A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Charleston vs. San Francisco for Attractions, Food, Couples, and Beaches

Should you visit Charleston or San Francisco?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Charleston or San Francisco, 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.

Charleston

Charleston is a picturesque, charming, and southern coastal town. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. As it offers a special and quaint atmosphere, visitors come from all over to experience this destination. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and live music.

San Francisco

San Francisco is a one-of-a-kind, scenic, and beautiful coastal city. Visitors will also find so much to do here because it's a large city with many sights and attractions. You'll find world class beauty here as well. Other popular activities here include hiking, shopping, and museums.

Charleston and San Francisco: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Good music scene
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Impressive beauty
  • Quaint atmosphere
Cons
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good music scene
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Big city activities
  • Impressive beauty


How is Charleston different from San Francisco?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Charleston or San Francisco Better for Museums and Historical Sights?

Charleston
San Francisco

Head to San Francisco if you're looking for good museums or notable landmarks, as it has more to offer than Charleston.

You'll find many recognizable landmarks that put San Francisco on the map. The city's landmarks are as diverse as the people who live there. The most recognizable landmark is the famous Golden Gate Bridge, but visitors also enjoy seeing Alcatraz Island, the Legion of Honor, the Palace of Fine Arts, as well as the small but fascinating Cable Car Museum.

Charleston is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. This city is famous for its many historic churches and plantations. You can also visit Fort Sumter National Monument by boat or take a tour of the USS Yorktown.


Is Charleston or San Francisco Better for Food?

Charleston
San Francisco

Picking the best cuisine and restaurants between Charleston and San Francisco can be difficult as they are each unique in their own way.

Known for it's food and restaurant scene, Charleston is always at the top of any foodie's travel list. Food lovers will enjoy the city's low country classics. Local favorites include she crab soup, shrimp and grits, cornbread, and fried green tomatoes.

Many restaurants in San Francisco have been singled out for their culinary prowess. There are local dives as well as five star restaurants, with everything in between. Popular local dining experiences include sourdough bread bowls and Dungeness Crab at Fisherman's Wharf, and dim sum in Chinatown.

Is Charleston or San Francisco Better for Nightlife?

Charleston
San Francisco

Evening events are similar in both Charleston and San Francisco.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Charleston. As a college town, there are plenty of bars and nightclubs around town. There's also a lively music scene.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in San Francisco. Popular clubs in the city include Temple San Francisco, Monarch, and Audio Nightclub.

Is Charleston or San Francisco Better for Music?

Charleston
San Francisco

Both Charleston and San Francisco offer a variety of live music venues.

The music scene helps keep Charleston active and fun. You can hear a number of local bands or enjoy a more widely known group at larger venues in the area.

You'll find some good live music in San Francisco. Well known music venues include the Great American Music Hall, Slim's, and The Chapel.

Is Charleston or San Francisco Better for Beaches?

Charleston
San Francisco

Both Charleston and San Francisco have beaches worth visiting.

You'll have a great beach vacation in Charleston. The area has a number of beautiful and fun nearby beaches including Folly Beach, Kiawah Island, and Seabrook Island.

The beaches at San Francisco attract visitors from all over. Whether you're interested in surfing or simply taking in the dramatic views, the beaches of San Francisco will take your breath away.


Is Charleston or San Francisco Better for Shopping?

Charleston
San Francisco

Both Charleston and San Francisco are good shopping destinations.

Charleston is a world class destination for shoppers. The city is famous for its historic market in the center of town. Local goods, foods, and crafts are sold daily here. There are also many clothing and local shops throughout town.

People travel from around the world to go shopping in San Francisco. The city has excellent shopping from local vendors to recognizable brands. Union Square, Embarcadero, Fillmore Street and Haight Street are some of the best neighborhoods for shopping.

Is Charleston or San Francisco Better for Families?

Charleston
San Francisco

Charleston and San Francisco are both fun destinations for the whole family.

Charleston is a family-friendly place to visit. The area has a number of family friendly activities like carriage rides and boat rides. The nearby beaches also make it a wonderful place to visit with kids.

San Francisco is a very family-friendly destination. With its many outdoor parks, hiking trails, beaches, and kid-friendly museums, this city makes a great family-friendly destination.

Is Charleston or San Francisco Better for Couples?

Charleston
San Francisco

Charleston and San Francisco are both fun to visit as a couple.

Charleston has so much to offer for a romantic couple's vacation. This beautiful city is one of the most popular wedding destinations in America. It's a very romantic setting with beautiful hotels and bed and breakfasts that are perfect for couples on their honeymoon or looking for a romantic setting.

San Francisco makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Couples enjoy the romantic backdrop of this beautiful city. There are world-class restaurants and plenty of spas that couples can enjoy during a honeymoon or romantic getaway.

Is Charleston or San Francisco Better for Students?

Charleston
San Francisco

Charleston and San Francisco are both good destinations for students and younger travelers.

Charleston is a good coastal town to visit for students. The city is a college town with a young vibe that is perfect for students.

Students come from all over to stay in San Francisco. As a large and dynamic city, the area is popular with international students who want to experience this unique side of the United States. Major universities in the area include University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, and nearby, the University of California, Berkeley.


Is Charleston or San Francisco a more walkable city?

Charleston
San Francisco

Charleston and San Francisco both are comparable when exploring on foot.

Charleston is a very walkable destination. The downtown area is very walkable, but once you leave the historic heart, it's best to have a car.

San Francisco is very walkable. It is compact enough to explore on foot, but given the large hills, it's a bit of a challenge, even for the most fit among us.

Should I spend more time in San Francisco or Charleston?

How long in Charleston or San Francisco?

Both Charleston and San Francisco have a number of activities to choose from. You can spend a similar amount of time exploring either.

The ideal length of time for a trip to Charleston is 2-7 days, and the ideal length of time for a trip to San Francisco is 3-7 days.


  • How many days in Charleston or San Francisco? Ideal Length of Stay
    Charleston 2-7 
    San Francisco 3-7

One day in Charleston or San Francisco?

Many travelers enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the historic destination of Charleston. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. Your budget might influence how long you stay. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.

When visiting San Francisco, people usually allow for lots of time. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

A weekend in Charleston or San Francisco?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Charleston. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. For many, it makes a great getaway for a weekend. A weekend is usually enough time to experience most activities.

When visiting San Francisco, people usually allow for lots of time. It's also a great beach destination, too. It offers something for everyone. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything.

Five days in Charleston or San Francisco?

Many travelers enjoy the live music and food when visiting the picturesque destination of Charleston. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. This coastal town offers a variety of activities to choose from. If you have five days, this is a great place to go. Five days is usually enough time to experience most activities.

San Francisco, a popular coastal city, is full of activities for travelers. This is a popular place to visit for five days. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. In five days, you should have a good grasp of this coastal city. Your budget might influence how long you stay.


A week in Charleston or San Francisco?

Many travelers enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the beautiful coastal town of Charleston. People usually spend lots of time at the beach. Plenty of people spend one week in the area when traveling.So, one week is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

San Francisco is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have one week, this coastal city makes for a great vacation. One week should give you a good understanding of everything this coastal city has to offer. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Which city is cheaper, San Francisco 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 San Francisco is $175. 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 San Francisco in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Charleston $72
    San Francisco $106
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Charleston $144
    San Francisco $212
Compare Hotels in Charleston and San Francisco

Looking for a hotel in Charleston or San Francisco? 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 San Francisco


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: Charleston Hotel Prices and San Francisco Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Charleston $26
    San Francisco $13

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Charleston

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Charleston:

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

Typical Local Transportation prices in San Francisco

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in San Francisco:


  • Taxi to SFO
    $45
  • Golden Gate Bridge Toll
    $6.00
  • Alcatraz Tour
    $30

Hired Cars and Shuttles in San Francisco

Also for San Francisco, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Arrival Transfer from San Francisco Airport SFO: $40
  • Private Departure Transfer to San Francisco Airport SFO: $40
  • Private Airport Transfer: from San Francisco to San Francisco Int. Airport (SFO): $43
  • Private Departure Transfer from San Francisco to SFO San Francisco Airport: $57
  • Cruise Terminal to San Francisco Airport (SFO) - Departure Private Transfer: $60
  • San Francisco Airport (SFO) to Cruise Terminal - Arrival Private Transfer: $60
  • San Francisco Departure Chauffeur Driven Airport Transfer: $65
  • San Francisco Departure Chauffeur Driven Airport Transfer by Executive Sedan: $65
  • Private transfer from San Francisco to SFO Airport for up to 4 passengers: $73
  • Private SFO Departure Transfer from San Francisco: $74
  • San Francisco Departure Chauffeur Driven Airport Transfer by Executive SUV: $75
  • Private transfer from San Francisco Airport (SFO) to San Francisco City for up to 4 passengers: $80

Is it cheaper to fly into Charleston or San Francisco?

Prices for flights to both San Francisco 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
    San Francisco $32
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

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in San Francisco

For San Francisco, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • San Francisco Virtual Food Tour with Local Guide: $15
  • Traveling Spoon Pad Thai and Papaya Salad Private Online Cooking Class: $25
  • Chinatown Walking Food Tour: $75
  • Cooking with Ale: let's make Tiramisu - private groups: $80
  • San Francisco Food Tour: Ferry Building and Ferry Plaza Farmers Market: $80
  • American Cooking Class in San Francisco with a Local near Golden Gate Park: $82
  • San Francisco Chinatown Food Tour: $89
  • Russian Hill Gourmet Food Tour: $97
  • I Can't Believe I Ate My Way Through Chinatown - Food Tour: $98
  • Mamaz Social Food Arepa Class and Dinner: $100
  • Private Tour: Secret Food Tours San Francisco: $103
  • Hayes Valley Gourmet Food Tour: $108

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Charleston $17
    San Francisco $37
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:

  • 2-Hour Guided Kayaking Eco Tour in Charleston: $48
  • 2-Hour Paddle Board Eco Tour of Charleston Lowcountry: $48
  • 90-Minute Historic Walking Tour of Charleston: $25
  • Amazing Ladies of Charleston Walking Tour: $35
  • Best of Historic Charleston Walking Tour: $35
  • Boone Hall Plantation Admission & Tour with Transportation from Charleston: $61
  • Bruce Knows Insider Walking Tour of Downtown: $26
  • Car Service: Airport to / from Cruise Port: $130
  • Charleston Attraction & Tour Pass for 1, 2, or 3 Days: $73
  • Charleston Boo Hag & Brews Walking Ghost and Bar Tour: $29
  • Charleston Chicora Walking Tour: $26
  • Charleston City Bus Tour with Charleston Museum Admission: $32

Tours and Activities in San Francisco

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for San Francisco.

  • San Francisco Private Tour: 19th Century Gold Rush Exploration Game: $4.96
  • Syn City SF: The Synesthesia Walking Audio Tour of Haight-Ashbury by VoiceMap: $5.34
  • San Francisco's Barbary Past Walking Audio Tour: $5.34
  • Food, History, and Resistance: A Self-Guided Audio Tour of San Francisco's Japantown: $5.34
  • Union Square to Lotta's Fountain Walking Tour by VoiceMap: $5.40
  • Walk the Haight Audio Tour: Tune into San Francisco‚Äôs Hippie Counterculture: $5.99
  • San Francisco Private Tour: 70s Hippie Culture Exploration Game: $6.21
  • The Remarkable History of San Francisco's Glen Park and Glen Canyon Audio Tour: $7.55
  • Ultimate San Francisco Self-Driving Audio Tour: $8.00
  • Bike Tour of Tucson: $10
  • The Flyer San Francisco Admission Ticket: $12
  • San Francisco Scavenger Hunt: SF Park Tour and Haight-Ashbury Experience: $12

For more ideas for your next trip, check out The Best Museums in San Francisco, The Best Outdoor Activities in San Francisco, and Things to Do In San Francisco on a Rainy Day.


Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Charleston $28
    San Francisco $15

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 San Francisco

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

  • San Francisco Bar Hunt: Soul of San Francisco Bar Crawl: $12
  • San Francisco North Beach Pub Crawl: $60
  • Wine Tasting on the Bay: $70
  • Half-Day Sonoma Wine Tour: $100
  • Shore Excursion: Napa and Sonoma Ultimate Wine Tasting Experience Full-Day Tour: $135
  • San Francisco City & Wine tour: $140
  • Chariot wine tour: $145
  • From Full-Day Sonoma Valley Wine Tour: $149
  • Viticulture with Charm: Sonoma Valley Wine Tour from San Francisco: $149
  • Small Group Redwoods and Wine Country Trip Including Wine Tasting and Cave Tour: $152
  • Small Group Muir Woods with Napa & Sonoma Wine Tour: $169
  • The Perfect Blend: Napa and Sonoma Combo Wine Tour from San Francisco: $169


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


When is the best time to visit Charleston or San Francisco?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Charleston or San Francisco in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Charleston as well as San Francisco. The summer months attract visitors to Charleston because of the beaches, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences. Also, the beaches, the hiking, the city activities, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to San Francisco this time of year.

Charleston is much warmer than San Francisco in the summer. The temperature in Charleston is usually 82°F (28°C) in July, and San Francisco stays around 63°F (17°C).

Charleston receives a lot of rain in the summer. Charleston usually gets more rain in July than San Francisco. Charleston gets 6.9 inches (176 mm) of rain, while San Francisco receives 0.1 inches (2 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Charleston 82°F (28°C) 
    San Francisco 63°F (17°C)

Should I visit Charleston or San Francisco in the Autumn?

Both San Francisco and Charleston are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. The shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area are the main draw to Charleston this time of year. Also, many travelers come to San Francisco for the hiking trails, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

In the autumn, Charleston is around the same temperature as San Francisco. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Charleston in October are around 67°F (19°C), and San Francisco is about 63°F (17°C).

In October, Charleston usually receives more rain than San Francisco. Charleston gets 2.9 inches (74 mm) of rain, while San Francisco receives 1.3 inches (33 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Charleston 67°F (19°C) 
    San Francisco 63°F (17°C)

Should I visit Charleston or San Francisco in the Winter?

Both San Francisco and Charleston during the winter are popular places to visit. Many travelers come to Charleston for the museums, the Christmas ambience, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Furthermore, many visitors come to San Francisco in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, the theater shows, and the cuisine.

In January, Charleston is generally cooler than San Francisco. Temperatures in Charleston average around 47°F (9°C), and San Francisco stays around 50°F (10°C).

Charleston usually gets less rain in January than San Francisco. Charleston gets 3.3 inches (85 mm) of rain, while San Francisco receives 3.8 inches (96 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Charleston 47°F (9°C) 
    San Francisco 50°F (10°C)

Should I visit Charleston or San Francisco in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Charleston and San Francisco. Many visitors come to Charleston in the spring for the beaches and the natural beauty. Furthermore, most visitors come to San Francisco for the beaches, the activities around the city, and the natural beauty during these months.

Charleston is a little warmer than San Francisco in the spring. The temperature in Charleston is usually 64°F (18°C) in April, and San Francisco stays around 58°F (14°C).

In April, Charleston usually receives more rain than San Francisco. Charleston gets 2.7 inches (69 mm) of rain, while San Francisco receives 1.2 inches (31 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Charleston 64°F (18°C) 
    San Francisco 58°F (14°C)

Typical Weather for San Francisco and Charleston

Charleston San Francisco
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 47°F (9°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm) 50°F (10°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm)
Feb 50°F (10°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm) 54°F (12°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
Mar 58°F (14°C) 4.3 inches (110 mm) 56°F (13°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
Apr 64°F (18°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 58°F (14°C) 1.2 inches (31 mm)
May 72°F (22°C) 4.2 inches (106 mm) 60°F (15°C) 0.2 inches (5 mm)
Jun 78°F (26°C) 6.4 inches (163 mm) 62°F (17°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm)
Jul 82°F (28°C) 6.9 inches (176 mm) 63°F (17°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm)
Aug 81°F (27°C) 7.1 inches (181 mm) 64°F (18°C) 0.1 inches (1 mm)
Sep 76°F (25°C) 4.8 inches (121 mm) 66°F (19°C) 0.3 inches (7 mm)
Oct 67°F (19°C) 2.9 inches (74 mm) 63°F (17°C) 1.3 inches (33 mm)
Nov 58°F (15°C) 2.5 inches (63 mm) 57°F (14°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm)
Dec 51°F (10°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm) 51°F (11°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm)


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Charleston vs. San Francisco Travel Comparison

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