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

Should you visit Columbia or Boston?

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

Should I visit Columbia or Boston? 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.

Boston

Boston is a classic, proud, and loyal city. Travelers will also find plenty of sights and attractions here, as it's a big city that attracts lots of visitors. It's a beautiful place to visit, too. This destination also has one of those special and quaint feelings. And you can't forget about the museums, theater, and nightlife.

Columbia and Boston: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Active nightlife
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for food
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Less popular for students
  • Public transit not as usable
  • Less walkable
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Numerous theater shows
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Popular beach
  • Scenic old town
  • Popular at Christmas
  • Known for Christmas markets
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Good public transit
  • Very walkable
  • Big city activities
  • Home to the Freedom Trail


Is there more to do in Columbia or Boston?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Boston than Columbia. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. Boston is more touristy than Columbia and is known for its enthusiastic sports fans, influential history, beautiful parks, and world-class universities. It is also well known for The Freedom Trail. Columbia is famous for its southern hospitality and friendly people.

How is Columbia different from Boston?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Columbia
Boston

Boston is renowned for its sights and museums. Also, Columbia is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its museums and history.

The museums, monuments, and landmarks in Boston are among the most recognizable in the world. The city itself feels like a living museum. It is famous for Faneuil Hall, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum, the USS Constitution, as well as the many sites along the Freedom Trail. There are also many museums on the campuses of the world renowned universities in the city.

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 Columbia or Boston Better for Theater?

Columbia
Boston

Boston is a well-known place for its theatre productions. However, Columbia is not a theatre destination.

While in town, many visitors enjoy seeing a show in Boston. The city has many historic, beautifully restored theaters where you can enjoy a show. Head to the theater district for some of the most famous venues.

Columbia is not a theatre destination.

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

Columbia
Boston

Boston is a well-known place for its local cuisine and restaurants. However, Columbia is not a good city for its restaurants.

Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit Boston. There are many local dishes that utilize fresh caught seafood and comfort food flavors. The cuisine also takes advantage of the city's Italian and Irish populations. Famous local foods include New England Clam Chowder, lobster rolls, and baked beans. You'll find hearty sandwiches and filling meals that warm your soul.

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 Boston Better for Nightlife?

Columbia
Boston

Boston is a well-known place for nightlife and partying. Also, Columbia is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its evening party scene.

Boston offers plenty to do in the evening. The city is known for its breweries, craft beer, and vibrant university neighborhoods. It also hosts regular outdoor movies and world class sporting events. The nightlife scene is varied, with some areas catering to the student population and other areas focused on the professional or sport-loving crowds.

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 Boston Better for Music?

Columbia
Boston

Boston is a popular place for its live music scene. However, Columbia is not a live music destination.

The music scene in Boston is active and vibrant. Popular music venues include Lizard Lounge, Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, and The Middle East.

Columbia is not a live music destination.

Is Columbia or Boston Better for Beaches?

Columbia
Boston

Boston is a moderate city for the beache. However, Columbia is not a beach destination.

You can check out the beach in Boston. There are a few urban beaches in the greater Boston area that you can explore on a nice day.

Columbia is not a beach destination.

Is Columbia or Boston Better for its Old Town?

Columbia
Boston

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

The old town of Boston is one of the most recognized in the world. Boston is famous for its Freedom Trail, which takes visitors around the city's rich history. The oldest parts of the city are known as Boston Proper and include the neighborhoods of Beacon Hill, Historic Downtown, the North End, and the West End.

Columbia does not have a historic old town.


Is the Shopping Better in Columbia or Boston?

Columbia
Boston

Both Columbia and Boston 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.

Boston has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. Head to Back Bay for some of the best high end shops. There are luxury brands and boutique venues that sell local art or crafts.

Is Columbia or Boston Better for Christmas?

Columbia
Boston

Boston is a well-known place for its Christmas activities. However, Columbia does not offer Christmas activities.

Boston is an extremely popular place to visit during the Christmas season. Christmas comes to life in the city with its Christmas Trees, holiday shows, and festivals.

Columbia does not offer Christmas activities.

Is Columbia or Boston Better for Christmas Markets?

Columbia
Boston

Boston is a well-known place for its Christmas markets. However, Columbia does not offer Christmas markets.

Boston has a lively atmosphere around its Christmas markets. There are a number of European style Christmas markets that pop up during the holiday season around town.

Columbia does not offer Christmas markets.


Is Columbia or Boston Better for Families?

Columbia
Boston

Boston is renowned for its family-friendly activities. Also, Columbia is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its kid-friendly activities.

As it has a large number of activities for kids, Boston is a very family-friendly destination. It's filled with history, but there are also many activities for kids who need a break from all of the historical stuff. Popular activities for all ages include the Museum of Science, the New England Aquarium, and exploring the waterfront, gardens, and parks around town.

Columbia is a family-friendly city. 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.

Is Columbia or Boston Better for Couples?

Columbia
Boston

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

Boston makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Couples who enjoy history will enjoy exploring the city. Take a swan boat ride in the Public Garden and wander the unique route along the Freedom Trail. There are also many sporting and entertainment options around town.

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 Boston Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Columbia
Boston

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

Plenty of budget travelers visit Boston. Like most larger American cities, the city has a handful of hostels to choose from.

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 Boston Better for Students?

Columbia
Boston

Boston is renowned for students. Also, Columbia is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its student-friendly activities.

Many students frequent Boston. It is a city of students, with a number of world renowned universities located here including Harvard University, Boston College, and MIT. Many neighborhoods are filled with students and there are many student-centered activities around town including festivals and an active nightlife scene.

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

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

Columbia
Boston

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

Boston has a great public transit system. There's the T, which is the subway, as well as a trolley, bus, and water transportation 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 Boston a more walkable city?

Columbia
Boston

Boston 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 Boston on foot. The many parks and compact neighborhoods are best explored on foot.

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 Boston Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Boston or Columbia?

How long in Columbia or Boston?

In either Columbia or Boston, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Boston than Columbia because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 1-2 days is a good amount of time for Columbia, and 3-5 days is enough time in Boston.

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

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

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


  • How many days in Columbia or Boston? Ideal Length of Stay
    Columbia 1-2 
    Boston 3-5

One day in Columbia or Boston?

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

Boston is a big city with plenty to do. 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 Boston?

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.

Boston is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Five days in Columbia or Boston?

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.

Boston is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. It's no surprise that museums is why people visit. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Boston, five days is sufficent for most. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.


A week in Columbia or Boston?

Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the suburban 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.

Boston is a great place to explore. It's no surprise that museums is why people visit. 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 Family-Friendly Tours to United States of America, The Best Wildlife Tours to United States of America, The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in United States of America, and The Best Historical Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Boston 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 Boston is $255. 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 Boston in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Columbia -
    Boston $166
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Columbia $0.00
    Boston $332
Compare Hotels in Columbia and Boston

Looking for a hotel in Columbia or Boston? 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 Boston


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 Boston Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Columbia -
    Boston $37

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Boston

Some typical examples of transportation costs in Boston are as follows:


  • Taxi
    $35
  • Subway Daily Pass
    $9.00

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Boston

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Boston:

  • Private Departure Transfer to Boston Airport BOS: $28
  • Private Arrival Transfer from (BOS) Boston Airport: $28
  • Cruiseport Boston to Boston Airport (BOS) - Departure Transfer: $39
  • Boston Logan Intl Airport (BOS) to Flynn Cruise Port - Arrival Private Transfer: $39
  • One Way Airport Transfer Service: $68
  • Transfer in private vehicle from Boston Downtown to Boston Airport (BOS): $69
  • Boston Logan Airport (BOS) to Flynn Cruise Port - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $78
  • Boston to Boston Logan Airport (BOS) - Departure Private Transfer: $80
  • Departure Private Transfer Boston to Boston Airport BOS Business-Luxury Vehicle: $84
  • Private Transfer from Boston Logan Airport (BOS) to Newport Port: $89
  • Private Transfer from Boston City Hotels to Newport Cruise Port: $89
  • Private transfer: Boston to Boston Airport (BOS): $97

Is it cheaper to fly into Columbia or Boston?

Prices for flights to both Boston 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
    Boston $49

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Boston

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

  • Self Guided "The North End Pizza, Cannoli and Picnic" Solo Walking Tour : $5.50
  • AM Coffee Walks with Salem Food Tours: $34
  • North End Pizza Walking Tour with 3 Slices & Cannoli: $55
  • Boston's North End Pizza & History Walking Food Tour: $55
  • Buffet Lunch or Dinner Cruise on Boston Harbor: $60
  • Pizza Beer and Paul Revere Tour: $60
  • Boston's North End Small Group Food Tour : $76
  • Union Square, Somerville Neighborhood Food Tour: $90
  • Boston Harbor: Gourmet Brunch, Lunch, or Dinner Cruise: $95
  • Ultimate Boston Food Tour: North End & Boston Public Market: $99
  • Local Gems of the South End Neighborhood Food Tour: $110
  • Chinatown’s Culture and Cuisine Neighborhood Food Tour: $115

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Columbia -
    Boston $33

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 Boston

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


  • Two Tickets to Celtics Game
    $101
  • Duck Tour
    $32

Tours and Activities in Boston

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

  • The Ghosts of Boston's Past Haunted Self-guided Tour: $5.00
  • Relive 1770: Interactive AR Experience on The Freedom Trail: $5.00
  • Self-Guided Boston Christmas Tour: $5.00
  • Underground Railroad Audio App Self-Guided Tour: $5.00
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour of Boston North End: $5.75
  • Self-Guided Smartphone Ghost Walking Tour Boston App EMF Reader: $5.95
  • Self-Guided Smartphone Ghost Walking Tour in Salem: $5.99
  • Self-Guided Freedom Trail Walking Audio Tour w/ App: $5.99
  • App Self-guided tours with Audioguide Boston: $6.53
  • The Mysterious Porcelain Club Quest Experience in Harvard Yard: $7.20
  • Self Guided Classic Freedom Trail Location Aware (GPS) Walking Audio Tour: $7.75
  • City History and Highlights Audio App Walking Tour: $7.99

For more ideas for your next trip, check out Free Things to Do in Boston, Must-See Monuments and Memorials In Boston, and The Best Things To Do in Boston with Kids.


Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Columbia $88
    Boston $27

Sample the Local Flavors in Boston

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Boston:

  • Boos and Brews Haunted Pub Crawl: $24
  • Haunted Pub Crawl of Historic Pubs and Taverns: $30
  • Boston Haunted Pub Crawl: $30
  • Salem Booze and Brews Haunted Pub Crawl by US Ghost Adventures: $35
  • Salem Ghosts Boos and Brews Haunted Pub Crawl: $35
  • Boston Ghosts Boos and Brews Haunted Pub Crawl : $35
  • History Pub Crawl Tour Along the Freedom Trail: $59
  • Boston Small-Group Freedom Trail History Tour Pub Crawl: $60
  • Boston Signature Guided Brewery Tour: $105
  • Guided Craft Brewery Tour with a Snack: $105


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


Which is Bigger, Columbia or Boston?

Boston has a larger population, and is about 5 times larger than the population of Columbia. When comparing the sizes of Columbia and Boston, 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 Boston?

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 Boston in the Summer?

Both Boston and Columbia are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. Most visitors come to Columbia for the family-friendly experiences during these months. Also, the summer months attract visitors to Boston because of the beaches, the city activities, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences.

In July, Columbia is generally a little warmer than Boston. Daily temperatures in Columbia average around 82°F (28°C), and Boston fluctuates around 73°F (23°C).

It's quite sunny in Boston. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Columbia. Columbia usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Boston during summer. Columbia gets 293 hours of sunny skies, while Boston receives 304 hours of full sun in the summer.

It's quite rainy in Columbia. In July, Columbia usually receives more rain than Boston. Columbia gets 4.6 inches (116 mm) of rain, while Boston receives 2.9 inches (74 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Columbia 82°F (28°C) 
    Boston 73°F (23°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Boston in the Autumn?

Both Boston and Columbia during the autumn are popular places to visit. The autumn months attract visitors to Columbia because of the shopping scene. Furthermore, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area are the main draw to Boston this time of year.

Columbia is a little warmer than Boston in the autumn. The daily temperature in Columbia averages around 64°F (18°C) in October, and Boston fluctuates around 54°F (12°C).

It's quite sunny in Columbia. In the autumn, Columbia often gets more sunshine than Boston. Columbia gets 230 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Boston receives 194 hours of full sun.

Columbia usually gets less rain in October than Boston. Columbia gets 3 inches (75 mm) of rain, while Boston receives 3.3 inches (84 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Columbia 64°F (18°C) 
    Boston 54°F (12°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Boston in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Columbia and Boston. The museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Columbia this time of year. Furthermore, many travelers come to Boston for the museums, the Christmas ambience, the shopping scene, the theater shows, and the cuisine.

Be prepared for some very cold days in Boston. In the winter, Columbia is much warmer than Boston. Typically, the winter temperatures in Columbia in January average around 45°F (7°C), and Boston averages at about 29°F (-2°C).

Columbia usually receives more sunshine than Boston during winter. Columbia gets 171 hours of sunny skies, while Boston receives 153 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Columbia usually receives around the same amount of rain as Boston. Columbia gets 3.7 inches (93 mm) of rain, while Boston receives 3.4 inches (87 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Columbia 45°F (7°C) 
    Boston 29°F (-2°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Boston in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Columbia as well as Boston. Additionally, many visitors come to Boston in the spring for the beaches, the activities around the city, and the natural beauty.

In April, Columbia is generally much warmer than Boston. Daily temperatures in Columbia average around 64°F (18°C), and Boston fluctuates around 48°F (9°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Boston. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Columbia this time of the year. In the spring, Columbia often gets more sunshine than Boston. Columbia gets 273 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Boston receives 225 hours of full sun.

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


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Columbia 64°F (18°C) 
    Boston 48°F (9°C)

Typical Weather for Boston and Columbia

Columbia Boston
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 45°F (7°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm) 29°F (-2°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm)
Feb 48°F (9°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm) 30°F (-1°C) 3.7 inches (94 mm)
Mar 56°F (13°C) 3.7 inches (95 mm) 38°F (4°C) 3.7 inches (95 mm)
Apr 64°F (18°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm) 48°F (9°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm)
May 72°F (22°C) 3 inches (77 mm) 58°F (15°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Jun 78°F (26°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm) 68°F (20°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm)
Jul 82°F (28°C) 4.6 inches (116 mm) 73°F (23°C) 2.9 inches (74 mm)
Aug 81°F (27°C) 5.8 inches (147 mm) 72°F (22°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Sep 75°F (24°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm) 64°F (18°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm)
Oct 64°F (18°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 54°F (12°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm)
Nov 56°F (13°C) 2.1 inches (54 mm) 45°F (7°C) 4.3 inches (108 mm)
Dec 48°F (9°C) 2.6 inches (67 mm) 33°F (1°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm)