A Travel Price Comparison for Virginia Alexandria vs. Charlottesville for Old Town, Attractions, Couples, and Food

Should you visit Alexandria or Charlottesville?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Alexandria and Charlottesville. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Alexandria

Alexandria is a historic, charming, and quaint city. With fun activities and sights, this is a small town worth visiting. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. Visitors also love the museums, nightlife, and food.

Charlottesville

Charlottesville is a collegiate, southern, and proud university town. With plenty of activities and sights, this is a small town worth visiting. It offers plenty of beauty for visitors. As it offers a special and quaint atmosphere, visitors come from all over to experience this destination. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and hiking.

Alexandria and Charlottesville: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Scenic old town
  • Fun shopping
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good public transit
  • Very walkable
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to Mount Vernon
Things to Consider
  • Less family-friendly
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Popular at Christmas
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for students
  • Small town charm
  • Quaint atmosphere
Things to Consider
  • Less popular old town
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Public transit not as usable
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Alexandria or Charlottesville?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Alexandria. Although Alexandria and Charlottesville are both popular with visitors, Alexandria has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Alexandria is more popular for its museums, food, historical sights, shopping, and impressive beauty, while Charlottesville is known for its hiking, small town charm, and quaint atmosphere. Alexandria is more touristy than Charlottesville and is known for its long-running history, beautiful architecture, and small town atmosphere. It is also home to Mount Vernon. Charlottesville is popular for being home to the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, and serving as a gateway to Shenandoah National Park.

How is Alexandria different from Charlottesville?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Charlottesville and Alexandria. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Alexandria or Charlottesville?

Alexandria
Charlottesville

Alexandria is a great city for its historical sights. Also, Charlottesville is not as popular, but is still a nice university town for its sights and museums.

Visitors can fill many days exploring the museums and attractions around Alexandria. George Washington's Mount Vernon home is an iconic destination in Alexandria. There are also many other museums in town that focus on the region's history. The Alexandria History Museum at the Lyceum and the Gadsby's Tavern Museum are both interesting. There's Gunston Hall and the Carlyle House, as well as an archeology museum and many historic landmarks around town.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Charlottesville. A highlight of a trip to the area is a visit to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. The city is also famously home to the beautiful University of Virginia, which has a manicured and beautiful campus. History buffs will also appreciate visiting the Civil War Sites that are nearby as well.


Is the Food Better in Alexandria or Charlottesville? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Alexandria
Charlottesville

Alexandria is a good destination for its local flavors and cuisine. However, Charlottesville is not known for its local cuisine and restaurants.

Alexandria has a delicious restaurant scene that relies on local flavors. The food, like the city itself, reflects the area's history. There are many southern classic dishes as well as a lot of seafood. You'll find lots of local restaurants that serve high quality dishes and a quaint atmosphere.

Charlottesville may not make the list for most foodies, but you'll find what you need while you're in town. Head to the Historic Downtown Mall to enjoy an outdoor meal at a top rated restaurant. There are also restaurants that cater specifically to students and offer affordable and quick meals.

Is Alexandria or Charlottesville Better for Nightlife?

Alexandria
Charlottesville

The vibe at night is good in both Alexandria and Charlottesville.

If you're looking for night time activities Alexandria has a few options to choose from. There's a great bar scene, as well as tons of restaurants that make for a relaxing night out.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Charlottesville. Charlottesville is a university town with an active nightlife. The best areas for nightlife are found around the Downtown Mall, Belmont neighborhood, the Corner, and University Ave west near the mall. Even though there are a number of activities to enjoy at night, this is still a small town and the nightlife scene reflects that.

Is Alexandria or Charlottesville Better for its Old Town?

Alexandria
Charlottesville

Alexandria is terrific for its old town. Also, Charlottesville is not as popular, but is still a nice university town for its historic old town charm.

Alexandria has a unique history which comes to life in its historic area. At the heart of the city is the historic old town. Its lined with townhomes that date back to the 18th century. There are many historic sights that have stories from the early days of the country. There are also cobblestone streets and a great waterfront.

Charlottesville offers a nice historic old town area. The Historic Downtown Mall is filled with restaurants and shops. It's a pedestrian only area with a lot of character and energy.


Is Alexandria or Charlottesville Better for Hiking?

Alexandria
Charlottesville

Charlottesville is a good destination for hiking. However, Alexandria is not a hiking destination.

Charlottesville offers some nice hiking trails. Just outside of town there are plenty of hiking opportunities including in and around Shenandoah National Park. Hiking is at its best during the fall season when the leaves are changing.

Alexandria is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Alexandria or Charlottesville?

Alexandria
Charlottesville

Alexandria is a great city for its shopping opportunities. However, Charlottesville is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Alexandria is well-known for its shopping. King Street is the main shopping street in town and it offers the largest concentration of independently owned boutiques in the Washington D.C. area. It's the perfectly place to spend an afternoon shopping.

Charlottesville is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Is Alexandria or Charlottesville Better for Christmas?

Alexandria
Charlottesville

Charlottesville is great for its Christmas holiday experiences. However, Alexandria does not offer Christmas activities.

Charlottesville is a very popular destination during Christmas. From Christmas lights on campus to a festive atmosphere at the Monticello, the town is beautiful for Christmas.

Alexandria does not offer Christmas activities.


Is Alexandria or Charlottesville Better for Families?

Alexandria
Charlottesville

Charlottesville is a good destination for its kid-friendly activities. However, Alexandria is not a good destination for its family-friendly activities.

Charlottesville offers lots of family activities. Wandering the campus of UVA, picking fruit at Carter Mountain Orchard or exploring the downtown mall, including the Virginia Discovery Museum are all activities that everyone can enjoy. There are also great hiking trails just outside of town.

Alexandria is not the most family-friendly destination. The waterfront area is nice to walk around. You can break up the history with an ice cream shop and kids will also enjoy taking a boat tour.

Is Alexandria or Charlottesville Better for Couples?

Alexandria
Charlottesville

Alexandria is a great city for its romantic activities. Also, Charlottesville is not as popular, but is still a nice university town for couples.

Alexandria is a great city if you're traveling as a couple. The charm of the old town makes this a quaint and romantic destination. There's a waterfront area and many historic buildings. There are also romantic restaurants and plenty of places to grab brunch.

Charlottesville is a good city for couples to visit. The UVA campus is beautiful to explore, as is Monticello. The Downtown Mall has many great restaurants and activities that make for a nice date night and during the day, there's also beautiful hikes nearby that are at their peak during the fall season.

Is Alexandria or Charlottesville Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Alexandria
Charlottesville

Alexandria is a good destination for backpackers and budget travelers. However, Charlottesville is not known for backpackers.

Plenty of backpackers visit Alexandria. There aren't any true hostels in town, but you will find some cheap motels.

Charlottesville is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. There is camping an hiking in the area that is a good option for backpackers.


Is Alexandria or Charlottesville Better for Students?

Alexandria
Charlottesville

Charlottesville is an unbeatable place for its student-friendly activities. However, Alexandria is not popular with students.

Charlottesville is a very popular place to visit for students. The town is home to the beautiful University of Virginia and it's a popular destination for international students as well as local students. Much of the town is focused around student life, and the city's proximity to Washington, DC means it has access to global opportunities.

Alexandria is not popular with students.

Is Alexandria or Charlottesville Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Alexandria
Charlottesville

Alexandria is terrific for times when you don't have a car. However, Charlottesville is not known for its public transit.

The thorough and effecient public transit system of Alexandria can take you anywhere. DASH is the local bus system, but the city is also connected into the Washington DC metro system.

Public transit is generally limited in Charlottesville. There is a bus system that runs between campus, downtown, and several neighborhoods in Charlottesville.

Is Alexandria or Charlottesville a more walkable city?

Alexandria
Charlottesville

Alexandria is terrific for its high level of walkability. However, Charlottesville is not known for its ease of walking around.

Alexandria is a very easy city to get around on foot. It's a very easy city to walk around, particularly in the historic heart where most tourists spend their time.

Charlottesville is generally not very walkable. While the University of Virginia campus and the Downtown Mall are both very walkable, most of the town is not.


For even more information, also check out Is Alexandria Worth Visiting? and Is Charlottesville Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Charlottesville or Alexandria?

How long in Alexandria or Charlottesville?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Alexandria and Charlottesville. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Alexandria than in Charlottesville. Usually, 2-4 days is a good amount of time for Alexandria, and 2-3 days is enough time in Charlottesville.

Families should spend more time in Charlottesville than Alexandria. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Charlottesville, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Alexandria than Charlottesville. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Alexandria that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Alexandria than Charlottesville if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Alexandria.


  • How many days in Alexandria or Charlottesville? Ideal Length of Stay
    Alexandria 2-4 
    Charlottesville 2-3

One day in Alexandria or Charlottesville?

The quaint destination of Alexandria offers nightlife and food. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

Charlottesville might be a small town, but there's plenty to do in the area. Anyone can find something fun to do here. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

A weekend in Alexandria or Charlottesville?

The city of Alexandria offers food and shopping. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. A weekend here is typical. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything. A weekend is often enough time to do most activities.

Even though Charlottesville is a small town, it has plenty of activities to choose from. It offers something for everyone. Many people spend a weekend here. In a weekend, you should have a good grasp of this university town.

Five days in Alexandria or Charlottesville?

Alexandria is a great place to explore. Visiting the old town is also a must. This city offers something for everyone. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything.

Charlottesville, a popular university town, is full of activities for travelers. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.


A week in Alexandria or Charlottesville?

Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Alexandria. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

Charlottesville is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Adventure Tours to United States of America, The Best Train & Rail Tours in United States of America, The Best Sightseeing Tours in United States of America, and The Best Cruise Tours and Packages in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Charlottesville or Alexandria?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Alexandria is $0.00, while the average daily cost in Charlottesville is $154. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Alexandria and Charlottesville in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Alexandria $38
    Charlottesville $80
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Alexandria $76
    Charlottesville $160
Compare Hotels in Alexandria and Charlottesville

Looking for a hotel in Alexandria or Charlottesville? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Alexandria


Hotels in Charlottesville


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Alexandria Hotel Prices and Charlottesville Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Alexandria -
    Charlottesville $53

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Charlottesville

Also for Charlottesville, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Arrival Transfer from Charlotteville Airport (CHO): $50
  • Private Departure Transfer to Charlottesville Airport (CHO): $50

Is it cheaper to fly into Alexandria or Charlottesville?

Prices for flights to both Charlottesville and Alexandria change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Alexandria -
    Charlottesville $42

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Charlottesville

For Charlottesville, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • The UVA Corner Food Tour: Private Walking Food Tour in Charlottesville: $139
  • The Downtown Mall Food Tour: $149

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Alexandria -
    Charlottesville $18

Tours and Activities in Alexandria

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Alexandria.

  • A Walk in Washington's Footsteps History Tour: $32
  • American Revolution Guided Walking Tour: $30
  • Full-Day Bike Tour to Mt Vernon w/ Optional Boat: $68
  • Phantoms of the Potomac Walking Tour: $26
  • Private Tour of George Washington's Mount Vernon: $165
  • Ultimate Dead of Night Walking Ghost Tour: $38
  • Old Town Alexandria Tour: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $5.99
  • Old Town Southern Comfort Food & History Tour: $127
  • Philadelphia Tour from Alexandria by Rail: $329

Tours and Activities in Charlottesville

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Charlottesville.

  • Charlottesville Dark History Ghost Tour : $30
  • Charlottesville Historic Downtown APP/GPS Smartphone Walking Tour: $6.20
  • Ghosts of Court Square Walking Tour: $26
  • Murder Mystery Detective Experience Charlottetown, PE: $15
  • Shenandoah National Park Self-Driving Audio Tour: $17

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Alexandria -
    Charlottesville $53

Sample the Local Flavors in Alexandria

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Alexandria:

  • Ghosts Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $35

Sample the Local Flavors in Charlottesville

Also in Charlottesville, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Private Wine Tours (Minimum 3 & Maximum 6 ) Pickup Maximum 30 Mi : $85


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Alexandria and Charlottesville, we can see that Charlottesville is more expensive. And not only is Alexandria much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Alexandria would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Alexandria and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Charlottesville would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Charlottesville than you might in Alexandria.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Alexandria Expensive? and Is Charlottesville Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Alexandria or Charlottesville?

Alexandria has a larger population, and is about 4 times larger than the population of Charlottesville. When comparing the sizes of Alexandria and Charlottesville, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Alexandria or Charlottesville?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Alexandria or Charlottesville in the Summer?

Both Charlottesville and Alexandria are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. The summer months attract visitors to Alexandria because of the small town charm and the family-friendly experiences. Also, the hiking, the small town charm, and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Charlottesville this time of year.

In July, Alexandria is generally around the same temperature as Charlottesville. Daily temperatures in Alexandria average around 79°F (26°C), and Charlottesville fluctuates around 78°F (26°C).

It's quite sunny in Charlottesville. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Alexandria. Alexandria usually receives less sunshine than Charlottesville during summer. Alexandria gets 278 hours of sunny skies, while Charlottesville receives 305 hours of full sun in the summer.

It rains a lot this time of the year in Charlottesville. In July, Alexandria usually receives less rain than Charlottesville. Alexandria gets 3.5 inches (88 mm) of rain, while Charlottesville receives 5 inches (128 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Alexandria 79°F (26°C) 
    Charlottesville 78°F (26°C)

Should I visit Alexandria or Charlottesville in the Autumn?

Both Charlottesville and Alexandria during the autumn are popular places to visit. The shopping scene, the small town atmosphere, and the natural beauty of the area are the main draw to Alexandria this time of year. Furthermore, many travelers come to Charlottesville for the hiking trails, the small town atmosphere, and the natural beauty of the area.

Alexandria is around the same temperature as Charlottesville in the autumn. The daily temperature in Alexandria averages around 60°F (15°C) in October, and Charlottesville fluctuates around 59°F (15°C).

In Charlottesville, it's very sunny this time of the year. In the autumn, Alexandria often gets less sunshine than Charlottesville. Alexandria gets 197 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Charlottesville receives 221 hours of full sun.

Alexandria usually gets less rain in October than Charlottesville. Alexandria gets 2.9 inches (73 mm) of rain, while Charlottesville receives 3.5 inches (90 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Alexandria 60°F (15°C) 
    Charlottesville 59°F (15°C)

Should I visit Alexandria or Charlottesville in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Alexandria and Charlottesville. Many travelers come to Alexandria for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Furthermore, many visitors come to Charlottesville in the winter for the museums, the Christmas ambience, and the cuisine.

Charlottesville can get quite cold in the winter. Be prepared for some very cold days in Alexandria. In the winter, Alexandria is much colder than Charlottesville. Typically, the winter temperatures in Alexandria in January average around 35°F (1°C), and Charlottesville averages at about 36°F (2°C).

Alexandria usually receives less sunshine than Charlottesville during winter. Alexandria gets 139 hours of sunny skies, while Charlottesville receives 169 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Alexandria usually receives less rain than Charlottesville. Alexandria gets 2.7 inches (68 mm) of rain, while Charlottesville receives 3.2 inches (83 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Alexandria 35°F (1°C) 
    Charlottesville 36°F (2°C)

Should I visit Alexandria or Charlottesville in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Alexandria as well as Charlottesville. Many visitors come to Alexandria in the spring for the small town charm and the natural beauty. Additionally, most visitors come to Charlottesville for the small town charm and the natural beauty during these months.

In April, Alexandria is generally around the same temperature as Charlottesville. Daily temperatures in Alexandria average around 56°F (14°C), and Charlottesville fluctuates around 58°F (14°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Charlottesville. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Alexandria this time of the year. In the spring, Alexandria often gets less sunshine than Charlottesville. Alexandria gets 228 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Charlottesville receives 265 hours of full sun.

Alexandria usually gets around the same amount of rain in April as Charlottesville. Alexandria gets 2.8 inches (72 mm) of rain, while Charlottesville receives 3 inches (75 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Alexandria 56°F (14°C) 
    Charlottesville 58°F (14°C)

Typical Weather for Charlottesville and Alexandria

Alexandria Charlottesville
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 35°F (1°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm) 36°F (2°C) 3.2 inches (83 mm)
Feb 37°F (3°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 39°F (4°C) 3.2 inches (80 mm)
Mar 47°F (8°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 49°F (9°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm)
Apr 56°F (14°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm) 58°F (14°C) 3 inches (75 mm)
May 66°F (19°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm) 67°F (19°C) 3.8 inches (98 mm)
Jun 75°F (24°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm) 74°F (24°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm)
Jul 79°F (26°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm) 78°F (26°C) 5 inches (128 mm)
Aug 78°F (26°C) 3.9 inches (98 mm) 77°F (25°C) 4.4 inches (113 mm)
Sep 71°F (22°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm) 71°F (21°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm)
Oct 60°F (15°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm) 59°F (15°C) 3.5 inches (90 mm)
Nov 50°F (10°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 50°F (10°C) 3.2 inches (81 mm)
Dec 39°F (4°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 41°F (5°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm)