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

Should you visit Columbia or Richmond?

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

Should I visit Columbia or Richmond? 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 welcoming, suburban, and friendly city. Other popular activities here include museums, nightlife, and shopping.

Richmond

Richmond is a growing, friendly, and historical city. And you can't forget about the nightlife, food, and shopping.

Columbia and Richmond: 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
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Very walkable
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Columbia or Richmond?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Richmond than Columbia, as it is bigger with more sights, attractions, and activities for visitors. Richmond is more touristy than Columbia and is known for its cultural and historical sights. It is also home to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Columbia is popular for its southern hospitality and friendly people.

How is Columbia different from Richmond?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Columbia
Richmond

Richmond 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.

Richmond offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. The city has a long history which you can learn about at one of the many museums. There's the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, and the Black History Museum. There are also landmarks and historical homes.

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 Richmond? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Columbia
Richmond

Richmond is a popular place for its local cuisine and restaurants. However, Columbia is not a good city for its restaurants.

Visitors will find a budding food and restaurant scene in Richmond. The food scene has been growing around town, and there are food halls and local restaurants that serve diverse and interesting dishes. You'll find Indian, Asian, and European restaurants in addition to local classics.

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 Richmond Better for Nightlife?

Columbia
Richmond

Both Columbia and Richmond are good 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 Richmond. You'll find diverse bars and clubs around town. Pubs are usually laid back with a relaxed atmosphere. You'll also find live music that includes bluegrass, country, and jazz.

Is the Shopping Better in Columbia or Richmond?

Columbia
Richmond

Both Columbia and Richmond are good 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.

Richmond has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. You'll find shopping malls and shopping centers around town, but there are also eclectic shopping streets and boutique outlets.


Is Columbia or Richmond Better for Families?

Columbia
Richmond

Kids will enjoy a visit to either Columbia or Richmond.

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.

Richmond is a family-friendly city. The Children's Museum of Richmond offers hands-on exhibits that will keep young ones entertained. Another fun option is the Science Museum of Virginia. The city also has parks and outdoor places to explore as well as playgrounds and kid-friendly restaurants.

Is Columbia or Richmond Better for Couples?

Columbia
Richmond

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

Richmond makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Kayaking or tubing on the James River is a great activity for couples. There are also museums and many restaurants that are perfect for a date night.

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 Richmond Better for Students?

Columbia
Richmond

Columbia and Richmond are both good 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 Richmond. There are a couple of colleges and universities in town such as Virginia Commonwealth University.


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

Columbia
Richmond

Both Columbia and Richmond offer decent 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 Richmond. There are buses around town, but the availability and reliability is limited.

Is Columbia or Richmond a more walkable city?

Columbia
Richmond

Richmond is a popular place for its high level of walkability. However, Columbia is not a good city for its ease of walking around.

Richmond is a somewhat walkable place. There are some walkable neighborhoods such as the Fan and Museum District, but most people prefer to get around by car.

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

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

Should I spend more time in Richmond or Columbia?

How long in Columbia or Richmond?

You'll be able to find lots of things to do in Columbia or Richmond to fill your time. In our opinion, Richmond has more to see and do, so we recommend spending more time in Richmond than Columbia. However, 1-2 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

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

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

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


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

One day in Columbia or Richmond?

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


A weekend in Columbia or Richmond?

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.

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

Five days in Columbia or Richmond?

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.

Richmond 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 Richmond?

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.

Richmond 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 One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Las Vegas, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Anchorage, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Los Angeles, and The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from New York City.


Which place is cheaper, Richmond 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 Richmond is $161. 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 Richmond in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Columbia -
    Richmond $101
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Columbia $0.00
    Richmond $202
Compare Hotels in Columbia and Richmond

Looking for a hotel in Columbia or Richmond? 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 Richmond


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 Richmond Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Columbia -
    Richmond $72

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Richmond

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Richmond:

  • Richmond Airport (RIC) to Richmond city - Arrival Private Transfer: $59
  • Richmond City to Richmond Airport (RIC) - Departure Private Transfer: $59
  • Richmond Airport (RIC) to Richmond City - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $118

Is it cheaper to fly into Columbia or Richmond?

Prices for flights to both Richmond 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
    Richmond $21

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Richmond

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

  • The Carytown Food Tour in Richmond: $80
  • Church Hill Food Tour in Richmond, VA: $80
  • Church Hill Food Tour: $80
  • Trendy Carytown Food Tour: $80
  • Arts District Walking Food Tour: $85
  • Delicious Pizza & Ice Cream Tour of Richmond: $90
  • Arts District Food Tour in Richmond: $90
  • Pizza & Ice Cream Tour: $90

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Columbia -
    Richmond $13

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 Richmond

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

  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Richmond by 3Quest Challenge: $10
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Richmond by Crazy Dash: $10
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Richmond by Wacky Walks: $10
  • Hollywood Cemetery Tour Richmond Lore and Civil War: $19
  • RVA Ghosts Shockoe Bottom Sinister Scares by US Ghost Adventures : $24
  • Virginia: Richmond Uncivil Wards History Tour: $25
  • Richmond’s Revolutionary Spirit History Tour: $25
  • Rails and Sails History Tour: $25
  • Church Hill Chillers Ghost Tour: $25
  • Richmond Ghosts: Sinister Scares of Shockoe Bottom Tour: $26
  • Highlights of Hollywood Cemetery Walking Tour: $30
  • Shockoe Bottom Ghost Walking Tour: $30

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Columbia $88
    Richmond -

Sample the Local Flavors in Richmond

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Richmond:

  • Richmond Ghosts Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl : $27
  • Richmond Ghosts Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $30
  • Drink Richmond Craft Brewery Crawl: $59
  • Richmond Craft Brewery Crawl By Junket: $59
  • Brewery Tour of Richmond, VA: $90


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


Which is Bigger, Columbia or Richmond?

Richmond has a larger population, and is about 64% larger than the population of Columbia. When comparing the sizes of Columbia and Richmond, 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 Richmond?

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 Richmond in the Summer?

Both Richmond and Columbia are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. The family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Columbia this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Richmond for the family-friendly experiences.

In the summer, Columbia is around the same temperature as Richmond. Typically, the summer temperatures in Columbia in July average around 82°F (28°C), and Richmond averages at about 78°F (26°C).

It's quite sunny in Richmond. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Columbia. Columbia usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Richmond during summer. Columbia gets 293 hours of sunny skies, while Richmond receives 305 hours of full sun in the summer.

It rains a lot this time of the year in Richmond. It's quite rainy in Columbia. In July, Columbia usually receives less rain than Richmond. Columbia gets 4.6 inches (116 mm) of rain, while Richmond receives 5 inches (128 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Columbia 82°F (28°C) 
    Richmond 78°F (26°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Richmond in the Autumn?

Both Richmond and Columbia during the autumn are popular places to visit. Many travelers come to Columbia for the shopping scene. Furthermore, many visitors come to Richmond in the autumn for the shopping scene.

In October, Columbia is generally a little warmer than Richmond. Daily temperatures in Columbia average around 64°F (18°C), and Richmond fluctuates around 59°F (15°C).

In Richmond, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Columbia. In the autumn, Columbia often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Richmond. Columbia gets 230 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Richmond receives 221 hours of full sun.

Columbia usually gets less rain in October than Richmond. Columbia gets 3 inches (75 mm) of rain, while Richmond receives 3.5 inches (90 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Columbia 64°F (18°C) 
    Richmond 59°F (15°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Richmond in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Columbia and Richmond. Many visitors come to Columbia in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Furthermore, most visitors come to Richmond for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months.

Richmond can be very cold during winter. Columbia is much warmer than Richmond in the winter. The daily temperature in Columbia averages around 45°F (7°C) in January, and Richmond fluctuates around 36°F (2°C).

Columbia usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Richmond during winter. Columbia gets 171 hours of sunny skies, while Richmond receives 169 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Columbia usually receives more rain than Richmond. Columbia gets 3.7 inches (93 mm) of rain, while Richmond receives 3.2 inches (83 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Columbia 45°F (7°C) 
    Richmond 36°F (2°C)

Should I visit Columbia or Richmond in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Columbia as well as Richmond.

In the spring, Columbia is a little warmer than Richmond. Typically, the spring temperatures in Columbia in April average around 64°F (18°C), and Richmond averages at about 58°F (14°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Richmond. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Columbia this time of the year. In the spring, Columbia often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Richmond. Columbia gets 273 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Richmond receives 265 hours of full sun.

Columbia usually gets around the same amount of rain in April as Richmond. Columbia gets 2.8 inches (72 mm) of rain, while Richmond receives 3 inches (75 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Columbia 64°F (18°C) 
    Richmond 58°F (14°C)

Typical Weather for Richmond and Columbia

Columbia Richmond
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 45°F (7°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm) 36°F (2°C) 3.2 inches (83 mm)
Feb 48°F (9°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm) 39°F (4°C) 3.2 inches (80 mm)
Mar 56°F (13°C) 3.7 inches (95 mm) 49°F (9°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm)
Apr 64°F (18°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm) 58°F (14°C) 3 inches (75 mm)
May 72°F (22°C) 3 inches (77 mm) 67°F (19°C) 3.8 inches (98 mm)
Jun 78°F (26°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm) 74°F (24°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm)
Jul 82°F (28°C) 4.6 inches (116 mm) 78°F (26°C) 5 inches (128 mm)
Aug 81°F (27°C) 5.8 inches (147 mm) 77°F (25°C) 4.4 inches (113 mm)
Sep 75°F (24°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm) 71°F (21°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm)
Oct 64°F (18°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 59°F (15°C) 3.5 inches (90 mm)
Nov 56°F (13°C) 2.1 inches (54 mm) 50°F (10°C) 3.2 inches (81 mm)
Dec 48°F (9°C) 2.6 inches (67 mm) 41°F (5°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm)