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

Should you visit Columbia or Anchorage?

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

Should I visit Columbia or Anchorage? 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 suburban, friendly, and welcoming city. It's also known for nightlife, shopping, and museums.

Anchorage

Anchorage is a scenic, breathtaking, and cultural city. You'll find world class beauty here as well. And you can't forget about the food, hiking, and shopping.

Columbia and Anchorage: 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
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife


Is there more to do in Columbia or Anchorage?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Anchorage than Columbia. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. Anchorage is very popular for its food, hiking, and impressive beauty, while Columbia attracts visitors for its nightlife. Anchorage is more touristy than Columbia and is known for its breathtaking natural beauty, impressive wildlife, stunning hiking trails, and unique local culture. It is also well known for Chugach State Park. Columbia is famous for its southern hospitality and friendly people.

How is Columbia different from Anchorage?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Columbia
Anchorage

Plenty of people visit the nice sights and museums in both Columbia and Anchorage.

Columbia offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. 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.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Anchorage. While most people visit for the outdoor experiences, there are a few museums where you can learn about the local culture and wildlife. Popular museums include the the Alaska Native Heritage Center, the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, the Alaska Aviation Museum, and the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature.


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

Columbia
Anchorage

Anchorage 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 Anchorage. Food is expensive in town, but there are some unique local specialties that you must try. Many restaurants offer fresh seafood and local meats. Favorites include yak meat, king crab, and fresh oysters.

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 Anchorage Better for Nightlife?

Columbia
Anchorage

Columbia is a city with good options for nightlife. However, Anchorage is not a good city for nightlife and 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.

Those looking for nightlife will find a few places to hang out in Anchorage. The town's nightlife mostly consists of local bars where you can hang out. Check out Koot's, which is a longstanding favorite.

Is Columbia or Anchorage Better for Hiking?

Columbia
Anchorage

Anchorage is renowned for the nearby hiking options. However, Columbia is not a hiking destination.

People visit Anchorage specifically for its hiking, as the natural beauty is well-known. The town is surrounded by wilderness and it's not hard to escape into nature. You can choose between short walks, long day trips, and multi-day treks, with everything in between available as well. There are more than 300 miles of hiking trails near town and several favorites include Byron Glacier Trail, Thunderbird Falls Trail, and Flattop Mountain.

Columbia is not a hiking destination.


Is the Shopping Better in Columbia or Anchorage?

Columbia
Anchorage

Both Columbia and Anchorage are nice shopping destinations.

Columbia offers some nice shopping areas. 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.

Anchorage has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. There are plenty of local gift shops and boutiques where you can pick up local Alaskan crafts and products. There's no sales tax, but prices can still be a bit steep. But if you're looking for something uniquely local to remember your trip, you don't have to look hard.

Is Columbia or Anchorage Better for Families?

Columbia
Anchorage

Kids will enjoy a visit to either Columbia or Anchorage.

Columbia is a family-friendly place to visit. 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.

Anchorage is a family-friendly city. Kids who appreciate nature will appreciate this unique setting. Everyone will enjoy a glacier cruise, but you can hang out with the locals in Westchester Lagoon, see the animals at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, and learn about the area at the Anchorage Museum.

Is Columbia or Anchorage Better for Couples?

Columbia
Anchorage

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

Anchorage is a very popular place to visit for couples. The city makes a good base for couples who want to explore the surrounding beauty. The landscapes make a beautiful backdrop for a romantic trip, and the adventure activities will make for an unforgettable experience. There are plenty of outdoor activities and adventure sports that couples can enjoy together and the beauty of the region is breathtaking.

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 Anchorage Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Columbia
Anchorage

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

Plenty of budget travelers visit Anchorage. There are a few good budget places to stay, and backpackers will also have plenty of outdoor wilderness to explore near town. It's important to remember that Alaska is known for its challenging wilderness so, unless you're experienced, you should take a guide.

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 Anchorage Better for Students?

Columbia
Anchorage

Columbia is a city with good options for students. However, Anchorage is not popular with students.

Columbia is a good city to visit for students. The University of South Carolina, and other nearby colleges all bring in a decent student population.

Anchorage is not popular with students.

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

Columbia
Anchorage

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

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

Public transit is quite limited in Anchorage. There is the People Mover bus system that transports riders around town, but to truly experience the region, you must have a car.


Is Columbia or Anchorage a more walkable city?

Columbia
Anchorage

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

Anchorage is generally not very walkable. The downtown area is compact so you can wander to the nearby shops and restaurants on foot, but most people visit with the goal of exploring outside of town. For that you need a car.

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 Anchorage Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Anchorage or Columbia?

How long in Columbia or Anchorage?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Columbia and Anchorage. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Anchorage than in Columbia. Usually, 1-2 days is a good amount of time for Columbia, and 1-3 days is enough time in Anchorage.

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

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

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


  • How many days in Columbia or Anchorage? Ideal Length of Stay
    Columbia 1-2 
    Anchorage 1-3

One day in Columbia or Anchorage?

You'll find shopping and museums around the city of Columbia. One day is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Columbia has to offer. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

The beautiful city of Anchorage offers food and shopping. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one day here. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

A weekend in Columbia or Anchorage?

You'll find museums and nightlife around the welcoming destination of Columbia. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend.A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from.

Anchorage 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 spend some time hiking while you're in the area. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Anchorage, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.


Five days in Columbia or Anchorage?

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and shopping when visiting the friendly city of Columbia. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

Anchorage is a popular choice for travelers. It's no surprise that hiking is why people visit. 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 Anchorage?

Columbia is a popular choice for travelers. One week is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

Anchorage is a great place to explore. It's no surprise that hiking is why people visit. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. 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.


Which place is cheaper, Anchorage 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 Anchorage is $191. 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 Anchorage in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Columbia -
    Anchorage $117
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Columbia $0.00
    Anchorage $234
Compare Hotels in Columbia and Anchorage

Looking for a hotel in Columbia or Anchorage? 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 Anchorage


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 Anchorage Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Columbia -
    Anchorage $27

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Anchorage

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Anchorage:

  • Private Departure Transfer - to Anchorage Airport (ANC): $62
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Anchorage Airport ANC: $62
  • Seward to Anchorage- Post Cruise Curated Wildlife Tour +Transfer: $197
  • Anchorage to Seward- Pre-Cruise Curated Wildlife Tour +Transfer: $219
  • Private Transfer Anchorage Airport (ANC) to Whittier Cruise Port: $232
  • Anchorage/Seward: Private 1-Way Transfer in Either Direction: $233
  • SUV-Private Transfer, Anchorage to Seward Cruise Ship Terminal: $299
  • SUV-Private Transfer, Anchorage to Whittier Cruise Ship Terminal: $299
  • SUV-Private Transfer, Whittier Cruise ship to Anchorage: $299

Is it cheaper to fly into Columbia or Anchorage?

Prices for flights to both Anchorage 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
    Anchorage $50

Typical Food Prices in Anchorage

Some typical examples of dining costs in Anchorage are as follows:


  • Bread
    $4.25
  • Breakfast for Two
    $17

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Anchorage

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

  • City of Anchorage SIGHTSEEING & FOOD Tour: $190

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Columbia -
    Anchorage $30

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

Typical Entertainment Prices in Anchorage

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Anchorage are as follows:


  • 1 Day Bike Rental
    $33
  • 1/2 Day Rafting Trip
    $105

Tours and Activities in Anchorage

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

  • Anchorage Museum General Admission Ticket: $20
  • 1-Hour Trolley Tour: $25
  • Anchorage Trolley Tour: $25
  • Botanical Garden Walking Tour: $40
  • Guided Tour of the Alaska Botanical Garden: $45
  • Deluxe Trolley City Tour: $50
  • Anchorage Trolley's Deluxe City Tour: $50
  • 3 Hour Winter City Tour in Anchorage: $59
  • Last Frontier Anchorage City & Wilderness Tour - Top Winter Value: $65
  • Anchorage City Tour w/ Taste of Wild Smoked Salmon & Reindeer Sausage: $69
  • Turnagain Arm Tour: "A Must See Destination": $69
  • Winter - Anchorage All Around City Tour: $69

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Columbia $88
    Anchorage $20

Sample the Local Flavors in Anchorage

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Anchorage:

  • Half-Day Anchorage Craft Brewery Tour and Tastings: $179


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

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


Which is Bigger, Columbia or Anchorage?

Anchorage has a larger population, and is about 2 times larger than the population of Columbia. When comparing the sizes of Columbia and Anchorage, 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 Anchorage?

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

Should I visit Columbia or Anchorage in the Summer?

Both Anchorage and Columbia are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. Many visitors come to Columbia in the summer for the family-friendly experiences. Also, most visitors come to Anchorage for the hiking and the family-friendly experiences during these months.

In July, Columbia is generally much warmer than Anchorage. Daily temperatures in Columbia average around 82°F (28°C), and Anchorage fluctuates around 59°F (15°C).

It's quite sunny in Anchorage. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Columbia. Columbia usually receives more sunshine than Anchorage during summer. Columbia gets 293 hours of sunny skies, while Anchorage receives 240 hours of full sun in the summer.

It's quite rainy in Columbia. In July, Columbia usually receives more rain than Anchorage. Columbia gets 4.6 inches (116 mm) of rain, while Anchorage receives 1.7 inches (44 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Columbia 82°F (28°C) 
    Anchorage 59°F (15°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Anchorage in the Autumn?

Both Anchorage and Columbia during the autumn are popular places to visit. Most visitors come to Columbia for the shopping scene during these months. Also, the autumn months attract visitors to Anchorage because of the hiking trails, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

The weather in Anchorage can be very cold. Columbia is much warmer than Anchorage in the autumn. The daily temperature in Columbia averages around 64°F (18°C) in October, and Anchorage fluctuates around 35°F (2°C).

It's quite sunny in Columbia. In the autumn, Columbia often gets more sunshine than Anchorage. Columbia gets 230 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Anchorage receives 118 hours of full sun.

Columbia usually gets more rain in October than Anchorage. Columbia gets 3 inches (75 mm) of rain, while Anchorage receives 2.1 inches (53 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Columbia 64°F (18°C) 
    Anchorage 35°F (2°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Anchorage in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Columbia and Anchorage. The winter months attract visitors to Columbia because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Anchorage this time of year.

It's quite cold in Anchorage in the winter. In the winter, Columbia is much warmer than Anchorage. Typically, the winter temperatures in Columbia in January average around 45°F (7°C), and Anchorage averages at about 15°F (-9°C).

Columbia usually receives more sunshine than Anchorage during winter. Columbia gets 171 hours of sunny skies, while Anchorage receives 80 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Columbia usually receives more rain than Anchorage. Columbia gets 3.7 inches (93 mm) of rain, while Anchorage receives 0.7 inches (19 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Columbia 45°F (7°C) 
    Anchorage 15°F (-9°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Anchorage in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Columbia as well as Anchorage. Also, many travelers come to Anchorage for the natural beauty.

Be prepared for some very cold days in Anchorage. In April, Columbia is generally much warmer than Anchorage. Daily temperatures in Columbia average around 64°F (18°C), and Anchorage fluctuates around 36°F (2°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Anchorage. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Columbia this time of the year. In the spring, Columbia often gets more sunshine than Anchorage. Columbia gets 273 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Anchorage receives 233 hours of full sun.

Columbia usually gets more rain in April than Anchorage. Columbia gets 2.8 inches (72 mm) of rain, while Anchorage receives 0.7 inches (18 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Columbia 64°F (18°C) 
    Anchorage 36°F (2°C)

Typical Weather for Anchorage and Columbia

Columbia Anchorage
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 45°F (7°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm) 15°F (-9°C) 0.7 inches (19 mm)
Feb 48°F (9°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm) 19°F (-7°C) 0.8 inches (21 mm)
Mar 56°F (13°C) 3.7 inches (95 mm) 26°F (-3°C) 0.7 inches (18 mm)
Apr 64°F (18°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm) 36°F (2°C) 0.7 inches (18 mm)
May 72°F (22°C) 3 inches (77 mm) 47°F (8°C) 0.8 inches (20 mm)
Jun 78°F (26°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm) 55°F (13°C) 1.1 inches (27 mm)
Jul 82°F (28°C) 4.6 inches (116 mm) 59°F (15°C) 1.7 inches (44 mm)
Aug 81°F (27°C) 5.8 inches (147 mm) 57°F (14°C) 2.6 inches (67 mm)
Sep 75°F (24°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm) 49°F (9°C) 2.6 inches (66 mm)
Oct 64°F (18°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 35°F (2°C) 2.1 inches (53 mm)
Nov 56°F (13°C) 2.1 inches (54 mm) 22°F (-6°C) 1.1 inches (27 mm)
Dec 48°F (9°C) 2.6 inches (67 mm) 17°F (-8°C) 1.1 inches (28 mm)