A Travel Price Comparison for Tennessee Chattanooga vs. Gatlinburg for Nightlife, Hiking, Couples, and Attractions

Should you visit Chattanooga or Gatlinburg?

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

Should I visit Chattanooga or Gatlinburg? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Chattanooga

Chattanooga is a outdoorsy, thriving, and bustling city. Other reasons to visit include shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg is a wild, flashy, and high energy city. Other popular activities here include hiking, shopping, and museums.

Chattanooga and Gatlinburg: Pros and Cons

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


Is there more to do in Chattanooga or Gatlinburg?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Gatlinburg than Chattanooga, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Gatlinburg is better known for its skiing, nightlife, and resorts, while Chattanooga is more popular for its food. Gatlinburg is more touristy than Chattanooga and is popular for its countless entertainment venues as well as its easy access to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Also, Gatlinburg is famous for the Gatlinburg Strip. Chattanooga is well known for it's hikes, railways, and nearby natural areas.

How is Chattanooga different from Gatlinburg?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Chattanooga or Gatlinburg Better for Skiing?

Chattanooga
Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg is a popular place for winter skiing. However, Chattanooga is not a skiing destination.

Head to Gatlinburg for some great skiing and other winter activities. Ober Gatlinburg is the only ski area in Tennessee. The winter activities open after Thanksgiving and include snow skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and tubing.

Chattanooga is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Chattanooga or Gatlinburg?

Chattanooga
Gatlinburg

For an educational experience, head to a museum or a notable sight in either Chattanooga or Gatlinburg.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Chattanooga. It's a thriving city and there are a number of museums to explore. The Hunter Museum of American Art is great for art enthusiasts. There's also the Creative Discovery Museum, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, and the 6th Cavalry Museum, as well as several smaller museums that you can visit.

Gatlinburg is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. Museums range from gaudy to quirky. Check out the Hollywood Star Cars Museum, the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum, Ripley's Believe It or Not, the Hollywood Wax Museum, and the Titanic Museum. There's also the Gatlinburg Space Needle and the Gatlinburg SkyBridge.

Is the Food Better in Chattanooga or Gatlinburg? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Chattanooga
Gatlinburg

Chattanooga is very good for its local flavors and cuisine. However, Gatlinburg is not a good destination for its local cuisine and restaurants.

There are plenty of up and coming restaurants around Chattanooga. There are a growing number of restaurants that range from local dives to fine dining. Fried food is common, but you'll also find Mexican and classic hamburgers. Popular dishes that are local to the area include catfish, southern barbecue, and hush puppies.

You'll find the standard options when it comes to food in Gatlinburg. Staying true to form, restaurants in Gatlinburg cater to the tourist scene and serve up burgers, pizza, pancakes, and other classic favorites.

Is Chattanooga or Gatlinburg Better for Nightlife?

Chattanooga
Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg is an unbeatable place for its evening party scene. Also, Chattanooga is still popular, but not quite as popular for nightlife.

The nightlife in Gatlinburg is well established with world renowned clubs and venues. Live music, theatrical shows, as well as bars and clubs that stay open late into the night give this town a huge party atmosphere. During the peak season the town is packed with people looking to have a good time and you'll find tons of things to do by simply walking down the main drag.

If you're looking for night time activities Chattanooga has a few options to choose from. You'll find plenty of bars and clubs around town. There are also a number of comedy and improv clubs that are fun to check out.


Is Chattanooga or Gatlinburg Better for Resorts?

Chattanooga
Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg is a great destination for its resorts. However, Chattanooga is not a resort destination.

Gatlinburg is known as a popular and fun resort destination. There are plenty of resorts and vacation clubs near town. Many have pools, waterslides, or hot tubs.

Chattanooga is not a resort destination.

Is Chattanooga or Gatlinburg Better for Hiking?

Chattanooga
Gatlinburg

If you're looking to go hiking, Chattanooga and Gatlinburg both have great trails.

You'll find a nice variety of hiking trails around Chattanooga. It's proximity to the mountains means that you don't have to go far to find good hiking. Within a half hour of town there are more than 50 trailheads. Lookout Mountain and Signal Mountain are both hiking destinations. Several trails have swimming spots and many pass through nice forests or head to impressive viewpoints.

Many visitors go to Gatlinburg for the hiking trails. You'll need to head out of town into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but once you're there the hiking is impressive. There are waterfall hikes, trails to viewpoints, and loops that take you through wildflowers. Some of the most popular trails include Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Middle Prong Trail, and the Gatlinburg Trail.

Is the Shopping Better in Chattanooga or Gatlinburg?

Chattanooga
Gatlinburg

Shopping is a popular activity in both Gatlinburg and Chattanooga.

Many visitors go to Chattanooga to go shopping. Head downtown for local shops or to the larger malls if you want mainstream stores. Many visitors enjoy antiquing while they're in town, but there are also farmer's markets and thrift stores.

Plenty of visitors enjoy shopping while in Gatlinburg. There are tourist traps and souvenir shops around town, but you can also head to the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community where you can meet local artists and learn about their work.


Is Chattanooga or Gatlinburg Better for Families?

Chattanooga
Gatlinburg

Chattanooga is very good for its kid-friendly activities. However, Gatlinburg is not a family-friendly destination.

Chattanooga offers lots of family activities. Many people enjoy a visit to the Tennessee Aquarium, which has a touch tank and a butterfly exhibit, among other things. Near downtown, Coolidge Park is a great place for kids to get their energy out. There's also the popular Lookout Mountain Incline Railway as well as many hiking trails in the area.

Gatlinburg is not a family-friendly destination. Ober Gatlinburg is a combination ski resort and amusement park that is a highlight for many families. During the warmer season, horseback riding and waterparks are popular. There's also a Ripley's Aquarium, minigolf, and Gatlin's Fun Center. Nearby you'll find Dollywood and Pigeon Forge.

Is Chattanooga or Gatlinburg Better for Couples?

Chattanooga
Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg is a great destination for couples. Also, Chattanooga is still popular, but not quite as popular for romance.

Couples visit Gatlinburg frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. If you're looking for a flashy and ostentatious experience, then there are all the typical activities around town - Ripley's Believe It or Not, the Gatlinburg Space Needle, or Ober Gatlinburg. For a bit more nature, you can head out of town and enjoy one of the many hiking trails. There are also breweries and wineries in the area, as well as a range of resorts.

Chattanooga is a nice destination for couples. Many couples enjoy staying at a local inn and then dining in a nice restaurant or visiting a winery. There's an eclectic art district to explore as well as horse drawn carriages and plenty of nearby hiking trails.

Is Chattanooga or Gatlinburg Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Chattanooga
Gatlinburg

Chattanooga is great for times when you don't have a car. Also, Gatlinburg is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its public transit.

Visitors to Chattanooga can move around easily with public transportation. The city has a convenient and free electric shuttle service. It travels through the downtown and has stops at many points of interest such as the Chattanooga Choo Choo and the Tennessee Aquarium.

Gatlinburg has a few public transit options. There's a free trolley service that offers a convenient way to get around town.


Is Chattanooga or Gatlinburg a more walkable city?

Chattanooga
Gatlinburg

Chattanooga and Gatlinburg both are great when exploring on foot.

Chattanooga is a very walkable destination. The city has put a lot of effort into improving its walkability. In particular, the downtown is nice to explore on foot.

Gatlinburg is very walkable. The downtown area is pedestrian-friendly and most of the attractions in town can be reached on foot. If you want to leave town, a car is a must, but in town traffic and parking can be frustrating, so walk when you can.

For even more information, also check out Is Chattanooga Worth Visiting? and Is Gatlinburg Worth Visiting?.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Cruise Tours and Packages in United States of America, The Best Cultural Tours in United States of America, The Best Photography Tours in United States of America, and The Best Camping Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Gatlinburg or Chattanooga?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Chattanooga is $182, while the average daily cost in Gatlinburg is $190. 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 Chattanooga and Gatlinburg in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Chattanooga $92
    Gatlinburg $80
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Chattanooga $184
    Gatlinburg $160
Compare Hotels in Chattanooga and Gatlinburg

Looking for a hotel in Chattanooga or Gatlinburg? 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 Chattanooga


Hotels in Gatlinburg


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: Chattanooga Hotel Prices and Gatlinburg Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Chattanooga $35
    Gatlinburg $35
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Chattanooga

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Chattanooga:


  • Chattanooga Zoo (for 2)
    $16

Is it cheaper to fly into Chattanooga or Gatlinburg?

