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

Should you visit Columbia or Portland?

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

Should I visit Columbia or Portland? 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. Other reasons to visit include nightlife, shopping, and museums.

Portland

Portland is a laid-back, progressive, and quirky city. It's a very nice small town not to be missed. It's a beautiful place to visit, too. And you can't forget about the nightlife, live music, and hiking.

Columbia and Portland: Pros and Cons

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


Is there more to do in Columbia or Portland?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Portland than Columbia. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. Portland is very popular for its music, hiking, small town charm, and impressive beauty, while Columbia attracts visitors for its museums. Portland is more touristy than Columbia and is popular for its independent and vintage shops, thriving art scene, lush parks and gardens, progressive and quirky personality, and easy access to amazing natural beauty. It is also well known for Washington Park. Columbia is famous for its southern hospitality and friendly people.

How is Columbia different from Portland?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Columbia
Portland

Columbia is a city with good options for its museums and history. However, Portland is lacking in good options for its museums and landmarks.

Columbia is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. 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.

Portland offers a handful of options for museums and historical sights. Visitors usually come for the city's outdoor recreation and eclectic personality more than the landmarks and museums. There are a few places to visit on a rainy day though including Pittock Mansion, the Portland Art Museum, and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.


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

Columbia
Portland

There are opportunities to sample the local cuisine at reasonable restaurants in both Columbia and Portland.

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.

Portland may not make the list for most foodies, but you'll find what you need while you're in town. The town is more famous for it's craft beer than it's food, but there are still a number of local restaurants that offer unique Oregon dishes. You'll find no shortage of vegetarian and vegan options on most menus. There is also a big farm-to-table scene with many farmers markets around town as well.

Is Columbia or Portland Better for Nightlife?

Columbia
Portland

Both Columbia and Portland are nice 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 Portland. Famously, this town's nightlife is all about the craft beer and local breweries. Make sure you check out Bailey's Taproom, The Big Legrowlski, and The Commons Brewery.

Is Columbia or Portland Better for Music?

Columbia
Portland

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

The music scene in Portland is active and vibrant. The town has a thriving live music and international folk dancing scene.

Columbia is not a live music destination.


Is Columbia or Portland Better for Hiking?

Columbia
Portland

Portland is a well-known place for the nearby hiking options. However, Columbia is not a hiking destination.

Portland is a popular spot for hiking. Just outside of town you'll find amazing hikes and stunning natural beauty. In town there are many urban hikes through parks and gardens, but in just a short drive you also have access to Mount Hood and many of the region's most beautiful hikes around the Columbia River Gorge.

Columbia is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Columbia or Portland?

Columbia
Portland

Both Columbia and Portland 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.

Portland has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. To fully experience shopping in town, head to the local vendors and thrift shops. There are many vintage clothing shops, book stores, and independent sellers around town. The city is also full of farmers markets. For some of the most interesting shopping, check out the Pearl District, Pioneer Place, Union Way, and Downtown neighborhoods.

Is Columbia or Portland Better for Families?

Columbia
Portland

Kids will enjoy a visit to either Columbia or Portland.

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.

Portland is a family-friendly city. This is an outdoor city by nature, so families will appreciate the many parks and outdoor recreational activities around town. It's easy to fill a couple of days exploring and having fun with the kids. Kid-friendly activities include the zoo, the aerial tram, and several great museums.


Is Columbia or Portland Better for Couples?

Columbia
Portland

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

Portland makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. The laid-back, alternative vibe is fun to explore as a couple. There are independent bookstores, nice parks, and plenty of outdoor activities to choose from. Couples who enjoy an eclectic city, breweries, and nature, will find a lot to do in 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 Portland Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Columbia
Portland

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

Portland is a great city to visit for backpackers. The town has drawn young explorers for years, and backpackers who like to step away from the mainstream will feel right at home here.

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 Portland Better for Students?

Columbia
Portland

Columbia and Portland are both nice 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 Portland. It's a young and relaxed city that attracts independent thinkers. There are many bookstores and breweries around town. The cost of living can be a bit high though.


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

Columbia
Portland

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

Portland has a few public transit options. The town has a bus and light rail system as well the Aerial tram.

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 Portland a more walkable city?

Columbia
Portland

Portland is a well-known place for its high level of walkability. However, Columbia is not a good city for its ease of walking around.

Portland is a very walkable city. It is quite walkable, particularly in the tourist areas such as Downtown, Pearl, and Old Town Chinatown.

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 Portland Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Portland or Columbia?

How long in Columbia or Portland?

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

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

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


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

One day in Columbia or Portland?

The city of Columbia offers nightlife and shopping. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one day here. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

The city of Portland offers nightlife and live music. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. 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 Portland?

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

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

Five days in Columbia or Portland?

Columbia 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.

Portland 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 Portland?

Columbia 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.

Portland is a great place to explore. 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, Portland 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 Portland is $0.00. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Columbia and Portland in more detail.



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

Looking for a hotel in Columbia or Portland? 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 Portland


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 Portland Hotel Prices.

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

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Portland

Also for Portland, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Departure Transfer to Portland Airport (PDX): $40
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Portland Airport PDX: $40
  • Waterfall Express -PDX: Waterfall Trolley Tickets + Transfer: $60
  • Portland downtown to Portland Airport (PDX) - Departure Private Transfer: $62
  • Portland Airport (PDX) to Portland downtown - Arrival Private Transfer: $62
  • Lake Oswego to Portland Airport (PDX) - Departure Private Transfer: $72
  • Portland Airport (PDX) to Lake Oswego - Arrival Private Transfer: $72
  • Portland Airport (PDX) to Beaverton hotel or address - Arrival Private Transfer: $76
  • Portland Airport (PDX) to Tigard hotel or address - Arrival Private Transfer: $76
  • Tigard hotel or address to Portland Airport (PDX) - Departure Private Transfer: $76
  • Private Transfer from Portland City Hotels to Astoria Cruise Port: $88
  • Private Transfer from Portland Airport (PDX) to Astoria Port: $88

Is it cheaper to fly into Columbia or Portland?

Prices for flights to both Portland 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
    Portland $43

Typical Food Prices in Portland

For Portland, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Afternoon Drinks (for 2)
    $9.50

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Portland

For Portland, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Walking Pizza Tour: $75
  • Portland Pizza Tour : $75
  • Brunch on Mississippi Food Tour: $95
  • Brunch on Mississippi Food Tour: $95
  • Secret Food Tour with Local Guide: $95
  • Mississippi Avenue Walking Food Tour: $105
  • The Vibrant Kerns Hood Food Tour: $105
  • The Bustling Buckman Hood Food Tour: $105
  • Portland Walking Food Tour With Secret Food Tours: $109
  • All-Inclusive Downtown Portland Food Tour: $119
  • All-Inclusive Walking Food Tour: $119
  • 2.5-hour Dinner Cruise on Willamette River: $127

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

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 Portland

For Portland, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Portland Trail Blazers Basketball Game Ticket at Moda Center: $4.01
  • Downtown Portland's Outdoor Sculptures: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $5.20
  • Self Guided Solo "Weird and Wonderful Portland" Walking Tour in Old Town : $6.50
  • Smartphone Old Port Portland, ME Audio Walking Tour APP/GPS: $6.75
  • Downtown Portland In-App Audio Tour (ENG): $9.00
  • Portland, Maine: Walking Tour Audio Guide: $9.99
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure Smartphone Audio Guide: $10
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Portland OR by Operation City Quest: $10
  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Portland by Wacky Walks: $10
  • Golden Adventure Outdoor Escape Game in Portland Downtown: $11
  • Waterfront Scavenger Hunt Self-Guided Tour: $14
  • Downtown Scavenger Hunt & Self-Guided Walking Tour: $14

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Columbia $88
    Portland $17

Sample the Local Flavors in Portland

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Portland:

  • Power Through Portland Bar Crawl: $12
  • Weird Portland Pub Tour: $29
  • Portland Ghosts Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $35
  • Portland Ghosts Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $40
  • Oregon Priority Wine Tasting Pass: $40
  • Haunted Underground Shanghai Tunnel Tour with Brewery Tastings: $40
  • Haunted Pub Tour: $45
  • Guided Bike Tour with Brewery Visits: $49
  • Eastside Craft Brewery Walking Tour: $59
  • Weird Bar Crawl with Fanatical Local: $59
  • Distillery Row of Portland's Eastside Walking Tour : $75
  • Portland, Maine: Old Port Brewery & Pub Walking Tour: $87


When comparing the travel costs between Columbia and Portland, we can see that Columbia is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in North America, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

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


Which is Bigger, Columbia or Portland?

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

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Columbia or Portland in the Summer?

Both Portland and Columbia during the summer are popular places to visit. Many visitors come to Columbia in the summer for the family-friendly experiences. Also, most visitors come to Portland for the hiking, the small town charm, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences during these months.

In July, Columbia is generally a little warmer than Portland. Daily temperatures in Columbia average around 82°F (28°C), and Portland fluctuates around 68°F (20°C).

In Portland, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Columbia. In the summer, Columbia often gets less sunshine than Portland. Columbia gets 293 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Portland receives 338 hours of full sun.

It rains a lot this time of the year in Columbia. Columbia usually gets more rain in July than Portland. Columbia gets 4.6 inches (116 mm) of rain, while Portland receives 0.7 inches (18 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Columbia 82°F (28°C) 
    Portland 68°F (20°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Portland in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Columbia and Portland. Most visitors come to Columbia for the shopping scene during these months. Also, the autumn months attract visitors to Portland because of the hiking trails, the shopping scene, the music scene, the small town atmosphere, and the natural beauty of the area.

Columbia is a little warmer than Portland in the autumn. The daily temperature in Columbia averages around 64°F (18°C) in October, and Portland fluctuates around 55°F (13°C).

In Columbia, it's very sunny this time of the year. Columbia usually receives more sunshine than Portland during autumn. Columbia gets 230 hours of sunny skies, while Portland receives 155 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Columbia usually receives more rain than Portland. Columbia gets 3 inches (75 mm) of rain, while Portland receives 2.6 inches (67 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Columbia 64°F (18°C) 
    Portland 55°F (13°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Portland in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to Columbia as well as Portland. 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 Portland this time of year.

It's quite cold in Portland in the winter. In the winter, Columbia is much warmer than Portland. Typically, the winter temperatures in Columbia in January average around 45°F (7°C), and Portland averages at about 40°F (4°C).

In the winter, Columbia often gets more sunshine than Portland. Columbia gets 171 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Portland receives 86 hours of full sun.

It's quite rainy in Portland. Columbia usually gets less rain in January than Portland. Columbia gets 3.7 inches (93 mm) of rain, while Portland receives 5.2 inches (132 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Columbia 45°F (7°C) 
    Portland 40°F (4°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Portland in the Spring?

Both Portland and Columbia are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. Also, many travelers come to Portland for the small town charm and the natural beauty.

In April, Columbia is generally much warmer than Portland. Daily temperatures in Columbia average around 64°F (18°C), and Portland fluctuates around 51°F (11°C).

It's quite sunny in Portland. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Columbia. Columbia usually receives more sunshine than Portland during spring. Columbia gets 273 hours of sunny skies, while Portland receives 231 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Columbia usually receives more rain than Portland. Columbia gets 2.8 inches (72 mm) of rain, while Portland receives 2.4 inches (61 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Columbia 64°F (18°C) 
    Portland 51°F (11°C)

Typical Weather for Portland and Columbia

Columbia Portland
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 45°F (7°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm) 40°F (4°C) 5.2 inches (132 mm)
Feb 48°F (9°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm) 44°F (7°C) 3.9 inches (98 mm)
Mar 56°F (13°C) 3.7 inches (95 mm) 47°F (9°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm)
Apr 64°F (18°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm) 51°F (11°C) 2.4 inches (61 mm)
May 72°F (22°C) 3 inches (77 mm) 57°F (14°C) 2 inches (51 mm)
Jun 78°F (26°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm) 64°F (18°C) 1.5 inches (39 mm)
Jul 82°F (28°C) 4.6 inches (116 mm) 68°F (20°C) 0.7 inches (18 mm)
Aug 81°F (27°C) 5.8 inches (147 mm) 69°F (20°C) 1 inches (25 mm)
Sep 75°F (24°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm) 63°F (17°C) 1.7 inches (44 mm)
Oct 64°F (18°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 55°F (13°C) 2.6 inches (67 mm)
Nov 56°F (13°C) 2.1 inches (54 mm) 46°F (8°C) 5.4 inches (136 mm)
Dec 48°F (9°C) 2.6 inches (67 mm) 40°F (5°C) 6.1 inches (156 mm)