A Travel Price Comparison for Ohio Cincinnati vs. Columbus for Attractions, Families, Nightlife, and Backpackers

Should you visit Cincinnati or Columbus?

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

Should I visit Cincinnati or Columbus? 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.

Cincinnati

Cincinnati is a hard-working, blue collar, and authentic city. Other reasons to visit include nightlife, shopping, and museums.

Columbus

Columbus is a welcoming, down-to-earth, and authentic city. And you can't forget about the shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Cincinnati and Columbus: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Cincinnati or Columbus?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Columbus than Cincinnati. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. Columbus is very popular for its food, while Cincinnati attracts visitors for its museums. Cincinnati is famous for its breweries and down-to-earth personality. Columbus is famous for its youthful energy and its growing arts scene. It is also well known for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

How is Cincinnati different from Columbus?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Cincinnati or Columbus?

Cincinnati
Columbus

Cincinnati is a very popular place for its museums and history. Also, Columbus is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its museums and landmarks.

Cincinnati offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. You'll find both traditional and quirky museums around town. For outside-the-box, check out the American Sign Museum or the Behringer-Crawford Museum. Art museums include the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Contemporary Arts Center, and the Taft Museum of Art. Other popular museums include the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal.

Columbus offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. Popular museums around town include the Center of Science and Technology, the Franklin Park Conservatory, the Columbus Museum of Art, and the Ohio History Center.


Is the Food Better in Cincinnati or Columbus? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Cincinnati
Columbus

Columbus is a city with a few options for its restaurant scene. However, Cincinnati is not a culinary destination.

You'll find the standard options when it comes to food in Columbus. Hearty and heavy comfort food is the mainstay in this town. There's pizza, casseroles, sausage, and milkshakes around town.

Cincinnati is not a culinary destination.

Is Cincinnati or Columbus Better for Nightlife?

Cincinnati
Columbus

Party-goers will find similar levels of energy in Cincinnati and Columbus.

Cincinnati has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. The nightlife scene is diverse and includes music venues, breweries, and nightclubs. In addition to the city's downtown, you'll find trendy places to hang out in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Breweries are popular in the city, in part because of its German roots.

If you're looking for night time activities Columbus has a few options to choose from. The live music scene is growing. There are also a growing number of breweries around town.

Is the Shopping Better in Cincinnati or Columbus?

Cincinnati
Columbus

Shopping is a popular activity in both Columbus and Cincinnati.

Cincinnati offers some nice shopping areas. There are large shopping malls and retail outlets. You'll also find local boutiques in the Montgomery or Mariemont areas.

Columbus has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. In addition to the standard shopping malls and retail outlets, there are some interesting shops in the Short North Arts District, German Village, and Easton Town Center.


Is Cincinnati or Columbus Better for Families?

Cincinnati
Columbus

Columbus is well known for its family-friendly activities. Also, Cincinnati is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

Columbus is a very kid-friendly city. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a highlight for many families. Right by it is the Zoombezi Bay Waterpark. For hands-on science-based activities check out the Center of Science and Industry. Kids will also love the Legoland Discovery Center or the Anthony-Thomas Candy Factory. There are also many outdoor parks, greenways, and playgrounds to visit.

Cincinnati offers lots of family activities. There's a surprising number of kid-friendly activities around town like the Cincinnati Zoo, the Cincinnati Museum Center, Newport Aquarium, and Smale Riverfront Park.

Is Cincinnati or Columbus Better for Couples?

Cincinnati
Columbus

Most people don't think of either Cincinnati or Columbus as a couple's destination.

Most people don't think of Cincinnati as a couple's destination. If you do find yourself in town for a few days, there are several good restaurants and a number of music venues that can keep the visit fun and entertaining.

Columbus is not always the best place to visit for a couple. You'll find restaurants and music venues that make for a nice date night. There are also wine tours and other entertainment options.

Is Cincinnati or Columbus Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Cincinnati
Columbus

Cincinnati is a popular place for backpackers and budget travelers. However, Columbus is lacking in good options for backpackers.

Plenty of budget travelers visit Cincinnati. There are actually a couple of hostels in town for backpackers or students.

Columbus is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. Although it's often overlooked by tourists, there is a hostel in town for backpackers and budget travelers.


Is Cincinnati or Columbus Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Cincinnati
Columbus

Cincinnati is a popular place for times when you don't have a car. However, Columbus is lacking in good options for its public transit.

Cincinnati has some public transit options. There are two bus systems around town - the METRO and TANK bus systems. There's also a streetcar that travels through the downtown.

Public transit is generally limited in Columbus. While there's a bus system, you'll really want to have a vehicle to get around town efficiently.

Is Cincinnati or Columbus a more walkable city?

