A Travel Price Comparison for California Big Sur vs. Yosemite National Park for Hiking, Couples, Backpackers, and Families

Should you visit Big Sur or Yosemite National Park?

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 Yosemite National Park can help you decide which place is right for you.

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.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a stunning, breathtaking, and popular national park. Many visitors also come because of it's amazing beauty. It's also popular because of the hiking.

Big Sur and Yosemite National Park: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Public transit not as usable
Pros
  • Nice resorts
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good public transit
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to El Capitan


Is there more to do in Big Sur or Yosemite National Park?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Yosemite National Park. Although Big Sur and Yosemite National Park are popular destinations, Yosemite National Park has more sights and attractions for tourists. Yosemite National Park is very popular for its resorts and hiking, while Big Sur attracts visitors for its museums, food, nightlife, beaches, and shopping. Yosemite National Park is more touristy than Big Sur and is popular for its stunning hikes, giant Sequoias, breathtaking vistas, and the granite cliffs of Half Dome. It is also well known for El Capitan. Big Sur is famous for its beautiful state parks, dramatic coastal cliffs, and world class views.

How is Big Sur different from Yosemite National Park?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Big Sur or Yosemite National Park?

Big Sur
Yosemite National Park

Big Sur is not a good place to visit for its sights and museums. However, Yosemite National Park does not have museums and landmarks.

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.

Yosemite National Park does not have museums and landmarks.


Is the Food Better in Big Sur or Yosemite National Park? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Big Sur
Yosemite National Park

Big Sur is a popular place for its local cuisine and restaurants. However, Yosemite National Park is not a good national park for its restaurants.

There are many up and coming restaurants in the Big Sur area. Most of the restaurants offer a breathtaking view. Many use locally-sourced ingredients and they range in style from fine dining to casual eateries.

Yosemite National Park offers some easy restaurants to choose from. There are a few varied restaurants in the park that offer casual food or packaged meals that you can take away. The food is generally expensive and not always the best, so you'll likely enjoy packing your own picnic food to enjoy within the park.

Is Big Sur or Yosemite National Park Better for Nightlife?

Big Sur
Yosemite National Park

Big Sur is not a good place to visit for its evening party scene. However, Yosemite National Park is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

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.

Yosemite National Park is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

Is Big Sur or Yosemite National Park Better for Resorts?

Big Sur
Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is great for its luxury resorts. However, Big Sur is not a resort destination.

Vacationers can choose from a number of terrific resorts in Yosemite National Park. There are several grand hotels and lodges within the park. Reservations are a must, especially if you're traveling during peak seasons.

Big Sur is not a resort destination.


Is Big Sur or Yosemite National Park Better for Beaches?

Big Sur
Yosemite National Park

Big Sur is a well-known place for the beach. However, Yosemite National Park is not a beach destination.

Big Sur is considered a top beach destination. 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.

Yosemite National Park is not a beach destination.

Is Big Sur or Yosemite National Park Better for Hiking?

Big Sur
Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is an unbeatable place for hiking. Also, Big Sur is not as popular, but is still a nice natural area for the nearby hiking options.

Many people visit Yosemite National Park specifically for its hiking. This park has many famous hikes that take you by Half Dome, near Yosemite Falls, and through breathtaking landscapes. Popular hikes in the area include Mist Trail to Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall and Mirror Lake Trail.

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.

Is the Shopping Better in Big Sur or Yosemite National Park?

Big Sur
Yosemite National Park

Big Sur is not a good place to visit for its shopping areas. However, Yosemite National Park is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

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.

Yosemite National Park is not a noteworthy shopping destination.


Is Big Sur or Yosemite National Park Better for Families?

Big Sur
Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is great for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Big Sur is not as popular, but is still a nice natural area for its family-friendly activities.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Yosemite National Park. This park has many hikes, climbs, and activities that kids of all ages can enjoy. When the weather's warm the kids will enjoy getting wet in Merced River. They'll also be impressed by the giant sequoias and the beautiful waterfalls. In the evening the staff host ranger programs that are fun and educational for everyone. The park also has kid-friendly camping and lodges.

Big Sur is a family-friendly place to visit. 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 Big Sur or Yosemite National Park Better for Couples?

Big Sur
Yosemite National Park

Big Sur is a world-class destination for couples. Also, Yosemite National Park is not as famous, but is still a good national park to visit for romance.

Big Sur makes for a terrific place to visit as a couple. 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.

Yosemite National Park makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Couples who enjoy nature, rock climbing, hiking, and being outside will enjoy a visit to this park. There is an endless supply of romantic views and fun-filled activities that are perfect for avid hikers or those looking for a more relaxing travel experience.

Is Big Sur or Yosemite National Park Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Big Sur
Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is an unbeatable place for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Big Sur is not as popular, but is still a nice natural area for backpackers.

A large number of backpackers visit Yosemite National Park, as it is a very popular national park for budget travelers. Campgrounds and back country trails make this area a backpacker's paradise.

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

Big Sur
Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is very good for times when you don't have a car. However, Big Sur is not a good destination for its public transit.

While Yosemite National Park offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There is a free bus service that travels around Yosemite Valley.

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

Is Big Sur or Yosemite National Park a more walkable city?

Big Sur
Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is adequate for its ease of walking around. However, Big Sur is not a good destination for its walkability.

Yosemite National Park is generally not a very walkable national park. The park is large and a car is necessary to reach many places within the park.

Big Sur is not a walkable natural area. 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 Big Sur Worth Visiting? and Is Yosemite National Park Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Yosemite National Park or Big Sur?

How long in Big Sur or Yosemite National Park?

Both Big Sur and Yosemite National Park have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Yosemite National Park than in Big Sur. Usually, 1-3 days is a good amount of time for Big Sur, and 3-7 days is enough time in Yosemite National Park.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Yosemite National Park 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 Yosemite National Park.


  • How many days in Big Sur or Yosemite National Park? Ideal Length of Stay
    Big Sur 1-3 
    Yosemite National Park 3-7

One day in Big Sur or Yosemite National Park?

The natural area of Big Sur offers food. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. One day should give you a good understanding of everything this natural area has to offer.

In Yosemite National Park, you'll find . Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. One reason most visitors come is for the hiking. This national park offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.


A weekend in Big Sur or Yosemite National Park?

The breathtaking destination of Big Sur offers food. This natural area offers something for everyone. It is common to spend a weekend here. It's also a great beach destination, too. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

In Yosemite National Park, you'll find . 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. One reason most visitors come is for the hiking. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.

Five days in Big Sur or Yosemite National Park?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Big Sur. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

Yosemite National Park 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 Yosemite National Park has to offer. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

A week in Big Sur or Yosemite National Park?

Big Sur is a fun place to experience. Travelers enjoy the food when visiting the destination of Big Sur. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Yosemite National Park. In Yosemite National Park, you'll find . One reason most visitors come is for the hiking. It's also a relaxing resort destination. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one week here.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Tours Under $1000 in United States of America, The Best Luxury Tours to United States of America, The Best Tours for Seniors to United States of America, and The Best Contiki Tours to United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Yosemite National Park 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 Yosemite National Park is $129. 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 Big Sur and Yosemite National Park in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Big Sur $165
    Yosemite National Park $64
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Big Sur $330
    Yosemite National Park $128
Compare Hotels in Big Sur and Yosemite National Park

Looking for a hotel in Big Sur or Yosemite National Park? 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 Yosemite National Park


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: Yosemite National Park Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Big Sur -
    Yosemite National Park $41

Is it cheaper to fly into Big Sur or Yosemite National Park?

Prices for flights to both Yosemite National Park 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 -
    Yosemite National Park $40

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Big Sur -
    Yosemite National Park $19

Tours and Activities in Big Sur

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

  • Big Sur Highway 1: Self-Guided Audio Driving Tour: $15
  • Big Sur California: Pacific Coast Highway Self-Drive Tour: $15

Tours and Activities in Yosemite National Park

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Yosemite National Park are as follows:

  • Big Trees Hike & Riverside Cookout Adventure: $180
  • Family Fun Private Half Day Fly Fishing Adventure: $215
  • Full-Day Small Group Yosemite & Glacier Point Tour Including Hotel Pickup: $169
  • Private Guided Hiking Tour in Yosemite: $293
  • Semi Private Yosemite Tour with Ahwahnee Lunch and Hotel Pickup: $250
  • Yosemite Full Day Small Group High Country / Mariposa Tour: $299
  • Yosemite Highlights Small Group Tour: $200
  • Yosemite National Park Audio Driving Tour: $14
  • Yosemite Panorama Trail Self-Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • Yosemite Self-Guided Audio Tour: $14
  • Yosemite Valley & Glacier Point Adaptive Tour: $180
  • Yosemite Valley Full Day Small Group Tour : $299

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Big Sur -
    Yosemite National Park $11


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