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How far Houston to Austin: great tips for the best day trip

Wondering how far Houston to Austin, and do you not know which is the easiest, cheapest, and most comfortable way to get from Austin to Houston?

Well, you are in the right place because this article will tell you everything you need to know about how far Houstin to Austin is and how you can transform a boring drive into a wonderful day trip.

Houston is the most popular city in Texas and the 4th largest city in the United States in terms of the number of inhabitants, with a total population of around 2.5 million citizens.

This city is a vibrant place, an important center for culture and arts with plenty of museums and art exhibitions.

It is one of the 5 cities in the United States with resident companies in the following 4 performing arts disciplines: theater, ballet, opera, and symphony.

Houston, on the other hand, located in Central Texas, is the capital of the state of the Lone Star State, as Texas is also called.

Houston Texas has a total population of about 1 million citizens and is one of the best places to live, invest and work from the area.

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How far from Houston to Austin

The distance from Austin to Houston is just 165 miles or 265 kilometers, but the straight line distance (great circle distance) is under 150 miles distance between cities.

On average, you will need about 3 hours for driving from Austin to Houston, depending on traffic conditions.

How far Houston to Austin
Houston to Austin road view

You have 3 options to get from one city to another:

  • By car
  • By bus
  • By plane

There is about a 3-hour drive between these two cities, but for those who don’t like driving or want to travel in peace, there are 3 bus companies that operate regular trips between Austin to Houston:  Megabus, Vonlane, and Greyhound.

There are also planes, and the flying time is less than one hour; the ticket price for a round trip starts from 200 USD.

How far Houston to Austin flying mode

The flying distance between Austin and Houston is 146 miles or 235 kilometers flight distance.

A nonstop flight takes less than an hour, so the plane is considered the quickest and most painless way to get from Houston to Austin.

But even if the flight time is under one hour, you have to add to it the time spent traveling from your home to the airport, the check-in process, and the security, which could last longer than the flying time.

Houston to Austin flight
Houston to Austin flight

So, you might need about 2.5 or 3 hours of travel time to get from your home to the final destination.

As for the price, flying is not very cheap, and a round trip starts at around 200 USD and can go up to more than 500 USD, depending on the flying period, the time you buy the tickets, and the length of your trip.

There are just a few direct flies from Houston to Austin, and most of the flights have at least one stop, which means longer flying time and higher prices.

When planning your plane trip, remember that George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) is very large, and you need some time to navigate it.

Houston to Austin by bus

Taking the bus from Houston to Austin is definitely a cheaper and stress-free way to travel between these two cities, but there is no pit stop on the road.

The main downside when you travel by bus is that you cannot stop whenever you want and you cannot visit all the attractions on the road.

Houston to Austin road
Houston to Austin road

Volane, Greyhound, and Megabus are the three companies that offer bus trips between Austin to Houston.

Houston to Austin drive time by bus is around 3 hours, and the ticket cost is between 25 USD to 40 USD.

For a good price and to guarantee that you get a seat, we recommend you book your seat in advance.

If you want to travel in pure luxury, then you should consider booking your seat with Vonlane, a high-class bus operator with private conference rooms, complimentary noise cancellation headphones, and full attendant service.

The ticket price with Volane might go up to a few hundred dollars, depending on your seat type and reservation time.

Austin to Houston driving

Driving time Houston to Austin is around 2 hours 45 minutes up to 3 hours, depending on the traffic conditions.

So, the road trip from Austin to Houston is quite short, and you don’t need to spend your night on the road if you don’t plan to visit something on the road.

Austin to Houston road trip
Austin to Houston road trip

There are two routes to drive from Houston to Austin and vice-versa:

  • Interstate 10 and then a state highway
  • Route 290 packed with many small towns

The distance is almost the same, no matter which one of these driving Austin to Houston routes you choose.

Austin to Houston drive hours are the same on these two routes, but Route 290 comes with many small towns on the way, so I would say it is more scenic than the highway.

Route 290 also comes with more speed limits, which end up with more time spent on the road, but if you are not in a hurry, I don’t think this is a problem.

You have to know that there is no “best” route when talking about Austin to Houston drive time, and the things that should influence your decision are what you want to see on your road trip and which part of Houston you live in.

One thing that really helps me whenever I plan my next travel is - to stay focused and organised! Check out this gorgeous Vacation Planner printable - with pre-trip to-do lists + accommodation and flight research + activities and car-rental + packing lists (empty and even pre-filled) to make sure you don't forget anything when you travel

Vacation Planner 45 pages



Related: Trip research planner (a lighter version of the Vacation Planner)

Fastest route to get from Austin to Houston

Houston to Austin drive time under normal traffic conditions is about 2 hours and 40 minutes if we calculate the distance between these two cities.

No matter if you choose Route 290 or TX-71 (highway 71) and I-10, if you want to get fast to your destination, avoid driving during rush hour as traffic is awful in big cities, especially in Houston.

What you can see on Houston to Austin road trip

Now you know how far Houston to Austin is and which is the easiest and comfy way to get from one city to another.

Texas is a wonderful state; even a boring drive might transform into a fun and interesting day trip if you know where to stop.

How far Houston to Austin
Austin to Houston gas stop

Please find below the most beautiful attraction on the road so that you can enjoy a day with your family and transform a boring trip into a nice getaway.

Attraction on Austin to Houston trip via Route 290

Houston Premium Outlets

I bet you cannot resist a good outlet mall, and the good news is that you have a great one right when you leave Houston.

Houston Premium Outlets clothes shop
Houston Premium Outlets clothes shop

You will find anything here, from Marc Jacobs to Columbia and Michael Kors; in other words, almost 150 stores are waiting for you.

It is the right place to go if you want a gift for a friend or something new and at a good price for you and your family.

Chappell Hill

The small but beautiful town of Chappel Hill is located between Navasota and Brenham and is packed with many beautiful inns and antique shops.

This is the homeplace of Chappell Hill Sausage Company, a great spot where you can eat some delicious cooked meal and from where you can buy meat products for home, like the famous smoked sausage and the honey glazed ham.

Lavender farm near Chappell Hill
Lavender farm near Chappell Hill

Right at the entrance of the town, you will find a beautiful Lavender Farm which smells incredible and a beautiful gift shop opened from March to November from where you can buy all kinds of lavender products.


You cannot drive the distance from Austin to Houston without stopping in Brenham, where you will find the famous Blue Bell Creamery, which sells one of the most delicious ice creams I have ever eaten.

Brenham Blue Bell Creamery
Brenham Blue Bell Creamery

The brand was founded in 1907 and produced one of the best ice creams in the area. You can visit the factory from Monday to Friday and get a souvenir from the factory gift shop.


The beautiful town of Giddings is a very popular stop when driving Austin to Houston, a great place for a break.

The town is home to many museums and historical buildings, and it is a good place to stop ad try a delicious Texas barbecue.


I am sure you heard about this small town as it is the Sausage Capital of Texas.

It is famous for its delicious barbecue, antique stores, and cozy Main Street, which you definitely don’t have to miss.

sausage on the grill Elgin
sausage on the grill Elgin

In Elgin, we recommend you two places to eat:

  • Meyer’s Elgin Smokehouse BBQ which serves some delicious beef sausage together with some Mexican cream corn
  • Southside Market & Barbecue where you can eat the most delicious pork steak and blackberry cobbler ever.

Lake Somerville State Park and Trailway

This attraction is not right on Route 290, but definitely worth driving a few extra miles to visit it.

Inside this protected area, more than 40 miles of trails connect the two parts of the park, where you can hike and admire the beauty of nature.

Lake Somerville Texas
Lake Somerville Texas

Pack your hiking boots with you, as the area is wonderful, and there is nothing more relaxing than walking near the lake and listening to the sound of nature.

On the lake located inside the park, you can practice watersports like canoe, boat, kayak and fishing so consider spending here a few hours on your way to Austin.

Round Top

Located a few miles off Route 290, Round Top is a fascinating town famous for its antique show where people converge to find vintage treasures.

If you miss the show, you don’t have to worry because the town is packed with boutique shops where you can buy a souvenir all year round.

Don’t miss Royers Pie Haven, as here you will find one of the most delicious pies in the area.

Sleeping along Highway 290

The distance between Houston to Austin is not significant, so you can drive it one way, but if you feel like taking things slow and experiencing what these small villages have to offer, then you should consider spending the night in a small town like the ones mentioned above.

A great place to spend your night, with good reviews on the internet, and a great price-quality ratio, is Best Western Brenham.

Best Western Brenham
Best Western Brenham

This cozy hotel is located just 10 minutes drive from Pleasant Hill Winery and Brenham Heritage Museum, and features clean rooms with a microwave, refrigerator, and coffee maker.

Houston to Austin road trip on I-10, Route 71


A great place for a short stop between Austin to Houston is the town of Katy, home to the famed Katy Mills Mall, a great place to shop and dine.

Katy shopping center
Katy shopping center

Hruska’s Store and Bakery

You cannot drive across Texas without eating the delicious kolaches, the traditional Czech pastry that has become the main breakfast in the state of Texas.

Kolaches Czech dessert
Kolaches Czech dessert

You can find them at any donut shop, but the best ones from distance from Austin to Houston are at Hruska’s Store and Bakery, a family-owned business with more than 110 years of tradition behind.

Kreische Brewery and Monument Hill State Historic Sites

After eating one of the most pastries from the area is time to burn some calories and let yourself indulge in the Texan history.

Pay a visit to Kreische Brewery State Historic Site, where you can wander around the ruins of one of the oldest commercial breweries in Texas.

beer tasting in Kreische Brewery
beer tasting in Kreische Brewery

Right near the brewery, you can also find the Monument Hill State Historic Site, a place that commemorated the militiamen who were killed during the Dawson Massacre and Mier expedition dating from 1842.

Buescher State Park

165 miles is how far Houston to Austin is, but you will not realize it when the time pass with so many beautiful things to see on your way.

One of the things you should include in your itinerary is the Buescher State Park, a beautiful area packed with hiking trails and amazing views.

Buescher State Park Smithville overview
Buescher State Park Smithville overview

It is not the biggest park in the area, but it offers plenty of options with more than 6 miles of trails and a 30-acre lake.

You can simply walk around the trails to practice some watersports like kayaking and canoeing, which can be rented from the park.


Another must-have stop on your road trip is at Buc-ee’s, where you can refill your tank or simply buy some sweets sold under the buck-toothed beaver brand.

Buc ees Houston to Austin
Buc ees Houston to Austin

I am sure you will find something to like here, and you will not leave the store bear hand.

Bastrop State Park

Just a small distance from Buescher State Park is another beautiful place where you can stretch your leg and enjoy nature, named Bastrop State Park.

Bastrop is bigger than Buescher, but it offers the same activities as its little brother: hiking and biking, as well as water activities like fishing, kayaking, and canoeing.

McKinney Roughs Nature Park

Just 20 minutes drive from Bastrop lies another amazing park called McKinney Roughs Nature Park.

This place is a family-friendly park packed with many recreation opportunities like picnics and hiking, so don’t forget your picnic basket and the picnic blanket at home, as you will need them here.

McKinney falls after rain
McKinney falls after rain

Inside the nature park, there is also a zip line for those of you looking for some adrenaline, and you can also rent UTVs to explore the area.

The Dinosaur Park

Have you ever thought about walking in the forest and meet dinosaurs of real size?

I know it sounds crazy and impossible, but it is possible, and the experience is something you won’t forget anytime soon.

The outdoor museum Dinosaur Park in Bastrop offers this unique experience that will delight your eyes and will enchant your children.

Dinousaur Park Houston to Austin
Dinousaur Park Houston to Austin

Hidden inside the forest, you will find life-size dinosaur replicas placed strategically along the walking trail.

It is a one-in-your-lifetime opportunity to see dinosaurs in real size and not simply to look at some bones belonging to these interesting creatures.

Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Company

As you probably know, the official tree of the state of Texas is the pecan tree, and the pecan pie is the official state pie.

So, yes, the inhabitants of Texas love pecans and are very proud of their pecan trees.

pecan sweets at Berdoll Pecan Candy Company
pecan sweets at Berdoll Pecan Candy Company

Only at Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Company can you buy a lot of snacks and souvenirs that celebrate the pecan tree and its delicious fruits, including the delicious pecan pie.

Don’t forget to take a photo of their cute mascot, the 14-foot-tall squirrel statue located close to the shop entrance.

Sleeping on I-10/Route 71

Knowing how far Houston to Austin is, you will understand that sleeping somewhere during this road trip is not mandatory.

You can easily drive Austin to Houston in one day and see some of the attractions mentioned in this article.

Hyatt Regency Austin room
Hyatt Regency Austin room

But if the trip is not just about getting from one point to another and you want to experience the Texan life on your way, then you definitely should consider spending the night at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa.

This fantastic resort boasts more than 400 acres, and the place’s main attractions are the beautiful lazy river and the 18-hole golf course.

Hyatt Regency Lost Pines restaurant Best Texas resorts for families
Hyatt Regency Lost Pines restaurant

There are plenty of other interesting activities available at the property, but horseback riding to shotgun trap shooting is among my favorite one.

Sleeping in Houston 

Hilton Americas – Houston is a short walk from the city’s main attractions, including Minute Maid Park and Discovery Green Park.

The hotel features a few on-site dining options where you can serve all three meals of the day and choose dishes from Texas cuisine and Tex-Mex specialties.

Hilton Americas Houston lobby
Hilton Americas Houston lobby

There is also a Starbucks at the property, and in the lobby, you can find a long list of drinks and cocktails to try.

The rooms are clean and spacious and have a seating area, refrigerator, and a work desk; some of the rooms offer a wet bar also.

Sleeping in Austin

The Driskill, in The Unbound Collection by Hyatt is a 5-star luxury hotel with exceptional services in the city center of Austin that combines old-world charm with 21st-century luxury.

It is one of the best hotels in the city with top-notch services and incredible dining that even offers a local brewery paired with a 4-course dinner.

The Driskill in The Unbound Collection by Hyatt
The Driskill in The Unbound Collection by Hyatt

Main attractions in Austin

Touring the city’s best attractions is the best way to explore Austin and see as much as possible in a short time.

Austin: Electric Bike City Sightseeing Tour is our recommendation for you, a tour that lasts about 3 hours and doesn’t require much effort as you will have an electric bike.

Along the way, you will stop at numerous attractions to take some stunning shots and visit the Texas State Capitol building.

Austin Electric Bike City Sightseeing Tour Guide
Austin Electric Bike City Sightseeing Tour Guide

You will explore Austin downtown, pass by Rainey Street and 6th Street, stop at Capitol, and head to the University of Texas campus to learn about the school’s history.

On your way back, you will stop at Barton Springs, the oldest swimming pool in Texas and Austin’s hidden gem ( for more details about Barton Springs, check our article How to spend a day at Barton springs pool in Austin Texas).

Barton springs pool texas Barton springs pool in Austin Texas
Barton springs pool texas

Texas State Capitol Building

This is undoubtedly the biggest Capitol Building in the United States of America, even bigger than the one in Washington, D.C.

The building was constructed between 1882 and 1888, and the huge construction proves that “everything is bigger in Texas”.

Austin Capitol Building tower
Austin Capitol Building tower

It is open to the public for tours most weekdays, and it is a pity to pass near Austin and not visit it.

Main attractions in Houston

A trip to Houston is not complete without a visit at Space Center Houston, established in 1961, the place from where lunar missions were controlled and future flight technologies are still developed.

It is a very popular place, so make sure you book your ticket in advance to secure your seat.

Houston: Space Center Houston Admission Ticket gives you access to the center on the interval chosen by you at the moment when you buy the ticket.

Your tour across Houston should continue with a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts, which host more than 65,000 pieces of art, being the largest museum of this kind in the whole of Texas.

Houston Space Center Houston Admission Ticket guide
Houston Space Center Houston Admission Ticket guide

Don’t foget to include in your tour the Menil Collection located in the extravagant Montrose neighborhood which contains collections painted by Rene Magritte, Picasso, Andy Warhol and many others.

And for some fun, we recommend you visit the Texas Shaped Lazy River from Altitude, a beautiful entertainment place with cabanas and palm trees around, perfect to chill off and relax.

It is located on the sixth floor of the Marriott Marquis Houston and is open only on weekdays, Friday to Sunday, being available only for hotel guests (book here a room at Marriott Marquis if you want to enjoy the lazy river during weekends).

Best time to go on a road trip from Houston to Austin

It is quite hard to name a month of the year as the best time to go on this road trip, as many factors might influence the period.

Mainly, it depends on what you want to see as both cities host a long list of events all year round.

You have to know that Austin is hot during the summer, with temperatures quite hard to bear, while spring and autumn are more suitable for outdoor activities.

Austin to Houston road turn
Austin to Houston road turn

Being so hot, the summer months do not attract many tourists here, so the prices are not very high, while autumn generally comes with higher prices as the temperatures are more bearable and there are plenty of festivals that take place every year.

A good time to explore Austin is also spring, especially the month o April when the temperatures are bearable, and the prices are relatively down.

Winter comes with low prices and temperatures, so if you don’t have a problem with cold and are traveling on a tight budget, winter is the best option.


Now you know how far Houston to Austin is, how you can get from one city to another, how much time you need to travel, and the main attractions you can see on the road.

You can better plan your trip now, knowing which road to choose and what you want to see on your way to the final destination.

Texas is a big state, so 3 hours between these two cities are really small distances but packed with many interesting stops.

Pick the route you like most, highlight the things you want to see, and book your accommodation in advance to secure the best price- this is the recipe for a wonderful getaway not far from your home!

Logistical tips and tricks for your trip

Book your accommodation
We always use as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.

You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.

Don't forget travel insurance
We never leave home without HeyMondo Insurance or Safety Wings Insurance as they offer the best services and a good value for money.

When we go for longer trips around the world we get Globelink Insurance as it offers a good cover for an affordable price.

Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected costs caused by medical events like illness, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.

We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.

Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.

We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.

Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.

We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.

Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.

Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.