A Travel Price Comparison for North Carolina Asheville vs. Durham for Nightlife, Families, Couples, and Backpackers

Should you visit Asheville or Durham?

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 Durham. 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 offers plenty of beauty for visitors. As this is a very quaint destination, you'll find it has a special atmosphere. Other popular activities here include hiking, shopping, and nightlife.

Durham

Durham is a sports oriented, diverse, and student-filled city. And you can't forget about the shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Asheville and Durham: 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
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Asheville or Durham?

Visitors will generally find more to do in Asheville than Durham. While Durham is larger than Asheville, Asheville has more sights, attractions, and activities for tourists. Asheville is more popular for its nightlife, music, resorts, historical sights, hiking, shopping, christmas markets, impressive beauty, and quaint atmosphere, while Durham is known for its museums. Asheville is more touristy than Durham and is known for its fall foliage, artsy downtown, local North Carolina barbecue, and being home to the Biltmore Estate. It is also home to The Biltmore Estate. Durham is popular for its college town vibe as well as being the home of the famous Blue Devil basketball team.

How is Asheville different from Durham?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Durham 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 Durham?

Asheville
Durham

Durham is well known for its museums and landmarks. However, Asheville does not have museums and landmarks.

Visitors can fill many days exploring the museums and attractions around Durham. Duke University is one of the most popular destinations in town. There are several museums on campus as well as the famous Duke Chapel. Elsewhere in Durham there's the Durham Museum of Life and Science.

Asheville does not have museums and landmarks.


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

Asheville
Durham

Dining out at restaurants in both Asheville and Durham can be an enjoyable experience.

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.

Durham is becoming an appealing option for foodies. Barbecue is a favorite around town. You'll also find plenty of restaurants that cater to the student population, particularly along Nineth Street near Duke's campus.

Is Asheville or Durham Better for Nightlife?

Asheville
Durham

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

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 Durham. The younger population tends to hang out near campus and along Nineth Street. If you're looking for something less student oriented, head to downtown Durham.

Is Asheville or Durham Better for Music?

Asheville
Durham

Asheville is a well-known place for its music scene. However, Durham 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.

Durham is not a live music destination.


Is Asheville or Durham Better for Resorts?

Asheville
Durham

Asheville is very good for its resorts. However, Durham is not a resort destination.

Asheville has a few great resort options. 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.

Durham is not a resort destination.

Is Asheville or Durham Better for its Old Town?

Asheville
Durham

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

The old town area in Asheville is worth visiting. Downtown Asheville maintains much of its historic vibe, but it's smaller than some of the more notable old cities around the country.

Durham does not have a historic old town.

Is Asheville or Durham Better for Hiking?

Asheville
Durham

Asheville is a well-known place for the nearby hiking options. However, Durham 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.

Durham is not a hiking destination.


Is the Shopping Better in Asheville or Durham?

Asheville
Durham

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

Browsing through shops is a popular activity in Asheville. 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.

Plenty of visitors enjoy shopping while in Durham. The Streets of Southpoint is the best mall in the area. Other shopping areas include Brightleaf Square and Nineth Street.

Is Asheville or Durham Better for Christmas?

Asheville
Durham

Asheville is a well-known place for its Christmas activities. However, Durham 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.

Durham does not offer Christmas activities.

Is Asheville or Durham Better for Christmas Markets?

Asheville
Durham

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

During the holidays, visitors often browse through the Christmas markets in Asheville. There are a handful of local Christmas shops around town where you can buy personalized gifts.

Durham does not offer Christmas markets.


Is Asheville or Durham Better for Families?

Asheville
Durham

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

Asheville is known to be a very family-friendly place to visit. 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.

Durham is a family-friendly mountain town. A highlight for kids is a visit to the Durham Museum of Life and Science. It has both an indoor and an outdoor section and brings science to life for families. There's also an impressive playground and climbing area. Other activities in town include the Notasium and Eno River State Park. If you plan ahead you could also organize a trip to the Duke Lemur Center.

Is Asheville or Durham Better for Couples?

Asheville
Durham

Asheville is a well-known place for couples. Also, Durham is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for romance.

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.

Durham is a nice destination for couples. Have a picnic at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens or spend the day hiking at Eno River State Park. In the evening there's a wonderful selection of restaurants around town. Then you can check out a show at the Durham Performing Arts Center or see a Durham Bulls game.

Is Asheville or Durham Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Asheville
Durham

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

Asheville is a very popular mountain town for backpackers and budget travelers. 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.

Durham is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. The student population means there are a number of parties and bars around town, but most backpackers overlook this city.


Is Asheville or Durham Better for Students?

Asheville
Durham

Asheville and Durham are high quality places to visit for students.

Many students visit Asheville. With its progressive personality and charming downtown, students enjoy spending time in this great town.

Durham is a very popular mountain town for students and younger travelers. Duke University has a stunning campus with a world class garden. There's also nearby Nineth Street, which has shops, restaurants, and bars that are geared toward the student population.

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

Asheville
Durham

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

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 Durham. There are buses around town, but you really need a car to explore the area.

Is Asheville or Durham a more walkable city?

Asheville
Durham

Asheville is very good for its ease of walking around. However, Durham is not a good city for its walkability.

Asheville is a somewhat walkable mountain town. 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.

Durham is generally not a very walkable mountain town. Downtown Durham and a few areas near Duke University are the most walkable areas.


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

Should I spend more time in Durham or Asheville?

How long in Asheville or Durham?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Asheville and Durham. In our opinion, Asheville has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in Asheville than Durham. In general, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Asheville, and 1-3 days is enough time in Durham.

Families should spend more time in Asheville than Durham. 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 Durham. 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 Durham 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 Durham? Ideal Length of Stay
    Asheville 2-3 
    Durham 1-3

One day in Asheville or Durham?

Many travelers enjoy the shopping and nightlife when visiting the destination of Asheville. Hikers are also drawn to this area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

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

A weekend in Asheville or Durham?

Asheville is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

You'll find museums and nightlife around the student-filled destination of Durham. 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 Durham?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Asheville. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the sports oriented city of Durham. 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 Durham?

Travelers enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the eclectic destination of Asheville. This mountain town offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

Durham 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.


Which place is cheaper, Durham 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 Durham is $162. 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 Durham in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Asheville $89
    Durham $92
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Asheville $178
    Durham $184
Compare Hotels in Asheville and Durham

Looking for a hotel in Asheville or Durham? 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 Durham


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 Durham Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Asheville $14
    Durham $33

Is it cheaper to fly into Asheville or Durham?

Prices for flights to both Durham 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
    Durham $44
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.

  • Electric Bike Tour of Asheville's Best Pizza: $98
  • Best Pizza E-bike Tour: $111
  • 3-Hour Hands on Cooking Class: $120

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Asheville $16
    Durham $26
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:

  • A Taste of West Asheville Tip-Based Guided Walking Tour: $5.00
  • Downtown Asheville Tip-Based Sightseeing Walking Tour : $5.00
  • River Arts District Tip-Based Sightseeing Walking Tour : $5.00
  • Asheville's Historic Smart Phone Guided App (GPS) Walking Tour: $6.75
  • Asheville's Famous Ghosts Smart Phone GPS APP Solo Walking Tour: $6.75
  • Blue Ridge Parkway South Audio Driving Tour: $9.99
  • Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville Audio Driving Tour: $9.99
  • Blue Ridge Parkway (Asheville) Driving Tour with Audio Guide: $9.99
  • Asheville Historic Highlights: Self-Guided Walking Tour: $9.99
  • Asheville Scavenger Hunt: Downtown Asheville Adventure: $12
  • Blue Ridge Parkway Driving Audio Tour (Asheville ↔ Roanoke): $15
  • Highlights of Asheville Self-Guided Walking Audio Tour: $15

Tours and Activities in Durham

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

  • True Crime Tour: $13
  • Downtown Durham Historic Walking Tour: $16
  • Durham African American History Tour: $16
  • Durham NC: Art Walking Tour: $20

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Asheville $16
    Durham $34

Sample the Local Flavors in Asheville

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

  • Skip the Line: Copper Barrel's Premium Distillery Tour & Tasting: $10
  • Terrors, Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $35
  • Ultimate Late Night Haunted Pub Crawl: $35
  • Asheville Terrors Boos and Brews Haunted Pub Crawl: $39
  • Expert-Led Brewery Walking Tour with Beer Samples: $65
  • 3-Hour Guided Walking Brewery Tour Through Downtown Asheville: $69
  • Downtown Asheville Guided Brewery Walking Tour: $69
  • "Beer Flight" Drag Queen Bar Crawl Tour + VIP After Party Seating: $77
  • Guided Craft Brewery Tour with a Snack: $99
  • Asheville Signature Guided Brewery Tour: $105


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

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


Which is Bigger, Asheville or Durham?

Durham has a larger population, and is about 3 times larger than the population of Asheville. When comparing the sizes of Asheville and Durham, 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 Durham?

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 Durham in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Asheville and Durham. Many travelers come to Asheville for the hiking, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences. Furthermore, many visitors come to Durham in the summer for the family-friendly experiences.

In the summer, Asheville is around the same temperature as Durham. Typically, the summer temperatures in Asheville in July average around 82°F (28°C), and Durham averages at about 79°F (26°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Durham this time of the year. In Asheville, it's very sunny this time of the year. Asheville usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Durham during summer. Asheville gets 268 hours of sunny skies, while Durham receives 259 hours of full sun in the summer.

Durham receives a lot of rain in the summer. Asheville gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In July, Asheville usually receives around the same amount of rain as Durham. Asheville gets 5.4 inches (137 mm) of rain, while Durham receives 5.1 inches (129 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Asheville 82°F (28°C) 
    Durham 79°F (26°C)

Should I visit Asheville or Durham in the Autumn?

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

In October, Asheville is generally around the same temperature as Durham. Daily temperatures in Asheville average around 64°F (18°C), and Durham fluctuates around 61°F (16°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Durham. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Asheville this time of the year. In the autumn, Asheville often gets more sunshine than Durham. Asheville gets 229 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Durham receives 211 hours of full sun.

Asheville usually gets more rain in October than Durham. Asheville gets 3.4 inches (86 mm) of rain, while Durham receives 2.8 inches (71 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Asheville 64°F (18°C) 
    Durham 61°F (16°C)

Should I visit Asheville or Durham in the Winter?

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

The weather in Durham can be very cold. Asheville is a little warmer than Durham in the winter. The daily temperature in Asheville averages around 44°F (7°C) in January, and Durham fluctuates around 40°F (5°C).

Asheville usually receives more sunshine than Durham during winter. Asheville gets 176 hours of sunny skies, while Durham receives 162 hours of full sun in the winter.

It's quite rainy in Asheville. In January, Asheville usually receives more rain than Durham. Asheville gets 3.9 inches (100 mm) of rain, while Durham receives 3.2 inches (82 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Asheville 44°F (7°C) 
    Durham 40°F (5°C)

Should I visit Asheville or Durham in the Spring?

Both Durham and Asheville during the spring are popular places to visit. The spring months attract visitors to Asheville because of the natural beauty.

In the spring, Asheville is a little warmer than Durham. Typically, the spring temperatures in Asheville in April average around 64°F (18°C), and Durham averages at about 60°F (16°C).

In Durham, 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 Durham. Asheville gets 266 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Durham receives 251 hours of full sun.

It rains a lot this time of the year in Asheville. Asheville usually gets more rain in April than Durham. Asheville gets 4.4 inches (112 mm) of rain, while Durham receives 3.1 inches (78 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Asheville 64°F (18°C) 
    Durham 60°F (16°C)

Typical Weather for Durham and Asheville

Asheville Durham
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 44°F (7°C) 3.9 inches (100 mm) 40°F (5°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Feb 47°F (8°C) 4.3 inches (109 mm) 43°F (6°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm)
Mar 55°F (13°C) 5.4 inches (137 mm) 52°F (11°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm)
Apr 64°F (18°C) 4.4 inches (112 mm) 60°F (16°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm)
May 71°F (22°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm) 68°F (20°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm)
Jun 79°F (26°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm) 76°F (24°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm)
Jul 82°F (28°C) 5.4 inches (137 mm) 79°F (26°C) 5.1 inches (129 mm)
Aug 81°F (27°C) 4.6 inches (118 mm) 78°F (26°C) 4.9 inches (125 mm)
Sep 75°F (24°C) 4 inches (101 mm) 73°F (23°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm)
Oct 64°F (18°C) 3.4 inches (86 mm) 61°F (16°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm)
Nov 55°F (13°C) 3.2 inches (81 mm) 53°F (11°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm)
Dec 47°F (8°C) 4.1 inches (103 mm) 44°F (7°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm)