A Travel Price Comparison for California Berkeley vs. Big Sur for Couples, Food, Backpackers, and Families

Should you visit Berkeley or Big Sur?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Berkeley or Big Sur, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Berkeley

Berkeley is a diverse, quirky, and progressive city. It offers plenty of beauty for visitors. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.

Big Sur

Big Sur is a remote, breathtaking, and scenic natural area. You'll find world class beauty here as well. Other popular activities here include hiking, food, and beaches.

Berkeley and Big Sur: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Good public transit
  • Very walkable
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples
Pros
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular for shopping
  • Public transit not as usable
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Berkeley or Big Sur?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Berkeley. Although Berkeley and Big Sur are popular destinations, Berkeley has more sights and attractions for tourists. Berkeley is very popular for its museums, food, nightlife, and shopping, while Big Sur attracts visitors for its beaches, hiking, and impressive beauty. Berkeley is famous for its progressive and liberal mindset as well as its farmer's markets and local boutiques. It is also well known for University of California Botanical Garden. Big Sur is famous for its beautiful state parks, dramatic coastal cliffs, and world class views.

How is Berkeley different from Big Sur?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Berkeley or Big Sur?

Berkeley
Big Sur

Berkeley is great for its historical sights. However, Big Sur is not a good destination for its sights and museums.

Many visitors head to Berkeley specifically to visit some of its top-rated museums and other sights. There are a wide range of museums around town, many of which are affiliated with the university. There are natural history museums, art museums, cultural museums, as well as historical and science museums.

Big Sur offers a few options for museum-goers. Nature is what brings visitors to the area, so most people don't prioritize museums or manmade landmarks.


Is the Food Better in Berkeley or Big Sur? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Berkeley
Big Sur

Berkeley is great for its local flavors and cuisine. Also, Big Sur is not as popular, but is still a nice natural area for its local cuisine and restaurants.

Berkeley has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. There's a huge diversity of restaurants that range from international to California flavors. There are also eateries that cater to the student population, as well as fine dining and everything in between. You'll also find many farmer's markets, vegan options, and restaurants that use locally sourced ingredients.

Big Sur offers number of good local restaurants to choose from. Most of the restaurants offer a breathtaking view. Many use locally-sourced ingredients and they range in style from fine dining to casual eateries.

Is Berkeley or Big Sur Better for Nightlife?

Berkeley
Big Sur

Berkeley is great for its evening party scene. However, Big Sur is not a good destination for nightlife.

Many people head to Berkeley for the nightlife scene. With its large student population, you'll find no shortage of nightlife activities around town. There are bars and pubs as well as live music venues and plenty of unique experiences.

People don't go to Big Sur for the nightlife. There's a taphouse and lounge, but the area is mostly undeveloped with no real nightlife.

Is Berkeley or Big Sur Better for Beaches?

Berkeley
Big Sur

Big Sur is notable for the beach. However, Berkeley is not a beach destination.

You'll have a great beach vacation in Big Sur. The coastline and beaches are dramatic and beautiful, particularly Pfeiffer Beach, which has a dramatic waterfall. The water is filled with rip tides and strong currents, so swimming isn't advisable in most places.

Berkeley is not a beach destination.


Is Berkeley or Big Sur Better for Hiking?

Berkeley
Big Sur

Big Sur is notable for the nearby hiking options. However, Berkeley is not a hiking destination.

Big Sur is a popular spot for hiking. The dramatic hikes take you along the coastline, to beautiful beaches and through Redwood forests. There are a number of state parks along the route and some of the best hikes include Salmon Creek Trail, Pacific Valley Bluff Trail, and Ragged Point Cliffside Trail.

Berkeley is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Berkeley or Big Sur?

Berkeley
Big Sur

Berkeley is great for its shopping areas. However, Big Sur is not a good destination for shopping.

Many visitors explore the shopping areas in Berkeley. Quirky and local is what shopping in Berkeley is all about. There are also plenty of thrift stores and farmer's markets. Head to Fourth Street or Telegraph Avenue for some of the most interesting shopping opportunities.

Big Sur has some shopping areas for those that seek them out. There are some galleries and gift shops, but most visitors aren't in the area to go shopping.

Is Berkeley or Big Sur Better for Families?

Berkeley
Big Sur

Berkeley and Big Sur are both nice destinations for the whole family.

Berkeley is a family-friendly place to visit. There are many outdoor places to explore with kids like Tilden Park or UC Botanical Garden. There are also science museums, nature centers, and plenty of kid-friendly restaurants.

Big Sur is a family-friendly city. Kids will enjoy the hiking and beaches, particularly the Carmel Lagoon at Carmel River State Beach. There are a number of state parks where kids can run around and stretch their legs.


Is Berkeley or Big Sur Better for Couples?

Berkeley
Big Sur

Big Sur is renowned for couples. Also, Berkeley is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for romance.

Big Sur has so much to offer for a romantic couple's vacation. Stunning viewpoints and breathtaking coastline make this a wonderful destination for couples. There are romantic inns and impressive hikes along the water's edge or through the dramatic Redwoods.

Berkeley is a nice destination for couples. There's a wonderful mix of cultural activities and outdoor parks that you can explore. There's the Berkeley Rose Garden, the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and many charming restaurants.

Is Berkeley or Big Sur Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Berkeley
Big Sur

Berkeley is great for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Big Sur is not as popular, but is still a nice natural area for backpackers.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers visit Berkeley. With its eclectic and alternative vibe, backpackers will find their place in this city. There's also a huge student population and a couple of hostels in the area.

It's common for backpackers to visit Big Sur. There are a couple of hostels in the area, but budget travelers often prefer vacation rentals, which are more common.

Is Berkeley or Big Sur Better for Students?

Berkeley
Big Sur

Berkeley is great for its student-friendly activities. However, Big Sur is not popular with students.

Berkeley is very popular with students. University of California, Berkeley is a well reviewed university that attracts a progressive and motivated student population. The city is an expensive, but very rewarding place to study with many activities and opportunities for students.

Big Sur is not popular with students.


Is Berkeley or Big Sur Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Berkeley
Big Sur

Berkeley is an unbeatable place for times when you don't have a car. However, Big Sur is not a good destination for its public transit.

Visitors in Berkeley can get around quickly with the extensive public transit system. It's located in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it has access to buses and several BART stations.

Public transit is limited or non-existant in Big Sur. There is no real public transportation in the area.

Is Berkeley or Big Sur a more walkable city?

Berkeley
Big Sur

Berkeley is an unbeatable place for its ease of walking around. However, Big Sur is not a good destination for its walkability.

Berkeley is a very easy city to get around on foot. Most of Berkeley is very walkable, particularly the parts around the university.

Big Sur is not a walkable city. While there are hiking trails, Big Sur is a stretch of road that runs along the coast and requires a car to fully access.

For even more information, also check out Is Berkeley Worth Visiting? and Is Big Sur Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Big Sur or Berkeley?

How long in Berkeley or Big Sur?

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Berkeley than Big Sur 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 Berkeley.


  • How many days in Berkeley or Big Sur? Ideal Length of Stay
    Berkeley 2-3 
    Big Sur 1-3

One day in Berkeley or Big Sur?

In Berkeley, you'll find nightlife and food. This city offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

The beautiful natural area of Big Sur offers food. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one day here. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.


A weekend in Berkeley or Big Sur?

In Berkeley, you'll find food and shopping. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Berkeley has to offer.

Big Sur is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this natural area makes for a great vacation. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Big Sur, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Five days in Berkeley or Big Sur?

Berkeley is a great place to explore. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

Big Sur 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.

A week in Berkeley or Big Sur?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Berkeley. Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Berkeley. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

Big Sur 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 natural area offers something for everyone.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 2-Week Tours from Los Angeles, The Best Family-Friendly Tours to United States of America, The Best Wildlife Tours to United States of America, and The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Big Sur or Berkeley?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Berkeley is $190, while the average daily cost in Big Sur 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 Berkeley and Big Sur in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Berkeley $131
    Big Sur $165
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Berkeley $262
    Big Sur $330
Compare Hotels in Berkeley and Big Sur

Looking for a hotel in Berkeley or Big Sur? 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 Berkeley


Hotels in Big Sur


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: Berkeley Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Berkeley $30
    Big Sur -

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Berkeley

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Berkeley:

  • Arrival Transfer from Oakland Airport OAK to San Francisco by SUV: $232
  • Private Transfer: Oakland International Airport to Hotel: $200
  • Oakland Airport (OAK) to San Francisco - Round-Trip Private Car Transfer: $129
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Oakland Airport (OAK) to Oakland: $93
  • Oakland Airport (OAK) to Oakland hotel or address - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $89
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Oakland Airport OAK: $81
  • Oakland Airport (OAK) to San Francisco hotel/address - Private Arrival Transfer: $64

Is it cheaper to fly into Berkeley or Big Sur?

Prices for flights to both Big Sur and Berkeley 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
    Berkeley $36
    Big Sur -
Typical Food Prices in Berkeley

Some typical examples of dining costs in Berkeley are as follows:


  • Chocolates at Sweet Dreams
    $4.46

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Berkeley

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

  • Best of North Berkeley Food Tour: $130
  • Black Food Tour - Downtown Oakland: $130

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Berkeley $30
    Big Sur -

Tours and Activities in Berkeley

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

  • 2 Hours Private Walking Tour in Berkeley: $20
  • Classic Sausalito Wooden Boat Tour: $135
  • Comedy Oakland at The Washington Inn Show Tickets: $20
  • Historic Houseboat Tour: $65
  • Oakland Athletics Baseball Game Ticket at RingCentral Coliseum: $11
  • Oakland's Temescal Tastes Tour: $120
  • Redwoods of Marin and Mt. Tamalpais Walking Tour with Local Guide: $59
  • Ruth Bancroft Garden General Admission Ticket: $12
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Berkeley by Zombie Scavengers: $20
  • Self-Guided Oakland Tour in an Urban Excursion: $20
  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Antioch by Zombie Scavengers: $20

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Berkeley $13
    Big Sur -

Sample the Local Flavors in Berkeley

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

  • Guided Wine Tasting at Berkeley Wineries with Local Sommelière : $175


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

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



When is the best time to visit Berkeley or Big Sur?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Berkeley or Big Sur in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Berkeley as well as Big Sur. Most visitors come to Berkeley for the family-friendly experiences during these months. Additionally, the summer months attract visitors to Big Sur because of the beaches, the hiking, and the family-friendly experiences.

Berkeley is around the same temperature as Big Sur in the summer. The daily temperature in Berkeley averages around 63°F (17°C) in July, and Big Sur fluctuates around 63°F (17°C).

Berkeley usually gets more rain in July than Big Sur. Berkeley gets 0.1 inches (2 mm) of rain, while Big Sur receives 0 inches (1 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Berkeley 63°F (17°C) 
    Big Sur 63°F (17°C)

Should I visit Berkeley or Big Sur in the Autumn?

Both Big Sur and Berkeley are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. The autumn months attract visitors to Berkeley because of the shopping scene and the natural beauty of the area. Also, the hiking trails and the natural beauty of the area are the main draw to Big Sur this time of year.

In the autumn, Berkeley is around the same temperature as Big Sur. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Berkeley in October average around 63°F (17°C), and Big Sur averages at about 62°F (17°C).

In October, Berkeley usually receives more rain than Big Sur. Berkeley gets 1.3 inches (33 mm) of rain, while Big Sur receives 0.6 inches (14 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Berkeley 63°F (17°C) 
    Big Sur 62°F (17°C)

Should I visit Berkeley or Big Sur in the Winter?

Both Big Sur and Berkeley during the winter are popular places to visit. The museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Berkeley this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Big Sur for the cuisine.

In January, Berkeley is generally around the same temperature as Big Sur. Daily temperatures in Berkeley average around 50°F (10°C), and Big Sur fluctuates around 51°F (11°C).

Berkeley usually gets more rain in January than Big Sur. Berkeley gets 3.8 inches (96 mm) of rain, while Big Sur receives 2.3 inches (58 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Berkeley 50°F (10°C) 
    Big Sur 51°F (11°C)

Should I visit Berkeley or Big Sur in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Berkeley and Big Sur. Many travelers come to Berkeley for the natural beauty. Also, many visitors come to Big Sur in the spring for the beaches and the natural beauty.

Berkeley is around the same temperature as Big Sur in the spring. The daily temperature in Berkeley averages around 58°F (14°C) in April, and Big Sur fluctuates around 56°F (13°C).

In April, Berkeley usually receives more rain than Big Sur. Berkeley gets 1.2 inches (31 mm) of rain, while Big Sur receives 1.1 inches (29 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Berkeley 58°F (14°C) 
    Big Sur 56°F (13°C)

Typical Weather for Big Sur and Berkeley

Berkeley Big Sur
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 50°F (10°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm) 51°F (11°C) 2.3 inches (58 mm)
Feb 54°F (12°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 53°F (12°C) 1.8 inches (47 mm)
Mar 56°F (13°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 54°F (12°C) 2.1 inches (55 mm)
Apr 58°F (14°C) 1.2 inches (31 mm) 56°F (13°C) 1.1 inches (29 mm)
May 60°F (15°C) 0.2 inches (5 mm) 59°F (15°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm)
Jun 62°F (17°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm) 62°F (16°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm)
Jul 63°F (17°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 63°F (17°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Aug 64°F (18°C) 0.1 inches (1 mm) 64°F (18°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm)
Sep 66°F (19°C) 0.3 inches (7 mm) 64°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (6 mm)
Oct 63°F (17°C) 1.3 inches (33 mm) 62°F (17°C) 0.6 inches (14 mm)
Nov 57°F (14°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm) 56°F (13°C) 1.8 inches (45 mm)
Dec 51°F (11°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm) 51°F (10°C) 2 inches (51 mm)