A Travel Price Comparison for South Carolina Charleston vs. Columbia for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Charleston or Columbia?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Charleston or Columbia, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Where Should I go: Charleston or Columbia?

Charleston

Charleston is a beautiful, southern city and seaport town in South Carolina. It has a wonderful, historic downtown area that the city government works hard to maintain. Located on a peninsula that is created by two rivers, the city is a stunning setting with much character. It is a popular place to visit for its culture, architecture and cuisine. In recent years Charleston has gained popularity and it continues to grow as both a regional and international travel destination. With its rising popularity comes increasing costs. Travel costs continue to go up as restaurants and hotels raise their prices, particularly during the peak travel season and holiday periods.

Columbia

Both the largest and capital city of South Carolina, Columbia is literally the center of everything. Geographically it is located in the middle of the state, and it is the home to the University of South Carolina, the Army's Fort Jackson, as well as a variety of museums that celebrate the city's art, history, and culture.

Which city is cheaper, Columbia or Charleston?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Charleston is $136, while the average daily cost in Columbia is $0.00. 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 Charleston and Columbia in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Charleston $72
    Columbia -
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Charleston $144
    Columbia $0.00
Compare Hotels in Charleston and Columbia

Looking for a hotel in Charleston or Columbia? 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 Charleston


Hotels in Columbia


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Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Charleston Hotel Prices and Columbia Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Charleston $26
    Columbia -

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Charleston

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Charleston:

  • Private Departure Transfer to Charleston Airport (CHS): $52
  • Charleston city to Charleston Airport (CHS) - Departure Private Transfer: $124
  • Private transfer: Charleston to Charleston Airport (CHS): $622

Is it cheaper to fly into Charleston or Columbia?

Prices for flights to both Columbia and Charleston 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
    Charleston $46
    Columbia $4.02
Typical Food prices in Charleston

Some typical examples of dining costs in Charleston are as follows:


  • Lunch in downtown Charleston for two
    $21
  • Breakfast
    $26

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Charleston

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

  • Downtown Charleston Culinary Walking Food Tour: $73
  • Savor the Flavors of Charleston Walking Food Tour: $75
  • Charleston's Savor the Flavors of Upper King Street Walking Food Tour: $75
  • Charleston Chef's Kitchen Guided Walking Food Tour: $75
  • Charleston Harbor: Luxury Dinner Cruise: $77
  • Savor the Flavors Upper King Street Food Tour: $95
  • Private Tour: Secret Food Tours Charleston: $129
  • Undiscovered 1/2 Day Food, Wine & History Tour with Cooking Class: $154
  • 3-Hour Secret Food Tour in Charleston w/ Private Tour Option: $277

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Charleston $17
    Columbia -
Typical Entertainment prices in Charleston

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Charleston are as follows:


  • Patriots Point (for 2)
    $60

Tours and Activities in Charleston

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Charleston are as follows:

  • Charleston's Haunted Ghost Tour - Smart Phone Guided Tour: $5.00
  • Charleston Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $16
  • Charleston's Pleasing Terrors Night-Time Walking Ghost Tour: $21
  • Downtown Charleston Walking Tour with Certified Local Guide: $21
  • Historic Charleston Guided Sightseeing Walking Tour: $21
  • Highlights of Charleston Guided Walking Tour: $22
  • Charleston French Quarter Historic Guided Walking Tour: $22
  • Drayton Hall Plantation Admission Ticket in Charleston: $22
  • Small-Group Tour: Charleston Old Walled City Historical Walking Tour: $23
  • Charleston Terrors Walking Ghost Tour: $23
  • Charleston Ghosts of Liberty Guided Walking Tour: $25
  • 90-Minute Historic Walking Tour of Charleston: $25

Tours and Activities in Columbia

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Columbia are as follows:

  • Savannah: History & Ghosts Guided Tour with Beverage Stops: $20
  • Cascade Locks: 1-Hour Columbia River Sightseeing Cruise: $50
  • Portland: Columbia River Gorge 3-Hour Small Group Tour: $85
  • Cascade Locks: Columbia Gorge Sunday Brunch Cruise: $94
  • Portland: Columbia Gorge Flight Tour: $99
  • Portland: Multnomah Falls Scenic Air Tour: $199

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Charleston $28
    Columbia $70

Sample the Local Flavors in Charleston

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

  • Charleston Bar Hunt: Charleston Chase Bar Crawl: $12
  • Ghost Walking Tour and Pub Crawl in Haunted Charleston: $27
  • Haunted Pub Crawl of the Market: $37

Sample the Local Flavors in Columbia

Also in Columbia, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Savannah: Pub Crawl and Ghost Tour: $30


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


When is the best time to visit Charleston or Columbia?

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 Charleston or Columbia in the Summer?

Both Columbia and Charleston are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. Many visitors come to Charleston in the summer for the beaches, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences.

In July, Charleston is generally around the same temperature as Columbia. Temperatures in Charleston average around 82°F (28°C), and Columbia stays around 82°F (28°C).

It's quite sunny in Columbia. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Charleston. Charleston usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Columbia during summer. Charleston gets 293 hours of sunny skies, while Columbia receives 293 hours of full sun in the summer.

It rains a lot this time of the year in Columbia. It's quite rainy in Charleston. In July, Charleston usually receives more rain than Columbia. Charleston gets 6.9 inches (176 mm) of rain, while Columbia receives 4.6 inches (116 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Charleston 82°F (28°C) 
    Columbia 82°F (28°C)

Should I visit Charleston or Columbia in the Autumn?

Both Columbia and Charleston during the autumn are popular places to visit. Most visitors come to Charleston for the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area during these months.

Charleston is around the same temperature as Columbia in the autumn. The temperature in Charleston is usually 67°F (19°C) in October, and Columbia stays around 64°F (18°C).

In Columbia, it's very sunny this time of the year. In the autumn, Charleston often gets less sunshine than Columbia. Charleston gets 197 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Columbia receives 230 hours of full sun.

Charleston usually gets around the same amount of rain in October as Columbia. Charleston gets 2.9 inches (74 mm) of rain, while Columbia receives 3 inches (75 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Charleston 67°F (19°C) 
    Columbia 64°F (18°C)

Should I visit Charleston or Columbia in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Charleston and Columbia. The winter months attract visitors to Charleston because of the museums, the Christmas ambience, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

In the winter, Charleston is a little warmer than Columbia. Typically, the winter temperatures in Charleston in January are around 47°F (9°C), and Columbia is about 45°F (7°C).

Charleston usually receives more sunshine than Columbia during winter. Charleston gets 188 hours of sunny skies, while Columbia receives 171 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Charleston usually receives less rain than Columbia. Charleston gets 3.3 inches (85 mm) of rain, while Columbia receives 3.7 inches (93 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Charleston 47°F (9°C) 
    Columbia 45°F (7°C)

Should I visit Charleston or Columbia in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Charleston as well as Columbia. The beaches and the natural beauty are the main draw to Charleston this time of year.

In April, Charleston is generally around the same temperature as Columbia. Temperatures in Charleston average around 64°F (18°C), and Columbia stays around 64°F (18°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Columbia. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Charleston this time of the year. In the spring, Charleston often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Columbia. Charleston gets 275 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Columbia receives 273 hours of full sun.

Charleston usually gets around the same amount of rain in April as Columbia. Charleston gets 2.7 inches (69 mm) of rain, while Columbia receives 2.8 inches (72 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Charleston 64°F (18°C) 
    Columbia 64°F (18°C)

Typical Weather for Columbia and Charleston

Charleston Columbia
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 47°F (9°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm) 45°F (7°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm)
Feb 50°F (10°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm) 48°F (9°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm)
Mar 58°F (14°C) 4.3 inches (110 mm) 56°F (13°C) 3.7 inches (95 mm)
Apr 64°F (18°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 64°F (18°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm)
May 72°F (22°C) 4.2 inches (106 mm) 72°F (22°C) 3 inches (77 mm)
Jun 78°F (26°C) 6.4 inches (163 mm) 78°F (26°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm)
Jul 82°F (28°C) 6.9 inches (176 mm) 82°F (28°C) 4.6 inches (116 mm)
Aug 81°F (27°C) 7.1 inches (181 mm) 81°F (27°C) 5.8 inches (147 mm)
Sep 76°F (25°C) 4.8 inches (121 mm) 75°F (24°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm)
Oct 67°F (19°C) 2.9 inches (74 mm) 64°F (18°C) 3 inches (75 mm)
Nov 58°F (15°C) 2.5 inches (63 mm) 56°F (13°C) 2.1 inches (54 mm)
Dec 51°F (10°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm) 48°F (9°C) 2.6 inches (67 mm)


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Charleston vs. Columbia Travel Comparison

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