A Travel Price Comparison for Virginia Charlottesville vs. Norfolk for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Families

Should you visit Charlottesville or Norfolk?

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

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Charlottesville and Norfolk. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Charlottesville

Charlottesville is a southern, proud, and traditional university town. As this is a charming small town, visitors also come to explore the sights and local activities. It's a gorgeous place to visit. It also has that perfectly quaint feel that is like no other place. It's also known for nightlife, hiking, and museums.

Norfolk

Norfolk is a maritime, authentic, and blue collar city. Visitors also love the museums, nightlife, and food.

Charlottesville and Norfolk: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Scenic old town
  • Good for hiking
  • Popular at Christmas
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for students
  • Small town charm
  • Quaint atmosphere
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Charlottesville or Norfolk?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Charlottesville. Although Charlottesville and Norfolk are popular destinations, Charlottesville has more sights and attractions for tourists. Charlottesville is very popular for its historical sights, hiking, small town charm, impressive beauty, and quaint atmosphere, while Norfolk attracts visitors for its food and shopping. Charlottesville is famous for being home to the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, and serving as a gateway to Shenandoah National Park. It is also well known for The University of Virginia Campus. Norfolk is famous for its naval base and military presence.

How is Charlottesville different from Norfolk?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Charlottesville or Norfolk?

Charlottesville
Norfolk

Visiting museums and landmarks is a fun activity in both Charlottesville and Norfolk.

Charlottesville offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. A highlight of a trip to the area is a visit to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. The city is also famously home to the beautiful University of Virginia, which has a manicured and beautiful campus. History buffs will also appreciate visiting the Civil War Sites that are nearby as well.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Norfolk. There are some interesting museums in town like the Chrysler Museum, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, and the Norfolk Police and Fire Museum. You should also check out the Nauticus and the Battleship Wisconsin.


Is the Food Better in Charlottesville or Norfolk? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Charlottesville
Norfolk

Norfolk is a good destination for its local flavors and cuisine. However, Charlottesville is not known for its local cuisine and restaurants.

Norfolk has a delicious restaurant scene that relies on local flavors. You'll find a decent collection of restaurants in the downtown area. Food options include local seafood, brunch, casual eateries, and fine dining.

Charlottesville may not make the list for most foodies, but you'll find what you need while you're in town. Head to the Historic Downtown Mall to enjoy an outdoor meal at a top rated restaurant. There are also restaurants that cater specifically to students and offer affordable and quick meals.

Is Charlottesville or Norfolk Better for Nightlife?

Charlottesville
Norfolk

If the nightlife is your priority, you'll find nice options in both Charlottesville and Norfolk.

If you're looking for night time activities Charlottesville has a few options to choose from. Charlottesville is a university town with an active nightlife. The best areas for nightlife are found around the Downtown Mall, Belmont neighborhood, the Corner, and University Ave west near the mall. Even though there are a number of activities to enjoy at night, this is still a small town and the nightlife scene reflects that.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Norfolk. Downtown is where you'll find the most busy nightlife venues. The city has great breweries, and the live music scene has taken off. There are also lounges, dance clubs, and wine bars to choose from.

Is Charlottesville or Norfolk Better for its Old Town?

Charlottesville
Norfolk

Charlottesville is a popular place for its historic old town. However, Norfolk does not have a historic old town.

Many visitors go to Charlottesville to see the historical old town. The Historic Downtown Mall is filled with restaurants and shops. It's a pedestrian only area with a lot of character and energy.

Norfolk does not have a historic old town.


Is Charlottesville or Norfolk Better for Hiking?

Charlottesville
Norfolk

Charlottesville is a popular place for its hiking experiences. However, Norfolk is not a hiking destination.

Charlottesville is a good destination for hiking. Just outside of town there are plenty of hiking opportunities including in and around Shenandoah National Park. Hiking is at its best during the fall season when the leaves are changing.

Norfolk is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Charlottesville or Norfolk?

Charlottesville
Norfolk

Norfolk is a good destination for its shopping opportunities. However, Charlottesville is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Norfolk. There's a mix of shopping malls, local boutiques, farmer's markets, and shopping centers around town.

Charlottesville is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Is Charlottesville or Norfolk Better for Christmas?

Charlottesville
Norfolk

Charlottesville is a great destination for its Christmas activities. However, Norfolk does not offer Christmas activities.

Visitors come from all around to experience the Christmas activities in Charlottesville. From Christmas lights on campus to a festive atmosphere at the Monticello, the town is beautiful for Christmas.

Norfolk does not offer Christmas activities.


Is Charlottesville or Norfolk Better for Families?

Charlottesville
Norfolk

Both Charlottesville and Norfolk are nice family-friendly destinations.

Charlottesville offers lots of family activities. Wandering the campus of UVA, picking fruit at Carter Mountain Orchard or exploring the downtown mall, including the Virginia Discovery Museum are all activities that everyone can enjoy. There are also great hiking trails just outside of town.

Norfolk is a family-friendly place to visit. The Norfolk Zoo is always a hit with kids. You should also visit the USS Wisconsin which offers tours, as well as the Douglas MacArthur Memorial Museum.

Is Charlottesville or Norfolk Better for Couples?

Charlottesville
Norfolk

Charlottesville is a popular place for romance. However, Norfolk is a city with minimal options for its romantic activities.

Charlottesville is a nice destination for couples. The UVA campus is beautiful to explore, as is Monticello. The Downtown Mall has many great restaurants and activities that make for a nice date night and during the day, there's also beautiful hikes nearby that are at their peak during the fall season.

Most people don't think of Norfolk as a couple's destination. There are some nice hotels and several great parks and outdoor activities.

Is Charlottesville or Norfolk Better for Students?

Charlottesville
Norfolk

Charlottesville is a must-visit destination for students. However, Norfolk is not popular with students.

Many students frequent Charlottesville. The town is home to the beautiful University of Virginia and it's a popular destination for international students as well as local students. Much of the town is focused around student life, and the city's proximity to Washington, DC means it has access to global opportunities.

Norfolk is not popular with students.


Is Charlottesville or Norfolk Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Charlottesville
Norfolk

Charlottesville and Norfolk both offer reasonable public transit to get you around.

Public transit is mostly limited in Charlottesville. There is a bus system that runs between campus, downtown, and several neighborhoods in Charlottesville.

Public transit is generally limited in Norfolk. While there are buses, ferries, and even lightrail in the area, you really want to have a car to get around.

Is Charlottesville or Norfolk a more walkable city?

Charlottesville
Norfolk

Norfolk is a good destination for its high level of walkability. However, Charlottesville is not known for its ease of walking around.

Norfolk is a somewhat walkable place. Downtown is the most walkable part of the city.

Charlottesville is generally not very walkable. While the University of Virginia campus and the Downtown Mall are both very walkable, most of the town is not.

For even more information, also check out Is Charlottesville Worth Visiting? and Is Norfolk Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Norfolk or Charlottesville?

How long in Charlottesville or Norfolk?

You'll be able to find lots of things to do in Charlottesville or Norfolk to fill your time. Many travelers usually spend more of their time in Charlottesville than Norfolk because of the number of activities and things to do in the area. Usually, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Charlottesville, and 1-2 days is enough time in Norfolk.

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


  • How many days in Charlottesville or Norfolk? Ideal Length of Stay
    Charlottesville 2-3 
    Norfolk 1-2

One day in Charlottesville or Norfolk?

Charlottesville is a small town with plenty to do. This university town offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

The authentic destination of Norfolk offers nightlife and food. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. One day is usually enough time to experience most activities.


A weekend in Charlottesville or Norfolk?

Charlottesville might be a small town, but there's plenty to do in the area. 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 Charlottesville has to offer.

The city of Norfolk offers food and shopping. A weekend here is typical. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything. A weekend is often enough time to do most activities.

Five days in Charlottesville or Norfolk?

Charlottesville 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.

Norfolk is a great place to explore. This city offers something for everyone. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything.

A week in Charlottesville or Norfolk?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Charlottesville. Since Charlottesville is a small town, it's easily explored when your time is limited. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Norfolk. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.


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, Norfolk or Charlottesville?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Charlottesville is $154, while the average daily cost in Norfolk is $166. 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 Charlottesville and Norfolk in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Charlottesville $80
    Norfolk $84
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Charlottesville $160
    Norfolk $168
Compare Hotels in Charlottesville and Norfolk

Looking for a hotel in Charlottesville or Norfolk? 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 Charlottesville


Hotels in Norfolk


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: Charlottesville Hotel Prices and Norfolk Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Charlottesville $53
    Norfolk $54

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Charlottesville

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

  • Private Arrival Transfer from Charlotteville Airport (CHO): $50
  • Private Departure Transfer to Charlottesville Airport (CHO): $50

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Norfolk

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Norfolk:

  • Bamville Transportation (Private & Airport Transfers): $275

Is it cheaper to fly into Charlottesville or Norfolk?

Prices for flights to both Norfolk and Charlottesville 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
    Charlottesville $42
    Norfolk $49

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Charlottesville

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

  • The UVA Corner Food Tour: Private Walking Food Tour in Charlottesville: $139
  • The Downtown Mall Food Tour: $149

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Norfolk

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

  • Norfolk Buffet Dinner Cruise : $101
  • Buffet Dinner Cruise: $101
  • Norfolk Father's Day Buffet Dinner Cruise: $126
  • Norfolk 4th of July Buffet Dinner Cruise: $182

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Charlottesville $18
    Norfolk $14

Tours and Activities in Charlottesville

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

  • Charlottesville Historic Downtown APP/GPS Smartphone Walking Tour: $7.75
  • Shenandoah National Park Audio Driving Tour: $7.99
  • Shenandoah National Park Self-Driving Audio Tour: $17
  • Charlottesville Dark History Ghost Tour : $24
  • Ghosts of Court Square Walking Tour: $26

Tours and Activities in Norfolk

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

  • Electric Bike Rental Downtown Norfolk (self guided tour) : $60
  • Experience the season with a scavenger hunt in Norfolk with Holly Jolly Hunt: $20
  • Neon District Contemporary Art Walking Tour: $32
  • Norfolk Buffet Brunch Cruise : $95
  • Norfolk Father's Day Buffet Brunch Cruise: $104
  • Norfolk's Passport to Fun Admission Tickets and Savings: $37
  • Elizabeth River Candlelit Buffet Lunch Cruise: $67
  • Elizabeth River Sunday Buffet Brunch Cruise: $95
  • Virginia Zoo & Battleship Wisconsin Combo Ticket: $38
  • Skip the Line: Virginia Living Museum Admission Ticket: $22

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Charlottesville $53
    Norfolk $10

Sample the Local Flavors in Charlottesville

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

  • Private Wine Tours (Minimum 3 & Maximum 6 ) Pickup Maximum 30 Mi : $85


When comparing the travel costs between Charlottesville and Norfolk, we can see that Norfolk 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 Charlottesville Expensive? and Is Norfolk Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Charlottesville or Norfolk?

Norfolk has a larger population, and is about 7 times larger than the population of Charlottesville. When comparing the sizes of Charlottesville and Norfolk, 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 Charlottesville or Norfolk?

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 Charlottesville or Norfolk in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Charlottesville as well as Norfolk. The hiking, the small town charm, and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Charlottesville this time of year. Additionally, many travelers come to Norfolk for the family-friendly experiences.

In July, Charlottesville is generally around the same temperature as Norfolk. Daily temperatures in Charlottesville average around 78°F (26°C), and Norfolk fluctuates around 79°F (26°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Norfolk. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Charlottesville this time of the year. In the summer, Charlottesville often gets more sunshine than Norfolk. Charlottesville gets 305 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Norfolk receives 279 hours of full sun.

It's quite rainy in Norfolk. Charlottesville receives a lot of rain in the summer. Charlottesville usually gets less rain in July than Norfolk. Charlottesville gets 5 inches (128 mm) of rain, while Norfolk receives 5.7 inches (145 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Charlottesville 78°F (26°C) 
    Norfolk 79°F (26°C)

Should I visit Charlottesville or Norfolk in the Autumn?

Both Norfolk and Charlottesville are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. Many travelers come to Charlottesville for the hiking trails, the small town atmosphere, and the natural beauty of the area. Also, many visitors come to Norfolk in the autumn for the shopping scene.

Charlottesville is around the same temperature as Norfolk in the autumn. The daily temperature in Charlottesville averages around 59°F (15°C) in October, and Norfolk fluctuates around 62°F (16°C).

It's quite sunny in Norfolk. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Charlottesville. Charlottesville usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Norfolk during autumn. Charlottesville gets 221 hours of sunny skies, while Norfolk receives 211 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Charlottesville usually receives more rain than Norfolk. Charlottesville gets 3.5 inches (90 mm) of rain, while Norfolk receives 3.1 inches (78 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Charlottesville 59°F (15°C) 
    Norfolk 62°F (16°C)

Should I visit Charlottesville or Norfolk in the Winter?

Both Norfolk and Charlottesville during the winter are popular places to visit. Many visitors come to Charlottesville in the winter for the museums, the Christmas ambience, and the cuisine. Also, most visitors come to Norfolk for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months.

Norfolk can be very cold during winter. Charlottesville can get quite cold in the winter. In the winter, Charlottesville is much colder than Norfolk. Typically, the winter temperatures in Charlottesville in January average around 36°F (2°C), and Norfolk averages at about 39°F (4°C).

In the winter, Charlottesville often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Norfolk. Charlottesville gets 169 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Norfolk receives 168 hours of full sun.

Charlottesville usually gets around the same amount of rain in January as Norfolk. Charlottesville gets 3.2 inches (83 mm) of rain, while Norfolk receives 3.3 inches (85 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Charlottesville 36°F (2°C) 
    Norfolk 39°F (4°C)

Should I visit Charlottesville or Norfolk in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Charlottesville and Norfolk. Most visitors come to Charlottesville for the small town charm and the natural beauty during these months.

In April, Charlottesville is generally around the same temperature as Norfolk. Daily temperatures in Charlottesville average around 58°F (14°C), and Norfolk fluctuates around 58°F (14°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Norfolk this time of the year. In Charlottesville, it's very sunny this time of the year. Charlottesville usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Norfolk during spring. Charlottesville gets 265 hours of sunny skies, while Norfolk receives 253 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Charlottesville usually receives more rain than Norfolk. Charlottesville gets 3 inches (75 mm) of rain, while Norfolk receives 2.7 inches (69 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Charlottesville 58°F (14°C) 
    Norfolk 58°F (14°C)

Typical Weather for Norfolk and Charlottesville

Charlottesville Norfolk
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 36°F (2°C) 3.2 inches (83 mm) 39°F (4°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm)
Feb 39°F (4°C) 3.2 inches (80 mm) 41°F (5°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm)
Mar 49°F (9°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm) 49°F (10°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm)
Apr 58°F (14°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 58°F (14°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
May 67°F (19°C) 3.8 inches (98 mm) 67°F (19°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm)
Jun 74°F (24°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm) 74°F (24°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm)
Jul 78°F (26°C) 5 inches (128 mm) 79°F (26°C) 5.7 inches (145 mm)
Aug 77°F (25°C) 4.4 inches (113 mm) 78°F (25°C) 5.9 inches (150 mm)
Sep 71°F (21°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm) 72°F (22°C) 4.2 inches (107 mm)
Oct 59°F (15°C) 3.5 inches (90 mm) 62°F (16°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm)
Nov 50°F (10°C) 3.2 inches (81 mm) 53°F (12°C) 3 inches (75 mm)
Dec 41°F (5°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm) 44°F (7°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm)