.
Douglasville is 20 miles into the 60-mile trip from Atlanta to the Alabama state border, so it's convenient for a stop if you need a bite to eat. And luckily, Douglasville has plenty of independent and chain restaurants alike.
We're assuming that stopping for something to eat would add around 1 hour to your trip time, giving you a new total of 1 hour and 50 minutes travel time on your trip from Atlanta to the Alabama state border.
Driving on from the Alabama state border to Birmingham
From the Alabama state border, you'll continue on I-20 for another 84 miles, heading west straight to Birmingham. On your way, you'll pass Heflin, Oxford and Pell City.
The final 6 miles of the trip from Atlanta to Birmingham involves leaving I-20, merging onto I-59S before entering the city via Carraway Boulevard.
In total, the 150-mile journey from Atlanta to Birmingham, Alabama takes 2 hours 15 minutes to drive.
How long does it take to drive from Atlanta to Mobile, Alabama?
While it's impossible to give a precise time for driving from Atlanta to Mobile, Alabama, the distance along the most direct route is 330 miles and the drive time - in normal conditions, outside of rush hour and major holidays - is likely to be between 4 hours 45 minutes and 5 hours.
Driving from Atlanta to Montgomery
Leaving Atlanta on I-85, heading southwest, you'll remain on this interstate for just under 160 miles until you reach Montgomery. This is an incredibly direct and simple route to follow.
You'll also find plenty of options to stop off for gas, refreshments or a break from driving. The small cities of Newnan, West Point and Auburn are all conveniently located along I-85 and have a range of dining and shopping options available.
Driving on from Montgomery to Mobile, Alabama
Just like the first leg of the trip (from Atlanta to Montgomery), the journey from Montgomery to Mobile, Alabama is very straightforward. You'll travel for 167 miles on I-65, heading south, until you're in the heart of downtown Mobile.
You'll only actually leave I-65 once you reach N Water Street, which runs parallel to the Mobile River. This leg of the trip really couldn't be much more simple, although you may experience heavier traffic than usual near the coast during holidays.
Things to know that can impact your driving time from Atlanta to Alabama
Many things can impact your driving time from Atlanta to Alabama, from traffic and adverse weather conditions, to road closures and diversions.
While it's not possible to know all the delays you might encounter, there are definitely hotspots to navigate around and considerations to bear in mind when planning your trip.
Potential delays from Atlanta to Birmingham, Alabama
Atlanta is notoriously busy, with heavy traffic causing congestion at all times, day and night. Joining I-20 (Tom Murphy Freeway) at rush hour is arguably risky if you're in a hurry: encounter an accident you could easily double the journey time.
Leaving Atlanta where Interstate 285 merges onto Tom Murphy Freeway (I-20) is a well-known bottleneck. Further along the route - on the stretch of road near Lithia Springs (Milepost 44) - is another accident hotspot.
Leaving Atlanta at any time between 3 and 6pm means you'll hit rush hour with workers leaving the city.
Another thing to bear in mind, on this route, is Six Flags Over Georgia traffic. This hugely popular amusement park draws large crowds, especially at weekends, meaning that traffic in this area can get pretty busy in the mornings, around opening time.
It's worth noting that Six Flags over Georgia is closed in winter (opening in late March), so this won't be a concern if you're doing the drive at this time of year.
Speed limits along this route will also impact your drive time. The vast majority of the trip from Atlanta to the Alabama state border is along the interstate (I-20), where the speed limit is 70mph (with a 40mph minimum speed limit).
While they represent a small proportion of the journey, it's worth nothing that the smaller, urban roads on this route will usually have a 25mph speed limit.
On the route to Mobile, Alabama via Montgomery
Just as you'll want to be careful to avoid rush hour traffic on the Birmingham Route (via I-20), it's important to plan your departure from Atlanta on I-65 to Montgomery (or Mobile) so that you don't get caught in the swarm of vehicles entering leaving Georgia's busiest city at peak times.
Traffic around Montgomery and Mobile is less of an issue, compared with what you'll experience leaving Atlanta. That being said, it's always safest and quickest to travel when traffic is at its lightest.
Tips to drive from Atlanta to Alabama in the shortest possible time
The routes from Atlanta to Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile are all really pretty straightforward, sticking almost exclusively to interstates. they are therefore relatively easy to navigate.
However, there are things to keep in mind that will make your journey easier:
- If you're confident doing so, drive in the night when there is likely to be less traffic. Rush hour ends at 7pm, so make the journey after.
- Try to time your trip so you can drive on Sundays, when there's likely to be less traffic. But look out for Atlanta Falcons NFL fixtures which often take place on Sundays.
- It's hurricane season in Georgia from June through to November. Keep an eye on activity as tropical storms can cause road closures.
- Many of the right hand lanes in Atlanta turn into exit-only lanes with little notice. Use a GPS to guide you, because if you get stuck in a right lane you'll have to come off the Interstate.
- Stock up on snacks and in-car entertainment, to reduce the need for stops and detours. Get that playlist ready!