A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Asheville vs. Columbia for Nightlife, Families, Couples, and Backpackers

Should you visit Asheville or Columbia?

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 Asheville and Columbia. 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.

Asheville

Asheville is a eclectic, outdoorsy, and progressive mountain town. It's a beautiful place to visit, too. This destination also has one of those special and quaint feelings. And you can't forget about the food, hiking, and shopping.

Columbia

Columbia is a friendly, welcoming, and suburban city. And you can't forget about the shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Asheville and Columbia: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Nice resorts
  • Scenic old town
  • Good for hiking
  • Popular at Christmas
  • Known for Christmas markets
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Very walkable
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Asheville or Columbia?

Visitors will generally find more to do in Asheville than Columbia. While Columbia is larger than Asheville, Asheville has more sights, attractions, and activities for tourists. Asheville is better known for its food, nightlife, music, resorts, historical sights, hiking, shopping, christmas markets, impressive beauty, and quaint atmosphere, while Columbia is more popular for its museums. Asheville is more touristy than Columbia and is known for its fall foliage, artsy downtown, local North Carolina barbecue, and being home to the Biltmore Estate. Also, Asheville is famous for The Biltmore Estate. Columbia is well known for its southern hospitality and friendly people.

How is Asheville different from Columbia?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Asheville or Columbia?

Asheville
Columbia

Columbia is a good destination for its museums and landmarks. However, Asheville does not have museums and landmarks.

Columbia offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. As the state capital, there are some decent museums around town like the Columbia Museum of Art, the South Carolina Military Museum, the South Carolina State Museum, and the U.S. Army Basic Combat Training Museum.

Asheville does not have museums and landmarks.


Is the Food Better in Asheville or Columbia? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Asheville
Columbia

Asheville is a popular place for its local cuisine and restaurants. However, Columbia is not a good city for its restaurants.

Visitors will find a budding food and restaurant scene in Asheville. Downtown Asheville is filled with local restaurants that serve everything from brunch to late night snacks. There are many vegan and vegetarian options as well as a number of international restaurants. Popular local dishes include North Carolina barbeque and country ham biscuits.

Columbia may not make the list for most foodies, but you'll find what you need while you're in town. Barbecue and other southern favorites are among the more local dishes, but the city is also filled with fast food joints and other major chain restaurants.

Is Asheville or Columbia Better for Nightlife?

Asheville
Columbia

Asheville is a well-known place for nightlife and partying. Also, Columbia is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its evening party scene.

Asheville offers plenty to do in the evening. The city has a fun and eclectic nightlife scene that centers around the city's breweries and live music venues.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Columbia. You'll find live music venues as well as low key bars and more trendy cocktail lounges.

Is Asheville or Columbia Better for Music?

Asheville
Columbia

Asheville is a well-known place for its live music scene. However, Columbia is not a live music destination.

The music scene in Asheville is very popular with diverse venues. The city has grown into a world famous music destination that holds true to its mountain roots and independent artists.

Columbia is not a live music destination.


Is Asheville or Columbia Better for Resorts?

Asheville
Columbia

Asheville is a popular place for its resorts. However, Columbia is not a resort destination.

With a selection of resorts, Asheville makes a nice vacation spot. The most famous resorts in the area are the Biltmore Estate and the Grove Park Inn. Both offer luxury restaurants and beautiful grounds that are particularly nice during the holidays.

Columbia is not a resort destination.

Is Asheville or Columbia Better for its Old Town?

Asheville
Columbia

Asheville is a moderate mountain town for its old town. However, Columbia does not have a historic old town.

You can check out the historic old town in Asheville. Downtown Asheville maintains much of its historic vibe, but it's smaller than some of the more notable old cities around the country.

Columbia does not have a historic old town.

Is Asheville or Columbia Better for Hiking?

Asheville
Columbia

Asheville is a well-known place for the nearby hiking options. However, Columbia is not a hiking destination.

Asheville is a popular spot for hiking. Just outside of town are many great hikes to waterfalls or through the mountains. The hikes range in skill level and length but many pass through local forests or along the beautiful skyline.

Columbia is not a hiking destination.


Is the Shopping Better in Asheville or Columbia?

Asheville
Columbia

Asheville is a well-known place for its shopping opportunities. Also, Columbia is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its shopping areas.

Asheville is a popular shopping destination with plenty of stores. The city has many local shops that sell local crafts and independent art. The downtown area is filled with art vendors and you'll find the greatest concentration of shopping along the pedestrian-friendly Lexington Avenue.

Columbia has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. You'll find independent and locally owned shops along Devine Street and in the Five Points area. Also interesting are the Vista, which is a warehouse district, and Trenholm Plaza.

Is Asheville or Columbia Better for Christmas?

Asheville
Columbia

Asheville is a well-known place for its Christmas activities. However, Columbia does not offer Christmas activities.

Asheville is an extremely popular place to visit during the Christmas season. Head to the Biltmore Estate to see it fully decorated for the Christmas season. It's also worth going to see the winning Gingerbread Houses on display at the Grove Park Inn.

Columbia does not offer Christmas activities.

Is Asheville or Columbia Better for Christmas Markets?

Asheville
Columbia

Asheville is a moderate mountain town for its Christmas markets. However, Columbia does not offer Christmas markets.

Asheville has some Christmas markets worth visiting during the holidays. There are a handful of local Christmas shops around town where you can buy personalized gifts.

Columbia does not offer Christmas markets.


Is Asheville or Columbia Better for Families?

Asheville
Columbia

Asheville is a well-known place for its family-friendly activities. Also, Columbia is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its kid-friendly activities.

Asheville is a very kid-friendly mountain town. With its beautiful hiking, interesting nature centers, and outdoor adventure activities, this mountain town makes a great kid-friendly destination. There are outdoor adventure parks where kids can zipline or climb. There are also hands on farms and orchards for fruit-picking.

Columbia is a family-friendly mountain town. Around town you'll find parks, playgrounds, and kid-friendly restaurants. There's a zoo in the area as well as a nice state park - Sesquicentennial State Park. There's also EdVenture Children's Museum, which is filled with hands-on exhibits.

Is Asheville or Columbia Better for Couples?

Asheville
Columbia

Asheville is a well-known place for its romantic activities. However, Columbia is not a good city for couples.

Asheville is a very popular place to visit for couples. Couples enjoy exploring the beautiful Biltmore Estates or visiting the spa at the Grove Park Inn. The quaint town makes a great honeymoon destination or a nice romantic getaway. There are luxury hotels or intimate bed and breakfasts that offer different options for couples on a romantic trip.

Columbia is not always the best place to visit for a couple. You'll find parks to explore and some nice restaurants that make for a good date night.

Is Asheville or Columbia Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Asheville
Columbia

Asheville is a well-known place for backpackers. However, Columbia is not a good city for backpackers and budget travelers.

Asheville is a great mountain town to visit for backpackers. The town has an eclectic vibe that backpackers appreciate. There are a few good hostels around town as well as nearby campgrounds that are perfect for budget travelers or hikers.

Columbia is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. While it's not an expensive place to visit, there is little in the area to attract backpackers.


Is Asheville or Columbia Better for Students?

Asheville
Columbia

Asheville is a well-known place for students. Also, Columbia is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its student-friendly activities.

Asheville is a very popular mountain town for students and younger travelers. With its progressive personality and charming downtown, students enjoy spending time in this great town.

Plenty of students visit Columbia. The University of South Carolina, and other nearby colleges all bring in a decent student population.

Is Asheville or Columbia Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Asheville
Columbia

You'll find somewhat comparable public transit options in both Asheville and Columbia.

Public transit is generally limited in Asheville. There are buses around town, but almost everyone gets around town with their own vehicle.

Public transit is mostly limited in Columbia. The COMET is the bus system through town, but you really must have your own car to enjoy the city.

Is Asheville or Columbia a more walkable city?

Asheville
Columbia

Asheville is a popular place for its high level of walkability. However, Columbia is not a good city for its ease of walking around.

Asheville is a somewhat walkable place. If you stay downtown and don't plan to explore the outlying areas, then it's possible to walk around town. Otherwise, you'll need a car.

Columbia is not a very walkable mountain town. It's filled with suburban-style development and is generally very car dependent.


For even more information, also check out Is Asheville Worth Visiting? and Is Columbia Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Columbia or Asheville?

How long in Asheville or Columbia?

You'll be able to find lots of things to do in Asheville or Columbia to fill your time. Many travelers usually spend more of their time in Asheville than Columbia because of the number of activities and things to do in the area. Usually, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Asheville, and 1-2 days is enough time in Columbia.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Asheville than Columbia 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 Asheville.


  • How many days in Asheville or Columbia? Ideal Length of Stay
    Asheville 2-3 
    Columbia 1-2

One day in Asheville or Columbia?

The mountain town of Asheville offers live music and food. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

You'll find shopping and museums around the city of Columbia. One day is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Columbia has to offer. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

A weekend in Asheville or Columbia?

Asheville is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this mountain town makes for a great vacation. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Asheville, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

You'll find museums and nightlife around the welcoming destination of Columbia. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend.A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from.

Five days in Asheville or Columbia?

Asheville is a popular choice for travelers. Five days is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and shopping when visiting the friendly city of Columbia. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.


A week in Asheville or Columbia?

Asheville is a great place to explore. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This mountain town offers something for everyone.

Columbia is a popular choice for travelers. One week is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Romantic Tours for Couples in United States of America, The Best Polar Tours & Cruises in United States of America, The Best Walking Tours in United States of America, and The Best Tours Under $1000 in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Columbia or Asheville?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Asheville is $133, while the average daily cost in Columbia is $0.00. 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 Asheville and Columbia in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Asheville $89
    Columbia -
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Asheville $178
    Columbia $0.00
Compare Hotels in Asheville and Columbia

Looking for a hotel in Asheville or Columbia? 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 Asheville


Hotels in Columbia


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: Asheville Hotel Prices and Columbia Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Asheville $14
    Columbia -

Is it cheaper to fly into Asheville or Columbia?

Prices for flights to both Columbia and Asheville 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
    Asheville $33
    Columbia $5.03
Typical Food Prices in Asheville

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Asheville:


  • Biltmore Estate Entrance Fee
    $60

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Asheville

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Asheville.

  • 1-HR cooking class: $34
  • Electric Bike Tour of Asheville's Best Pizza: $98
  • Best Pizza E-bike Tour: $111

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Asheville $16
    Columbia -
Typical Entertainment Prices in Asheville

Here are a few typical costs in Asheville for activities, ticket prices, and tours that come from previous visitors:


  • Massage
    $40

Tours and Activities in Asheville

Here are a few actual costs in Asheville for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Downtown Asheville Tip-Based Sightseeing Walking Tour : $5.00
  • River Arts District Tip-Based Sightseeing Walking Tour : $5.00
  • Blue Ridge Parkway South Audio Driving Tour: $7.99
  • Asheville Historic Highlights: Self-Guided Walking Tour: $8.99
  • Blue Ridge Parkway Self-Drive Tour w/ Audio Guide: $9.99
  • Blue Ridge Parkway Driving Audio Tour (Asheville ↔ Roanoke): $13
  • Asheville Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour and Game: $25
  • Gem Mining and Goat Farm Walking Tour in Hendersonville: $26
  • Asheville Night-Time Walking Ghost Tour : $27
  • Asheville Ghost Tour: A Walk Through Riverside Cemetery & Montford Neighborhood: $27
  • Asheville Tubing Adventure : $35
  • Asheville Insider Guided Walking Tour: $35

Tours and Activities in Columbia

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Columbia are as follows:

  • Soda City: A Self-Guided Audio Tour in Columbia: $12

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Asheville $16
    Columbia $88

Sample the Local Flavors in Asheville

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

  • Ultimate Late Night Haunted Pub Crawl: $35
  • Terrors, Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $35
  • Asheville Terrors Boos and Brews Haunted Pub Crawl: $37
  • Expert-Led Brewery Walking Tour with Beer Samples: $65
  • Downtown Asheville Guided Brewery Walking Tour: $69
  • Premier Walking Guided Brewery Tour Through Downtown Asheville: $69
  • Electric Bike Brewery Crawl of Asheville: $74
  • "Beer Flight" Drag Queen Bar Crawl Tour + VIP After Party Seating: $77
  • Premier Mobile Guided Brewery Tour Around Asheville: $99
  • Guided Craft Brewery Tour with a Snack: $99


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Asheville and Columbia, we can see that Asheville is more expensive. And not only is Columbia much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Columbia would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Columbia 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 Asheville would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Asheville than you might in Columbia.

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


Which is Bigger, Asheville or Columbia?

Columbia has a larger population, and is about 69% larger than the population of Asheville. When comparing the sizes of Asheville and Columbia, 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 Asheville or Columbia?

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 Asheville or Columbia in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Asheville and Columbia. The hiking, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Asheville this time of year. Furthermore, many travelers come to Columbia for the family-friendly experiences.

Asheville is around the same temperature as Columbia in the summer. The daily temperature in Asheville averages around 82°F (28°C) in July, and Columbia fluctuates around 82°F (28°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Columbia this time of the year. In Asheville, it's very sunny this time of the year. Asheville usually receives less sunshine than Columbia during summer. Asheville gets 268 hours of sunny skies, while Columbia receives 293 hours of full sun in the summer.

Columbia receives a lot of rain in the summer. Asheville gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In July, Asheville usually receives more rain than Columbia. Asheville gets 5.4 inches (137 mm) of rain, while Columbia receives 4.6 inches (116 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Asheville 82°F (28°C) 
    Columbia 82°F (28°C)

Should I visit Asheville or Columbia in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Asheville as well as Columbia. Many travelers come to Asheville for the hiking trails, the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area. Additionally, many visitors come to Columbia in the autumn for the shopping scene.

In the autumn, Asheville is around the same temperature as Columbia. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Asheville in October average around 64°F (18°C), and Columbia averages at about 64°F (18°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Columbia. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Asheville this time of the year. In the autumn, Asheville often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Columbia. Asheville gets 229 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Columbia receives 230 hours of full sun.

Asheville usually gets more rain in October than Columbia. Asheville gets 3.4 inches (86 mm) of rain, while Columbia receives 3 inches (75 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Asheville 64°F (18°C) 
    Columbia 64°F (18°C)

Should I visit Asheville or Columbia in the Winter?

Both Columbia and Asheville are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. Many visitors come to Asheville in the winter for the Christmas ambience, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, most visitors come to Columbia for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months.

In January, Asheville is generally around the same temperature as Columbia. Daily temperatures in Asheville average around 44°F (7°C), and Columbia fluctuates around 45°F (7°C).

Asheville usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Columbia during winter. Asheville gets 176 hours of sunny skies, while Columbia receives 171 hours of full sun in the winter.

It's quite rainy in Asheville. In January, Asheville usually receives around the same amount of rain as Columbia. Asheville gets 3.9 inches (100 mm) of rain, while Columbia receives 3.7 inches (93 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Asheville 44°F (7°C) 
    Columbia 45°F (7°C)

Should I visit Asheville or Columbia in the Spring?

Both Columbia and Asheville during the spring are popular places to visit. Most visitors come to Asheville for the natural beauty during these months.

Asheville is around the same temperature as Columbia in the spring. The daily temperature in Asheville averages around 64°F (18°C) in April, and Columbia fluctuates around 64°F (18°C).

In Columbia, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Asheville. In the spring, Asheville often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Columbia. Asheville gets 266 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Columbia receives 273 hours of full sun.

It rains a lot this time of the year in Asheville. Asheville usually gets more rain in April than Columbia. Asheville gets 4.4 inches (112 mm) of rain, while Columbia receives 2.8 inches (72 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Asheville 64°F (18°C) 
    Columbia 64°F (18°C)

Typical Weather for Columbia and Asheville

Asheville Columbia
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 44°F (7°C) 3.9 inches (100 mm) 45°F (7°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm)
Feb 47°F (8°C) 4.3 inches (109 mm) 48°F (9°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm)
Mar 55°F (13°C) 5.4 inches (137 mm) 56°F (13°C) 3.7 inches (95 mm)
Apr 64°F (18°C) 4.4 inches (112 mm) 64°F (18°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm)
May 71°F (22°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm) 72°F (22°C) 3 inches (77 mm)
Jun 79°F (26°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm) 78°F (26°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm)
Jul 82°F (28°C) 5.4 inches (137 mm) 82°F (28°C) 4.6 inches (116 mm)
Aug 81°F (27°C) 4.6 inches (118 mm) 81°F (27°C) 5.8 inches (147 mm)
Sep 75°F (24°C) 4 inches (101 mm) 75°F (24°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm)
Oct 64°F (18°C) 3.4 inches (86 mm) 64°F (18°C) 3 inches (75 mm)
Nov 55°F (13°C) 3.2 inches (81 mm) 56°F (13°C) 2.1 inches (54 mm)
Dec 47°F (8°C) 4.1 inches (103 mm) 48°F (9°C) 2.6 inches (67 mm)