Prices for flights to both Gatlinburg and Chattanooga 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
    Chattanooga $59
    Gatlinburg $85

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Chattanooga

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

  • MLK Walking Art History & Food Tour: $65
  • Historic Southside Food Tour in Chattanooga: $99
  • ChattaBrunch Food Tour: $99
  • Downtown Chattanooga Food Tour: $119

Typical Food Prices in Gatlinburg

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


  • Chinese Food Dinner (for 2)
    $21

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Chattanooga $52
    Gatlinburg $24

Tours and Activities in Chattanooga

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

  • 2 Virtual Reality Simulator Bundle for Outdoor Experiences: $27
  • ChattaBOOga Ghost Walk Tour in Chattanooga: $23
  • Chattanooga "C-Block Prison Break" Escape Room Admission Ticket: $36
  • Chattanooga "Locker Room Lockdown: Mascot Rescue" Escape Room Admission Ticket: $34
  • Chattanooga "Secret Agent" Escape Room Admission Ticket: $34
  • Chattanooga "The Inheritance Mystery Room" Escape Room Admission Ticket: $36
  • Chattanooga "Vaccine: Search For The Zombie Cure" Escape Room Admission Ticket: $36
  • Chattanooga Guided Walking Tour: $23
  • A Spooky and Family-Friendly Walking Tour: $25
  • Adults-Only Haunted City Walking Tour: $35
  • City Trolley Tour with Coker Automotive Museum visit: $44
  • City Trolley Tour with Coker Museum visit: $44

Typical Entertainment Prices in Gatlinburg

For Gatlinburg, here are some examples of average entertainment and activity prices from previous travelers:


  • Horseback Riding Photos
    $22
  • Horseback Riding (for 2)
    $55

Tours and Activities in Gatlinburg

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

  • Museum of the Cherokee People Admission Ticket: $8.00
  • Roaring Fork Trail Self-Guided Driving Audio Tour: $9.99
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Audio Driving Tour: $15
  • Blue Ridge Parkway (Cherokee to Asheville) Self-Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park Self-Guided Driving Tour: $17
  • Rocky Top Mountain Coaster Admission Ticket in Pigeon Forge: $18
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Pigeon Forge by Zombie Scavengers: $20
  • Scenic Blue Ridge Parkway Self-Guided Driving Audio Tour: $25
  • Blue Ridge Parkway: Audio Driving Tour: $25
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cades Cove Self-Driving Bundle Tours: $25
  • Ghosts of the Smokies Haunted Walking Tour: $26
  • Beyond The Lens Interactive Museum Admission Ticket: $27

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Chattanooga $24
    Gatlinburg $15

Sample the Local Flavors in Gatlinburg

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Gatlinburg:

  • Famous Moonshine & Wine Tour From Pigeon Forge: $70


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


Which is Bigger, Chattanooga or Gatlinburg?

Chattanooga has a larger population, and is about 40 times larger than the population of Gatlinburg. When comparing the sizes of Chattanooga and Gatlinburg, 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 Chattanooga or Gatlinburg?

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 Chattanooga or Gatlinburg in the Summer?

Both Gatlinburg and Chattanooga during the summer are popular places to visit. The hiking and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Chattanooga this time of year. Furthermore, many travelers come to Gatlinburg for the hiking.

In the summer, Chattanooga is around the same temperature as Gatlinburg. Typically, the summer temperatures in Chattanooga in July average around 81°F (27°C), and Gatlinburg averages at about 81°F (27°C).

In Gatlinburg, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Chattanooga. In the summer, Chattanooga often gets less sunshine than Gatlinburg. Chattanooga gets 265 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Gatlinburg receives 294 hours of full sun.

Gatlinburg gets a good bit of rain this time of year. It rains a lot this time of the year in Chattanooga. Chattanooga usually gets more rain in July than Gatlinburg. Chattanooga gets 5.2 inches (131 mm) of rain, while Gatlinburg receives 4.7 inches (119 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Chattanooga 81°F (27°C) 
    Gatlinburg 81°F (27°C)

Should I visit Chattanooga or Gatlinburg in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Chattanooga and Gatlinburg. Many travelers come to Chattanooga for the hiking trails and the shopping scene. Furthermore, many visitors come to Gatlinburg in the autumn for the hiking trails and the shopping scene.

In October, Chattanooga is generally around the same temperature as Gatlinburg. Daily temperatures in Chattanooga average around 63°F (17°C), and Gatlinburg fluctuates around 63°F (17°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Gatlinburg this time of the year. In Chattanooga, it's very sunny this time of the year. Chattanooga usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Gatlinburg during autumn. Chattanooga gets 211 hours of sunny skies, while Gatlinburg receives 213 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Chattanooga usually receives more rain than Gatlinburg. Chattanooga gets 3 inches (75 mm) of rain, while Gatlinburg receives 2.7 inches (68 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Chattanooga 63°F (17°C) 
    Gatlinburg 63°F (17°C)

Should I visit Chattanooga or Gatlinburg in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to Chattanooga as well as Gatlinburg. Many visitors come to Chattanooga in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Additionally, most visitors come to Gatlinburg for the skiing, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months.

Gatlinburg can be very cold during winter. Chattanooga can get quite cold in the winter. Chattanooga is around the same temperature as Gatlinburg in the winter. The daily temperature in Chattanooga averages around 40°F (5°C) in January, and Gatlinburg fluctuates around 40°F (5°C).

In the winter, Chattanooga often gets more sunshine than Gatlinburg. Chattanooga gets 145 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Gatlinburg receives 134 hours of full sun.

It's quite rainy in Gatlinburg. Chattanooga receives a lot of rain in the winter. Chattanooga usually gets more rain in January than Gatlinburg. Chattanooga gets 5.4 inches (137 mm) of rain, while Gatlinburg receives 4.7 inches (119 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Chattanooga 40°F (5°C) 
    Gatlinburg 40°F (5°C)

Should I visit Chattanooga or Gatlinburg in the Spring?

Both Gatlinburg and Chattanooga are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities.

In the spring, Chattanooga is around the same temperature as Gatlinburg. Typically, the spring temperatures in Chattanooga in April average around 62°F (17°C), and Gatlinburg averages at about 62°F (17°C).

It's quite sunny in Gatlinburg. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Chattanooga. Chattanooga usually receives less sunshine than Gatlinburg during spring. Chattanooga gets 243 hours of sunny skies, while Gatlinburg receives 263 hours of full sun in the spring.

It's quite rainy in Chattanooga. In April, Chattanooga usually receives more rain than Gatlinburg. Chattanooga gets 4.4 inches (112 mm) of rain, while Gatlinburg receives 3.6 inches (92 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Chattanooga 62°F (17°C) 
    Gatlinburg 62°F (17°C)

Typical Weather for Gatlinburg and Chattanooga

Chattanooga Gatlinburg
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 40°F (5°C) 5.4 inches (137 mm) 40°F (5°C) 4.7 inches (119 mm)
Feb 44°F (7°C) 5.2 inches (132 mm) 44°F (7°C) 4.7 inches (120 mm)
Mar 53°F (12°C) 5.6 inches (143 mm) 54°F (12°C) 4.8 inches (123 mm)
Apr 62°F (17°C) 4.4 inches (112 mm) 62°F (17°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm)
May 70°F (21°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm) 70°F (21°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm)
Jun 78°F (25°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm) 78°F (25°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm)
Jul 81°F (27°C) 5.2 inches (131 mm) 81°F (27°C) 4.7 inches (119 mm)
Aug 80°F (27°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 80°F (27°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Sep 74°F (24°C) 3.7 inches (94 mm) 74°F (24°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm)
Oct 63°F (17°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 63°F (17°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm)
Nov 53°F (12°C) 3.9 inches (100 mm) 53°F (12°C) 3.5 inches (90 mm)
Dec 44°F (7°C) 5.2 inches (133 mm) 44°F (7°C) 4.5 inches (114 mm)