A Travel Price Comparison for North Carolina Charlotte vs. Durham for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Families

Should you visit Charlotte or Durham?

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

Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Charlotte and Durham can help you decide which place is right for you.

Charlotte

Charlotte is a evolving, up-and-coming, and growing city. Because this is such a big city, visitors will find many sights and attractions around town. Other popular activities here include nightlife, food, and shopping.

Durham

Durham is a diverse, student-filled, and sports oriented city. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.

Charlotte and Durham: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Charlotte or Durham?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Charlotte than Durham. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. Charlotte is very popular for its big city activities, while Durham attracts visitors for its museums. Charlotte is famous for its banking industry and growing Uptown area. It is also well known for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Durham is famous for its college town vibe as well as being the home of the famous Blue Devil basketball team.

How is Charlotte different from Durham?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Charlotte or Durham?

Charlotte
Durham

Durham is great for its historical sights. Also, Charlotte is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its sights and museums.

Many visitors head to Durham specifically to visit some of its top-rated museums and other sights. Duke University is one of the most popular destinations in town. There are several museums on campus as well as the famous Duke Chapel. Elsewhere in Durham there's the Durham Museum of Life and Science.

Charlotte is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. The Mint Museum is a popular place to visit, as is the Gantt Center for African American Arts. Art enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and sports enthusiasts will enjoy a stop at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.


Is the Food Better in Charlotte or Durham? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Charlotte
Durham

Local dishes at restaurants are fun to try in both Charlotte and Durham.

Charlotte is becoming an appealing option for foodies. The food scene continues to grow and change around town. You'll find the latest trendy restaurant changes regularly, but dishes often include upscale southern faire or classic American. There are also many international restaurants, particularly Mexican, Thai, and Chinese.

Durham offers number of good local restaurants to choose from. Barbecue is a favorite around town. You'll also find plenty of restaurants that cater to the student population, particularly along Nineth Street near Duke's campus.

Is Charlotte or Durham Better for Nightlife?

Charlotte
Durham

The vibe at night is nice in both Charlotte and Durham.

If you're looking for night time activities Charlotte has a few options to choose from. Head Uptown for some of the best nightlife. The city has many bars and clubs that keep things fun late into the night.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Durham. The younger population tends to hang out near campus and along Nineth Street. If you're looking for something less student oriented, head to downtown Durham.

Is the Shopping Better in Charlotte or Durham?

Charlotte
Durham

If you're looking to go shopping, Charlotte and Durham both offer plenty of nice spots.

Charlotte has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. Shopping malls such as SouthPark Mall or Carolina Place offer all of the standard retailers. Concord Mills is another favorite mall in the area. Aside from the malls, there is no shortage of shopping centers around town.

Durham is a great destination for shopping. The Streets of Southpoint is the best mall in the area. Other shopping areas include Brightleaf Square and Nineth Street.


Is Charlotte or Durham Better for Families?

Charlotte
Durham

You'll find nice kid-friendly activities in either Charlotte or Durham.

Charlotte offers lots of family activities. There are a number of museums for kids, with one of the best being Discovery Place. It has many hands-on science based exhibits that kids will love. Another unique experience is a visit to the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Carowinds Amusement Park is also in the area as are many great parks, playgrounds, and natural areas.

Durham is a family-friendly place to visit. A highlight for kids is a visit to the Durham Museum of Life and Science. It has both an indoor and an outdoor section and brings science to life for families. There's also an impressive playground and climbing area. Other activities in town include the Notasium and Eno River State Park. If you plan ahead you could also organize a trip to the Duke Lemur Center.

Is Charlotte or Durham Better for Couples?

Charlotte
Durham

Both Charlotte and Durham are nice destinations to visit as a couple.

Charlotte is a good city for couples to visit. There are a number of date night activities around town, particularly Uptown. You can see a show or concert at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center or hit up one of the trendy bars or restaurants. There are also sporting events and other festivals that are fun to experience.

Durham is a nice destination for couples. Have a picnic at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens or spend the day hiking at Eno River State Park. In the evening there's a wonderful selection of restaurants around town. Then you can check out a show at the Durham Performing Arts Center or see a Durham Bulls game.

Is Charlotte or Durham Better for Students?

Charlotte
Durham

Durham is great for its student-friendly activities. Also, Charlotte is not as popular, but is still a nice city for students.

Durham is very popular with students. Duke University has a stunning campus with a world class garden. There's also nearby Nineth Street, which has shops, restaurants, and bars that are geared toward the student population.

Charlotte is a good city to visit for students. There are a number of smaller colleges in town, but the biggest university is the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.


Is Charlotte or Durham Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Charlotte
Durham

Charlotte is very good for its public transit. However, Durham is not a good city for times when you don't have a car.

Charlotte has a few public transit options. There's a light rail system as well as buses that travel around town.

Public transit is mostly limited in Durham. There are buses around town, but you really need a car to explore the area.

Is Charlotte or Durham a more walkable city?

Charlotte
Durham

Charlotte is very good for its ease of walking around. However, Durham is not a good city for its walkability.

Charlotte is a somewhat walkable city. The Uptown area is the most walkable part of the city.

Durham is generally not a very walkable city. Downtown Durham and a few areas near Duke University are the most walkable areas.

For even more information, also check out Is Charlotte Worth Visiting? and Is Durham Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Durham or Charlotte?

How long in Charlotte or Durham?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Charlotte and Durham. You can spend similar amounts of time exploring each one. However, 1-3 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

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


  • How many days in Charlotte or Durham? Ideal Length of Stay
    Charlotte 1-3 
    Durham 1-3

One day in Charlotte or Durham?

Many travelers enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the destination of Charlotte. One day is often enough time to do most activities.

You'll find shopping and museums around the city of Durham. One day is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Durham has to offer. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.


A weekend in Charlotte or Durham?

Charlotte is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

You'll find museums and nightlife around the diverse destination of Durham. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend.A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from.

Five days in Charlotte or Durham?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Charlotte. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the sports oriented city of Durham. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

A week in Charlotte or Durham?

Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the growing destination of Charlotte. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

Durham is a popular choice for travelers. One week 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. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Tours Under $1000 in United States of America, The Best Luxury Tours to United States of America, The Best Tours for Seniors to United States of America, and The Best Contiki Tours to United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Durham or Charlotte?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Charlotte is $191, while the average daily cost in Durham is $162. 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 Charlotte and Durham in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Charlotte $118
    Durham $92
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Charlotte $236
    Durham $184
Compare Hotels in Charlotte and Durham

Looking for a hotel in Charlotte or Durham? 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 Charlotte


Hotels in Durham


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: Charlotte Hotel Prices and Durham Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Charlotte $33
    Durham $33

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Charlotte

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

  • Private Departure Transfer to Charlotte Douglas Airport (CLT): $54
  • Charlotte Douglas Airport (CLT) to Charlotte City - Arrival Private Transfer: $68
  • Charlotte Douglas Airport (CLT): 1-Way Transfer to Charlotte: $99
  • Departure Transfer: Charlotte to Charlotte Douglas Airport CLT in Business Car: $135
  • Arrival Transfer: Charlotte Douglas Airport CLT to Charlotte in Business Car: $135
  • Charlotte Douglas Airport (CLT) to Charlotte City - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $137
  • Charlotte Round Trip Chauffeur Driven Airport Transfer by Sedan: $150
  • Charlotte Douglas Airport (CLT) to Spartanburg - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $298

Is it cheaper to fly into Charlotte or Durham?

Prices for flights to both Durham and Charlotte 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
    Charlotte $46
    Durham $44
Typical Food Prices in Charlotte

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Charlotte:


  • Pizza at Airport
    $4.03
  • Cracker Barrel Lunch (family of 4)
    $29

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Charlotte $43
    Durham $26

Tours and Activities in Charlotte

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

  • Charlotte Ghost Walking Tour: Smartphone Audio & GPS Tour: $6.50
  • Charlotte Ghost Walking Tour - Smartphone guided audio/gps Tour at your own pace: $6.75
  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Charlotte by 3Quest Challenge: $10
  • Uptown A Self-Guided Audio Tour to the Heart of Queen City: $12
  • Self-Guided City Highlights Audio Tour: $12
  • Uptown Funk: 1 Hour Guided Walking Tour of Charlotte: $15
  • UPTOWN FUNK: 1 Hour Guided Historical Walking Tour in Charlotte: $15
  • 2-Hour Center City Walking Tour: $16
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Charlotte by Zombie Scavengers: $20
  • Charlotte Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour and Game: $25
  • Sea Life Charlotte Concord Aquarium Admission Ticket: $25
  • Carolina History and Haunts Charlotte Historical Ghost Walking Tour : $25

Tours and Activities in Durham

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

  • Downtown Durham Historian-Guided Walking Tour: $16
  • Durham African American History Tour: $16
  • Durham NC: Art Walking Tour: $20
  • True Crime Tour: $13

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Charlotte $20
    Durham $34

Sample the Local Flavors in Charlotte

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

  • Charlotte Brewery Crawl Tour: $48
  • 3-Hour Brewery Crawl on 7 passenger Cart: $48
  • Original Charlotte Brewery Tour - Craft Beer Experience : $125
  • Bar Crawl on a Rollin Disco Ball Golf Cart in Charlotte: $240


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

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Charlotte Expensive? and Is Durham Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Charlotte or Durham?

Charlotte has a larger population, and is about 3 times larger than the population of Durham. When comparing the sizes of Charlotte and Durham, 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 Charlotte or Durham?

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 Charlotte or Durham in the Summer?

Both Durham and Charlotte during the summer are popular places to visit. The summer months attract visitors to Charlotte because of the city activities and the family-friendly experiences. Furthermore, the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Durham this time of year.

Charlotte is around the same temperature as Durham in the summer. The daily temperature in Charlotte averages around 81°F (27°C) in July, and Durham fluctuates around 79°F (26°C).

In Durham, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Charlotte. In the summer, Charlotte often gets more sunshine than Durham. Charlotte gets 289 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Durham receives 259 hours of full sun.

Durham gets a good bit of rain this time of year. It rains a lot this time of the year in Charlotte. Charlotte usually gets less rain in July than Durham. Charlotte gets 4.6 inches (116 mm) of rain, while Durham receives 5.1 inches (129 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Charlotte 81°F (27°C) 
    Durham 79°F (26°C)

Should I visit Charlotte or Durham in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Charlotte and Durham. The city's sights and attractions and the shopping scene are the main draw to Charlotte this time of year. Furthermore, many travelers come to Durham for the shopping scene.

In the autumn, Charlotte is around the same temperature as Durham. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Charlotte in October average around 63°F (17°C), and Durham averages at about 61°F (16°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Durham this time of the year. In Charlotte, it's very sunny this time of the year. Charlotte usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Durham during autumn. Charlotte gets 223 hours of sunny skies, while Durham receives 211 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Charlotte usually receives around the same amount of rain as Durham. Charlotte gets 2.7 inches (68 mm) of rain, while Durham receives 2.8 inches (71 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Charlotte 63°F (17°C) 
    Durham 61°F (16°C)

Should I visit Charlotte or Durham in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to Charlotte as well as Durham. Many travelers come to Charlotte for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Additionally, many visitors come to Durham in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Durham can get quite cold in the winter. In January, Charlotte is generally a little warmer than Durham. Daily temperatures in Charlotte average around 42°F (6°C), and Durham fluctuates around 40°F (5°C).

In the winter, Charlotte often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Durham. Charlotte gets 173 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Durham receives 162 hours of full sun.

Charlotte usually gets more rain in January than Durham. Charlotte gets 3.5 inches (89 mm) of rain, while Durham receives 3.2 inches (82 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Charlotte 42°F (6°C) 
    Durham 40°F (5°C)

Should I visit Charlotte or Durham in the Spring?

Both Durham and Charlotte are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. Many visitors come to Charlotte in the spring for the activities around the city.

Charlotte is around the same temperature as Durham in the spring. The daily temperature in Charlotte averages around 63°F (17°C) in April, and Durham fluctuates around 60°F (16°C).

It's quite sunny in Durham. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Charlotte. Charlotte usually receives more sunshine than Durham during spring. Charlotte gets 273 hours of sunny skies, while Durham receives 251 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Charlotte usually receives more rain than Durham. Charlotte gets 3.4 inches (86 mm) of rain, while Durham receives 3.1 inches (78 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Charlotte 63°F (17°C) 
    Durham 60°F (16°C)

Typical Weather for Durham and Charlotte

Charlotte Durham
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 42°F (6°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm) 40°F (5°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Feb 46°F (8°C) 3.8 inches (97 mm) 43°F (6°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm)
Mar 54°F (12°C) 4.5 inches (115 mm) 52°F (11°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm)
Apr 63°F (17°C) 3.4 inches (86 mm) 60°F (16°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm)
May 71°F (21°C) 2.9 inches (74 mm) 68°F (20°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm)
Jun 78°F (25°C) 3.7 inches (94 mm) 76°F (24°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm)
Jul 81°F (27°C) 4.6 inches (116 mm) 79°F (26°C) 5.1 inches (129 mm)
Aug 80°F (27°C) 4 inches (101 mm) 78°F (26°C) 4.9 inches (125 mm)
Sep 74°F (24°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm) 73°F (23°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm)
Oct 63°F (17°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm) 61°F (16°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm)
Nov 54°F (12°C) 2.8 inches (70 mm) 53°F (11°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm)
Dec 46°F (8°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm) 44°F (7°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm)