A Travel Price Comparison for Virginia Charlottesville vs. Virginia Beach for Families, Nightlife, Couples, and Food

Should you visit Charlottesville or Virginia Beach?

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 Virginia Beach. 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 traditional, young, and collegiate university town. With plenty of activities and sights, this is a small town worth visiting. It's a beautiful place to visit, too. It also has a unique and quaint vibe that attracts lots of visitors. Visitors also love the hiking, museums, and nightlife.

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is a bustling, fun-filled, and relaxing coastal city. It's a beautiful place to visit, too. Visitors also love the nightlife and beaches.

Charlottesville and Virginia Beach: 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 backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Small town charm
  • Quaint atmosphere
Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for students


Is there more to do in Charlottesville or Virginia Beach?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Charlottesville than Virginia Beach, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Charlottesville is better known for its museums, historical sights, hiking, small town charm, and quaint atmosphere, while Virginia Beach is more popular for its resorts and beaches. Virginia Beach is more touristy than Charlottesville and is known for its fun boardwalk, many seafood restaurants, and classic beach town vibe. Charlottesville is well known for being home to the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, and serving as a gateway to Shenandoah National Park. Also, Charlottesville is famous for The University of Virginia Campus.

How is Charlottesville different from Virginia Beach?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Charlottesville
Virginia Beach

Charlottesville is a nice place to visit for its historical sights. However, Virginia Beach does not have museums and landmarks.

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.

Virginia Beach does not have museums and landmarks.


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

Charlottesville
Virginia Beach

Local dishes at restaurants are fun to try in both Charlottesville and Virginia Beach.

You'll find the standard options when it comes to food in Charlottesville. 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.

Virginia Beach may not make the list for most foodies, but you'll find what you need while you're in town. Seafood is plentiful around town and there are all-you-can-eat buffets as well as high end, waterfront seafood restaurants. Make sure you try the She Crab Soup, soft shell crabs, and oysters.

Is Charlottesville or Virginia Beach Better for Nightlife?

Charlottesville
Virginia Beach

If the nightlife is your priority, you'll find notable options in both Charlottesville and Virginia Beach.

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 Virginia Beach. While it's a family-friendly beach, there's still a great nightlife scene with many bars and clubs in the area. Popular places to hang out at night include Omega Bar, Peabody's Nightclub, and Sky Bar.

Is Charlottesville or Virginia Beach Better for Resorts?

Charlottesville
Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is a good destination for its luxury resorts. However, Charlottesville is not a resort destination.

With a selection of resorts, Virginia Beach makes a nice vacation spot. Some of the best resorts in the area include the Historic Cavalier Hotel and Beach Club, the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront, and The Founders Inn and Spa.

Charlottesville is not a resort destination.


Is Charlottesville or Virginia Beach Better for Beaches?

Charlottesville
Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is a good destination for the beache. However, Charlottesville is not a beach destination.

Virginia Beach offers a nice beach destination. The beaches are long and sandy, but they can get crowded during the summer months. The waves are just the right size for playing in the surf and the water temperature is usually warm enough to swim well into the fall months.

Charlottesville is not a beach destination.

Is Charlottesville or Virginia Beach Better for its Old Town?

Charlottesville
Virginia Beach

Charlottesville is a nice place to visit for its old town. However, Virginia Beach does not have a historic old town.

Plenty of visitors enjoy exploring the old town in Charlottesville. The Historic Downtown Mall is filled with restaurants and shops. It's a pedestrian only area with a lot of character and energy.

Virginia Beach does not have a historic old town.

Is Charlottesville or Virginia Beach Better for Hiking?

Charlottesville
Virginia Beach

Charlottesville is a nice place to visit for hiking. However, Virginia Beach is not a hiking destination.

Charlottesville has hiking trails worth exploring. 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.

Virginia Beach is not a hiking destination.


Is Charlottesville or Virginia Beach Better for Christmas?

Charlottesville
Virginia Beach

Charlottesville is great for its Christmas holiday experiences. However, Virginia Beach does not offer Christmas activities.

Charlottesville is a very popular destination during Christmas. From Christmas lights on campus to a festive atmosphere at the Monticello, the town is beautiful for Christmas.

Virginia Beach does not offer Christmas activities.

Is Charlottesville or Virginia Beach Better for Families?

Charlottesville
Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is a great coastal city for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Charlottesville is not as popular, but is still a nice university town for its family-friendly activities.

Because of its large number of kid-friendly activities, Virginia Beach is very family-friendly. This is a popular family-friendly beach with a nice boardwalk, a fun waterpark, aquarium, and nice beaches. It attracts families in the area for its long beaches and fun atmosphere. Most restaurants have kid's menus and there are ice cream shops and minigolf around.

Charlottesville is a family-friendly place to visit. 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.

Is Charlottesville or Virginia Beach Better for Couples?

Charlottesville
Virginia Beach

Charlottesville and Virginia Beach both notable 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.

Virginia Beach is a good university town for couples to visit. Couples will enjoy a nice escape to the beaches and boardwalk. There are many great seafood restaurants, some with waterfront settings. There's also a variety of activities ranging from many golf to dance clubs.


Is Charlottesville or Virginia Beach Better for Students?

Charlottesville
Virginia Beach

Charlottesville is terrific for its student-friendly activities. Also, Virginia Beach is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for students.

Charlottesville is a great destination for students. 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.

Virginia Beach is a good university town to visit for students. It's not as popular as more southern beach towns, but you'll still find students heading here for the spring break holidays.

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

Charlottesville
Virginia Beach

Charlottesville is adequate for times when you don't have a car. However, Virginia Beach is not a good destination for its public transit.

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 limited or non-existant in Virginia Beach. There is very limited public transit in the area so you'll need to have a car to get around.

Is Charlottesville or Virginia Beach a more walkable city?

Charlottesville
Virginia Beach

Charlottesville and Virginia Beach are respectable when it comes to walkability.

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

Virginia Beach is generally not very walkable. Most people prefer to have a car but do note that parking can be a nightmare, particularly during the summer season.


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

Should I spend more time in Virginia Beach or Charlottesville?

How long in Charlottesville or Virginia Beach?

Both Charlottesville and Virginia Beach have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Virginia Beach than in Charlottesville. Usually, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Charlottesville, and 5-7 days is enough time in Virginia Beach.

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

Couples should spend more time in Charlottesville than Virginia Beach. 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.

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


  • How many days in Charlottesville or Virginia Beach? Ideal Length of Stay
    Charlottesville 2-3 
    Virginia Beach 5-7

One day in Charlottesville or Virginia Beach?

Charlottesville might be a small town, but there's plenty to do in the area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

The relaxing destination of Virginia Beach offers nightlife. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

A weekend in Charlottesville or Virginia Beach?

Charlottesville is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Because of this, a weekend is usually enough time for a trip here.

The coastal city of Virginia Beach offers nightlife. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.

Five days in Charlottesville or Virginia Beach?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Charlottesville. It offers something for everyone. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

Virginia Beach is a great place to explore. This coastal city offers something for everyone. It is common to spend five days here. Five days is often enough time to do most activities.


A week in Charlottesville or Virginia Beach?

Charlottesville is a small town, so it's a great destination if you're short on time. Your budget might influence how long you stay. 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.

The relaxing coastal city of Virginia Beach offers nightlife. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. For many, it makes a great getaway for one week. Because of this, one week is usually enough time for a trip here.


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, Virginia Beach 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 Virginia Beach is $126. 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 Virginia Beach in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Charlottesville $80
    Virginia Beach $71
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Charlottesville $160
    Virginia Beach $142
Compare Hotels in Charlottesville and Virginia Beach

Looking for a hotel in Charlottesville or Virginia Beach? 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 Virginia Beach


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 Virginia Beach Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Charlottesville $53
    Virginia Beach $39

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

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Virginia Beach

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Virginia Beach:


  • Beach Parking
    $10

Is it cheaper to fly into Charlottesville or Virginia Beach?

Prices for flights to both Virginia Beach 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
    Virginia Beach $30

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

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Charlottesville $18
    Virginia Beach $21

Tours and Activities in Charlottesville

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

  • Charlottesville Dark History Ghost Tour : $24
  • Charlottesville Historic Downtown APP/GPS Smartphone Walking Tour: $7.75
  • Ghosts of Court Square Walking Tour: $26
  • Shenandoah National Park Audio Driving Tour: $9.99
  • Shenandoah National Park Self-Driving Audio Tour: $17

Tours and Activities in Virginia Beach

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

  • Dolphin Kayak Tour in Virginia Beach Must know how to swim: $77
  • Kayak Dolphin Experience in Virginia Beach Must know how to swim: $77
  • Neptune Ghosts: Ghosts of the Coast By US Ghost Adventures: $24
  • Small Group Dolphin Kayak Eco-Tour: $68
  • Sunset Dolphin Kayak Tours: $68
  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Virginia Beach by Wacky Walks: $10
  • Dolphin Stand-Up Paddleboard Tour: $60
  • Dolphin Watching Guided Kayaking Tour: $79
  • Morning Stand-Up Paddleboarding Tour: $45
  • Neptune Ghosts Haunted Walking Tour: $26
  • Sunset Stand-Up Paddleboarding Tour: $45
  • Virginia Historic Adventure!: $200

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Charlottesville $53
    Virginia Beach $11

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

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


Which is Bigger, Charlottesville or Virginia Beach?

Virginia Beach has a larger population, and is about 10 times larger than the population of Charlottesville. When comparing the sizes of Charlottesville and Virginia Beach, 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 Virginia Beach?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Charlottesville or Virginia Beach in the Summer?

Both Virginia Beach and Charlottesville are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. Many visitors come to Charlottesville in the summer for the hiking, the small town charm, and the family-friendly experiences. Also, most visitors come to Virginia Beach for the beaches and the family-friendly experiences during these months.

Charlottesville is around the same temperature as Virginia Beach in the summer. The daily temperature in Charlottesville averages around 78°F (26°C) in July, and Virginia Beach fluctuates around 79°F (26°C).

It's quite sunny in Virginia Beach. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Charlottesville. Charlottesville usually receives more sunshine than Virginia Beach during summer. Charlottesville gets 305 hours of sunny skies, while Virginia Beach receives 279 hours of full sun in the summer.

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


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

Should I visit Charlottesville or Virginia Beach in the Autumn?

Both Virginia Beach and Charlottesville during the autumn are popular places to visit. Most visitors come to Charlottesville for the hiking trails, the small town atmosphere, and the natural beauty of the area during these months. Furthermore, the autumn months attract visitors to Virginia Beach because of the natural beauty of the area.

In the autumn, Charlottesville is around the same temperature as Virginia Beach. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Charlottesville in October average around 59°F (15°C), and Virginia Beach averages at about 62°F (16°C).

In Virginia Beach, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Charlottesville. In the autumn, Charlottesville often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Virginia Beach. Charlottesville gets 221 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Virginia Beach receives 211 hours of full sun.

Charlottesville usually gets more rain in October than Virginia Beach. Charlottesville gets 3.5 inches (90 mm) of rain, while Virginia Beach receives 3.1 inches (78 mm) of rain this time of the year.


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

Should I visit Charlottesville or Virginia Beach in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Charlottesville and Virginia Beach. The winter months attract visitors to Charlottesville because of the museums, the Christmas ambience, and the cuisine. Furthermore, the cuisine are the main draw to Virginia Beach this time of year.

It's quite cold in Virginia Beach in the winter. The weather in Charlottesville can be very cold. In January, Charlottesville is generally much colder than Virginia Beach. Daily temperatures in Charlottesville average around 36°F (2°C), and Virginia Beach fluctuates around 39°F (4°C).

Charlottesville usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Virginia Beach during winter. Charlottesville gets 169 hours of sunny skies, while Virginia Beach receives 168 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Charlottesville usually receives around the same amount of rain as Virginia Beach. Charlottesville gets 3.2 inches (83 mm) of rain, while Virginia Beach receives 3.3 inches (85 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


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

Should I visit Charlottesville or Virginia Beach in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Charlottesville as well as Virginia Beach. The small town charm and the natural beauty are the main draw to Charlottesville this time of year. Additionally, many travelers come to Virginia Beach for the beaches and the natural beauty.

Charlottesville is around the same temperature as Virginia Beach in the spring. The daily temperature in Charlottesville averages around 58°F (14°C) in April, and Virginia Beach fluctuates around 58°F (14°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Virginia Beach. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Charlottesville this time of the year. In the spring, Charlottesville often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Virginia Beach. Charlottesville gets 265 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Virginia Beach receives 253 hours of full sun.

Charlottesville usually gets more rain in April than Virginia Beach. Charlottesville gets 3 inches (75 mm) of rain, while Virginia Beach receives 2.7 inches (69 mm) of rain this time of the year.


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

Typical Weather for Virginia Beach and Charlottesville

Charlottesville Virginia Beach
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)