A Travel Price Comparison for Alaska Fairbanks vs. Anchorage for Hiking, Couples, Backpackers, and Attractions

Should you visit Fairbanks or Anchorage?

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

Should I visit Fairbanks or Anchorage? 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.

Fairbanks

Fairbanks is a outdoorsy, remote, and Arctic city. You'll find world class beauty here as well. It's also known for hiking, shopping, and museums.

Anchorage

Anchorage is a breathtaking, cultural, and artsy city. It's considered by many to be an absolutely beautiful destination, too. It's also popular because of the hiking, shopping, and museums.

Fairbanks and Anchorage: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to the Northern Lights
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty


Is there more to do in Fairbanks or Anchorage?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Anchorage than Fairbanks, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Anchorage is better known for its food, nightlife, and hiking, while Fairbanks is more popular for its skiing. Anchorage is more touristy than Fairbanks and is popular for its breathtaking natural beauty, impressive wildlife, stunning hiking trails, and unique local culture. Also, Anchorage is famous for Chugach State Park. Fairbanks is well known for its remote wilderness setting, access to the Arctic, unique winter sports, and popularity for seeing the northern lights.

How is Fairbanks different from Anchorage?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Fairbanks or Anchorage Better for Skiing?

Fairbanks
Anchorage

Fairbanks is a moderate city for snow skiing. However, Anchorage is not a skiing destination.

Locals like to visit Fairbanks to take advantage of their winter sports. The closest ski areas are the ski resorts of Fort Wainwright/Birch Hill, Moose Mountain and Skiland. The area also has dog mushing, snowshoeing, sledding, tubing and sleigh riding.

Anchorage is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Fairbanks or Anchorage?

Fairbanks
Anchorage

You'll find a number of notable museums and attractions in both Anchorage and Fairbanks.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Fairbanks. The city is mostly known for its outdoor activities, but you can also visit the Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center, the Aurora Ice Museum, Fountainhead Auto Museum, the Museum of the North, and Pioneer Park.

Anchorage is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. While most people visit for the outdoor experiences, there are a few museums where you can learn about the local culture and wildlife. Popular museums include the the Alaska Native Heritage Center, the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, the Alaska Aviation Museum, and the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature.

Is the Food Better in Fairbanks or Anchorage? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Fairbanks
Anchorage

Anchorage is a popular place for its restaurants. However, Fairbanks is lacking in good options for its restaurant scene.

Anchorage is becoming an appealing option for foodies. Food is expensive in town, but there are some unique local specialties that you must try. Many restaurants offer fresh seafood and local meats. Favorites include yak meat, king crab, and fresh oysters.

Fairbanks offers some easy restaurants to choose from. Food can be expensive and of varying quality, but many restaurants use local meats and seafood. There's a surprising number of international restaurants in town as well. Also make sure you try the local specialties like reindeer sausage, Yukon gold potatoes, and Alaskan salmon.

Is Fairbanks or Anchorage Better for Nightlife?

Fairbanks
Anchorage

Anchorage is a decent place to visit for its evening party scene. However, Fairbanks is lacking in good options for nightlife.

Those looking for nightlife will find a few places to hang out in Anchorage. The town's nightlife mostly consists of local bars where you can hang out. Check out Koot's, which is a longstanding favorite.

Things get quiet in the evenings in Fairbanks. You will find some bars around town, but for the most part, the city stays quiet at night.


Is Fairbanks or Anchorage Better for Hiking?

Fairbanks
Anchorage

Anchorage is an amazing city to visit for its hiking trails. Also, Fairbanks is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its hiking experiences.

People visit Anchorage specifically for its hiking, as the natural beauty is well-known. The town is surrounded by wilderness and it's not hard to escape into nature. You can choose between short walks, long day trips, and multi-day treks, with everything in between available as well. There are more than 300 miles of hiking trails near town and several favorites include Byron Glacier Trail, Thunderbird Falls Trail, and Flattop Mountain.

You'll find a nice variety of hiking trails around Fairbanks. While the town serves as a gateway to the Arctic and all that it has to offer, there are also hiking trails both in town and nearby. There are trails that connect the city's historic sites as well as day hikes that start at the edge of town.

Is the Shopping Better in Fairbanks or Anchorage?

Fairbanks
Anchorage

Shoppers can find a variety of notable stores in both Fairbanks and Anchorage.

Fairbanks has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. There are interesting local shops and boutiques that sell native Alaskan handmade items. You'll find "Made in Alaska" merchandise at many boutiques and souvenir shops. There are also larger retailers available in case you forgot clothing or other items at home.

Anchorage is a great destination for shopping. There are plenty of local gift shops and boutiques where you can pick up local Alaskan crafts and products. There's no sales tax, but prices can still be a bit steep. But if you're looking for something uniquely local to remember your trip, you don't have to look hard.

Is Fairbanks or Anchorage Better for Families?

Fairbanks
Anchorage

Kids will enjoy a visit to either Fairbanks or Anchorage.

Fairbanks is a family-friendly city. Kids who enjoy searching for wildlife, playing in the snow, and exploring nature will love a visit to Fairbanks. Make sure you visit the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as well as Pioneer Park.

You'll find plenty of kid-friendly things to do in Anchorage. Kids who appreciate nature will appreciate this unique setting. Everyone will enjoy a glacier cruise, but you can hang out with the locals in Westchester Lagoon, see the animals at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, and learn about the area at the Anchorage Museum.


Is Fairbanks or Anchorage Better for Couples?

Fairbanks
Anchorage

Anchorage is a very popular place for couples. Also, Fairbanks is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for romance.

Anchorage makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. The city makes a good base for couples who want to explore the surrounding beauty. The landscapes make a beautiful backdrop for a romantic trip, and the adventure activities will make for an unforgettable experience. There are plenty of outdoor activities and adventure sports that couples can enjoy together and the beauty of the region is breathtaking.

Fairbanks is a nice destination for couples. Couples who enjoy hiking and nature will love a visit here. If you're hoping to see the northern lights, Fairbanks is your best destination in Alaska. Try to visit sometime between August to April for the best chance of enjoying the lights.

Is Fairbanks or Anchorage Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Fairbanks
Anchorage

Fairbanks is a well-known place for backpackers. Also, Anchorage is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for backpackers and budget travelers.

Backpackers come from all over to visit Fairbanks. There are many outdoor recreation areas where backpackers can explore. Alaska, and Fairbanks in particular, can have very harsh conditions, so unless you know what you're doing, it's best to take a guide.

Plenty of backpackers visit Anchorage. There are a few good budget places to stay, and backpackers will also have plenty of outdoor wilderness to explore near town. It's important to remember that Alaska is known for its challenging wilderness so, unless you're experienced, you should take a guide.

Is Fairbanks or Anchorage Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Fairbanks
Anchorage

Neither Fairbanks or Anchorage offer decent public transit.

Public transit is quite limited in Fairbanks. There is a public bus system that connects the downtown area with the shopping areas and the university. However, you really can't rely on it to explore the region and you should have your own vehicle.

Public transit is limited or non-existant in Anchorage. There is the People Mover bus system that transports riders around town, but to truly experience the region, you must have a car.


Is Fairbanks or Anchorage a more walkable city?

Fairbanks
Anchorage

Anchorage is a decent place to visit for its ease of walking around. However, Fairbanks is lacking in good options for its walkability.

Anchorage is generally not a very walkable city. The downtown area is compact so you can wander to the nearby shops and restaurants on foot, but most people visit with the goal of exploring outside of town. For that you need a car.

Fairbanks is not a walkable city. The city was built for cars and there are very few walkable areas around town.

For even more information, also check out Is Fairbanks Worth Visiting? and Is Anchorage Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Anchorage or Fairbanks?

How long in Fairbanks or Anchorage?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Fairbanks and Anchorage. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Fairbanks than in Anchorage. Usually, 2-4 days is a good amount of time for Fairbanks, and 1-3 days is enough time in Anchorage.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Fairbanks than Anchorage 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 Fairbanks.


  • How many days in Fairbanks or Anchorage? Ideal Length of Stay
    Fairbanks 2-4 
    Anchorage 1-3

One day in Fairbanks or Anchorage?

You'll find shopping and museums around the city of Fairbanks. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

You'll find shopping and museums around the city of Anchorage. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One day is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Anchorage has to offer. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

A weekend in Fairbanks or Anchorage?

You'll find museums and shopping around the remote destination of Fairbanks. Hikers are also drawn to this area. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend.A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from.

You'll find museums and food around the scenic destination of Anchorage. Hikers are also drawn to this area. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend.A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from.


Five days in Fairbanks or Anchorage?

Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the unique city of Fairbanks. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

Travelers enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the breathtaking city of Anchorage. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. Most people head to the area for the hiking. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

A week in Fairbanks or Anchorage?

Fairbanks is a popular choice for travelers. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. One week 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. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

Anchorage is a popular choice for travelers. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. One week 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. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best G Adventures Tours to United States of America, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Las Vegas, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Anchorage, and The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Los Angeles.


Which place is cheaper, Anchorage or Fairbanks?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Fairbanks is $272, while the average daily cost in Anchorage is $191. 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 Fairbanks and Anchorage in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Fairbanks $154
    Anchorage $117
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Fairbanks $308
    Anchorage $234
Compare Hotels in Fairbanks and Anchorage

Looking for a hotel in Fairbanks or Anchorage? 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 Fairbanks


Hotels in Anchorage


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: Fairbanks Hotel Prices and Anchorage Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Fairbanks $66
    Anchorage $27
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Fairbanks

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


  • Full Tank of Gas
    $90

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Anchorage

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Anchorage:

  • Seward to Anchorage- Post Cruise Curated Wildlife Tour +Transfer: $197
  • SUV-Private Transfer, Whittier Cruise ship to Anchorage: $299
  • Private Transfer Anchorage Airport (ANC) to Whittier Cruise Port: $232
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Anchorage Airport ANC: $62
  • Anchorage to Seward- Pre-Cruise Curated Wildlife Tour +Transfer: $219

Is it cheaper to fly into Fairbanks or Anchorage?

Prices for flights to both Anchorage and Fairbanks 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
    Fairbanks $63
    Anchorage $50
Typical Food Prices in Fairbanks

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


  • Lunch for Two at Pike's Landing
    $63
  • Totem Inn Breakfast for Two
    $46

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Fairbanks

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

  • Best Northern Lights Aurora Adventure FREE Portraits & Hot Pizza : $300

Typical Food Prices in Anchorage

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


  • Bread
    $4.25
  • Breakfast for Two
    $17

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Anchorage

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

  • City of Anchorage SIGHTSEEING & FOOD Tour: $177

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Fairbanks $65
    Anchorage $30
Typical Entertainment Prices in Fairbanks

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Fairbanks's activities, tours, and tickets:


  • The Riverboat Discovery Trip
    $55
  • 1 Day Mountain Bike Rental
    $27
  • Canoe Rental with Pickup
    $56

Tours and Activities in Fairbanks

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

  • Fairbanks, AK: Murder Mystery Detective Experience: $15
  • Gold Dredge 8 Historic Train Tour: $58
  • Riverboat Cruise and Local Village Tour: $95
  • Dog Sledding and Mushing Experience in North Pole: $99
  • Summer Mushing Cart Ride & Kennel Tour: $100
  • Dog Sledding and Mushing Experience: $105
  • From Northern Lights & Murphy Dome Tour: $120
  • Fairbanks Heritage Sightseeing Tour: $140
  • Fairbanks Autumn/Winter City Tour: $140
  • Alaskan Heritage and Sightseeing Tour in Fairbanks: $140
  • The Best of Half-Day City Highlights Tour: $140
  • Fairbanks City Highlight Tour: $140

Typical Entertainment Prices in Anchorage

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Anchorage are as follows:


  • 1 Day Bike Rental
    $33
  • 1/2 Day Rafting Trip
    $105

Tours and Activities in Anchorage

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

  • 26 Glacier Tour, Self-Drive from Anchorage, AK: $226
  • 3 Hour Ladies Only Kayak Tour in Knik River: $130
  • Advanced Snowshoeing Adventure: $238
  • Alaska 9 Day Ocean Wildlife to Interior Wilderness Adventure: $6,999
  • Alaska Wildlife Day Tour with Free Hotel Pickup: $115
  • Alaska Wildlife Tour: $110
  • Alaska's Most Scenic E-Bike Adventure: $224
  • Anchorage Brews Tour: $169
  • Anchorage City Tour and Highlights: $47
  • Anchorage City Tour w/ Taste of Wild Smoked Salmon & Reindeer Sausage: $69
  • Anchorage City Tour w/ Wild Smoked Salmon & Reindeer Sausage: $73
  • Anchorage Highlights and Alaska Zoo Experience: $79

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Fairbanks $27
    Anchorage $20

Sample the Local Flavors in Anchorage

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Anchorage:

  • Chocolate and Wine Tasting Tour: $109
  • Half-Day Anchorage Craft Brewery Tour and Tastings: $179
  • Guided Tour on Matanuska Glacier w/Alaska Honey & Wine Tasting: $285


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

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


Which is Bigger, Fairbanks or Anchorage?

Anchorage has a larger population, and is about 9 times larger than the population of Fairbanks. When comparing the sizes of Fairbanks and Anchorage, 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 Fairbanks or Anchorage?

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 Fairbanks or Anchorage in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Fairbanks as well as Anchorage. Many visitors come to Fairbanks in the summer for the hiking and the family-friendly experiences. Additionally, most visitors come to Anchorage for the hiking and the family-friendly experiences during these months.

In the summer, Fairbanks is a little warmer than Anchorage. Typically, the summer temperatures in Fairbanks in July average around 64°F (18°C), and Anchorage averages at about 59°F (15°C).

Fairbanks usually gets more rain in July than Anchorage. Fairbanks gets 2 inches (51 mm) of rain, while Anchorage receives 1.7 inches (44 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Fairbanks 64°F (18°C) 
    Anchorage 59°F (15°C)

Should I visit Fairbanks or Anchorage in the Autumn?

Both Anchorage and Fairbanks are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. Most visitors come to Fairbanks for the hiking trails, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area during these months. Also, the autumn months attract visitors to Anchorage because of the hiking trails, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

The weather in Anchorage can be very cold. Fairbanks can be very cold during autumn. In October, Fairbanks is generally much colder than Anchorage. Daily temperatures in Fairbanks average around 27°F (-3°C), and Anchorage fluctuates around 35°F (2°C).

In October, Fairbanks usually receives less rain than Anchorage. Fairbanks gets 0.9 inches (22 mm) of rain, while Anchorage receives 2.1 inches (53 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Fairbanks 27°F (-3°C) 
    Anchorage 35°F (2°C)

Should I visit Fairbanks or Anchorage in the Winter?

Both Anchorage and Fairbanks during the winter are popular places to visit. The winter months attract visitors to Fairbanks because of the skiing, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Anchorage this time of year.

It's quite cold in Anchorage in the winter. The weather in Fairbanks can be very cold. Fairbanks is much colder than Anchorage in the winter. The daily temperature in Fairbanks averages around -9°F (-23°C) in January, and Anchorage fluctuates around 15°F (-9°C).

Fairbanks usually gets less rain in January than Anchorage. Fairbanks gets 0.5 inches (13 mm) of rain, while Anchorage receives 0.7 inches (19 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Fairbanks -9°F (-23°C) 
    Anchorage 15°F (-9°C)

Should I visit Fairbanks or Anchorage in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Fairbanks and Anchorage. The natural beauty are the main draw to Fairbanks this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Anchorage for the natural beauty.

Be prepared for some very cold days in Anchorage. It's quite cold in Fairbanks in the spring. In the spring, Fairbanks is much colder than Anchorage. Typically, the spring temperatures in Fairbanks in April average around 32°F (0°C), and Anchorage averages at about 36°F (2°C).

In April, Fairbanks usually receives less rain than Anchorage. Fairbanks gets 0.4 inches (9 mm) of rain, while Anchorage receives 0.7 inches (18 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Fairbanks 32°F (0°C) 
    Anchorage 36°F (2°C)

Typical Weather for Anchorage and Fairbanks

Fairbanks Anchorage
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan -9°F (-23°C) 0.5 inches (13 mm) 15°F (-9°C) 0.7 inches (19 mm)
Feb -2°F (-19°C) 0.4 inches (11 mm) 19°F (-7°C) 0.8 inches (21 mm)
Mar 13°F (-11°C) 0.5 inches (12 mm) 26°F (-3°C) 0.7 inches (18 mm)
Apr 32°F (0°C) 0.4 inches (9 mm) 36°F (2°C) 0.7 inches (18 mm)
May 50°F (10°C) 0.6 inches (16 mm) 47°F (8°C) 0.8 inches (20 mm)
Jun 62°F (16°C) 1.4 inches (36 mm) 55°F (13°C) 1.1 inches (27 mm)
Jul 64°F (18°C) 2 inches (51 mm) 59°F (15°C) 1.7 inches (44 mm)
Aug 58°F (15°C) 2.2 inches (57 mm) 57°F (14°C) 2.6 inches (67 mm)
Sep 47°F (8°C) 0.9 inches (24 mm) 49°F (9°C) 2.6 inches (66 mm)
Oct 27°F (-3°C) 0.9 inches (22 mm) 35°F (2°C) 2.1 inches (53 mm)
Nov 4°F (-15°C) 0.9 inches (22 mm) 22°F (-6°C) 1.1 inches (27 mm)
Dec -5°F (-21°C) 0.9 inches (23 mm) 17°F (-8°C) 1.1 inches (28 mm)