A Travel Price Comparison for California Big Sur vs. Sonoma for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Big Sur or Sonoma?

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

Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Big Sur and Sonoma can help you decide which place is right for you.

Where Should I go: Big Sur or Sonoma?

Big Sur

Big Sur is the 90-mile stretch of the California Central Coast which runs from the Carmel River in Monterey County south to San Carpoforo Creek in San Luis Obispo County and 20 miles east into the Santa Lucius Foothills.

However you look at it, California's Central Coast is beautiful and undoubtedly a huge tourist trap. If you're not willing to fork over big bucks for overnight stays on coastal hotels, be prepared ahead of time with your camping gear and get ready to go off the beaten track to avoid crowds as best you can and save your wallet.

While the weather in Central Coast is overall, mild and temperate, between 50 and 70 degrees year-round. The highs and lows during the year are in August and January, respectively, with dry summers and wet winters, making April through October the best times to visit but be warned: there will be crowds.

Sonoma

When people say Sonoma, they are often referring to the region's wine country, but in fact, Sonoma is a county, a valley, and a town. The county covers 1,768 square miles and is more spread out than nearby Napa. There are more than 30 cities and towns in the county and 425 wineries with tasting rooms. The county also borders the Pacific Ocean, and the beautiful 55 mile stretch of coastline is rugged and dramatic.

Which city is cheaper, Sonoma or Big Sur?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Big Sur is $0.00, while the average daily cost in Sonoma is $176. 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 city. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Big Sur and Sonoma in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Big Sur $132
    Sonoma $74
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Big Sur $264
    Sonoma $148
Compare Hotels in Big Sur and Sonoma

Looking for a hotel in Big Sur or Sonoma? 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 Big Sur


Hotels in Sonoma


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: Big Sur Hotel Prices and Sonoma Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Big Sur -
    Sonoma $107

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Sonoma

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

  • From San Francisco: Transfer to Lake Tahoe & Palisades Tahoe: $1,699
  • Private transfer from SFO to Sonoma: $215
  • Private transfer from Sonoma to SFO: $215

Is it cheaper to fly into Big Sur or Sonoma?

Prices for flights to both Sonoma and Big Sur 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
    Big Sur -
    Sonoma $45

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Sonoma

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

  • Wine Country Food Tours. Sightseeing to various local artisanal food producers: $462

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Big Sur -
    Sonoma $13

Tours and Activities in Sonoma

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

  • #1 Private Walking Food, Wine & History Tour: $139
  • 6 Hour Private Wine Sonoma Tours Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Passengers Van: $499
  • All-Inclusive Sonoma Wine and Picnic Tour: $198
  • Behind-the-Scenes Food and Wine E-Bike or Regular Bike Tour: $151
  • Point Reyes Station: Food and Farm Tour with Lunch: $225
  • Rides by me, Sonoma Sidecar Wine-Tasting tours: $220
  • Small-Group Wine-Tasting Tour through Sonoma Valley: $130
  • Sonoma County Wine Segway Tour: $151
  • Sonoma Food and Wine Private Group Tour: $138
  • Sonoma Valley Full-Day Pedal Assist Bike Tour with Lunch - (Reg. Bike Optional): $151
  • Sonoma Valley Half-Day Wine Country Tour: $100
  • Sonoma Valley Wine Buyer's Picnic Tour: $125

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Big Sur -
    Sonoma $33

Sample the Local Flavors in Sonoma

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

  • 2-Hour Private Guided E-Trike Wine Tour at Sonoma: $80
  • Sonoma County Wine Tasting Tour: $103
  • #1 Small Group Sonoma Walking Food and Wine Tour: $105
  • Napa Valley: Guided Wine Tour with Picnic Lunch: $119
  • Sonoma County: Small-Group Wine Tasting Tour: $130
  • From San Francisco: Redwoods and Wine Tasting: $179
  • Private Sonoma and Napa Wine Tour Including Custom Concierge: $225
  • Wine Tours: $513
  • 6 Hour Napa or Sonoma Wine Tour in Private Limousine: $675
  • 8-Hour Private Wine Tour Experience for up to 6 Guests - San Francisco to Sonoma: $680
  • Guided Private Wine Tour to Napa and Sonoma Wine Country: $800
  • 8 Hour Napa or Sonoma Wine Tour in Private Limousine: $875


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Big Sur and Sonoma, we can see that Sonoma 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 Sonoma would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Sonoma than you might in Big Sur.


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

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 Big Sur or Sonoma in the Summer?

Both Sonoma and Big Sur are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities.


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Big Sur is cooler than Sonoma in the summer. The temperature in Big Sur is usually 63°F (17°C) in July, and Sonoma stays around 73°F (23°C).

In July, Big Sur usually receives less rain than Sonoma. Big Sur gets 0 inches (1 mm) of rain, while Sonoma receives 0.1 inches (2 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Big Sur 63°F (17°C) 
    Sonoma 73°F (23°C)

Should I visit Big Sur or Sonoma in the Autumn?

Both Sonoma and Big Sur during the autumn are popular places to visit.


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In the autumn, Big Sur is around the same temperature as Sonoma. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Big Sur in October are around 62°F (17°C), and Sonoma is about 62°F (17°C).

Big Sur usually gets less rain in October than Sonoma. Big Sur gets 0.6 inches (14 mm) of rain, while Sonoma receives 1.3 inches (33 mm) of rain this time of the year.


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

Should I visit Big Sur or Sonoma in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Big Sur and Sonoma.


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In January, Big Sur is generally a little warmer than Sonoma. Temperatures in Big Sur average around 51°F (11°C), and Sonoma stays around 46°F (8°C).

In January, Big Sur usually receives less rain than Sonoma. Big Sur gets 2.3 inches (58 mm) of rain, while Sonoma receives 3.8 inches (96 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Big Sur 51°F (11°C) 
    Sonoma 46°F (8°C)

Should I visit Big Sur or Sonoma in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Big Sur as well as Sonoma.


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Big Sur is around the same temperature as Sonoma in the spring. The temperature in Big Sur is usually 56°F (13°C) in April, and Sonoma stays around 56°F (13°C).

Big Sur usually gets less rain in April than Sonoma. Big Sur gets 1.1 inches (29 mm) of rain, while Sonoma receives 1.2 inches (31 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Big Sur 56°F (13°C) 
    Sonoma 56°F (13°C)

Typical Weather for Sonoma and Big Sur

Big Sur Sonoma
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 51°F (11°C) 2.3 inches (58 mm) 46°F (8°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm)
Feb 53°F (12°C) 1.8 inches (47 mm) 51°F (11°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
Mar 54°F (12°C) 2.1 inches (55 mm) 54°F (12°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
Apr 56°F (13°C) 1.1 inches (29 mm) 56°F (13°C) 1.2 inches (31 mm)
May 59°F (15°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm) 64°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (5 mm)
Jun 62°F (16°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 69°F (21°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm)
Jul 63°F (17°C) 0 inches (1 mm) 73°F (23°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm)
Aug 64°F (18°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 72°F (22°C) 0.1 inches (1 mm)
Sep 64°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (6 mm) 70°F (21°C) 0.3 inches (7 mm)
Oct 62°F (17°C) 0.6 inches (14 mm) 62°F (17°C) 1.3 inches (33 mm)
Nov 56°F (13°C) 1.8 inches (45 mm) 54°F (12°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm)
Dec 51°F (10°C) 2 inches (51 mm) 46°F (8°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm)


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Big Sur vs. Sonoma Travel Comparison

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