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

Should you visit Chapel Hill or Raleigh?

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

Should I visit Chapel Hill or Raleigh? 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 shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Raleigh

Raleigh is a southern, student-friendly, and suburban-style city. Because this is such a big city, visitors will find many sights and attractions around town. Other popular activities here include museums, nightlife, and food.

Chapel Hill and Raleigh: Pros and Cons

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


Is there more to do in Chapel Hill or Raleigh?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Raleigh. Although Chapel Hill and Raleigh are popular destinations, Raleigh has more sights and attractions for tourists. Raleigh is very popular for its big city activities, while Chapel Hill attracts visitors for its museums, nightlife, and shopping. Chapel Hill is famous for being the home of the oldest public university in the United States. Raleigh is famous for its many museums and being the home to North Carolina State University. It is also well known for North Carolina State University.

How is Chapel Hill different from Raleigh?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Chapel Hill
Raleigh

Chapel Hill is well known for its museums and landmarks. Also, Raleigh 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.

Raleigh is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. As the state capital, there are a number of free museums in the area. There are also some kid-friendly options and other activities that are affiliated with the colleges and universities. Popular options include the NC Museum of Natural Sciences (free), the NC Museum of History (free), the NC Museum of Art (free), and Marbles Kids Museum.


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

Chapel Hill
Raleigh

Both Chapel Hill and Raleigh 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 Raleigh. In addition to the standard chain restaurants, you'll find a number of local eateries with great southern dishes. Try some southern classics like barbecue, pimento cheese, and fried chicken and waffles. There are also good international options including Nepalese, Laotian, and Ethiopian flavors.

Is Chapel Hill or Raleigh Better for Nightlife?

Chapel Hill
Raleigh

Chapel Hill is well known for its evening party scene. Also, Raleigh is still popular, but not quite as popular for nightlife.

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.

If you're looking for night time activities Raleigh has a few options to choose from. Head to downtown Raleigh or the areas around NC State University for some of the best nightlife. Trivia nights and happy hours are popular and you'll find breweries popping up in many places.

Is the Shopping Better in Chapel Hill or Raleigh?

Chapel Hill
Raleigh

Chapel Hill is a popular place for its shopping areas. However, Raleigh is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

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.

Raleigh is not a noteworthy shopping destination.


Is Chapel Hill or Raleigh Better for Families?

Chapel Hill
Raleigh

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

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.

Raleigh offers lots of family activities. For such a small city, Raleigh has a number of unique kid-friendly activities like the popular Pullen Park and Marbles Kids' Museum. Pullen Park has small rides and a playground that are perfect for young kids. There's also the NC Museum of Natural History which is free and fun to explore with kids.

Is Chapel Hill or Raleigh Better for Couples?

Chapel Hill
Raleigh

Chapel Hill is a popular place for couples. However, Raleigh is not particularly known for romance.

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.

Raleigh is not the best destination for a couple to visit. While it's often overlooked by couples who want a weekend away, there are a number of museums and some nice restaurants to explore.

Is Chapel Hill or Raleigh Better for Students?

Chapel Hill
Raleigh

Chapel Hill is very popular for students. Also, Raleigh is still popular, but not quite as popular for its student-friendly activities.

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.

Raleigh is very popular with students. The city has a diverse student population with many nearby universities and colleges.


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

Chapel Hill
Raleigh

Chapel Hill is a popular place for its public transit. However, Raleigh 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 Raleigh. The city's public transportation options are limited to a few bus lines that are mostly used by students.

Is Chapel Hill or Raleigh a more walkable city?

Chapel Hill
Raleigh

Chapel Hill is a popular place for its ease of walking around. However, Raleigh is not particularly known 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.

Raleigh is generally not a very walkable town. The city is somewhat walkable in the downtown area, but everywhere else you'll need a car.

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

Should I spend more time in Raleigh or Chapel Hill?

How long in Chapel Hill or Raleigh?

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

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

One day in Chapel Hill or Raleigh?

In Chapel Hill, you'll find nightlife and food. This town offers something for everyone. This would be the perfect place to spend one day, as it has just the right amount of activities.

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the southern city of Raleigh. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.


A weekend in Chapel Hill or Raleigh?

In Chapel Hill, 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 Chapel Hill has to offer.

Visitors enjoy the food and museums when visiting the student-friendly destination of Raleigh. 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 Raleigh?

Chapel Hill 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.

The southern city of Raleigh offers museums and nightlife. 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 Raleigh?

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

Many people enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting Raleigh. 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, Raleigh 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 Raleigh is $189. 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 Raleigh in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Chapel Hill $95
    Raleigh $104
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Chapel Hill $190
    Raleigh $208
Compare Hotels in Chapel Hill and Raleigh

Looking for a hotel in Chapel Hill or Raleigh? 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 Raleigh


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 Raleigh Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Chapel Hill $34
    Raleigh $37

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Raleigh

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Raleigh:

  • Durham to Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) - Departure Private Transfer: $62
  • Raleigh to Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) - Departure Private Transfer: $59
  • Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) to Durham - Arrival Private Transfer: $62
  • Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) to Durham - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $124
  • Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) to Raleigh - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $117
  • Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) to Raleigh Arrival Private Transfer: $59

Is it cheaper to fly into Chapel Hill or Raleigh?

Prices for flights to both Raleigh 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
    Raleigh $57

Typical Food Prices in Raleigh

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Raleigh:


  • The Pit Authentic BBQ (for 3)
    $84

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Raleigh

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

  • Private Cooking Class in Durham with an Expert Home Cook: $104

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Chapel Hill $17
    Raleigh $37

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

Tours and Activities in Raleigh

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

  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure Self-Guided City Game: $10
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Durham by Wacky Walks: $10
  • Murder Mystery Detective Experience Chapel Hill, NC: $15
  • Raleigh Historian-Guided Downtown Walking Tour: $16
  • Guided Walking Historian Tour in Downtown Durham: $16
  • Raleigh Downtown: Historic Walking Tours: $16
  • Raleigh Ghost and Urban Legend Tour: $16
  • Raleigh African American History Tour: $16
  • True Crime History Guided Walking Tour: $16
  • Ghosts and Ghouls Hauntings Walking Tour: $26
  • Raleigh Ghosts and Ghouls Hauntings Tour: $30
  • Raleigh Puzzling Adventure: $35

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Chapel Hill $40
    Raleigh $27

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 Raleigh, we can see that Raleigh 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 Raleigh Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Chapel Hill or Raleigh?

Raleigh has a larger population, and is about 6 times larger than the population of Chapel Hill. When comparing the sizes of Chapel Hill and Raleigh, 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 Raleigh?

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 Raleigh in the Summer?

Both Raleigh 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 city activities and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Raleigh this time of year.

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

It's quite sunny in Raleigh. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Raleigh during summer. Chapel Hill gets 259 hours of sunny skies, while Raleigh receives 259 hours of full sun in the summer.

It rains a lot this time of the year in Raleigh. It's quite rainy in Chapel Hill. In July, Chapel Hill usually receives around the same amount of rain as Raleigh. Chapel Hill gets 5.1 inches (129 mm) of rain, while Raleigh receives 5.1 inches (129 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


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

Should I visit Chapel Hill or Raleigh in the Autumn?

Both Raleigh 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 Raleigh for the city's sights and attractions.

In the autumn, Chapel Hill is around the same temperature as Raleigh. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Chapel Hill in October average around 61°F (16°C), and Raleigh averages at about 61°F (16°C).

In Raleigh, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Chapel Hill. In the autumn, Chapel Hill often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Raleigh. Chapel Hill gets 211 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Raleigh receives 211 hours of full sun.

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


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

Should I visit Chapel Hill or Raleigh in the Winter?

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

Raleigh can get quite cold in the winter. Be prepared for some very cold days in Chapel Hill. In January, Chapel Hill is generally around the same temperature as Raleigh. Daily temperatures in Chapel Hill average around 40°F (5°C), and Raleigh fluctuates around 40°F (5°C).

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

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


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

Should I visit Chapel Hill or Raleigh in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Chapel Hill as well as Raleigh. Also, most visitors come to Raleigh for the activities around the city during these months.

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

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Raleigh. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Chapel Hill this time of the year. In the spring, Chapel Hill often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Raleigh. Chapel Hill gets 251 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Raleigh receives 251 hours of full sun.

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


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

Typical Weather for Raleigh and Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill Raleigh
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)