A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Columbia vs. Alexandria for Attractions, Couples, Food, and Nightlife

Should you visit Columbia or Alexandria?

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

Should I visit Columbia or Alexandria? 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.

Columbia

Columbia is a welcoming, suburban, and friendly city. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and shopping.

Alexandria

Alexandria is a historic, charming, and quaint city. It's a very nice small town not to be missed. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. And you can't forget about the nightlife, food, and shopping.

Columbia and Alexandria: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for students
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Public transit not as usable
  • Less walkable
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Scenic old town
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good public transit
  • Very walkable
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to Mount Vernon
Things to Consider
  • Less family-friendly


Is there more to do in Columbia or Alexandria?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Alexandria. Although Columbia and Alexandria are roughly the same size, Alexandria has more sights and attractions for tourists. Alexandria is more touristy than Columbia and is popular for its long-running history, beautiful architecture, and small town atmosphere. It is also home to Mount Vernon. Columbia is popular for its southern hospitality and friendly people.

How is Columbia different from Alexandria?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Columbia or Alexandria?

Columbia
Alexandria

Alexandria is a well-known place for its sights and museums. Also, Columbia is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its museums and history.

Alexandria offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. George Washington's Mount Vernon home is an iconic destination in Alexandria. There are also many other museums in town that focus on the region's history. The Alexandria History Museum at the Lyceum and the Gadsby's Tavern Museum are both interesting. There's Gunston Hall and the Carlyle House, as well as an archeology museum and many historic landmarks around town.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Columbia. As the state capital, there are some decent museums around town like the Columbia Museum of Art, the South Carolina Military Museum, the South Carolina State Museum, and the U.S. Army Basic Combat Training Museum.


Is the Food Better in Columbia or Alexandria? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Columbia
Alexandria

Alexandria is a popular place for its local cuisine and restaurants. However, Columbia is not a good city for its restaurants.

Visitors will find a budding food and restaurant scene in Alexandria. The food, like the city itself, reflects the area's history. There are many southern classic dishes as well as a lot of seafood. You'll find lots of local restaurants that serve high quality dishes and a quaint atmosphere.

Columbia may not make the list for most foodies, but you'll find what you need while you're in town. Barbecue and other southern favorites are among the more local dishes, but the city is also filled with fast food joints and other major chain restaurants.

Is Columbia or Alexandria Better for Nightlife?

Columbia
Alexandria

Both Columbia and Alexandria are good when it comes to partying.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Columbia. You'll find live music venues as well as low key bars and more trendy cocktail lounges.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Alexandria. There's a great bar scene, as well as tons of restaurants that make for a relaxing night out.

Is Columbia or Alexandria Better for its Old Town?

Columbia
Alexandria

Alexandria is renowned for its old town. However, Columbia does not have a historic old town.

The old town of Alexandria is one of the most recognized in the world. At the heart of the city is the historic old town. Its lined with townhomes that date back to the 18th century. There are many historic sights that have stories from the early days of the country. There are also cobblestone streets and a great waterfront.

Columbia does not have a historic old town.


Is the Shopping Better in Columbia or Alexandria?

Columbia
Alexandria

Alexandria is a well-known place for its shopping opportunities. Also, Columbia is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its shopping areas.

Alexandria is a popular shopping destination with plenty of stores. King Street is the main shopping street in town and it offers the largest concentration of independently owned boutiques in the Washington D.C. area. It's the perfectly place to spend an afternoon shopping.

Columbia has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. You'll find independent and locally owned shops along Devine Street and in the Five Points area. Also interesting are the Vista, which is a warehouse district, and Trenholm Plaza.

Is Columbia or Alexandria Better for Families?

Columbia
Alexandria

Columbia is a good destination for its kid-friendly activities. However, Alexandria is not a good destination for its family-friendly activities.

Columbia offers lots of family activities. Around town you'll find parks, playgrounds, and kid-friendly restaurants. There's a zoo in the area as well as a nice state park - Sesquicentennial State Park. There's also EdVenture Children's Museum, which is filled with hands-on exhibits.

Alexandria is not the most family-friendly destination. The waterfront area is nice to walk around. You can break up the history with an ice cream shop and kids will also enjoy taking a boat tour.

Is Columbia or Alexandria Better for Couples?

Columbia
Alexandria

Alexandria is a well-known place for its romantic activities. However, Columbia is not a good city for couples.

Alexandria is a very popular place to visit for couples. The charm of the old town makes this a quaint and romantic destination. There's a waterfront area and many historic buildings. There are also romantic restaurants and plenty of places to grab brunch.

Columbia is not always the best place to visit for a couple. You'll find parks to explore and some nice restaurants that make for a good date night.


Is Columbia or Alexandria Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Columbia
Alexandria

Alexandria is a popular place for backpackers. However, Columbia is not a good city for backpackers and budget travelers.

Plenty of budget travelers visit Alexandria. There aren't any true hostels in town, but you will find some cheap motels.

Columbia is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. While it's not an expensive place to visit, there is little in the area to attract backpackers.

Is Columbia or Alexandria Better for Students?

Columbia
Alexandria

Columbia is a good destination for its student-friendly activities. However, Alexandria is not popular with students.

It's common for students to visit Columbia. The University of South Carolina, and other nearby colleges all bring in a decent student population.

Alexandria is not popular with students.

Is Columbia or Alexandria Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Columbia
Alexandria

Alexandria is renowned for its public transit. However, Columbia is not a good city for times when you don't have a car.

Alexandria has a great public transit system. DASH is the local bus system, but the city is also connected into the Washington DC metro system.

Public transit is mostly limited in Columbia. The COMET is the bus system through town, but you really must have your own car to enjoy the city.


Is Columbia or Alexandria a more walkable city?

Columbia
Alexandria

Alexandria is renowned for its high level of walkability. However, Columbia is not a good city for its ease of walking around.

It is easy to get around Alexandria on foot. It's a very easy city to walk around, particularly in the historic heart where most tourists spend their time.

Columbia is not a very walkable city. It's filled with suburban-style development and is generally very car dependent.

For even more information, also check out Is Columbia Worth Visiting? and Is Alexandria Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Alexandria or Columbia?

How long in Columbia or Alexandria?

It's fun to spend time in either Columbia or Alexandria. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Alexandria due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 1-2 days is a good amount of time for Columbia, and 2-4 days is enough time in Alexandria.

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Alexandria than Columbia 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 Alexandria.


  • How many days in Columbia or Alexandria? Ideal Length of Stay
    Columbia 1-2 
    Alexandria 2-4

One day in Columbia or Alexandria?

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

The beautiful city of Alexandria offers food and shopping. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

A weekend in Columbia or Alexandria?

With nightlife and shopping around the destination of Columbia, 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.

Alexandria 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. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Alexandria, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.


Five days in Columbia or Alexandria?

Columbia, 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.

Alexandria 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.

A week in Columbia or Alexandria?

Columbia 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.

Alexandria is a great place to explore. Visiting the old town is also a must. 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.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 2-Week Tours in United States of America, The Best 3-Week Tours in United States of America, The Best Bicycle Tours in United States of America, and Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Alexandria or Columbia?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Columbia is $0.00, while the average daily cost in Alexandria is $0.00. 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 Columbia and Alexandria in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Columbia -
    Alexandria $38
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Columbia $0.00
    Alexandria $76
Compare Hotels in Columbia and Alexandria

Looking for a hotel in Columbia or Alexandria? 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 Columbia


Hotels in Alexandria


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: Columbia Hotel Prices and Alexandria Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Columbia -
    Alexandria -

Is it cheaper to fly into Columbia or Alexandria?

Prices for flights to both Alexandria and Columbia 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
    Columbia $5.03
    Alexandria -

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Columbia -
    Alexandria -

Tours and Activities in Columbia

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

  • Soda City: A Self-Guided Audio Tour in Columbia: $12

Tours and Activities in Alexandria

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

  • Old Town Alexandria Tour: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $5.99
  • Phantoms of the Potomac Walking Tour: $26
  • American Revolution Guided Walking Tour: $30
  • A Walk in Washington's Footsteps History Tour: $32
  • Ultimate Dead of Night Walking Ghost Tour: $38
  • Full-Day Bike Tour to Mt Vernon w/ Optional Boat: $68
  • Old Town Southern Comfort Food & History Tour: $127
  • Private Tour of George Washington's Mount Vernon: $165
  • Philadelphia Tour from Alexandria by Rail: $329

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Columbia $88
    Alexandria -

Sample the Local Flavors in Alexandria

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

  • Ghosts Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $35


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


Which is Bigger, Columbia or Alexandria?

Alexandria has a larger population, and is about 9% larger than the population of Columbia. When comparing the sizes of Columbia and Alexandria, 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 Columbia or Alexandria?

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 Columbia or Alexandria in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Columbia as well as Alexandria. Most visitors come to Columbia for the family-friendly experiences during these months. Also, the summer months attract visitors to Alexandria because of the small town charm and the family-friendly experiences.

In the summer, Columbia is around the same temperature as Alexandria. Typically, the summer temperatures in Columbia in July average around 82°F (28°C), and Alexandria averages at about 79°F (26°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Alexandria. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Columbia this time of the year. In the summer, Columbia often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Alexandria. Columbia gets 293 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Alexandria receives 278 hours of full sun.

Columbia receives a lot of rain in the summer. Columbia usually gets more rain in July than Alexandria. Columbia gets 4.6 inches (116 mm) of rain, while Alexandria receives 3.5 inches (88 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Columbia 82°F (28°C) 
    Alexandria 79°F (26°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Alexandria in the Autumn?

Both Alexandria and Columbia are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. The autumn months attract visitors to Columbia because of the shopping scene. Also, the shopping scene, the small town atmosphere, and the natural beauty of the area are the main draw to Alexandria this time of year.

In October, Columbia is generally a little warmer than Alexandria. Daily temperatures in Columbia average around 64°F (18°C), and Alexandria fluctuates around 60°F (15°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Columbia. Columbia usually receives more sunshine than Alexandria during autumn. Columbia gets 230 hours of sunny skies, while Alexandria receives 197 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Columbia usually receives around the same amount of rain as Alexandria. Columbia gets 3 inches (75 mm) of rain, while Alexandria receives 2.9 inches (73 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Columbia 64°F (18°C) 
    Alexandria 60°F (15°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Alexandria in the Winter?

Both Alexandria and Columbia during the winter are popular places to visit. The museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Columbia this time of year. Furthermore, many travelers come to Alexandria for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Be prepared for some very cold days in Alexandria. Columbia is much warmer than Alexandria in the winter. The daily temperature in Columbia averages around 45°F (7°C) in January, and Alexandria fluctuates around 35°F (1°C).

In the winter, Columbia often gets more sunshine than Alexandria. Columbia gets 171 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Alexandria receives 139 hours of full sun.

Columbia usually gets more rain in January than Alexandria. Columbia gets 3.7 inches (93 mm) of rain, while Alexandria receives 2.7 inches (68 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Columbia 45°F (7°C) 
    Alexandria 35°F (1°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Alexandria in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Columbia and Alexandria. Furthermore, many visitors come to Alexandria in the spring for the small town charm and the natural beauty.

In the spring, Columbia is a little warmer than Alexandria. Typically, the spring temperatures in Columbia in April average around 64°F (18°C), and Alexandria averages at about 56°F (14°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Alexandria this time of the year. In Columbia, it's very sunny this time of the year. Columbia usually receives more sunshine than Alexandria during spring. Columbia gets 273 hours of sunny skies, while Alexandria receives 228 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Columbia usually receives around the same amount of rain as Alexandria. Columbia gets 2.8 inches (72 mm) of rain, while Alexandria receives 2.8 inches (72 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Columbia 64°F (18°C) 
    Alexandria 56°F (14°C)

Typical Weather for Alexandria and Columbia

Columbia Alexandria
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 45°F (7°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm) 35°F (1°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm)
Feb 48°F (9°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm) 37°F (3°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
Mar 56°F (13°C) 3.7 inches (95 mm) 47°F (8°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Apr 64°F (18°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm) 56°F (14°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm)
May 72°F (22°C) 3 inches (77 mm) 66°F (19°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm)
Jun 78°F (26°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm) 75°F (24°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm)
Jul 82°F (28°C) 4.6 inches (116 mm) 79°F (26°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm)
Aug 81°F (27°C) 5.8 inches (147 mm) 78°F (26°C) 3.9 inches (98 mm)
Sep 75°F (24°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm) 71°F (22°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm)
Oct 64°F (18°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 60°F (15°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm)
Nov 56°F (13°C) 2.1 inches (54 mm) 50°F (10°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Dec 48°F (9°C) 2.6 inches (67 mm) 39°F (4°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)