Cincinnati
Columbus

Cincinnati is a very popular place for its walkability. Also, Columbus is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its high level of walkability.

Cincinnati is very walkable. There are several surprisingly walkable areas, particularly downtown and the nearby neighborhoods.

Columbus is a somewhat walkable place. The older neighborhoods are the most walkable, but if you want to get around town, you'll need to have a car.

For even more information, also check out Is Cincinnati Worth Visiting? and Is Columbus Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Columbus or Cincinnati?

How long in Cincinnati or Columbus?

You'll be able to find lots of things to do in Cincinnati or Columbus to fill your time. In our opinion, Cincinnati has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in Cincinnati than Columbus. However, 1-2 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Cincinnati than Columbus 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 Cincinnati.


  • How many days in Cincinnati or Columbus? Ideal Length of Stay
    Cincinnati 1-2 
    Columbus 1-2

One day in Cincinnati or Columbus?

The city of Cincinnati offers nightlife and shopping. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one day here. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

With museums and nightlife around the friendly city of Columbus, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Columbus, one day is sufficent for most.


A weekend in Cincinnati or Columbus?

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

With nightlife and shopping around the destination of Columbus, there's plenty to do. It offers something for everyone. Many people spend a weekend here. In a weekend, you should have a good grasp of this city.

Five days in Cincinnati or Columbus?

Cincinnati 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.

Columbus, a popular city, is full of activities for travelers. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

A week in Cincinnati or Columbus?

Cincinnati 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 city offers something for everyone.

Columbus is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Photography Tours in United States of America, The Best Camping Tours in United States of America, The Best Romantic Tours for Couples in United States of America, and The Best Polar Tours & Cruises in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Columbus or Cincinnati?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Cincinnati is $183, while the average daily cost in Columbus is $158. 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 Cincinnati and Columbus in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Cincinnati $102
    Columbus $72
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Cincinnati $204
    Columbus $144
Compare Hotels in Cincinnati and Columbus

Looking for a hotel in Cincinnati or Columbus? 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 Cincinnati


Hotels in Columbus


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: Cincinnati Hotel Prices and Columbus Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Cincinnati $25
    Columbus $50

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cincinnati

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Cincinnati:

  • Cincinnati to Cincinnati Airport (CVG) - Departure Private Transfer: $35

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Columbus

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

  • Columbus John Glen Airport (CMH) to Columbus - Arrival Private Transfer: $66
  • Columbus John Glen Airport (CMH) to Columbus - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $133
  • Columbus Ohio (CMH) Airport Arrival or Departure Private Transfer: $180
  • Columbus to Columbus John Glen Airport (CMH) - Departure Private Transfer: $66

Is it cheaper to fly into Cincinnati or Columbus?

Prices for flights to both Columbus and Cincinnati 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
    Cincinnati $55
    Columbus $49

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Cincinnati

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

  • Ohio River Cruise with Buffet Dinner: $61
  • Mainstrasse Village Food Tour in Covington KY: $79
  • Cincinnati Court Street Food Tour with Vegan Options: $85
  • Cincinnati Streetcar Food Tour With Findlay Market : $85
  • Cincinnati Walking Sightseeing Tour with Pizza and Ice-cream: $120

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Cincinnati $26
    Columbus $46

Tours and Activities in Cincinnati

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

  • Cincinnati Ghosts By US Ghost Adventures: $30
  • Haunted Cincinnati Booze and Boos Ghost Walking Tour: $36
  • Tour of Historic Wesleyan Cemetery: $20
  • 1919: The year that changed baseball tour: $31
  • Brewers & Barons Trail Tour: $45
  • Built on Beer Tour: $45
  • Cellars and Saloons Sunday Brunch Tour in Cincinnati: $75
  • Cincinnati Ballparks & Breweries Bus Tour: $69
  • Cincinnati Brewing & Distilling Tasting Tour: $59
  • Cincinnati Ethnic Food and Culture Tour in Over the Rhine: $85
  • Cincinnati Findlay Market Food Walking Tour: $89
  • Cincinnati Reds Baseball Game Ticket at Great American Ballpark: $19

Tours and Activities in Columbus

For Columbus, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Columbus by Crazy Dash: $10
  • Experience the season with a scavenger hunt in Columbus with Holly Jolly Hunt: $20
  • Columbus Scavenger Hunt Adventure : $21
  • Columbus Blue Jackets Ice Hockey Game Ticket at Nationwide Arena: $24
  • LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus Ticket: $28
  • The Escape Game Epic 60-Minute Adventures: $41
  • 1-Hour Themed Escape Room Adventure & Narrative: $41
  • Amazing Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $44
  • Trolley Pub Holiday Lights Tour in Columbus: $45

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Cincinnati $11
    Columbus $20

Sample the Local Flavors in Cincinnati

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

  • Cincinnati Bar Hunt: Cin-sational Cincinnati Bar Crawl: $12
  • Hidden Brewery Caverns Tour in Cincinnati with Beer Tasting: $49
  • Craft Brewery 3 Stop Hop: $64
  • Cincinnati Original Craft Brewery Small-Group Tour: $68


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


Which is Bigger, Cincinnati or Columbus?

Columbus has a larger population, and is about 2 times larger than the population of Cincinnati. When comparing the sizes of Cincinnati and Columbus, 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 Cincinnati or Columbus?

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 Cincinnati or Columbus in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Cincinnati as well as Columbus. The summer months attract visitors to Cincinnati because of the family-friendly experiences. Additionally, the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Columbus this time of year.

In July, Cincinnati is generally around the same temperature as Columbus. Daily temperatures in Cincinnati average around 79°F (26°C), and Columbus fluctuates around 77°F (25°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Columbus. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Cincinnati this time of the year. In the summer, Cincinnati often gets more sunshine than Columbus. Cincinnati gets 298 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Columbus receives 254 hours of full sun.

It's quite rainy in Columbus. Cincinnati usually gets less rain in July than Columbus. Cincinnati gets 3.5 inches (90 mm) of rain, while Columbus receives 4.4 inches (112 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Cincinnati 79°F (26°C) 
    Columbus 77°F (25°C)

Should I visit Cincinnati or Columbus in the Autumn?

Both Columbus and Cincinnati are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. The shopping scene are the main draw to Cincinnati this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Columbus for the shopping scene.

Cincinnati is around the same temperature as Columbus in the autumn. The daily temperature in Cincinnati averages around 58°F (15°C) in October, and Columbus fluctuates around 57°F (14°C).

Cincinnati usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Columbus during autumn. Cincinnati gets 188 hours of sunny skies, while Columbus receives 179 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Cincinnati usually receives around the same amount of rain as Columbus. Cincinnati gets 2.2 inches (56 mm) of rain, while Columbus receives 2.2 inches (55 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Cincinnati 58°F (15°C) 
    Columbus 57°F (14°C)

Should I visit Cincinnati or Columbus in the Winter?

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

Columbus can get quite cold in the winter. Be prepared for some very cold days in Cincinnati. In the winter, Cincinnati is much warmer than Columbus. Typically, the winter temperatures in Cincinnati in January average around 31°F (-0°C), and Columbus averages at about 30°F (-1°C).

In the winter, Cincinnati often gets more sunshine than Columbus. Cincinnati gets 129 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Columbus receives 105 hours of full sun.

Cincinnati usually gets around the same amount of rain in January as Columbus. Cincinnati gets 2.2 inches (57 mm) of rain, while Columbus receives 2.2 inches (56 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Cincinnati 31°F (-0°C) 
    Columbus 30°F (-1°C)

Should I visit Cincinnati or Columbus in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Cincinnati and Columbus.

In April, Cincinnati is generally a little warmer than Columbus. Daily temperatures in Cincinnati average around 56°F (14°C), and Columbus fluctuates around 54°F (12°C).

In Cincinnati, it's very sunny this time of the year. Cincinnati usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Columbus during spring. Cincinnati gets 215 hours of sunny skies, while Columbus receives 200 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Cincinnati usually receives more rain than Columbus. Cincinnati gets 3.5 inches (89 mm) of rain, while Columbus receives 3.2 inches (81 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Cincinnati 56°F (14°C) 
    Columbus 54°F (12°C)

Typical Weather for Columbus and Cincinnati

Cincinnati Columbus
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 31°F (-0°C) 2.2 inches (57 mm) 30°F (-1°C) 2.2 inches (56 mm)
Feb 35°F (2°C) 2.5 inches (64 mm) 33°F (1°C) 2.2 inches (55 mm)
Mar 46°F (8°C) 3.9 inches (100 mm) 45°F (7°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Apr 56°F (14°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm) 54°F (12°C) 3.2 inches (81 mm)
May 66°F (19°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm) 65°F (18°C) 4.1 inches (105 mm)
Jun 74°F (24°C) 3.1 inches (80 mm) 73°F (23°C) 4 inches (102 mm)
Jul 79°F (26°C) 3.5 inches (90 mm) 77°F (25°C) 4.4 inches (112 mm)
Aug 77°F (25°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm) 75°F (24°C) 3.7 inches (95 mm)
Sep 71°F (21°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm) 69°F (20°C) 3 inches (76 mm)
Oct 58°F (15°C) 2.2 inches (56 mm) 57°F (14°C) 2.2 inches (55 mm)
Nov 48°F (9°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm) 47°F (8°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Dec 37°F (3°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 35°F (2°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm)