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

Should you visit Columbia or Austin?

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

Should I visit Columbia or Austin? 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.

Austin

Austin is a eccentric, unconventional, and lively city. It's a big city with many activities to entertain visitors, too. This is a very beautiful destination, too. And you can't forget about the food, shopping, and museums.

Columbia and Austin: Pros and Cons

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


Is there more to do in Columbia or Austin?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Austin than Columbia. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. Austin is more touristy than Columbia and is known for its live music scene, excellent Texas barbecue, authentic Mexican food, and vibrant student population. It is also well known for The Texas Capital. Columbia is famous for its southern hospitality and friendly people.

How is Columbia different from Austin?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Columbia
Austin

Austin 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.

Austin offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. Austin has a number of great museums and sights including the Blanton Museum of Art, the Mexic-Arte Museum, and the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. There's also a huge supply of local art galleries. Perhaps the most notable landmark in town is the beautiful Texas Capital Building

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 Austin? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Columbia
Austin

Austin is renowned for its local cuisine and restaurants. However, Columbia is not a good city for its restaurants.

For foodies, Austin is an obvious choice, as it is one of the food capitals of the world. It is credited with being the original food truck city and you'll find many diverse food truck options around town. There is also amazing Mexican food, world renowned Texas barbecue, and many modern restaurants that reflect the city's culinary influence.

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 Austin Better for Nightlife?

Columbia
Austin

Austin is renowned for nightlife and partying. Also, Columbia is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its evening party scene.

Austin is a destination that you simply have to visit at least once for nightlife. It's nightlife is centered around its thriving live music scene. Head for Sixth Street for some of the most popular bars and clubs. There are also many music festivals and outdoor concerts, particularly during the summer months. Popular bars and clubs around town include the White Horse, the Rose Room, and Antone's Nightclub.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Columbia. You'll find live music venues as well as low key bars and more trendy cocktail lounges.

Is Columbia or Austin Better for Music?

Columbia
Austin

Austin is renowned for its live music scene. However, Columbia is not a live music destination.

Live music, and music in many other forms, is everyone in Austin Music is what gives this city its character. There are many live music venues, concerts, and music festivals to experience. Austin has influenced many music genres such as rock, blues, jazz, hip hop, punk, and country.

Columbia is not a live music destination.


Is Columbia or Austin Better for Hiking?

Columbia
Austin

Austin is a moderate city for the nearby hiking options. However, Columbia is not a hiking destination.

Many visitors include a hike while visiting Austin. Head just outside of town to explore a few great hiking spots right near town.

Columbia is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Columbia or Austin?

Columbia
Austin

Both Columbia and Austin 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.

Austin has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. There are a number of local boutiques around town where you can enjoy shopping.

Is Columbia or Austin Better for Families?

Columbia
Austin

Kids will enjoy a visit to either Columbia or Austin.

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.

Austin is a family-friendly city. The city is a popular destination for young travelers, but there are also some family-friendly activities like Barton Springs, Zilker Park, and several natural swimming holes. There's a number of nice parks around town that are great for kids of all ages.


Is Columbia or Austin Better for Couples?

Columbia
Austin

Austin is a popular place for its romantic activities. However, Columbia is not a good city for couples.

Austin makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Young couples will enjoy the city for its lively nightlife, fun music scene, and youthful vibe. There are also many outdoor areas where you can hike or explore. The restaurant scene is among the best as well.

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 Austin Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Columbia
Austin

Austin is a well-known place for backpackers. However, Columbia is not a good city for backpackers and budget travelers.

Austin is a great city to visit for backpackers. Although the city is relatively small, it does see a disproportionate number of backpackers. There are a couple of hostels in town as well.

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 Austin Better for Students?

Columbia
Austin

Austin is a well-known place for students. Also, Columbia is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its student-friendly activities.

Austin is a very popular city for students and younger travelers. The city has a huge university, the University of Texas at Austin, and it is a young city with tons for international students. There is a great nightlife scene and plenty for students to see and do.

Plenty of students visit Columbia. The University of South Carolina, and other nearby colleges all bring in a decent student population.


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

Columbia
Austin

Both Columbia and Austin offer reasonable public transit options.

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 mostly limited in Austin. There are city buses and a very limited lightrail system, but you really need a car to explore the city.

Is Columbia or Austin a more walkable city?

Columbia
Austin

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

Austin is generally not very walkable. The city, like most southern cities, isn't very walkable and it's important to have a car to get around. There are some downtown areas that are pedestrian-friendly.

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 Austin Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Austin or Columbia?

How long in Columbia or Austin?

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

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

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

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


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

One day in Columbia or Austin?

Many travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the destination of Columbia. One day is often enough time to do most activities.

The city of Austin offers museums and nightlife. 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 Austin?

Columbia is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Austin 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 Austin, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Five days in Columbia or Austin?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Columbia. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Austin 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 Austin?

Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the friendly destination of Columbia. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

Austin 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.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Wildlife Tours to United States of America, The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in United States of America, The Best Historical Tours in United States of America, and The Best 10-Day Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Austin 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 Austin is $142. 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 Austin in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Columbia -
    Austin $56
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Columbia $0.00
    Austin $112
Compare Hotels in Columbia and Austin

Looking for a hotel in Columbia or Austin? 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 Austin


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 Austin Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Columbia -
    Austin $47

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Austin

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Austin:

  • Austin-Bergstrom Airport (AUS) to Austin City - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $96
  • Austin Airport Group Pickup / Transfer up to 1 hour away.: $150

Is it cheaper to fly into Columbia or Austin?

Prices for flights to both Austin 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
    Austin $35

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Austin

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

  • Devour Downtown Austin Walking Food Tour: $80
  • Famous Texas BBQ & Food Tour in Austin: $89
  • Austin South Congress Walking Food Tour for Small Groups: $95
  • Austin Walking Food Tour With Secret Food Tours: $99
  • The Brunch Bus: Food Tour with a Live Band on Board the Bus!: $125
  • Private Guided Food Tour of Austin Neighborhoods: $135

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Columbia -
    Austin $28

Typical Entertainment Prices in Austin

Here are a few typical costs in Austin for activities, ticket prices, and tours that come from previous visitors:


  • Austin Duck Tour
    $31

Tours and Activities in Austin

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

  • Austin Trails Amazing Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $21
  • Ha Ha Haunted Austin Walking Ghost Tour: $26
  • Haunted Austin Walking History Tour: $28
  • Forest Mindfulness and Embodiment Experience: $30
  • Austin and Hill Country Sightseeing Tour: $33
  • Double Decker Austin Single Loop Sightseeing Tour: $37
  • Haunted Austin Booze and Boos Ghost Walking Tour: $39
  • Ski Shores Cafe Boat Cruise Shuttle Per Person: $39
  • Bring Or Rent Your Own Bicycle Tour of Austin : $45
  • Guided Downtown Austin Kayak Tour: $45
  • Best of Austin Small-Group Driving Tour with Local Guide: $45
  • Downtown Austin Small-Group Panoramic Sightseeing Tour : $48

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Columbia $88
    Austin $28

Sample the Local Flavors in Austin

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Austin:

  • Austin Haunted Pub Crawl Walking Tour: $30
  • Downtown Austin Live Music Pub Crawl: $35
  • Austin Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $35
  • Public Pedal Pub Tour in Austin: $39
  • Rainey Street Walking Pub Crawl and Tour: $59
  • Half-Day Hill Country Brewery and Distillery Shuttle from Austin: $65
  • Private Austin Brewery Tour by Pedicab with All-Inclusive Beer Flight Option: $70
  • 4-Hour Austin Signature Brewery Tour: $100
  • The Brew Bus: Austin Brewery Tour with Live Band: $125
  • Brewery 5K Fun Run, BBQ, and Texas History Museum in Austin : $175
  • Hill Country Brewery Limousine Tour : $250
  • Half Day Wine Tour with Luxury Limousine in Austin: $300


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Columbia and Austin, we can see that Austin 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 Austin would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Austin 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 Austin Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Columbia or Austin?

Austin has a larger population, and is about 6 times larger than the population of Columbia. When comparing the sizes of Columbia and Austin, 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 Austin?

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 Austin in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Columbia and Austin. Many travelers come to Columbia for the family-friendly experiences. Furthermore, many visitors come to Austin in the summer for the hiking, the city activities, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences.

In July, Columbia is generally around the same temperature as Austin. Daily temperatures in Columbia average around 82°F (28°C), and Austin fluctuates around 87°F (30°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Austin this time of the year. In Columbia, it's very sunny this time of the year. Columbia usually receives less sunshine than Austin during summer. Columbia gets 293 hours of sunny skies, while Austin receives 318 hours of full sun in the summer.

Columbia gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In July, Columbia usually receives more rain than Austin. Columbia gets 4.6 inches (116 mm) of rain, while Austin receives 1.9 inches (48 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Columbia 82°F (28°C) 
    Austin 87°F (30°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Austin in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Columbia as well as Austin. Many visitors come to Columbia in the autumn for the shopping scene. Additionally, most visitors come to Austin for the hiking trails, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area during these months.

Columbia is cooler than Austin in the autumn. The daily temperature in Columbia averages around 64°F (18°C) in October, and Austin fluctuates around 73°F (23°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Austin. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Columbia this time of the year. In the autumn, Columbia often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Austin. Columbia gets 230 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Austin receives 214 hours of full sun.

Columbia usually gets around the same amount of rain in October as Austin. Columbia gets 3 inches (75 mm) of rain, while Austin receives 3 inches (77 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Columbia 64°F (18°C) 
    Austin 73°F (23°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Austin in the Winter?

Both Austin and Columbia are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. Most visitors come to Columbia for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months. Also, the winter months attract visitors to Austin because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

In the winter, Columbia is much colder than Austin. Typically, the winter temperatures in Columbia in January average around 45°F (7°C), and Austin averages at about 51°F (11°C).

Columbia usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Austin during winter. Columbia gets 171 hours of sunny skies, while Austin receives 163 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Columbia usually receives more rain than Austin. Columbia gets 3.7 inches (93 mm) of rain, while Austin receives 1.9 inches (48 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Columbia 45°F (7°C) 
    Austin 51°F (11°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Austin in the Spring?

Both Austin and Columbia during the spring are popular places to visit. Also, the activities around the city and the natural beauty are the main draw to Austin this time of year.

In April, Columbia is generally cooler than Austin. Daily temperatures in Columbia average around 64°F (18°C), and Austin fluctuates around 71°F (22°C).

In Austin, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Columbia. In the spring, Columbia often gets more sunshine than Austin. Columbia gets 273 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Austin receives 209 hours of full sun.

Columbia usually gets less rain in April than Austin. Columbia gets 2.8 inches (72 mm) of rain, while Austin receives 3.5 inches (89 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Columbia 64°F (18°C) 
    Austin 71°F (22°C)

Typical Weather for Austin and Columbia

Columbia Austin
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 45°F (7°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm) 51°F (11°C) 1.9 inches (48 mm)
Feb 48°F (9°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm) 55°F (13°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm)
Mar 56°F (13°C) 3.7 inches (95 mm) 63°F (17°C) 1.9 inches (48 mm)
Apr 64°F (18°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm) 71°F (22°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm)
May 72°F (22°C) 3 inches (77 mm) 77°F (25°C) 4 inches (101 mm)
Jun 78°F (26°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm) 83°F (29°C) 3.1 inches (80 mm)
Jul 82°F (28°C) 4.6 inches (116 mm) 87°F (30°C) 1.9 inches (48 mm)
Aug 81°F (27°C) 5.8 inches (147 mm) 87°F (31°C) 2.2 inches (56 mm)
Sep 75°F (24°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm) 82°F (28°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm)
Oct 64°F (18°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 73°F (23°C) 3 inches (77 mm)
Nov 56°F (13°C) 2.1 inches (54 mm) 62°F (17°C) 2 inches (52 mm)
Dec 48°F (9°C) 2.6 inches (67 mm) 54°F (12°C) 2.2 inches (56 mm)