A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Charleston vs. Santa Fe for Food, Old Town, Couples, and Attractions

Should you visit Charleston or Santa Fe?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Charleston or Santa Fe, 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.

Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a artsy, cultural, and historic historic town. It offers plenty of beauty for visitors. As this is a very quaint destination, you'll find it has a special atmosphere. Other popular activities here include food, hiking, and shopping.

Charleston and Santa Fe: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Nice resorts
  • Popular beach
  • Popular at Christmas
  • Known for Christmas markets
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Impressive beauty
  • Quaint atmosphere
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good music scene
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Charleston or Santa Fe?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Charleston than Santa Fe. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. Charleston is very popular for its food, nightlife, resorts, beaches, historical sights, shopping, christmas markets, impressive beauty, and quaint atmosphere, while Santa Fe attracts visitors for its skiing and hiking. Charleston is more touristy than Santa Fe and is popular for its historic city market, low-country cuisine, Civil War history, and antebellum houses. It is also well known for The Waterfront Park. Santa Fe is famous for its strong arts scene, its Pueblo-style architecture, and its unique local cuisine.

How is Charleston different from Santa Fe?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Charleston or Santa Fe Better for Skiing?

Charleston
Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a nice place to visit for snow skiing. However, Charleston is not a skiing destination.

Head to Santa Fe for some great skiing and other winter activities. There are a few good ski resorts not far from Santa Fe. Popular options include Taos Ski Valley, Ski Santa Fe, Pajarito Mountain Ski Area, and Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort.

Charleston is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Charleston or Santa Fe?

Charleston
Santa Fe

For an educational experience, head to a museum or a notable sight in either Charleston or Santa Fe.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Charleston. This city is famous for its many historic churches and plantations. The plantations are open to visit and will educate you on the city's past, which is heavily involved in slavery. You can also visit Fort Sumter National Monument by boat or take a tour of the USS Yorktown.

Santa Fe is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. Head to the Museum of New Mexico Complex, which has four museums that give a great overview of the history of the area. Also make sure you visit the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.

Is the Food Better in Charleston or Santa Fe? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Charleston
Santa Fe

Charleston is an unbeatable place for its local flavors and cuisine. Also, Santa Fe is not as popular, but is still a nice historic town for its local cuisine and restaurants.

Charleston has long been recognized as a culinary destination with great restaurants. Food lovers will enjoy the city's low country classics. There are many local restaurants in town that serve southern specialties. You can also head a bit out of the town center if you want a waterfront restaurant. Local favorites include she-crab soup, shrimp and grits, cornbread, and fried green tomatoes.

With its innovative style combined with traditional elements, Santa Fe makes for a great culinary experience. There are many local restaurants that use regional ingredients and offer great flavors. There are also cafes and bistros where you can enjoy breakfast or brunch. Local dishes include sopaipillas made with Native American fry bread, slow-cooked beans, and anything made with red and green chili peppers.

Is Charleston or Santa Fe Better for Nightlife?

Charleston
Santa Fe

Charleston is very good for its evening party scene. However, Santa Fe is not known for nightlife.

If you're looking for night time activities Charleston has a few options to choose from. As a college town, there are plenty of bars and nightclubs around town. There's also a lively music scene. Head to the areas near the college for the most affordable and active nightlife. Popular clubs in town include Cure Night Club, Deco Nightclub, and Mynt.

Most people don't head to Santa Fe specifically for the nightlife scene, but you can find a few options. While most of the town quiets down at night, the city has a few areas that stay active late into the night. Live music is popular and diverse. It often includes different genres such as the blues, country, salsa or bluegrass.


Is Charleston or Santa Fe Better for Music?

Charleston
Santa Fe

Both Charleston and Santa Fe offer nice 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 Santa Fe. The town has an eclectic music scene that includes a mix of the blues, country, Latin American music, and bluegrass.

Is Charleston or Santa Fe Better for Resorts?

Charleston
Santa Fe

Charleston is very good for its luxury resorts. However, Santa Fe is not a resort destination.

Charleston has a few great resort options. The town has mostly hotels and bed and breakfasts in the downtown area, but nearby Kiawah Island has a number of nice resorts to choose from. Kiawah Island is particularly kid-friendly if you're looking for a family beach vacation. If you have a bit more money to spend and want something more residential, check out nearby Seabrook Island.

Santa Fe is not a resort destination.

Is Charleston or Santa Fe Better for Beaches?

Charleston
Santa Fe

Charleston is a great coastal town for the beach. However, Santa Fe is not a beach destination.

Charleston is a very popular place to visit for its beaches. The area has a number of beautiful and fun nearby beaches including Folly Beach, Kiawah Island, and Seabrook Island. Folly Beach is an active and quirky beach area, while Kiawah is more family-friendly. Seabrook is more residential and more expensive.

Santa Fe is not a beach destination.


Is Charleston or Santa Fe Better for its Old Town?

Charleston
Santa Fe

Charleston is an unbeatable place for its historic old town charm. Also, Santa Fe is not as popular, but is still a nice historic town for its historic old town.

With a famous historical old-town, Charleston offers plenty to see. Charleston's downtown is one of the most charming and well preserved Old Town's in the United States. It's easy to see why it's become a world class destination.

Many visitors go to Santa Fe to see the historical old town. As the 2nd oldest city in the United States, the old town historic district is filled with charm. The Pueblo-style buildings are brightly colored and there are churches throughout.

Is Charleston or Santa Fe Better for Hiking?

Charleston
Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a nice place to visit for the nearby hiking options. However, Charleston is not a hiking destination.

Santa Fe has hiking trails worth exploring. Because it's located right by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, there are many beautiful hikes right outside of town. Popular trails include the Picacho Peak Trail and the Nambe Lake Trail. Bandelier National also has many places to hike.

Charleston is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Charleston or Santa Fe?

Charleston
Santa Fe

Charleston is an unbeatable place for its shopping areas. Also, Santa Fe is not as popular, but is still a nice historic town for shopping.

Many people travel to Charleston specifically to go shopping. 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, particularly along King Street, which has boutiques and high end outlets. Outside of town, stop by Tanger Outlet Mall if you want name brands at a discount price.

Santa Fe is an extremely popular place for shoppers. There are many unique shops and art galleries that feature local artists and craftsmen.


Is Charleston or Santa Fe Better for Christmas?

Charleston
Santa Fe

Charleston is a great coastal town for its Christmas holiday experiences. However, Santa Fe does not offer Christmas activities.

Charleston is a very popular destination during Christmas. During the Christmas season there are a number of festivals, light shows, and even a boat parade that everyone can enjoy.

Santa Fe does not offer Christmas activities.

Is Charleston or Santa Fe Better for Christmas Markets?

Charleston
Santa Fe

Charleston is very good for visiting Christmas markets. However, Santa Fe does not offer Christmas markets.

Charleston offers some nice Christmas markets. Marion Square hosts Christmas Markets on weekends throughout the holiday season.

Santa Fe does not offer Christmas markets.

Is Charleston or Santa Fe Better for Families?

Charleston
Santa Fe

Charleston and Santa Fe are both nice destinations for the whole family.

Charleston is a family-friendly place to visit. The city has a number of family-friendly activities like carriage rides and boat rides. There's also an aquarium, a waterfront park, and many kid-friendly museums. The nearby beaches also make it a wonderful place to visit with kids.

Santa Fe is a family-friendly coastal town. There are a few kids' museums in Santa Fe including the Santa Fe Children's Museum and the Meow Wolf Art Complex. Kids also enjoy the botanical gardens at Museum Hill and Bandelier National Monument just outside of the city.


Is Charleston or Santa Fe Better for Couples?

Charleston
Santa Fe

Charleston is an unbeatable place for couples. Also, Santa Fe is not as popular, but is still a nice historic town for romance.

For those traveling as a couple, Charleston has plenty to offer. 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.

Santa Fe is a nice destination for couples. There are many romantic inns around town, each with a lot of character. The town also has a lot of atmosphere that makes for a romantic getaway.

Is Charleston or Santa Fe Better for Students?

Charleston
Santa Fe

Charleston and Santa Fe are both nice 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. There's a nice university area where you'll find cheaper places to eat and a good nightlife scene.

Plenty of students visit Santa Fe. There are a few colleges and universities in town and students will appreciate the reasonable cost of living and outdoor activities nearby.

Is Charleston or Santa Fe Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Charleston
Santa Fe

Both Charleston and Santa Fe offer reasonable public transit options.

Public transit is generally limited in Charleston. While there are some buses, you really must have a car to fully experience the entire area.

Public transit is mostly limited in Santa Fe. There is a bus system - the Santa Fe Trails Bus Service.


Is Charleston or Santa Fe a more walkable city?

Charleston
Santa Fe

Charleston and Santa Fe both are excellent 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.

Santa Fe is very walkable. The historic district is walkable and it's easy to visit most of the tourist sights in this area on foot.

For even more information, also check out Is Charleston Worth Visiting? and Is Santa Fe Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Santa Fe or Charleston?

How long in Charleston or Santa Fe?

In either Charleston or Santa Fe, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Charleston than Santa Fe because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 2-7 days is a good amount of time for Charleston, and 2-5 days is enough time in Santa Fe.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Charleston than Santa Fe 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 Charleston.


  • How many days in Charleston or Santa Fe? Ideal Length of Stay
    Charleston 2-7 
    Santa Fe 2-5

One day in Charleston or Santa Fe?

The beautiful coastal town of Charleston offers museums and nightlife. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

With live music and food around the charming historic town of Santa Fe, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

A weekend in Charleston or Santa Fe?

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

With food and shopping around the destination of Santa Fe, there's plenty to do. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. It offers something for everyone. Many people spend a weekend here. In a weekend, you should have a good grasp of this historic town.


Five days in Charleston or Santa Fe?

Charleston is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Charleston, five days is sufficent for most. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Santa Fe, a popular historic town, is full of activities for travelers. This is a popular place to visit for five days. Visiting the old town is also a must. In five days, you should have a good grasp of this historic town. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

A week in Charleston or Santa Fe?

Charleston is a great place to explore. It is common to spend one week here. Visiting the old town is also a must. One week is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Charleston has to offer. This coastal town offers something for everyone.

Santa Fe is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 2-Week Tours from San Francisco, The Best 2-Week Tours from Los Angeles, The Best Family-Friendly Tours to United States of America, and The Best Wildlife Tours to United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Santa Fe or Charleston?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Charleston is $170, while the average daily cost in Santa Fe is $159. 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 Charleston and Santa Fe in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Charleston $90
    Santa Fe $81
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Charleston $180
    Santa Fe $162
Compare Hotels in Charleston and Santa Fe

Looking for a hotel in Charleston or Santa Fe? 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 Santa Fe


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 Santa Fe Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Charleston $33
    Santa Fe $61

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Charleston

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Charleston:

  • Charleston Airport (CHS) to Folly Beach - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $210
  • Charleston Airport to Isle of Palms/Sullivans Island -Roundtrip Private Transfer: $210
  • Charleston Airport: One-Way Transfer to Charleston: $153
  • Charleston Airport (CHS) to Kiawah/Seabrook Islands – Arrival Private Transfer: $120
  • Folly Beach to Charleston Airport (CHS) - Departure Private Transfer: $105
  • Charleston Airport (CHS) to Folly Beach - Arrival Private Transfer: $105
  • Isle of Palms/Sullivans Island to Charleston Airport –Departure Private Transfer: $104
  • Charleston Airport (CHS) to Charleston city – Arrival Private Transfer: $89
  • From Boone Hall Plantation Entry with Transfers: $71
  • Private Transfer from Charleston Port to Charleston Airport (CHS): $60
  • Private Transfer from Charleston Cruise Port to Charleston city: $55
  • Private Transfer from Charleston City to Charleston Cruise Port: $55

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Fe

Also for Santa Fe, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Arrival Transfer from Santa Fe Airport (SAF): $62
  • Private Departure Transfer to Santa Fe Airport SAF: $125

Is it cheaper to fly into Charleston or Santa Fe?

Prices for flights to both Santa Fe 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 $58
    Santa Fe $43
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.

  • Charleston Sunset Blues & BBQ Dinner Cruise: $72
  • Charleston Harbor Luxury Dinner Cruise with Live Music: $88
  • Dinner Detective Interactive True Crime Dinner Show! (Charleston): $89
  • Luxury Harbor Dinner Cruise: $93
  • Savor the Flavors Upper King Street Food Tour: $95
  • Charleston Food Tour: $99
  • Historic Downtown Food Tour with Tastings: $99
  • Charleston Walking Food Tour With Secret Food Tours: $110
  • Downtown Charleston Food Tour: $110
  • Savor the Flavors of Charleston Walking Food Tour: $110
  • Charleston Walking Brunch Tour With Secret Food Tours: $110
  • Charleston Upper King Street Food Tour: $110

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Santa Fe

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

  • New Mexican Flavors Food Tour of the Santa Fe Plaza: $184
  • Santa Fe Farmers Market & Railyard Food Tour: $184
  • Wander New Mexico Food Tour - Railyard Arts District: $189
  • Wander New Mexico Food Tour - Downtown Plaza 'Sip & Savor': $209
  • Downtown Plaza "Sip and Savor" Half-day Food Tour: $209
  • Savor Wine Pairing Dinner: $228

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Charleston $22
    Santa Fe $17
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 Hours Private Morris Island and River Cruise: $295
  • 1.5-Hour Charleston Harbor Cruise with Live Narration: $42
  • 2 Hours Shem Creek Safari Kayak Tour: $52
  • 2-Hour Guided Kayak Eco Tour in Charleston: $54
  • 300 Years of War and Peacetime in A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $12
  • 90-Minute Charleston City Sightseeing Bus Tour : $37
  • Access Tour to the Cameron House from Outer Banks: $225
  • Afternoon Schooner Sightseeing Dolphin Cruise on Charleston Harbor: $56
  • An Amazing Guided Ghost Tour: $30
  • Behind the Scenes of Shem Creek Shrimp Walking Tour: $25
  • Boone Hall Plantation Admission & Tour with Transportation from Charleston: $78
  • Boone Hall Plantation All-Access Admission Ticket: $28

Tours and Activities in Santa Fe

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Santa Fe.

  • Historic Downtown Self-Guided Audio Walking Tour: $6.75
  • Santa Fe Historic Downtown Smart Phone Audio App Self Guided GPS Walking Tour : $7.80
  • Santa Fe's Historic Gems: A Self-Guided Walking Tour: $9.99
  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Santa Fe by Crazy Dash: $10
  • Murder Mystery Detective Experience Santa Fe, NM: $15
  • Self-Guided Walking Audio Tour of Historic Santa Fe: $15
  • Santa Fe Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $21
  • Santa Fe Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour and Game: $25
  • Santa Fe Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour and Game: $49
  • Canyon Road Arts District Walking Tour: $69
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Walking Tour in Santa Fe: $70
  • Canyon Road Art & History Walking Tour: $70

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Charleston $36
    Santa Fe $9.68

Sample the Local Flavors in Charleston

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

  • Charleston Women and Wine Tour: $20
  • Women and Wine Tour: $20
  • Charleston Terrors Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $27
  • Guided Pub Crawl and Haunted History Tour: $30
  • Bay Street Bastards Pub Crawl Shared Tour in Charleston : $35
  • Speakeasy Sagas Prohibition Pub Crawl: $35
  • Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl Walking Tour: $35
  • Historic District Haunted Pub Crawl Tour: $40
  • Charleston Brewery District Cruise (Public Tour): $95
  • Wadmalaw Island Wine Tasting and Tea Garden Trip: $135
  • Half Day Party Bus Brewery Tour of Charleston: $140

Sample the Local Flavors in Santa Fe

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

  • Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery Tour and Tasting: $18
  • Architectural Walking Tour & Wine Tasting: $135


When comparing the travel costs between Charleston and Santa Fe, we can see that Charleston 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 Charleston Expensive? and Is Santa Fe Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Charleston or Santa Fe?

Charleston has a larger population, and is about 40% larger than the population of Santa Fe. When comparing the sizes of Charleston and Santa Fe, 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.