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

Should you visit Columbus or Chicago?

Should I visit Columbus or Chicago? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

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. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Columbus and Chicago in more detail.



Accommodation

An average hotel room with basic furnishings costs about $116 in Columbus For the most convenient locations and nicer amenities you can expect to pay a bit more.

Chicago's average price for two people sharing a typical double-occupancy hotel room is $304. A typical place to stay for one person, per day is $152.


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

Food

The average traveler spends about $39 per day in Columbus for food, but obviously this is dependent on the type of restaurant and the amount of food ordered. To save money you can grab a lighter lunch or dinner, or you can try fast food or street food.

The price of a meal in Chicago can vary widely. However, the average price for food per day is $37 per person, and a typical meal will cost around $15 based on the spending of previous visitors. Less expensive dining options can be found by eating street food or at fast food restaurants.


  • 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
  • Factories to Calories Fulton Market Food Tour: $46
  • Learn to Make Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza with a Local: $49
  • Chicago Crime & Pizza Walk: $50
  • Lonely Planet Experiences: Chicago History and Food Tour: $59
  • Lonely Planet Experiences: River North Historical Food Tour: $61
  • Signature Food Tour at Chicago's Navy Pier: $64
  • Best in Chow: Chicago River North Food Tour: $64
  • Private Fusion Cooking Class in Downtown Chicago: $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

Local Transportation

To get around in Columbus, the average visitor spends $40 per day, per person. This includes the costs of taxi rides and private drivers as well as public transportation, which tends to be much more affordable.

While taxis and private drivers typically cost much more than public transportation, people usually spend around $29 per day to get around in Chicago.


  • 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.





Entertainment

In Columbus, the costs for things to do, activities, admission tickets, and other sightseeing expenses are on average $37 per person, per day.

Activities, things to do, and other forms of entertainment usually cost around $34 per person, per day in Chicago. This cost includes the price of admission tickets to attractions and museums as well as daily tours.


  • 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

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 Hour Chicago Art and Architecture Segway Tour: $71
  • 2 Hour Pier Fireworks and Evening Segway Tour in Chicago: $65
  • 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
  • 3-Hour Segway Tour of Chicago: $76
  • 360 Chicago Observation Deck Admission: Skip the Ticket Desk: $25
  • 4 Hours Chicago Sightseeing Tour - Luxury Private SUV, ALL Inclusive: $220

Alcohol

Typically, people visiting Columbus spend on average $16 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.

While the amount that someone spends on alcohol while visiting Chicago may vary from person to person, on average a person spends $20 per day on alcoholic beverages.


  • 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.

Budget Your Trip

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Columbus vs. Chicago Travel Comparison

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