A Travel Price Comparison for Colorado Aspen vs. Boulder for Skiing, Food, Nightlife, and Music

Should you visit Aspen or Boulder?

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

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Aspen and Boulder can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Aspen

Aspen is a charming, quaint, and vibrant ski town. With plenty of 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. This destination also has one of those special and quaint feelings. Visitors also love the nightlife, live music, and food.

Boulder

Boulder is a nature-filled, biker-friendly, and outdoorsy city. It offers plenty of beauty for visitors. Other popular activities here include nightlife, live music, and food.

Aspen and Boulder: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Nice resorts
  • Good for hiking
  • Popular at Christmas
  • Known for Christmas markets
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Small town charm
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for skiing
  • Less popular for food


Is there more to do in Aspen or Boulder?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Aspen. Although Aspen and Boulder are both popular with visitors, Aspen has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Aspen is more popular for its skiing, food, nightlife, music, resorts, shopping, christmas markets, small town charm, impressive beauty, and quaint atmosphere, while Boulder is known for its museums. Aspen is more touristy than Boulder and is popular for its world-class skiing, many food, film, and music festivals, and its stunning mountain hikes. It is also home to The Maroon Bells. Boulder is popular for its outdoor sports, biker-friendly downtown, vibrant downtown, and many local breweries.

How is Aspen different from Boulder?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Aspen or Boulder Better for Skiing?

Aspen
Boulder

Aspen is an unbeatable place for skiing. However, Boulder is not known for snow skiing.

Aspen is a top destination for snow skiing, and it attracts visitors from around the world. Near the town, there are 4 separate ski resorts. In town you'll find Aspen Mountain, which is known for it's black-diamond runs. Aspen Highlands, a couple miles away, has a mix of slopes and is less crowded. Buttermilk attracts many freestyle skiers and Aspen Snowmass is considered one of the best family-friendly ski areas.

While in the area, visitors like to go to Boulder for snow skiing. The town offers access within an hour or two to several great ski resorts including Eldora Mountain, Vail, and Breckenridge.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Aspen or Boulder?

Aspen
Boulder

Boulder is a city with a few options for its museums and landmarks. However, Aspen does not have museums and landmarks.

Boulder offers a handful of options for museums and historical sights. Most people visit Boulder for the outdoor activities more than the museums and sights. If have the time you can wander around the University of Colorado Boulder campus, visit the Museum of Boulder, or see the Leanin' Tree Museum of Western Art.

Aspen does not have museums and landmarks.

Is the Food Better in Aspen or Boulder? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Aspen
Boulder

Aspen is an unbeatable place for its local flavors and cuisine. Also, Boulder is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its local cuisine and restaurants.

Eat your way through Aspen, as it has many local or world renowned restaurants to choose from. The town hosts many food festivals and there is a growing selection of diverse restaurants. In town you'll find cafes and restaurants that cater to both the local crowd and the travelers who flock to the area during peak seasons.

There are many up and coming restaurants in the Boulder area. This is an often overlooked foodie town, with great farmer's markets and restaurants to try. There are many casual places to eat as well as vegetarian and vegan friendly options everywhere.

Is Aspen or Boulder Better for Nightlife?

Aspen
Boulder

Aspen is a great ski town for nightlife and partying. Also, Boulder is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its evening party scene.

The nightlife in Aspen has something for everybody. The people in Aspen know how to have a good time. The nightlife scene includes craft beer, live music, and dancing. There's a local vibe, particularly during the off-season times when the tourist crowds are less.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Boulder. The town has breweries, craft beer, and plenty to do in the evening. Live music is popular and many venues are smaller with a more personal atmosphere. Check out The Bitter Bar or License No. 1 for a local vibe.


Is Aspen or Boulder Better for Music?

Aspen
Boulder

Aspen is a great ski town for its live music scene. Also, Boulder is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its music scene.

Aspen has a thriving music scene. Popular music venues in town include Silver City Mountain Saloon and Belly Up Aspen.

The music scene in Boulder is active and vibrant. During the summer months there are often outdoor concerts. Head to Pearl Street for open air stages or see a concert at Boulder Theater.

Is Aspen or Boulder Better for Resorts?

Aspen
Boulder

Aspen is a great ski town for its luxury resorts. However, Boulder is not a resort destination.

There are plenty of resorts in Aspen to choose from. Popular resorts in the area include The Little Nell, Hotel Jerome, and St. Regis Aspen.

Boulder is not a resort destination.

Is Aspen or Boulder Better for Hiking?

Aspen
Boulder

Both Aspen and Boulder are destinations which offer very good hiking.

You'll find a nice variety of hiking trails around Aspen. During the summer and fall seasons, hiking is a great way to explore Aspen's nearby beauty. Popular trails include the Ute Trail, the Lost Man Trail, and the famous Maroon Bells Scenic Trail.

Many visitors go to Boulder for the hiking trails. There are many accessible hikes in the area that take you through the mountains, by wildflowers, or up mountain peaks. Popular hikes that are nearby include the Bear Peak Summit Hike, the trails in Eldorado Canyon State Park, and Boulder Falls.


Is the Shopping Better in Aspen or Boulder?

Aspen
Boulder

Aspen is a great ski town for its shopping opportunities. Also, Boulder is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its shopping areas.

Aspen is well-known for its shopping. There are many great local shops and art galleries where you can pick interesting items or fine art.

Many visitors go to Boulder to go shopping. The downtown area has many local retailers where you can shop for clothing, art, or home goods. You can also pick up outdoor gear, camping equipment, and any other items you may need in town. Make sure you wander down the pedestrian-friendly Pearl Street Mall.

Is Aspen or Boulder Better for Christmas?

Aspen
Boulder

Aspen is an unbeatable place for its Christmas holiday experiences. However, Boulder does not offer Christmas activities.

People travel from all around to experience the Christmas season in Aspen. There are a number of beautiful activities that will bring the holiday season to life in the town.

Boulder does not offer Christmas activities.

Is Aspen or Boulder Better for Christmas Markets?

Aspen
Boulder

Aspen is a great ski town for visiting Christmas markets. However, Boulder does not offer Christmas markets.

Aspen has a large number of Christmas markets. The town has a charming Christmas market that is fun to explore and has around 40 vendors.

Boulder does not offer Christmas markets.


Is Aspen or Boulder Better for Families?

Aspen
Boulder

Both Aspen and Boulder are good to visit with kids.

You'll find plenty of kid-friendly things to do in Aspen. Families that enjoy skiing together, hiking, rock climbing, and having adventures will enjoy a visit to this town. Aspen Mountain is not a great option for beginning skiers, but further away, Aspen Snowmass offers good beginner slopes.

Boulder offers lots of family activities. The city has parks, playgrounds, a planetarium, and climbing gyms that are fun for kids of all ages. There are plenty places to get outdoors with hiking, kayaking, and other outdoor recreational activities. Eldorado Canyon State Park is a great place to explore as well.

Is Aspen or Boulder Better for Couples?

Aspen
Boulder

Aspen is a great ski town for its romantic activities. Also, Boulder is not as popular, but is still a nice city for couples.

Aspen is a great ski town if you're traveling as a couple. Aspen is both a popular ski destination as well as an established town. There are many great restaurants and activities that couples can enjoy and the setting is cute and very scenic, making it a beautiful and romantic destination.

Boulder is a good ski town for couples to visit. This is a great city for couples who love outdoor adventures, hiking, rock climbing, and cycling. You can wander down Pearl Street or go for a bike ride. There are also great restaurants where you can enjoy a meal and then head to Panorama Point to take in the view.

Is Aspen or Boulder Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Aspen
Boulder

Boulder is a city with good options for backpackers. However, Aspen is a ski town with minimal options for backpackers and budget travelers.

Boulder is a good city to visit for backpackers. There are a number of backcountry areas in the region that are perfect for backpackers. The city also has a young population and several affordable places to stay.

Aspen is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. Because it is both a town and a ski resort, there are a couple of more affordable accommodation options. Even so, this is an expensive destination that isn't always ideal for budget travelers.


Is Aspen or Boulder Better for Students?

Aspen
Boulder

Boulder is a great destination for students. However, Aspen is not popular with students.

Students come from all over to stay in Boulder. With the University of Colorado, Boulder in town, this city is a popular spot for students. It's an outdoor enthusiast's perfect base with many outdoor recreational activities in the area.

Aspen is not popular with students.

Is Aspen or Boulder Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Aspen
Boulder

Aspen is a good destination for times when you don't have a car. However, Boulder is not known for its public transit.

While Aspen offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There are several shuttle buses around the town.

Public transit is generally limited in Boulder. There are buses that run around town, but you really need a car to fully experience everything that the city has to offer.

Is Aspen or Boulder a more walkable city?

Aspen
Boulder

Aspen is a great ski town for its high level of walkability. Also, Boulder is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its ease of walking around.

Aspen is a very walkable ski town. The town is compact enough that it can be explored on foot. If you're planning to head into the mountains to hike, you'll likely need a car.

Boulder is a somewhat walkable ski town. The city has some nice walkable areas and it is very bike-friendly.


For even more information, also check out Is Aspen Worth Visiting? and Is Boulder Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Boulder or Aspen?

How long in Aspen or Boulder?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Aspen and Boulder. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Aspen than in Boulder. Usually, 3-5 days is a good amount of time for Aspen, and 2-3 days is enough time in Boulder.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Aspen than Boulder 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 Aspen.


  • How many days in Aspen or Boulder? Ideal Length of Stay
    Aspen 3-5 
    Boulder 2-3

One day in Aspen or Boulder?

Aspen is a small town with plenty to do. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. This ski town offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

In Boulder, many people enjoy the food and shopping that this nature-filled destination offers. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.

A weekend in Aspen or Boulder?

Aspen might be a small town, but there's plenty to do in the area. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Boulder. For many, it makes a great getaway for a weekend. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. This would be the perfect place to spend a weekend, as it has just the right amount of activities. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

Five days in Aspen or Boulder?

Aspen is a great place to explore. It is common to spend five days here. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. Five days is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Aspen has to offer. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

Boulder is a fun place to experience. Travelers enjoy the nightlife and live music when visiting the destination of Boulder. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything.


A week in Aspen or Boulder?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Aspen. Since Aspen is a small town, it's easily explored when your time is limited. It's also a relaxing resort destination. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

You'll find live music and food around the outdoorsy destination of Boulder. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Bicycle Tours in United States of America, Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in United States of America, The Best Coach Bus Tours in United States of America, and The Best Adventure Tours to United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Boulder or Aspen?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Aspen is $293, while the average daily cost in Boulder is $191. 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 Aspen and Boulder in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Aspen $170
    Boulder $102
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Aspen $340
    Boulder $204
Compare Hotels in Aspen and Boulder

Looking for a hotel in Aspen or Boulder? 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 Aspen


Hotels in Boulder


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: Aspen Hotel Prices and Boulder Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Aspen $56
    Boulder $51

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Aspen

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Aspen:

  • Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) - Private Transfer Arrival or Departure: $269
  • Aspen hotel or address to Denver Airport (DEN) - Departure Private Transfer: $218

Is it cheaper to fly into Aspen or Boulder?

Prices for flights to both Boulder and Aspen 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
    Aspen $85
    Boulder $54

Typical Food Prices in Boulder

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Boulder:


  • 2 Coffees
    $8.75
  • Nice Dinner for Two
    $71

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Aspen $45
    Boulder $33

Tours and Activities in Aspen

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

  • Aspen Puzzling Adventure: $35
  • Aspen's DarkSide Ghost Tour: $40
  • Aspen's Off the Beaten Path Scenic Walking Tour: $40
  • Aspen's Off the Beaten Path Tour: $40
  • Aspen's Past to Present Historic Tour: $40
  • City Highlights Walking Tour: $40
  • Dark History Ghost-Themed Guided Walking Tour: $40
  • From Past to Present History Walking Tour: $40
  • Highlights of Aspen Tour: $40

Tours and Activities in Boulder

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

  • Smartphone Driving Tour between Boulder and Vail / Breckenridge: $7.99
  • Boulder, CO: Murder Mystery Detective Experience: $15
  • Murder Mystery Detective Experience Boulder, CO: $15
  • Boulder Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour and Game: $25
  • Smartphone Scavenger Hunt Tour with Remote Guide: $25
  • Downtown Boulder Mural Walking Tour: $30
  • Boulder Puzzling Adventure: $35
  • Amazing Boulder Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $44
  • Astronomy Tour: $45
  • Self-Guided Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour: $49
  • "Boulder Peaks & Wilderness Tours: Mallory Cave Trail": $65
  • Boulder Flatirons Private Photo Adventure: $85

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Aspen $20
    Boulder $27


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

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


Which is Bigger, Aspen or Boulder?

Boulder has a larger population, and is about 20 times larger than the population of Aspen. When comparing the sizes of Aspen and Boulder, 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.