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

Should you visit Chapel Hill or New Bern?

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

Should I visit Chapel Hill or New Bern? 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 collegiate, southern, and student-oriented town. It's also known for shopping, museums, and nightlife.

New Bern

New Bern is a charming, laid back, and quaint town. As this is a charming small town, visitors also come to explore the sights and local activities. Other popular activities here include museums, food, and shopping.

Chapel Hill and New Bern: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for students
  • Good public transit
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Small town charm
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Public transit not as usable


Is there more to do in Chapel Hill or New Bern?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Chapel Hill than New Bern, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Chapel Hill is better known for its museums and nightlife, while New Bern is more popular for its small town charm. New Bern is more touristy than Chapel Hill and is known for being the birthplace of Pepsi. Chapel Hill is well known for being the home of the oldest public university in the United States. Also, Chapel Hill is famous for the University of North Carolina.

How is Chapel Hill different from New Bern?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between New Bern 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 New Bern?

Chapel Hill
New Bern

Chapel Hill is well known for its museums and landmarks. Also, New Bern is still popular, but not quite as popular for its historical sights.

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.

New Bern offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. Many visitors check out the Tryon Palace while they're in town. Other museums include the New Bern Fireman's Museum, the Carolina Creations Fine Art & Contemporary Craft Gallery, and the New Bern Academy Museum.


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

Chapel Hill
New Bern

Both Chapel Hill and New Bern offer notable 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 New Bern. There are a number of local eateries, bistros, and cafes in town. You can sample southern favorites or something international. Popular dishes include fresh caught fish, crab cakes, and even tacos.

Is Chapel Hill or New Bern Better for Nightlife?

Chapel Hill
New Bern

Chapel Hill is well known for nightlife. However, New Bern is not particularly known for nightlife and partying.

Chapel Hill is a popular destination for visitors looking to party into the night. 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.

New Bern doesn't have the most active nightlife scene. There are a couple of pubs and breweries around town.

Is the Shopping Better in Chapel Hill or New Bern?

Chapel Hill
New Bern

Shopping is a popular activity in both New Bern 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 New Bern. There are local shops and boutiques that sell clothing, antiques, and gifts.


Is Chapel Hill or New Bern Better for Families?

Chapel Hill
New Bern

Chapel Hill is a popular place for its family-friendly activities. However, New Bern is not particularly known for its kid-friendly activities.

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.

For families, New Bern is not always the best place to visit. Stand up paddle boarding and other outdoor activities are a fun way to experience the area with kids. You could also visit the New Bern Fireman's Museum, the Tryon Palace, or one of the parks around town.

Is Chapel Hill or New Bern Better for Couples?

Chapel Hill
New Bern

With fun activities for couples, both Chapel Hill and New Bern make for a notable 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.

New Bern is a nice destination for couples. The town's charm and quaint parks make this a nice weekend getaway. There are outdoor activities and the Tryon Palace which is nice to visit. There are also local restaurants around town.

Is Chapel Hill or New Bern Better for Students?

Chapel Hill
New Bern

Chapel Hill is an unbeatable place for students. However, New Bern is not popular with students.

Many students frequent 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.

New Bern is not popular with students.


Is Chapel Hill or New Bern Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Chapel Hill
New Bern

Chapel Hill is a popular place for its public transit. However, New Bern is not particularly known for times when you don't have a car.

You'll find some public transit in Chapel Hill, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There are bus routes that operate between Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

Public transit is quite limited in New Bern. There's no real public transit in the area.

Is Chapel Hill or New Bern a more walkable city?

Chapel Hill
New Bern

Chapel Hill and New Bern both are notable when exploring on foot.

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.

New Bern is somewhat walkable. The downtown area is walkable and nice to explore on foot.

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

Should I spend more time in New Bern or Chapel Hill?

How long in Chapel Hill or New Bern?

You'll be able to find lots of things to do in Chapel Hill or New Bern to fill your time. Many travelers usually spend more of their time in Chapel Hill than New Bern because of the number of activities and things to do in the area. Usually, 1-3 days is a good amount of time for Chapel Hill, and 1-2 days is enough time in New Bern.

Families should spend more time in Chapel Hill than New Bern. 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 New Bern. 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 New Bern 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 New Bern? Ideal Length of Stay
    Chapel Hill 1-3 
    New Bern 1-2

One day in Chapel Hill or New Bern?

The town of Chapel Hill offers food and shopping. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one day here. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

New Bern is a small town with plenty to do. One day should give you a good understanding of everything this town has to offer. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.


A weekend in Chapel Hill or New Bern?

Chapel Hill is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this town makes for a great vacation. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Chapel Hill, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

New Bern might be a small town, but there's plenty to do in the area. This town 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 New Bern?

Chapel Hill 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.

Because New Bern is a small town, it's easy to explore in a short amount of time. 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 New Bern?

Chapel Hill is a great place to explore. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This town offers something for everyone.

Since New Bern is a small town, it's easily explored when your time is limited. 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, New Bern 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 New Bern is $140. 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 New Bern in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Chapel Hill $95
    New Bern $76
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Chapel Hill $190
    New Bern $152
Compare Hotels in Chapel Hill and New Bern

Looking for a hotel in Chapel Hill or New Bern? 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 New Bern


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 New Bern Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Chapel Hill $34
    New Bern $34

Is it cheaper to fly into Chapel Hill or New Bern?

Prices for flights to both New Bern 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
    New Bern $41

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Chapel Hill $17
    New Bern $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
  • Chapel Hill Historic Churches Tour: $16
  • Morning Aerial Adventure Adult Course from Riegelwood: $55
  • Coastal Excursion/Sunset Cruise/Sand Dollars/Sea Shells/Horses: $225
  • 8 Hours Private Crystal Coast Sightseeing in North Carolina: $275

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Chapel Hill $40
    New Bern $30

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

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 New Bern Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Chapel Hill or New Bern?

Chapel Hill has a larger population, and is about 2 times larger than the population of New Bern. When comparing the sizes of Chapel Hill and New Bern, 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 New Bern?

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 New Bern in the Summer?

Both New Bern and Chapel Hill are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. The summer months attract visitors to Chapel Hill because of the family-friendly experiences. Also, the small town charm and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to New Bern this time of year.

In the summer, Chapel Hill is around the same temperature as New Bern. Typically, the summer temperatures in Chapel Hill in July average around 79°F (26°C), and New Bern averages at about 80°F (27°C).

It rains a lot this time of the year in New Bern. It's quite rainy in Chapel Hill. In July, Chapel Hill usually receives less rain than New Bern. Chapel Hill gets 5.1 inches (129 mm) of rain, while New Bern receives 6.6 inches (169 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Chapel Hill 79°F (26°C) 
    New Bern 80°F (27°C)

Should I visit Chapel Hill or New Bern in the Autumn?

Both New Bern and Chapel Hill during the autumn are popular places to visit. The shopping scene are the main draw to Chapel Hill this time of year. Also, many travelers come to New Bern for the shopping scene and the small town atmosphere.

In October, Chapel Hill is generally cooler than New Bern. Daily temperatures in Chapel Hill average around 61°F (16°C), and New Bern fluctuates around 65°F (18°C).

Chapel Hill usually gets less rain in October than New Bern. Chapel Hill gets 2.8 inches (71 mm) of rain, while New Bern receives 3.4 inches (85 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Chapel Hill 61°F (16°C) 
    New Bern 65°F (18°C)

Should I visit Chapel Hill or New Bern in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Chapel Hill and New Bern. Many travelers come to Chapel Hill for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, many visitors come to New Bern in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Be prepared for some very cold days in Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill is cooler than New Bern in the winter. The daily temperature in Chapel Hill averages around 40°F (5°C) in January, and New Bern fluctuates around 44°F (7°C).

New Bern receives a lot of rain in the winter. In January, Chapel Hill usually receives less rain than New Bern. Chapel Hill gets 3.2 inches (82 mm) of rain, while New Bern receives 4.1 inches (105 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Chapel Hill 40°F (5°C) 
    New Bern 44°F (7°C)

Should I visit Chapel Hill or New Bern in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Chapel Hill as well as New Bern. Also, most visitors come to New Bern for the small town charm during these months.

In the spring, Chapel Hill is around the same temperature as New Bern. Typically, the spring temperatures in Chapel Hill in April average around 60°F (16°C), and New Bern averages at about 62°F (16°C).

Chapel Hill usually gets around the same amount of rain in April as New Bern. Chapel Hill gets 3.1 inches (78 mm) of rain, while New Bern receives 2.9 inches (74 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Chapel Hill 60°F (16°C) 
    New Bern 62°F (16°C)

Typical Weather for New Bern and Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill New Bern
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 40°F (5°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 44°F (7°C) 4.1 inches (105 mm)
Feb 43°F (6°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm) 46°F (8°C) 3.8 inches (97 mm)
Mar 52°F (11°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm) 54°F (12°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm)
Apr 60°F (16°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm) 62°F (16°C) 2.9 inches (74 mm)
May 68°F (20°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm) 69°F (21°C) 5.1 inches (129 mm)
Jun 76°F (24°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm) 76°F (25°C) 5 inches (126 mm)
Jul 79°F (26°C) 5.1 inches (129 mm) 80°F (27°C) 6.6 inches (169 mm)
Aug 78°F (26°C) 4.9 inches (125 mm) 79°F (26°C) 7.6 inches (192 mm)
Sep 73°F (23°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm) 75°F (24°C) 5.1 inches (129 mm)
Oct 61°F (16°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm) 65°F (18°C) 3.4 inches (85 mm)
Nov 53°F (11°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm) 56°F (13°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Dec 44°F (7°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm) 48°F (9°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm)