A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Gatlinburg vs. Roanoke for Nightlife, Hiking, Couples, and Attractions

Should you visit Gatlinburg or Roanoke?

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

Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Gatlinburg and Roanoke can help you decide which place is right for you.

Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg is a wild, flashy, and high energy city. It's also popular because of the hiking, shopping, and museums.

Roanoke

Roanoke is a outdoorsy, laid back, and scenic town. Other reasons to visit include museums, nightlife, and hiking.

Gatlinburg and Roanoke: Pros and Cons

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


Is there more to do in Gatlinburg or Roanoke?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Gatlinburg than Roanoke, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Gatlinburg is more touristy than Roanoke and is known for its countless entertainment venues as well as its easy access to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Also, Gatlinburg is famous for the Gatlinburg Strip. Roanoke is well known for its welcoming hospitality and convenient access to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

How is Gatlinburg different from Roanoke?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Gatlinburg or Roanoke Better for Skiing?

Gatlinburg
Roanoke

Gatlinburg is a popular place for skiing. However, Roanoke is not a skiing destination.

Head to Gatlinburg for some great skiing and other winter activities. Ober Gatlinburg is the only ski area in Tennessee. The winter activities open after Thanksgiving and include snow skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and tubing.

Roanoke is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Gatlinburg or Roanoke?

Gatlinburg
Roanoke

Spend time exploring the notable sights and museums in either Gatlinburg or Roanoke.

Gatlinburg is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. Museums range from gaudy to quirky. Check out the Hollywood Star Cars Museum, the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum, Ripley's Believe It or Not, the Hollywood Wax Museum, and the Titanic Museum. There's also the Gatlinburg Space Needle and the Gatlinburg SkyBridge.

Roanoke offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. There are several museums and sights around town such as the Living-Coral Reef Aquarium, the Science Museum of Western Virginia, and the Taubman Museum of Art. There's also the Harrison Museum of African American Culture and even the Roanoke Pinball Museum.

Is the Food Better in Gatlinburg or Roanoke? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Gatlinburg
Roanoke

There are opportunities to sample the local cuisine at respectable restaurants in both Gatlinburg and Roanoke.

Gatlinburg offers some easy restaurants to choose from. Staying true to form, restaurants in Gatlinburg cater to the tourist scene and serve up burgers, pizza, pancakes, and other classic favorites.

You'll find the standard options when it comes to food in Roanoke. There are burger joints, pizza restaurants, and plenty of other casual eateries where you can grab a quick meal.

Is Gatlinburg or Roanoke Better for Nightlife?

Gatlinburg
Roanoke

Gatlinburg is renowned for its evening party scene. Also, Roanoke is not as popular, but is still a nice town for nightlife.

Gatlinburg is a destination that you simply have to visit at least once for nightlife. Live music, theatrical shows, as well as bars and clubs that stay open late into the night give this town a huge party atmosphere. During the peak season the town is packed with people looking to have a good time and you'll find tons of things to do by simply walking down the main drag.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Roanoke. There are local venues in the area that have drinks and often live music. You'll find jazz, country, rock, and bluegrass, particularly along Crooked Road in Franklin County.


Is Gatlinburg or Roanoke Better for Resorts?

Gatlinburg
Roanoke

Gatlinburg is a great city for its luxury resorts. However, Roanoke is not a resort destination.

Gatlinburg is known as a popular and fun resort destination. There are plenty of resorts and vacation clubs near town. Many have pools, waterslides, or hot tubs.

Roanoke is not a resort destination.

Is Gatlinburg or Roanoke Better for Hiking?

Gatlinburg
Roanoke

You'll find great hiking in both Gatlinburg and Roanoke.

Many visitors go to Gatlinburg for the hiking trails. You'll need to head out of town into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but once you're there the hiking is impressive. There are waterfall hikes, trails to viewpoints, and loops that take you through wildflowers. Some of the most popular trails include Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Middle Prong Trail, and the Gatlinburg Trail.

Roanoke is a popular spot for hiking. The surrounding countryside is filled with mountain hikes. The Blue Ridge Mountains are crossed by trails that take you to waterfalls, scenic viewpoints, and through serene forest. McAfee Knob, Sharp Top Mountain, and Roaring Run Trail some of the best hikes in the area.

Is the Shopping Better in Gatlinburg or Roanoke?

Gatlinburg
Roanoke

If you're looking to go shopping, Gatlinburg and Roanoke both offer plenty of notable spots.

Plenty of visitors enjoy shopping while in Gatlinburg. There are tourist traps and souvenir shops around town, but you can also head to the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community where you can meet local artists and learn about their work.

Roanoke offers some nice shopping areas. Market Street in Downtown Roanoke is lined with local vendors, particularly at the Historic Roanoke City Market. The town also has a mall and several shopping centers.


Is Gatlinburg or Roanoke Better for Families?

Gatlinburg
Roanoke

Roanoke is very good for its kid-friendly activities. However, Gatlinburg is not a family-friendly destination.

Roanoke offers lots of family activities. The Blue Ridge Parkway is filled with kid-friendly hiking trails and fun outdoor activities. You can visit the Blue Ridge Institute & Farm Museum or Smith Mountain Lake Farm. There's also Virginia Children's Theater.

Gatlinburg is not a family-friendly destination. Ober Gatlinburg is a combination ski resort and amusement park that is a highlight for many families. During the warmer season, horseback riding and waterparks are popular. There's also a Ripley's Aquarium, minigolf, and Gatlin's Fun Center. Nearby you'll find Dollywood and Pigeon Forge.

Is Gatlinburg or Roanoke Better for Couples?

Gatlinburg
Roanoke

Both Gatlinburg and Roanoke are great destinations to visit as a couple.

Gatlinburg is a great city if you're traveling as a couple. If you're looking for a flashy and ostentatious experience, then there are all the typical activities around town - Ripley's Believe It or Not, the Gatlinburg Space Needle, or Ober Gatlinburg. For a bit more nature, you can head out of town and enjoy one of the many hiking trails. There are also breweries and wineries in the area, as well as a range of resorts.

Roanoke is a very popular place to visit for couples. Staying at a quaint bed and breakfast, tucked into the beautiful mountain setting is the perfect romantic getaway. Nearby there are vineyards and wine cellars, as well as gardens, hikes, and other outdoor activities.

Is Gatlinburg or Roanoke Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Gatlinburg
Roanoke

Roanoke is very good for backpackers and budget travelers. However, Gatlinburg is not a good destination for backpackers.

Roanoke is popular with backpackers and budget travelers. There are several campgrounds in the area as well as great hiking trails.

Gatlinburg is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. It's a touristy town with plenty of cheap motels in the area. There are also campgrounds and hiking not far away.


Is Gatlinburg or Roanoke Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Gatlinburg
Roanoke

Gatlinburg is a popular place for times when you don't have a car. However, Roanoke is not known for its public transit.

While Gatlinburg offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There's a free trolley service that offers a convenient way to get around town.

Public transit is generally limited in Roanoke. There are buses as well as a free trolley service through the downtown, but you really do need a car to get most places.

Is Gatlinburg or Roanoke a more walkable city?

Gatlinburg
Roanoke

Gatlinburg is a great city for its ease of walking around. However, Roanoke is not known for its walkability.

Gatlinburg is a very walkable destination. The downtown area is pedestrian-friendly and most of the attractions in town can be reached on foot. If you want to leave town, a car is a must, but in town traffic and parking can be frustrating, so walk when you can.

Roanoke is generally not very walkable. The downtown area is the most walkable part of town, with sidewalks and more dense development styles.

For even more information, also check out Is Gatlinburg Worth Visiting? and Is Roanoke Worth Visiting?.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Luxury Tours to United States of America, The Best Tours for Seniors to United States of America, The Best Contiki Tours to United States of America, and The Best G Adventures Tours to United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Roanoke or Gatlinburg?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Gatlinburg is $190, while the average daily cost in Roanoke is $164. 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 Gatlinburg and Roanoke in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Gatlinburg $80
    Roanoke $96
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Gatlinburg $160
    Roanoke $192
Compare Hotels in Gatlinburg and Roanoke

Looking for a hotel in Gatlinburg or Roanoke? 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 Gatlinburg


Hotels in Roanoke


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: Gatlinburg Hotel Prices and Roanoke Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Gatlinburg $35
    Roanoke $23

Is it cheaper to fly into Gatlinburg or Roanoke?

Prices for flights to both Roanoke and Gatlinburg 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
    Gatlinburg $85
    Roanoke $48
Typical Food Prices in Gatlinburg

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Gatlinburg:


  • Chinese Food Dinner (for 2)
    $21

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Roanoke

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

  • Roanoke Ebike Food Tour: $150

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Gatlinburg $24
    Roanoke $35
Typical Entertainment Prices in Gatlinburg

For Gatlinburg, here are some examples of average entertainment and activity prices from previous travelers:


  • Horseback Riding Photos
    $22
  • Horseback Riding (for 2)
    $55

Tours and Activities in Gatlinburg

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Gatlinburg.

  • 3-Hour Nantahala River Fully Guided Rafting Experience: $65
  • 7-Line Zipline Experience in Sevierville: $119
  • Admission Ticket: Brian Hoffman's Remembering Red - A Tribute to Red Skelton: $35
  • Admission Ticket: Patty Waszak Show in Pigeon Forge: $35
  • Appalachian Trail Adventure: $175
  • Beyond The Lens Interactive Museum Admission Ticket: $27
  • Blue Ridge Parkway (Cherokee to Asheville) Self-Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • Blue Ridge Parkway: Audio Driving Tour: $25
  • Douglas Lake View Scenic Helicopter Tour: $41
  • East Tennessee Off Road ATV Guided Experience: $71
  • Extended Douglas Lake Region Tour by Helicopter: $63
  • Fall Color Tour in the Smoky Mountains: $170

Tours and Activities in Roanoke

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Roanoke.

  • 3-Hour E-Bike Sightseeing and Breweries Tour in Roanoke: $98
  • Blue Ridge Parkway – Driving Audio Tour (Roanoke ↔ Afton): $15
  • Blue Ridge Parkway (Roanoke to Afton) Self-Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • Blue Ridge Parkway (Virginia) Driving Tour with Audio Guide: $9.99
  • Blue Ridge Parkway Virginia Audio Driving Tour: $9.99
  • Mountain Bike Tour from The Roanoke Star: $120
  • Roanoke Downtown Food and Cultural Tour: $70
  • Roanoke Holiday Season E-Bike Tour: $92

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Gatlinburg $15
    Roanoke $30

Sample the Local Flavors in Gatlinburg

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Gatlinburg:

  • Famous Moonshine & Wine Tour From Pigeon Forge: $70


When comparing the travel costs between Gatlinburg and Roanoke, we can see that Gatlinburg 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 Gatlinburg Expensive? and Is Roanoke Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Gatlinburg or Roanoke?

Roanoke has a larger population, and is about 20 times larger than the population of Gatlinburg. When comparing the sizes of Gatlinburg and Roanoke, 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 Gatlinburg or Roanoke?

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 Gatlinburg or Roanoke in the Summer?

Both Roanoke and Gatlinburg are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. Most visitors come to Gatlinburg for the hiking during these months. Also, the summer months attract visitors to Roanoke because of the hiking and the family-friendly experiences.

In July, Gatlinburg is generally around the same temperature as Roanoke. Daily temperatures in Gatlinburg average around 81°F (27°C), and Roanoke fluctuates around 79°F (26°C).

It's quite sunny in Roanoke. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Gatlinburg. Gatlinburg usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Roanoke during summer. Gatlinburg gets 294 hours of sunny skies, while Roanoke receives 273 hours of full sun in the summer.

It rains a lot this time of the year in Roanoke. It's quite rainy in Gatlinburg. In July, Gatlinburg usually receives more rain than Roanoke. Gatlinburg gets 4.7 inches (119 mm) of rain, while Roanoke receives 4.2 inches (106 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Gatlinburg 81°F (27°C) 
    Roanoke 79°F (26°C)

Should I visit Gatlinburg or Roanoke in the Autumn?

Both Roanoke and Gatlinburg during the autumn are popular places to visit. The autumn months attract visitors to Gatlinburg because of the hiking trails and the shopping scene. Furthermore, the hiking trails and the shopping scene are the main draw to Roanoke this time of year.

Gatlinburg is around the same temperature as Roanoke in the autumn. The daily temperature in Gatlinburg averages around 63°F (17°C) in October, and Roanoke fluctuates around 60°F (16°C).

In Roanoke, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Gatlinburg. In the autumn, Gatlinburg often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Roanoke. Gatlinburg gets 213 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Roanoke receives 210 hours of full sun.

Gatlinburg usually gets less rain in October than Roanoke. Gatlinburg gets 2.7 inches (68 mm) of rain, while Roanoke receives 3.7 inches (94 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Gatlinburg 63°F (17°C) 
    Roanoke 60°F (16°C)

Should I visit Gatlinburg or Roanoke in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Gatlinburg and Roanoke. The skiing, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Gatlinburg this time of year. Furthermore, many travelers come to Roanoke for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Be prepared for some very cold days in Roanoke. It's quite cold in Gatlinburg in the winter. In the winter, Gatlinburg is a little warmer than Roanoke. Typically, the winter temperatures in Gatlinburg in January average around 40°F (5°C), and Roanoke averages at about 38°F (3°C).

Gatlinburg usually receives less sunshine than Roanoke during winter. Gatlinburg gets 134 hours of sunny skies, while Roanoke receives 165 hours of full sun in the winter.

Gatlinburg gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In January, Gatlinburg usually receives more rain than Roanoke. Gatlinburg gets 4.7 inches (119 mm) of rain, while Roanoke receives 2.9 inches (73 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Gatlinburg 40°F (5°C) 
    Roanoke 38°F (3°C)

Should I visit Gatlinburg or Roanoke in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Gatlinburg as well as Roanoke.

In April, Gatlinburg is generally a little warmer than Roanoke. Daily temperatures in Gatlinburg average around 62°F (17°C), and Roanoke fluctuates around 59°F (15°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Roanoke. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Gatlinburg this time of the year. In the spring, Gatlinburg often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Roanoke. Gatlinburg gets 263 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Roanoke receives 246 hours of full sun.

Gatlinburg usually gets more rain in April than Roanoke. Gatlinburg gets 3.6 inches (92 mm) of rain, while Roanoke receives 3.1 inches (79 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Gatlinburg 62°F (17°C) 
    Roanoke 59°F (15°C)

Typical Weather for Roanoke and Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg Roanoke
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 40°F (5°C) 4.7 inches (119 mm) 38°F (3°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm)
Feb 44°F (7°C) 4.7 inches (120 mm) 41°F (5°C) 3 inches (77 mm)
Mar 54°F (12°C) 4.8 inches (123 mm) 50°F (10°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm)
Apr 62°F (17°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm) 59°F (15°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm)
May 70°F (21°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm) 68°F (20°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm)
Jun 78°F (25°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm) 75°F (24°C) 3.4 inches (88 mm)
Jul 81°F (27°C) 4.7 inches (119 mm) 79°F (26°C) 4.2 inches (106 mm)
Aug 80°F (27°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 78°F (26°C) 3.6 inches (91 mm)
Sep 74°F (24°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm) 72°F (22°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Oct 63°F (17°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm) 60°F (16°C) 3.7 inches (94 mm)
Nov 53°F (12°C) 3.5 inches (90 mm) 51°F (11°C) 3.1 inches (80 mm)
Dec 44°F (7°C) 4.5 inches (114 mm) 42°F (5°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)