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

Should you visit Columbia or Denver?

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

Should I visit Columbia or Denver? 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 is a friendly, welcoming, and suburban city. And you can't forget about the shopping, museums, and nightlife.


Denver is a sprawling, park-filled, and suburban city. It's a large city, so you'll find plenty of things to do around town. And you can't forget about the skiing, nightlife, and hiking.

Columbia and Denver: Pros and Cons

  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Popular for skiing
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular with backpackers

Is there more to do in Columbia or Denver?

You'll generally find more things to do in Denver than Columbia. Denver is bigger than Columbia, and it also has more attractions and activities for travelers. Denver is better known for its skiing, hiking, and big city activities, while Columbia is more popular for its museums. Denver is more touristy than Columbia and is known for serving as a gateway to the Rocky Mountains and the many national parks that are in the area. Also, Denver is famous for Red Rocks Park. Columbia is well known for its southern hospitality and friendly people.

How is Columbia different from Denver?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Columbia or Denver Better for Skiing?


Denver is a popular place for snow skiing. However, Columbia is not a skiing destination.

For winter sports and skiing, Denver is a great destination to visit. Although there's no skiing in the immediate area, there is a huge list of world class ski resorts within an hour or two of town. Two of the closest are Echo Mountain Resort and Loveland Ski Area.

Columbia is not a skiing destination.

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


Columbia is a nice place to visit for its sights and museums. However, Denver is not a good city for its museums and history.

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.

While most people don't head to Denver specifically for the museums and attractions, it does offer a few options. Many people use Denver as a starting or ending point for their mountain and national park trip, but those who linger can visit some of the city's museums and sights. Popular museums include the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the History Colorado Center, and the Forney Museum of Transportation.

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


There are opportunities to sample the local cuisine at respectable restaurants in both Columbia and Denver.

You'll find the standard options when it comes to food in Columbia. 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.

Denver may not make the list for most foodies, but you'll find what you need while you're in town. It's a pretty large city, so you'll find some nice local restaurants, but the foodie scene is still emerging in many neighborhoods. A number of restaurants offer outdoor seating, which is nice. You'll also find a growing selection of international restaurants. For something uniquely local, you should try the Bison steak and fried pickles.

Is Columbia or Denver Better for Nightlife?


Both Columbia and Denver are notable 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 Denver. The city has come a long way with its nightlife. There's a great craft beer scene and the downtown area has really come to life. Popular bars and clubs in town include the Grizzly Rose and 54Thirty Rooftop. Many places are concentrated in the Soco Nightlife District.

Is Columbia or Denver Better for Hiking?


Denver is a popular place for the nearby hiking options. However, Columbia is not a hiking destination.

Denver is a good destination for hiking. The city is very close to many beautiful parks and hiking areas in the Rocky Mountains. It's not hard to make a day trip from town and enjoy some great hiking. Nice options include the Trading Post Trail in Red Rocks Mountain Park, Bergen Peak near Evergreen, and Chimney Gulch Trail near the town of Golden.

Columbia is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Columbia or Denver?


Both Columbia and Denver are notable 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.

Denver has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. The city has many outlet malls that budget shoppers appreciate. There are also weekend farmer's markets, boutique shopping areas, and all of the major chains that you'll find in most larger cities.

Is Columbia or Denver Better for Families?


Kids will enjoy a visit to either Columbia or Denver.

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.

Denver is a family-friendly city. It is a family-friendly city with museums, playgrounds, and plenty of outdoor activities. There are also a few ropes courses near town that kids and adults alike will enjoy. Popular activities include the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and Children's Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus.

Is Columbia or Denver Better for Couples?


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

Denver makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. There are many beautiful and romantic outdoor activities in the area such as parks and botanical gardens. There are also spas, including the impressive Spa at the Brown Palace, as well as upscale restaurants and fun bars and clubs to explore.

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 Denver Better for Students?


Columbia and Denver are both notable destinations for students and younger travelers.

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.

Plenty of students visit Denver. There are a few students in the city, but there isn't a college town vibe that you'd get at other nearby university areas.

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


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

Denver has a few public transit options. If you're not planning to leave town, the light rail and bus systems offer good access to much of Denver.

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 Denver a more walkable city?


Neither Columbia or Denver are walkable places.

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

Denver is not a very walkable city. While the downtown area is generally walkable, this is still a sprawling city where you'll really want to have a car to access areas outside of town.

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

Should I spend more time in Denver or Columbia?

How long in Columbia or Denver?

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

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

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

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

One day in Columbia or Denver?

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 Denver offers skiing 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 Denver?

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.

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

Five days in Columbia or Denver?

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.

Denver 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 Denver?

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.

Denver 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 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, Denver 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 Denver is $218. 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 Denver in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Columbia -
    Denver $87
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Columbia $0.00
    Denver $174
Compare Hotels in Columbia and Denver

Looking for a hotel in Columbia or Denver? 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 Denver

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 Denver Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Columbia -
    Denver $101

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Denver

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Denver:

  • Denver hotel or address to Denver Airport (DEN) - Departure Private Transfer: $50
  • Denver Airport BJC to Winter Park Ski Resort Arrival Transfer: $92
  • Private Transfer from Denver Airport DEN to Denver in Business Car: $107
  • Denver Airport (DEN) to Glenwood Springs - Arrival Transfer: $119
  • Denver Airport (DEN) to Glenwood Springs - Round-Trip Transfer: $119
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Denver International Airport: $125
  • Denver Airport (DEN) to Winter Park - Arrival Private Transfer: $130
  • Departure Private Transfer: Denver to Denver Airport DEN in Luxury SUV: $135
  • Departure Private Transfer: Denver to Denver Airport DEN in Luxury Van: $135
  • Private Transfer from Denver Airport DEN to Denver in Luxury Van: $135
  • Round trip transfer in Private Car from-to Denver Int. Airport (DEN) to Downtown: $144
  • Denver Airport to Breckenridge/Keystone/Copper - Arrival Transfer: $195

Is it cheaper to fly into Columbia or Denver?

Prices for flights to both Denver 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 Meals for one day
    Columbia $5.03
    Denver $42

Typical Food Prices in Denver

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

  • Sushi Dinner (for 2)

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Denver

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

  • RiNo Arts District Food Tour: $79
  • Downtown Denver Food Tour: $79
  • Arts District Walking Food Tour: $79
  • Mystery Puzzle Food Tour in Golden, CO: $80
  • The Dinner Detective Murder Mystery Dinner Show - Denver, CO: $86

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Columbia -
    Denver $52

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 Denver

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

  • Discover A Walking Tour of Denver's Top Sights: $5.00
  • Denver’s Downtown: Past and Present In-App Audio Tour (ENG): $9.00
  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Denver by Operation City Quest: $10
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure on Your Phone: $10
  • Denver Scavenger Hunt and Sights Self-Guided Tour: $13
  • Molly Brown House Museum Self-Guided Tour & Entry: $14
  • Denver Botanic Gardens General Admission Ticket: $16
  • General Admission to Denver Botanic Gardens Ticket: $16
  • Colorado Rockies Baseball Game Ticket at Coors Field: $16
  • History and Architecture Walking Tours: $20
  • Haunted Tour with Ghost Hunting Gear: $20
  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Aurora by Zombie Scavengers: $20

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Columbia $88
    Denver $5.31

Sample the Local Flavors in Denver

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

  • Terrors Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $35
  • Vintner's Personalized Wine Tasting Experience: $60
  • Wine Tasting with Cheese, Charcuterie, and Dessert : $74
  • Denver Pedicab Brewery Tour: $130

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

Which is Bigger, Columbia or Denver?

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