A Travel Price Comparison for Virginia Charlottesville vs. Williamsburg for Old Town, Families, Attractions, and Food

Should you visit Charlottesville or Williamsburg?

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 Williamsburg. 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 collegiate, southern, and proud university town. As this is a charming small town, visitors also come to explore the sights and local activities. 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.

Williamsburg

Williamsburg is a well-preserved, historic, and charming town. It's a beautiful place to visit, too. Visitors also love the shopping, museums, and food.

Charlottesville and Williamsburg: Pros and Cons

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


Is there more to do in Charlottesville or Williamsburg?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Williamsburg. Although Charlottesville and Williamsburg are both popular with visitors, Williamsburg has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Williamsburg is more popular for its museums, food, historical sights, and shopping, while Charlottesville is known for its nightlife, hiking, small town charm, and quaint atmosphere. Williamsburg is more touristy than Charlottesville and is popular for its historic and colonial charm, its award winning amusement parks, and its historical reenactments. It is also home to Colonial Williamsburg. 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 Williamsburg?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Charlottesville
Williamsburg

Williamsburg is a great town 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 Williamsburg. Colonial Williamsburg is like a living museum with reenactments and historic buildings that date back to the colonial days. In addition to the historic area, there are folk art museums and other historic sights in the area.

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 Williamsburg? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Charlottesville
Williamsburg

Williamsburg is a great town for its local flavors and cuisine. However, Charlottesville is not known for its local cuisine and restaurants.

Williamsburg has a huge number of terrific restaurants. Head to Historic Williamsburg if you want to try some colonial classics. There are historic taverns that maintain their old world charm and serve dishes such as peanut soup and stewed beef. Around town you'll also find casual restaurants with pizza, macaroni and cheese, and burgers.

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 Williamsburg Better for Nightlife?

Charlottesville
Williamsburg

Charlottesville is a good destination for its evening party scene. However, Williamsburg is a town with minimal options for nightlife.

Charlottesville has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. 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.

Williamsburg doesn't have the most active nightlife scene. Despite its student population, there isn't much of a nightlife scene in town. There are restaurants where you can enjoy fine wine or cocktails, but nightclubs and bars are limited.

Is Charlottesville or Williamsburg Better for its Old Town?

Charlottesville
Williamsburg

Williamsburg is terrific for its old town. Also, Charlottesville is not as popular, but is still a nice university town for its historic old town charm.

Williamsburg has a unique history which comes to life in its historic area. Colonial Williamsburg is an impressively maintained area with museums, shops, and taverns. There are live reenactments of historic events as well as blacksmiths, wig shops, and carriage rides. You can wander around without a ticket, but for access to many parts of the historic area you'll need to purchase a pass.

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.


Is Charlottesville or Williamsburg Better for Hiking?

Charlottesville
Williamsburg

Charlottesville is a good destination for its hiking experiences. However, Williamsburg is not a hiking destination.

Charlottesville offers some nice hiking trails. 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.

Williamsburg is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Charlottesville or Williamsburg?

Charlottesville
Williamsburg

Williamsburg is a great town for its shopping opportunities. However, Charlottesville is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Williamsburg is well-known for its shopping. Charming shops both in the historic area and just outside sell unique items that reflect the city's past. There are souvenirs, food items, cookbooks, and home decor to choose from.

Charlottesville is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Is Charlottesville or Williamsburg Better for Christmas?

Charlottesville
Williamsburg

Charlottesville is a great destination for its Christmas activities. However, Williamsburg 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.

Williamsburg does not offer Christmas activities.


Is Charlottesville or Williamsburg Better for Families?

Charlottesville
Williamsburg

Williamsburg is terrific for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Charlottesville is not as popular, but is still a nice university town for its family-friendly activities.

With a huge array of activities for kids, Williamsburg is very family-friendly. Older kids will appreciate the history in the area. For kids of all ages there are a number of amusement parks and water parks such as Great Wolf Lodge, Busch Gardens, and the award winning Water Country USA.

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 Williamsburg Better for Couples?

Charlottesville
Williamsburg

Williamsburg is a great town for its romantic activities. Also, Charlottesville is not as popular, but is still a nice university town for couples.

Williamsburg is a great town if you're traveling as a couple. Historic Williamsburg is filled with inns and charming restaurants that make this a beautiful destination for couples. There are quaint restaurants that serve colonial food and interesting southern shops with unique trinkets. You can also wander around the campus of William and Mary College.

Charlottesville is a good university town for couples to visit. 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.

Is Charlottesville or Williamsburg Better for Students?

Charlottesville
Williamsburg

For students, both Charlottesville and Williamsburg are terrific places to visit.

Charlottesville is a very popular place to visit 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.

Many students frequent Williamsburg. The College of William and Mary has a beautiful campus and students enjoy the charming atmosphere with colonial architecture around town. There are also good restaurants and a great collegiate vibe.


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

Charlottesville
Williamsburg

Charlottesville and Williamsburg 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 Williamsburg. There are buses around town, and they offer access to Historic Williamsburg, but for most places you'll need to have your own car.

Is Charlottesville or Williamsburg a more walkable city?

Charlottesville
Williamsburg

Charlottesville and Williamsburg are decent 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.

Williamsburg is generally not very walkable. Historic Williamsburg and the neighborhoods around the College of William and Mary are all walkable, but if you plan to visit the amusement parks then you'll absolutely need a car.

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

Should I spend more time in Williamsburg or Charlottesville?

How long in Charlottesville or Williamsburg?

It's fun to spend time in either Charlottesville or Williamsburg. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Williamsburg due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Charlottesville, and 2-4 days is enough time in Williamsburg.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Williamsburg 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 Williamsburg.


  • How many days in Charlottesville or Williamsburg? Ideal Length of Stay
    Charlottesville 2-3 
    Williamsburg 2-4

One day in Charlottesville or Williamsburg?

Charlottesville is a small town where visitors enjoy the museums and nightlife. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything.

The charming destination of Williamsburg offers shopping and museums. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. 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 Williamsburg?

Charlottesville is a fun place to experience. If you have a weekend, this is a great place to go. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. So, a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

The town of Williamsburg offers museums and food. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. 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 Williamsburg?

Charlottesville is a small town, so you can explore the area with less time. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days.

Williamsburg is a great place to explore. Visiting the old town is also a must. This town offers something for everyone. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything.

A week in Charlottesville or Williamsburg?

Charlottesville is a popular place to visit. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Many people enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting Williamsburg. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. 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, Williamsburg 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 Williamsburg is $112. 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 Williamsburg in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Charlottesville $80
    Williamsburg $66
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Charlottesville $160
    Williamsburg $132
Compare Hotels in Charlottesville and Williamsburg

Looking for a hotel in Charlottesville or Williamsburg? 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 Williamsburg


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 Williamsburg Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Charlottesville $53
    Williamsburg $11

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

Is it cheaper to fly into Charlottesville or Williamsburg?

Prices for flights to both Williamsburg 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
    Williamsburg $31

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
    Williamsburg $34

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 Williamsburg

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

  • Colonial Williamsburg Ghost Stories and Walking Tour: $25
  • 1 Hour Christmastide Walking Tour in Virginia Past and Present : $25
  • 2-Hour Private Guided The best of Williamsburg Walking Tour: $175
  • Busch Gardens Williamsburg Admission Ticket: $87
  • Civil War Ghosts Tour : $25
  • Colonial Ghosts Tour By US Ghost Adventures: $24
  • Colonial Ghosts Ultimate Dead of Night Haunted Ghost Tour: $28
  • Colonial History Tour in Williamsburg Virginia: $25
  • Colonial Williamsburg & Yorktown Self-Guided Audio Tour Bundle: $25
  • Colonial Williamsburg Self-Guided Audio Walking Tour: $15
  • Dark History Tour: $25
  • Dead Of Night Tour in Williamsburg: $30

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

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 Williamsburg

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

  • Colonial Ghosts Boos and Brews Haunted Pub Crawl : $28
  • The Murder Tour and Pub Crawl: $48


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Charlottesville and Williamsburg, we can see that Charlottesville is more expensive. And not only is Williamsburg much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Williamsburg would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Williamsburg 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 Williamsburg.

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


Which is Bigger, Charlottesville or Williamsburg?

Charlottesville has a larger population, and is about 3 times larger than the population of Williamsburg. When comparing the sizes of Charlottesville and Williamsburg, 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 Williamsburg?

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 Williamsburg in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Charlottesville as well as Williamsburg. The summer months attract visitors to Charlottesville because of the hiking, the small town charm, and the family-friendly experiences. Additionally, the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Williamsburg this time of year.

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

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

It's quite rainy in Williamsburg. Charlottesville receives a lot of rain in the summer. Charlottesville usually gets around the same amount of rain in July as Williamsburg. Charlottesville gets 5 inches (128 mm) of rain, while Williamsburg receives 4.7 inches (120 mm) of rain this time of the year.


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

Should I visit Charlottesville or Williamsburg in the Autumn?

Both Williamsburg and Charlottesville are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. The hiking trails, the small town atmosphere, and the natural beauty of the area are the main draw to Charlottesville this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Williamsburg for the shopping scene and the natural beauty of the area.

In October, Charlottesville is generally around the same temperature as Williamsburg. Daily temperatures in Charlottesville average around 59°F (15°C), and Williamsburg fluctuates around 61°F (16°C).

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

In October, Charlottesville usually receives more rain than Williamsburg. Charlottesville gets 3.5 inches (90 mm) of rain, while Williamsburg receives 2.8 inches (71 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Charlottesville 59°F (15°C) 
    Williamsburg 61°F (16°C)

Should I visit Charlottesville or Williamsburg in the Winter?

Both Williamsburg and Charlottesville during the winter are popular places to visit. Many travelers come to Charlottesville for the museums, the Christmas ambience, and the cuisine. Also, many visitors come to Williamsburg in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Williamsburg can get quite cold in the winter. Be prepared for some very cold days in Charlottesville. Charlottesville is much colder than Williamsburg in the winter. The daily temperature in Charlottesville averages around 36°F (2°C) in January, and Williamsburg fluctuates around 38°F (4°C).

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

Charlottesville usually gets less rain in January than Williamsburg. Charlottesville gets 3.2 inches (83 mm) of rain, while Williamsburg receives 3.6 inches (93 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Charlottesville 36°F (2°C) 
    Williamsburg 38°F (4°C)

Should I visit Charlottesville or Williamsburg in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Charlottesville and Williamsburg. Many visitors come to Charlottesville in the spring for the small town charm and the natural beauty. Also, most visitors come to Williamsburg for the natural beauty during these months.

In the spring, Charlottesville is around the same temperature as Williamsburg. Typically, the spring temperatures in Charlottesville in April average around 58°F (14°C), and Williamsburg averages at about 57°F (14°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Williamsburg 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 Williamsburg during spring. Charlottesville gets 265 hours of sunny skies, while Williamsburg receives 253 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Charlottesville usually receives around the same amount of rain as Williamsburg. Charlottesville gets 3 inches (75 mm) of rain, while Williamsburg receives 3 inches (76 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Charlottesville 58°F (14°C) 
    Williamsburg 57°F (14°C)

Typical Weather for Williamsburg and Charlottesville

Charlottesville Williamsburg
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 36°F (2°C) 3.2 inches (83 mm) 38°F (4°C) 3.6 inches (93 mm)
Feb 39°F (4°C) 3.2 inches (80 mm) 41°F (5°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm)
Mar 49°F (9°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm) 49°F (9°C) 4.2 inches (106 mm)
Apr 58°F (14°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 57°F (14°C) 3 inches (76 mm)
May 67°F (19°C) 3.8 inches (98 mm) 66°F (19°C) 4 inches (102 mm)
Jun 74°F (24°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm) 74°F (24°C) 4.1 inches (105 mm)
Jul 78°F (26°C) 5 inches (128 mm) 78°F (26°C) 4.7 inches (120 mm)
Aug 77°F (25°C) 4.4 inches (113 mm) 78°F (25°C) 4.7 inches (120 mm)
Sep 71°F (21°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm) 72°F (22°C) 4.6 inches (118 mm)
Oct 59°F (15°C) 3.5 inches (90 mm) 61°F (16°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm)
Nov 50°F (10°C) 3.2 inches (81 mm) 52°F (11°C) 3.2 inches (81 mm)
Dec 41°F (5°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm) 43°F (6°C) 3.5 inches (90 mm)