A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Columbus vs. Chicago for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Columbus or Chicago?

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

Should I visit Columbus or Chicago? 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.

Where Should I go: Columbus or Chicago?

Columbus

The capital city of Ohio, Columbus sits at the meeting point of America's Rust Belt, Bible Belt, Appalachia, and the Plains. It is also home of Ohio State University, which is a major financial and economic force in the city. You'll likely need a car to navigate the city, although there is a bus system, COTA, which can take you to some of Columbus' highlights.

Chicago

Located in the Midwest, Chicago is the third largest city in the United States. It has a population of almost 3 million and a metropolitan area that covers more than 10,000 square kilometers. It is also a hub for music, comedy and theater. It's skyline is beautiful with modern skyscrapers and Lake Michigan as a backdrop. It is easy to stay entertained in Chicago for weeks. There are world class museums, upscale or eclectic shopping opportunities, and impressive architecture.

Which city is cheaper, Chicago or Columbus?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Columbus is $126, while the average daily cost in Chicago is $221. 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 city. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Columbus and Chicago in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Columbus $58
    Chicago $152
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Columbus $116
    Chicago $304
Compare Hotels in Columbus and Chicago

Looking for a hotel in Columbus or Chicago? 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 Columbus


Hotels in Chicago


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: Columbus Hotel Prices and Chicago Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Columbus $40
    Chicago $29

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Columbus

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

  • Columbus John Glen Airport (CMH) to Columbus - Arrival Private Transfer: $87
  • Columbus John Glen Airport (CMH) to Columbus - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $174
  • Columbus to Columbus John Glen Airport (CMH) - Departure Private Transfer: $87

Typical Local Transportation prices in Chicago

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Chicago:


  • Parking
    $19
  • Taxi Ride
    $10
  • Taxi from Airport
    $45

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Chicago

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Chicago:

  • Transfers in Chicago: $107
  • Transfer to Chicago Premium Outlets: $288
  • Transfer from O'Hare International Airport to Chicago: $93
  • Private transfer: Chicago to Chicago International Airport (MDW): $105
  • Private transfer: Chicago International Airport (MDW) to Chicago: $105
  • Private Transfer: O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Chicago: $133
  • Private Transfer: Chicago to O'Hare International Airport (ORD): $133
  • Private Transfer from Chicago City to Chicago (ORD) Airport: $113
  • Private Transfer from Chicago City to Chicago (MDW) Airport: $113
  • Private Transfer from Chicago (ORD) Airport to Chicago City: $113
  • Private Transfer from Chicago (MDW) Airport to Chicago City: $113
  • Private Sedan Transfer from Chicago Downtown to O`Hare airport: $100

Is it cheaper to fly into Columbus or Chicago?

Prices for flights to both Chicago and Columbus 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
    Columbus $39
    Chicago $37

Typical Food prices in Chicago

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Chicago:


  • Dinner for 1
    $24
  • Dinner for 3
    $118

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Chicago

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

  • Traveling Spoon Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza Private Online Cooking Class: $27
  • Learn to Make Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza with a Local: $49
  • Lonely Planet Experiences: River North Historical Food Tour: $61
  • Private Fusion Cooking Class in Downtown Chicago: $64
  • Best in Chow: Chicago River North Food Tour: $64
  • Signature Food Tour at Chicago's Navy Pier: $64
  • Skip the Line: Tommy Gun's Garage Dinner and Show Ticket: $67
  • Small-Group Chicago Food Tour: Gold Coast and Old Town: $75
  • Best of Chicago Tour Including a Deep-Dish Pizza: $75
  • River North Walking Food Tour: $75
  • Chicago's Wicker Park Food Tour: $75
  • Private Indian-Mexican Fusion Cooking Class with a Modern Cook: $78

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Columbus $37
    Chicago $34

Tours and Activities in Columbus

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

  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Columbus: $11
  • Columbus Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $21
  • LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus Ticket: $21
  • Central Park Bike Tour: $53
  • New York City: 3-Hour City Highlights Guided Bike Tour: $60

Typical Entertainment prices in Chicago

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


  • Sears Tower (family of 4)
    $102
  • Aquarium for 4
    $118
  • Water Taxi (family of 4)
    $22
  • IMAX Movie for Two
    $35
  • Shakespeare Play (2)
    $116
  • Art Institute (2)
    $36
  • U-Boat Tour (2)
    $8.00

Tours and Activities in Chicago

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

  • 2 Hours Chicago Sightseeing Tour - Luxury Private Stretch Limo / 8 Passengers: $250
  • 2-Hour Chicago City Lights and Skyline Segway Tour: $76
  • 2-Hour Chicago Fireworks Segway Tour: $76
  • 2-Hour Chicago Lakefront and Museum Campus Segway Tour: $73
  • 2-Hour Haunted Segway Tour of Chicago: $76
  • 2-Hour History of Chicago Architecture and Art Segway Tour: $75
  • 3 Hours Chicago Sightseeing Tour - Luxury Private SUV, ALL Inclusive: $392
  • 4 Hours Chicago Sightseeing Tour - Luxury Private SUV, ALL Inclusive: $220
  • 4 Hours Chicago Sightseeing Tour - Luxury Private Sedan: $215
  • 4 Hours Chicago Sightseeing Tour - Luxury Private Stretch Limousine/8 passengers: $728
  • A Most Magnificent Mile Shopping and Sightseeing Tour: $40
  • A Storied Neighborhood: Dance the dialectic with Bill Ayers on an audio tour: $5.00

For more ideas for your next trip, check out The Best Free Things to Do in Chicago, Chicago Bucket List: The Best Places to See, and The Best Museums in Chicago.


Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Columbus $16
    Chicago $20

Sample the Local Flavors in Chicago

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

  • Haunted Chicago Ghost and Pub Walking Tour: $25
  • Walking tour to Chicago dive bars: $41
  • Chicago Barrel Bus Craft Distillery Tour: $90
  • Chicago Craft Brewery Barrel Bus Tour: $90
  • Ultimate Girl's Night Out in Sparkling Wine, Photo Shoot, Burlesque: $900


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Columbus and Chicago, we can see that Chicago is more expensive. And not only is Columbus much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Columbus would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Columbus 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 Chicago would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Chicago than you might in Columbus.


When is the best time to visit Columbus or Chicago?

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 Columbus or Chicago in the Summer?

Both Chicago and Columbus during the summer are popular places to visit. Furthermore, many travelers come to Chicago for the beaches, the city activities, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences.

In July, Columbus is generally around the same temperature as Chicago. Temperatures in Columbus average around 77°F (25°C), and Chicago stays around 77°F (25°C).

In Chicago, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Columbus. In the summer, Columbus often gets less sunshine than Chicago. Columbus gets 254 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Chicago receives 326 hours of full sun.

Chicago gets a good bit of rain this time of year. It rains a lot this time of the year in Columbus. Columbus usually gets more rain in July than Chicago. Columbus gets 4.4 inches (112 mm) of rain, while Chicago receives 3.9 inches (100 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Columbus 77°F (25°C) 
    Chicago 77°F (25°C)

Should I visit Columbus or Chicago in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Columbus and Chicago. Furthermore, many visitors come to Chicago in the autumn for the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

Columbus is around the same temperature as Chicago in the autumn. The temperature in Columbus is usually 57°F (14°C) in October, and Chicago stays around 56°F (14°C).

Columbus usually receives less sunshine than Chicago during autumn. Columbus gets 179 hours of sunny skies, while Chicago receives 195 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Columbus usually receives around the same amount of rain as Chicago. Columbus gets 2.2 inches (55 mm) of rain, while Chicago receives 2.2 inches (56 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Columbus 57°F (14°C) 
    Chicago 56°F (14°C)

Should I visit Columbus or Chicago in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to Columbus as well as Chicago. Additionally, most visitors come to Chicago for the museums, the Christmas ambience, the shopping scene, the theater shows, and the cuisine during these months.

Chicago can be very cold during winter. Columbus can get quite cold in the winter. In the winter, Columbus is much warmer than Chicago. Typically, the winter temperatures in Columbus in January are around 30°F (-1°C), and Chicago is about 25°F (-4°C).

In the winter, Columbus often gets less sunshine than Chicago. Columbus gets 105 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Chicago receives 134 hours of full sun.

Columbus usually gets more rain in January than Chicago. Columbus gets 2.2 inches (56 mm) of rain, while Chicago receives 1.9 inches (47 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Columbus 30°F (-1°C) 
    Chicago 25°F (-4°C)

Should I visit Columbus or Chicago in the Spring?

Both Chicago and Columbus are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. Also, the spring months attract visitors to Chicago because of the beaches, the activities around the city, and the natural beauty.

In April, Columbus is generally around the same temperature as Chicago. Temperatures in Columbus average around 54°F (12°C), and Chicago stays around 52°F (11°C).

It's quite sunny in Chicago. Columbus usually receives less sunshine than Chicago during spring. Columbus gets 200 hours of sunny skies, while Chicago receives 218 hours of full sun in the spring.

It rains a lot this time of the year in Chicago. In April, Columbus usually receives less rain than Chicago. Columbus gets 3.2 inches (81 mm) of rain, while Chicago receives 4.3 inches (108 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Columbus 54°F (12°C) 
    Chicago 52°F (11°C)

Typical Weather for Chicago and Columbus

Columbus Chicago
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 30°F (-1°C) 2.2 inches (56 mm) 25°F (-4°C) 1.9 inches (47 mm)
Feb 33°F (1°C) 2.2 inches (55 mm) 29°F (-2°C) 1.4 inches (35 mm)
Mar 45°F (7°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 41°F (5°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm)
Apr 54°F (12°C) 3.2 inches (81 mm) 52°F (11°C) 4.3 inches (108 mm)
May 65°F (18°C) 4.1 inches (105 mm) 63°F (17°C) 3 inches (75 mm)
Jun 73°F (23°C) 4 inches (102 mm) 73°F (23°C) 3.9 inches (100 mm)
Jul 77°F (25°C) 4.4 inches (112 mm) 77°F (25°C) 3.9 inches (100 mm)
Aug 75°F (24°C) 3.7 inches (95 mm) 76°F (24°C) 3.5 inches (90 mm)
Sep 69°F (20°C) 3 inches (76 mm) 68°F (20°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm)
Oct 57°F (14°C) 2.2 inches (55 mm) 56°F (14°C) 2.2 inches (56 mm)
Nov 47°F (8°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 44°F (7°C) 2.2 inches (56 mm)
Dec 35°F (2°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm) 31°F (-1°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm)


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Columbus vs. Chicago Travel Comparison

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