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

Should you visit Charlottesville or Richmond?

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 Richmond. 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 proud, traditional, and young university town. This is a great small town that is just waiting to be explored. It offers plenty of beauty for visitors. As it offers a special and quaint atmosphere, visitors come from all over to experience this destination. Other popular activities here include museums, nightlife, and hiking.

Richmond

Richmond is a growing, friendly, and historical city. Visitors also love the museums, nightlife, and food.

Charlottesville and Richmond: 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
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Less popular for students


Is there more to do in Charlottesville or Richmond?

Both Richmond and Charlottesville have plenty of things to do for travelers. Both provide a wide variety of sights and activities for tourists. Charlottesville is more popular for its historical sights, hiking, small town charm, impressive beauty, and quaint atmosphere, while Richmond is known for its museums, food, and shopping. Richmond is more touristy than Charlottesville and is popular for its cultural and historical sights. Charlottesville is popular for being home to the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, and serving as a gateway to Shenandoah National Park.

How is Charlottesville different from Richmond?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Richmond 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 Richmond?

Charlottesville
Richmond

Richmond is a great city for its historical sights. Also, Charlottesville is not as popular, but is still a nice university town for its sights and museums.

Visitors can fill many days exploring the museums and attractions around Richmond. The city has a long history which you can learn about at one of the many museums. There's the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, and the Black History Museum. There are also landmarks and historical homes.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Charlottesville. 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.


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

Charlottesville
Richmond

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

Richmond has a delicious restaurant scene that relies on local flavors. The food scene has been growing around town, and there are food halls and local restaurants that serve diverse and interesting dishes. You'll find Indian, Asian, and European restaurants in addition to local classics.

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 Richmond Better for Nightlife?

Charlottesville
Richmond

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

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 Richmond. You'll find diverse bars and clubs around town. Pubs are usually laid back with a relaxed atmosphere. You'll also find live music that includes bluegrass, country, and jazz.

Is Charlottesville or Richmond Better for its Old Town?

Charlottesville
Richmond

Charlottesville is very good for its historic old town charm. However, Richmond does not have a historic old town.

Charlottesville offers a nice historic old town area. The Historic Downtown Mall is filled with restaurants and shops. It's a pedestrian only area with a lot of character and energy.

Richmond does not have a historic old town.


Is Charlottesville or Richmond Better for Hiking?

Charlottesville
Richmond

Charlottesville is very good for the nearby hiking options. However, Richmond is not a hiking destination.

Many people include a hike when visiting Charlottesville. 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.

Richmond is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Charlottesville or Richmond?

Charlottesville
Richmond

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

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Richmond. You'll find shopping malls and shopping centers around town, but there are also eclectic shopping streets and boutique outlets.

Charlottesville is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Is Charlottesville or Richmond Better for Christmas?

Charlottesville
Richmond

Charlottesville is notable for its Christmas activities. However, Richmond does not offer Christmas activities.

Charlottesville is an extremely popular place to visit during the Christmas season. From Christmas lights on campus to a festive atmosphere at the Monticello, the town is beautiful for Christmas.

Richmond does not offer Christmas activities.


Is Charlottesville or Richmond Better for Families?

Charlottesville
Richmond

Both Charlottesville and Richmond are good 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.

Richmond is a family-friendly place to visit. The Children's Museum of Richmond offers hands-on exhibits that will keep young ones entertained. Another fun option is the Science Museum of Virginia. The city also has parks and outdoor places to explore as well as playgrounds and kid-friendly restaurants.

Is Charlottesville or Richmond Better for Couples?

Charlottesville
Richmond

Charlottesville and Richmond both good destinations for a couple.

Charlottesville makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. 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.

Richmond is a good university town for couples to visit. Kayaking or tubing on the James River is a great activity for couples. There are also museums and many restaurants that are perfect for a date night.

Is Charlottesville or Richmond Better for Students?

Charlottesville
Richmond

Charlottesville is a world-class destination for students. Also, Richmond is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its student-friendly activities.

Students come from all over the world to visit 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.

Plenty of students visit Richmond. There are a couple of colleges and universities in town such as Virginia Commonwealth University.


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

Charlottesville
Richmond

Charlottesville and Richmond both offer decent 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 Richmond. There are buses around town, but the availability and reliability is limited.

Is Charlottesville or Richmond a more walkable city?

Charlottesville
Richmond

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

Richmond is a somewhat walkable place. There are some walkable neighborhoods such as the Fan and Museum District, but most people prefer to get around by car.

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 Richmond Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Richmond or Charlottesville?

How long in Charlottesville or Richmond?

You'll be able to find lots of things to do in Charlottesville or Richmond to fill your time. Many travelers usually spend more of their time in Charlottesville than Richmond 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 Richmond.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Richmond than Charlottesville 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 Richmond.


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

One day in Charlottesville or Richmond?

Charlottesville is a small town where visitors enjoy the museums and nightlife. 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.

The growing destination of Richmond 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 Richmond?

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

The city of Richmond 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 Richmond?

Charlottesville is a popular choice for travelers. Five days 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. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Richmond 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 Richmond?

Charlottesville is a great place to explore. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This university town offers something for everyone.

Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Richmond. 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 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, Richmond 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 Richmond is $161. 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 Richmond in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Charlottesville $80
    Richmond $101
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Charlottesville $160
    Richmond $202
Compare Hotels in Charlottesville and Richmond

Looking for a hotel in Charlottesville or Richmond? 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 Richmond


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 Richmond Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Charlottesville $53
    Richmond $72

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 Richmond

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Richmond:

  • Richmond Airport (RIC) to Richmond City - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $118
  • Richmond Airport (RIC) to Richmond city - Arrival Private Transfer: $59
  • Richmond City to Richmond Airport (RIC) - Departure Private Transfer: $59

Is it cheaper to fly into Charlottesville or Richmond?

Prices for flights to both Richmond 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
    Richmond $21

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Charlottesville

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

  • The Downtown Mall Food Tour: $17
  • The UVA Corner Food Tour: Private Walking Food Tour in Charlottesville: $139

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Richmond

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

  • The Carytown Food Tour in Richmond: $80
  • Church Hill Food Tour in Richmond, VA: $80
  • Delicious Pizza & Ice Cream Tour of Richmond: $90
  • Arts District Food Tour in Richmond: $90

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Charlottesville $18
    Richmond $13

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: $9.99
  • Shenandoah National Park Self-Driving Audio Tour: $17
  • Charlottesville Dark History Ghost Tour : $24

Tours and Activities in Richmond

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

  • Church Hill Chillers Ghost Tour: $25
  • Church Hill Segway Tour in Richmond: $80
  • Guided Walking Tour of Richmond: $38
  • Haunted Capitol Hill Ghost Tour: $30
  • Highlights of Hollywood Cemetery Walking Tour: $30
  • Historic Trolley Tour: $38
  • Hollywood Cemetery Segway Tour in Richmond: $76
  • Hollywood Cemetery Tour Richmond Lore and Civil War: $19
  • Phantoms of Franklin Ghost Tour: $30
  • Private Sightseeing Tour by Electric Cart in Richmond: $165
  • RVATukTuk Sightseeing Tour of Richmond: $187
  • Richmond Downtown Walking Tour: $38

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Charlottesville $53
    Richmond -

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

Sample the Local Flavors in Richmond

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

  • Richmond Ghosts Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl : $27
  • Drink Richmond Craft Brewery Crawl: $59
  • Richmond Craft Brewery Crawl By Junket: $59
  • Brewery Tour of Richmond, VA: $90


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


Which is Bigger, Charlottesville or Richmond?

Richmond has a larger population, and is about 6 times larger than the population of Charlottesville. When comparing the sizes of Charlottesville and Richmond, 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 Richmond?

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 Richmond in the Summer?

Both Richmond and Charlottesville during the summer are popular places to visit. Many travelers come to Charlottesville for the hiking, the small town charm, and the family-friendly experiences. Furthermore, many visitors come to Richmond in the summer for the family-friendly experiences.

In the summer, Charlottesville is around the same temperature as Richmond. Typically, the summer temperatures in Charlottesville in July average around 78°F (26°C), and Richmond averages at about 78°F (26°C).

In Richmond, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Charlottesville. In the summer, Charlottesville often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Richmond. Charlottesville gets 305 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Richmond receives 305 hours of full sun.

Richmond gets a good bit of rain this time of year. It rains a lot this time of the year in Charlottesville. Charlottesville usually gets around the same amount of rain in July as Richmond. Charlottesville gets 5 inches (128 mm) of rain, while Richmond receives 5 inches (128 mm) of rain this time of the year.


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

Should I visit Charlottesville or Richmond in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Charlottesville and Richmond. Many visitors come to Charlottesville in the autumn for the hiking trails, the small town atmosphere, and the natural beauty of the area. Furthermore, most visitors come to Richmond for the shopping scene during these months.

In October, Charlottesville is generally around the same temperature as Richmond. Daily temperatures in Charlottesville average around 59°F (15°C), and Richmond fluctuates around 59°F (15°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Richmond 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 Richmond during autumn. Charlottesville gets 221 hours of sunny skies, while Richmond receives 221 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Charlottesville usually receives around the same amount of rain as Richmond. Charlottesville gets 3.5 inches (90 mm) of rain, while Richmond receives 3.5 inches (90 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Charlottesville 59°F (15°C) 
    Richmond 59°F (15°C)

Should I visit Charlottesville or Richmond in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to Charlottesville as well as Richmond. Most visitors come to Charlottesville for the museums, the Christmas ambience, and the cuisine during these months. Additionally, the winter months attract visitors to Richmond because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

The weather in Richmond can be very cold. Charlottesville can be very cold during winter. Charlottesville is around the same temperature as Richmond in the winter. The daily temperature in Charlottesville averages around 36°F (2°C) in January, and Richmond fluctuates around 36°F (2°C).

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

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


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Charlottesville 36°F (2°C) 
    Richmond 36°F (2°C)

Should I visit Charlottesville or Richmond in the Spring?

Both Richmond and Charlottesville are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. The spring months attract visitors to Charlottesville because of the small town charm and the natural beauty.

In the spring, Charlottesville is around the same temperature as Richmond. Typically, the spring temperatures in Charlottesville in April average around 58°F (14°C), and Richmond averages at about 58°F (14°C).

It's quite sunny in Richmond. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Charlottesville. Charlottesville usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Richmond during spring. Charlottesville gets 265 hours of sunny skies, while Richmond receives 265 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Charlottesville usually receives around the same amount of rain as Richmond. Charlottesville gets 3 inches (75 mm) of rain, while Richmond receives 3 inches (75 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


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

Typical Weather for Richmond and Charlottesville

Charlottesville Richmond
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 36°F (2°C) 3.2 inches (83 mm) 36°F (2°C) 3.2 inches (83 mm)
Feb 39°F (4°C) 3.2 inches (80 mm) 39°F (4°C) 3.2 inches (80 mm)
Mar 49°F (9°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm) 49°F (9°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm)
Apr 58°F (14°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 58°F (14°C) 3 inches (75 mm)
May 67°F (19°C) 3.8 inches (98 mm) 67°F (19°C) 3.8 inches (98 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) 78°F (26°C) 5 inches (128 mm)
Aug 77°F (25°C) 4.4 inches (113 mm) 77°F (25°C) 4.4 inches (113 mm)
Sep 71°F (21°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm) 71°F (21°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm)
Oct 59°F (15°C) 3.5 inches (90 mm) 59°F (15°C) 3.5 inches (90 mm)
Nov 50°F (10°C) 3.2 inches (81 mm) 50°F (10°C) 3.2 inches (81 mm)
Dec 41°F (5°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm) 41°F (5°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm)