A Travel Price Comparison for North Carolina Chapel Hill vs. Durham for Attractions, Nightlife, Food, and Families

Should you visit Chapel Hill or Durham?

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

Should I visit Chapel Hill or Durham? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill is a student-oriented, collegiate, and southern town. Other popular activities here include nightlife, food, and shopping.

Durham

Durham is a diverse, student-filled, and sports oriented city. Other popular activities here include shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Chapel Hill and Durham: Pros and Cons

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

Travelers will usually find more to do in Chapel Hill. Although Chapel Hill and Durham are popular destinations, Chapel Hill has more sights and attractions for tourists. Chapel Hill is famous for being the home of the oldest public university in the United States. It is also well known for the University of North Carolina. Durham is famous for its college town vibe as well as being the home of the famous Blue Devil basketball team.

How is Chapel Hill different from Durham?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Chapel Hill or Durham?

Chapel Hill
Durham

For an educational experience, head to a museum or a notable sight in either Chapel Hill or Durham.

Chapel Hill offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. Many of the museums are affiliated with UNC. A highlight of many trips is a visit to the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. Hours can vary, so check the schedule ahead of time. Also worth visiting are the Ackland Art Museum and the Carolina Basketball Museum.

Many visitors head to Durham specifically to visit some of its top-rated museums and other sights. 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.


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

Chapel Hill
Durham

Both Chapel Hill and Durham offer nice local cuisine and restaurants.

There are many up and coming restaurants in the Chapel Hill area. Students often eat on Franklin Street, which has a diverse mix of casual and slightly nicer restaurants. You'll find Indian food, Mediterranean, Italian, and Greek. The city also has excellent barbecue and other southern favorites.

There are plenty of up and coming restaurants around Durham. 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 Chapel Hill or Durham Better for Nightlife?

Chapel Hill
Durham

Chapel Hill 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.

Chapel Hill offers plenty to do in the evening. Most of the nightlife is centered around the student population. Franklin Street has a number of bars where students hang out. There are also parties hosted by fraternities and sororities. Things are quieter during the summer months when students are mostly gone.

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 the Shopping Better in Chapel Hill or Durham?

Chapel Hill
Durham

Shopping is a popular activity in both Durham and Chapel Hill.

Many visitors go to Chapel Hill to go shopping. There are a mix of local shops, larger shopping centers, and suburban malls. There are also weekly farmer's markets that are fun to check out.

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 Chapel Hill or Durham Better for Families?

Chapel Hill
Durham

Kids will enjoy a visit to either Chapel Hill or Durham.

You'll find plenty of kid-friendly things to do in Chapel Hill. You can wander around the UNC campus or visit one of the museums affiliated with the school. This includes a planetarium that has regular shows and movies (The Morehead Planetarium and Science Center). There are also science exhibits geared specifically towards kids.

Durham offers lots of family activities. 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 Chapel Hill or Durham Better for Couples?

Chapel Hill
Durham

With fun activities for couples, both Chapel Hill and Durham make for a nice place to visit.

Chapel Hill is a good town for couples to visit. There's an eclectic mix of restaurants on Franklin Street. Couples will also enjoy exploring the campus at UNC, visiting the botanical garden, or checking out one of the town's museums.

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 Chapel Hill or Durham Better for Students?

Chapel Hill
Durham

Chapel Hill is an amazing town to visit for students. Also, Durham is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its student-friendly activities.

Students come from all over the world to visit Chapel Hill. It's a quintessential college town. UNC has a nice campus and Franklin Street is the main spot for restaurants and shopping. Most of the students live near or on campus, but once you head further out things get more suburban.

Durham is a great town to visit as a student. 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 Chapel Hill or Durham Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Chapel Hill
Durham

Chapel Hill is very good for its public transit. However, Durham is not a good city for times when you don't have a car.

Chapel Hill has a few public transit options. There are bus routes that operate between Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

Public transit is mostly limited in Durham. There are buses around town, but you really need a car to explore the area.

Is Chapel Hill or Durham a more walkable city?

Chapel Hill
Durham

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

Chapel Hill is a somewhat walkable town. The area around UNC is the most walkable part of town. Elsewhere things are very suburban and you'll need a car.

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

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

Should I spend more time in Durham or Chapel Hill?

How long in Chapel Hill or Durham?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Chapel Hill and Durham. In our opinion, Chapel Hill has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in Chapel Hill than Durham. However, 1-3 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Chapel Hill 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 Chapel Hill.


  • How many days in Chapel Hill or Durham? Ideal Length of Stay
    Chapel Hill 1-3 
    Durham 1-3

One day in Chapel Hill or Durham?

Many travelers enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the destination of Chapel Hill. One day is often enough time to do most activities.

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the student-filled city of Durham. One day should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.


A weekend in Chapel Hill or Durham?

Chapel Hill 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.

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the diverse destination of Durham. This city offers something for everyone. Plenty of people spend a weekend in the area when traveling. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

Five days in Chapel Hill or Durham?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Chapel Hill. 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.

The student-filled city of Durham offers shopping and museums. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

A week in Chapel Hill or Durham?

Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the southern destination of Chapel Hill. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Durham. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


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, Durham or Chapel Hill?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Chapel Hill is $164, 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 Chapel Hill and Durham in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Chapel Hill $95
    Durham $92
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Chapel Hill $190
    Durham $184
Compare Hotels in Chapel Hill and Durham

Looking for a hotel in Chapel Hill 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 Chapel Hill


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: Chapel Hill Hotel Prices and Durham Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Chapel Hill $34
    Durham $33

Is it cheaper to fly into Chapel Hill or Durham?

Prices for flights to both Durham and Chapel Hill 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
    Chapel Hill $49
    Durham $44

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Chapel Hill $17
    Durham $26

Tours and Activities in Chapel Hill

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

  • Chapel Hill, NC: Murder Mystery Detective Experience: $15
  • Downtown Greensboro Historic Walking Tour: $16
  • Chapel Hill Historic Churches Tour: $16
  • Carolina History & Haunts Greensboro Historical Ghost Tour: $20
  • Morning Aerial Adventure Adult Course from Riegelwood: $55
  • Coastal Excursion/Sunset Cruise/Sand Dollars/Sea Shells/Horses: $225

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 Historian-Guided Walking Tour: $16
  • Durham African American History Tour: $16
  • Durham NC: Art Walking Tour: $20

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Chapel Hill $40
    Durham $34

Sample the Local Flavors in Chapel Hill

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

  • Wacky Fayetteville Bar Crawl: By Let’s Roam: $12


When comparing the travel costs between Chapel Hill and Durham, we can see that Chapel Hill is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in North America, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

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


Which is Bigger, Chapel Hill or Durham?

Durham has a larger population, and is about 4 times larger than the population of Chapel Hill. When comparing the sizes of Chapel Hill 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 Chapel Hill 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 Chapel Hill or Durham in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Chapel Hill and Durham. The family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Chapel Hill this time of year. Furthermore, many travelers come to Durham for the family-friendly experiences.

Chapel Hill is around the same temperature as Durham in the summer. The daily temperature in Chapel Hill averages around 79°F (26°C) in July, and Durham fluctuates around 79°F (26°C).

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

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


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Chapel Hill 79°F (26°C) 
    Durham 79°F (26°C)

Should I visit Chapel Hill or Durham in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Chapel Hill as well as Durham. Many travelers come to Chapel Hill for the shopping scene. Additionally, many visitors come to Durham in the autumn for the shopping scene.

In the autumn, Chapel Hill is around the same temperature as Durham. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Chapel Hill in October average around 61°F (16°C), and Durham averages at about 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 Chapel Hill this time of the year. In the autumn, Chapel Hill often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Durham. Chapel Hill gets 211 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Durham receives 211 hours of full sun.

Chapel Hill usually gets around the same amount of rain in October as Durham. Chapel Hill gets 2.8 inches (71 mm) of rain, while Durham receives 2.8 inches (71 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Chapel Hill 61°F (16°C) 
    Durham 61°F (16°C)

Should I visit Chapel Hill or Durham in the Winter?

Both Durham and Chapel Hill are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. Many visitors come to Chapel Hill in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, most visitors come to Durham for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months.

Durham can be very cold during winter. Chapel Hill can get quite cold in the winter. In January, Chapel Hill is generally around the same temperature as Durham. Daily temperatures in Chapel Hill average around 40°F (5°C), and Durham fluctuates around 40°F (5°C).

Chapel Hill usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Durham during winter. Chapel Hill gets 162 hours of sunny skies, while Durham receives 162 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Chapel Hill usually receives around the same amount of rain as Durham. Chapel Hill gets 3.2 inches (82 mm) of rain, while Durham receives 3.2 inches (82 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Chapel Hill 40°F (5°C) 
    Durham 40°F (5°C)

Should I visit Chapel Hill or Durham in the Spring?

Both Durham and Chapel Hill during the spring are popular places to visit.

Chapel Hill is around the same temperature as Durham in the spring. The daily temperature in Chapel Hill averages around 60°F (16°C) in April, and Durham fluctuates around 60°F (16°C).

In Durham, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Chapel Hill. In the spring, Chapel Hill often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Durham. Chapel Hill gets 251 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Durham receives 251 hours of full sun.

Chapel Hill usually gets around the same amount of rain in April as Durham. Chapel Hill gets 3.1 inches (78 mm) of rain, while Durham receives 3.1 inches (78 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Chapel Hill 60°F (16°C) 
    Durham 60°F (16°C)

Typical Weather for Durham and Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill Durham
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 40°F (5°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 40°F (5°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Feb 43°F (6°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm) 43°F (6°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm)
Mar 52°F (11°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm) 52°F (11°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm)
Apr 60°F (16°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm) 60°F (16°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm)
May 68°F (20°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm) 68°F (20°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm)
Jun 76°F (24°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm) 76°F (24°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm)
Jul 79°F (26°C) 5.1 inches (129 mm) 79°F (26°C) 5.1 inches (129 mm)
Aug 78°F (26°C) 4.9 inches (125 mm) 78°F (26°C) 4.9 inches (125 mm)
Sep 73°F (23°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm) 73°F (23°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm)
Oct 61°F (16°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm) 61°F (16°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm)
Nov 53°F (11°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm) 53°F (11°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm)
Dec 44°F (7°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm) 44°F (7°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm)