A Travel Price Comparison for Alaska Juneau vs. Fairbanks for Hiking, Couples, Attractions, and Food

Should you visit Juneau or Fairbanks?

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

Should I visit Juneau or Fairbanks? 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.

Juneau

Juneau is a historic, scenic, and breathtaking 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

Fairbanks is a outdoorsy, remote, and Arctic city. You'll find world class beauty here as well. And you can't forget about the shopping, museums, and hiking.

Juneau and Fairbanks: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Very walkable
  • Impressive beauty
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to the Northern Lights
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Juneau or Fairbanks?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Juneau. Although Juneau and Fairbanks are both popular with visitors, Juneau has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Juneau is more popular for its museums, food, nightlife, hiking, and shopping, while Fairbanks is known for its skiing. Juneau is more touristy than Fairbanks and is popular for its wildlife, natural beauty, and Gold Rush in 1880. It is also home to the Mendenhall Glacier. Fairbanks is popular for its remote wilderness setting, access to the Arctic, unique winter sports, and popularity for seeing the northern lights.

How is Juneau different from Fairbanks?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Juneau or Fairbanks Better for Skiing?

Juneau
Fairbanks

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

Fairbanks is a fun local destination for snow skiers. 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.

Juneau is not a skiing destination.


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

Juneau
Fairbanks

Juneau is a very popular place for its museums and history. Also, Fairbanks is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its museums and landmarks.

Juneau offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. Many museums focus on the history in the area, including the Gold Rush and the mining industry. You can visit several historic mines as well as the Last Chance Mining Museum. Other museums around town include the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, the Walter Soboleff Building, and the Alaska State Museum.

Fairbanks is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. 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.

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

Juneau
Fairbanks

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

Juneau has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. The seafood is superb and visitors will regret if they miss out on the salmon, halibut, and crab. There are many local restaurants and local chefs serving up the freshest caught fish. For the best seafood, head to the waterfront, and if you're looking for something other than seafood, the downtown is where you'll want to be.

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 Juneau or Fairbanks Better for Nightlife?

Juneau
Fairbanks

Juneau 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 Juneau. There are a couple of bars and breweries, but most people relax in the evening.

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 Juneau or Fairbanks Better for Hiking?

Juneau
Fairbanks

Juneau 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 Juneau specifically for its hiking, as the natural beauty is well-known. You'll find more than 250 miles of hiking trails in the area, and this really is the best way to experience Alaska. The area is known for its wildlife, but there are also glacier hikes, meadows, mountains, and more. In downtown Juneau there's the Perseverance Trail, the Granite Creek Trail, and the Mount Roberts Trail. From the Mendenhall Visitor Center there's the East Glacier Loop Trail, the West Glacier Trail, and the Nugget Falls Trail. There are also trails on Douglas Island and many options just outside of town.

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 Juneau or Fairbanks?

Juneau
Fairbanks

Juneau is a very popular place for its shopping areas. Also, Fairbanks is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for shopping.

Many visitors explore the shopping areas in Juneau. There's a mix of contemporary art and traditional artisan crafts. You'll find gift shops and art galleries around, particularly downtown and in the Mendenhall Valley business district. Visitors often enjoy buying art, wood carvings, jewelry, pottery, quilts, or dolls.

Fairbanks is a great destination for shopping. 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.

Is Juneau or Fairbanks Better for Families?

Juneau
Fairbanks

Juneau is a very popular place for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Fairbanks is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its family-friendly activities.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Juneau. Its is filled with adventure that the whole family will enjoy. There's whale watching, dog sled tours, helicopter rides, hiking, and the Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway. This bucket-list destination will have an impact on kids and adults alike.

You'll find plenty of kid-friendly things to do in Fairbanks. 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.


Is Juneau or Fairbanks Better for Couples?

Juneau
Fairbanks

Juneau is an amazing city to visit for couples. Also, Fairbanks is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for romance.

Juneau makes for a terrific place to visit as a couple. Couples who enjoy exploring and adventuring will be in awe of this destination. Glacier trekking, superb gardens, and romantic helicopter rides will leave you feeling like a contestant on "The Bachelor". There are also opportunities for romantic evenings out and cozy hotels where you can stay in.

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 Juneau or Fairbanks Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Juneau
Fairbanks

Both Juneau and Fairbanks are high quality destinations for backpackers.

Juneau is a great city to visit for backpackers. It's a popular destination with budget hotels and even a hostel or two.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers 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.

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

Juneau
Fairbanks

Juneau is a decent place to visit for times when you don't have a car. However, Fairbanks is lacking in good options for its public transit.

Public transit is mostly limited in Juneau. You can only reach Juneau by boat or plane and there are three bus routes through town.

Public transit is limited or non-existant 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.


Is Juneau or Fairbanks a more walkable city?

Juneau
Fairbanks

Juneau is a very popular place for its ease of walking around. However, Fairbanks is lacking in good options for its walkability.

Juneau is a very walkable destination. The downtown is very walkable and many places can be reached within a reasonable walk.

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 Juneau Worth Visiting? and Is Fairbanks Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Fairbanks or Juneau?

How long in Juneau or Fairbanks?

It's fun to spend time in either Juneau or Fairbanks. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Fairbanks due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Juneau, and 2-4 days is enough time in Fairbanks.

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

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

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


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

One day in Juneau or Fairbanks?

You'll find shopping and museums around the city of Juneau. 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.

Many travelers enjoy the museums and shopping when visiting the destination of Fairbanks. Hikers are also drawn to this area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

A weekend in Juneau or Fairbanks?

You'll find museums and food around the scenic destination of Juneau. 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.

Fairbanks is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.


Five days in Juneau or Fairbanks?

Travelers enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the historic city of Juneau. 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.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Fairbanks. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

A week in Juneau or Fairbanks?

Juneau 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.

Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the outdoorsy destination of Fairbanks. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 3-Week Tours in United States of America, The Best Bicycle Tours in United States of America, Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in United States of America, and The Best Coach Bus Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Fairbanks or Juneau?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Juneau is $160, while the average daily cost in Fairbanks is $272. 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 Juneau and Fairbanks in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Juneau $88
    Fairbanks $154
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Juneau $176
    Fairbanks $308
Compare Hotels in Juneau and Fairbanks

Looking for a hotel in Juneau or Fairbanks? 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 Juneau


Hotels in Fairbanks


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: Juneau Hotel Prices and Fairbanks Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Juneau $38
    Fairbanks $66

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Juneau

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Juneau:

  • Private Departure Transfer to Juneau Airport (JNU): $48
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Juneau Airport (JNU): $48

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Fairbanks

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


  • Full Tank of Gas
    $90

Is it cheaper to fly into Juneau or Fairbanks?

Prices for flights to both Fairbanks and Juneau 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
    Juneau $49
    Fairbanks $63

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:

  • "Aurora Ice" - Ice Fishing & Salmon Dinner Tour: $210

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Juneau $17
    Fairbanks $65
Typical Entertainment Prices in Juneau

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


  • 1 Day Bike Rental
    $25
  • Admission to Alaska State Museum
    $5.00
  • Glacier Gardens
    $22

Tours and Activities in Juneau

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

  • 3 Hours Fishing Experience Class in Juneau: $225
  • 3.5 Hour Crowd-Skipping Whale Tour in Juneau Alaska: $189
  • Alpine Zipline Adventure in Juneau, AK: $245
  • Five-Star Juneau Pedicab Private Tour: $200
  • From Fly-In Norris Glacier Hike and Packraft Tour: $850
  • From Whale Watching Cruise with Snacks: $132
  • Historic Gold Mining and Panning Adventure: $99
  • Historic Gold Panning Adventure & Salmon Bake: $139
  • Juneau Underground Gold Mine and Panning Experience: $79
  • Juneau Whale Watching Adventure: $189
  • Juneau, The Last Frontier Self Guided (Smart Phone App/GPS) Audio Walking Tour: $6.75
  • Alpine Zipline Adventure: $245

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
  • 30-minute Dog Sledding Tour in Fairbanks (without transportation): $95
  • 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
  • Aurora Chaser Tour: $125
  • Budget Aurora Borealis tour, Fairbanks, Alaska : $125
  • 3 Hour Ice Fishing Experience: $135
  • 1-hr. Dog Sledding Tour in Fairbanks (without transportation): $135

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Juneau $16
    Fairbanks $27


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Juneau and Fairbanks, we can see that Fairbanks is more expensive. And not only is Juneau much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Juneau would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Juneau 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 Juneau.

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


Which is Bigger, Juneau or Fairbanks?

Juneau has a larger population, and is about 2% larger than the population of Fairbanks. When comparing the sizes of Juneau and Fairbanks, 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 Juneau or Fairbanks?

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 Juneau or Fairbanks in the Summer?

Both Fairbanks and Juneau during the summer are popular places to visit. The summer months attract visitors to Juneau because of the hiking and the family-friendly experiences. Also, the hiking and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Fairbanks this time of year.

In the summer, Juneau is cooler than Fairbanks. Typically, the summer temperatures in Juneau in July average around 56°F (13°C), and Fairbanks averages at about 64°F (18°C).

It rains a lot this time of the year in Juneau. Juneau usually gets more rain in July than Fairbanks. Juneau gets 4.2 inches (106 mm) of rain, while Fairbanks receives 2 inches (51 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Juneau 56°F (13°C) 
    Fairbanks 64°F (18°C)

Should I visit Juneau or Fairbanks in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Juneau and Fairbanks. The hiking trails, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area are the main draw to Juneau this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Fairbanks for the hiking trails, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

Be prepared for some very cold days in Fairbanks. In October, Juneau is generally much warmer than Fairbanks. Daily temperatures in Juneau average around 42°F (6°C), and Fairbanks fluctuates around 27°F (-3°C).

Juneau gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In October, Juneau usually receives more rain than Fairbanks. Juneau gets 7.8 inches (199 mm) of rain, while Fairbanks receives 0.9 inches (22 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Juneau 42°F (6°C) 
    Fairbanks 27°F (-3°C)

Should I visit Juneau or Fairbanks in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to Juneau as well as Fairbanks. Many travelers come to Juneau for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, many visitors come to Fairbanks in the winter for the skiing, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Fairbanks can get quite cold in the winter. Be prepared for some very cold days in Juneau. Juneau is much warmer than Fairbanks in the winter. The daily temperature in Juneau averages around 24°F (-4°C) in January, and Fairbanks fluctuates around -9°F (-23°C).

Juneau receives a lot of rain in the winter. Juneau usually gets more rain in January than Fairbanks. Juneau gets 4.6 inches (116 mm) of rain, while Fairbanks receives 0.5 inches (13 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Juneau 24°F (-4°C) 
    Fairbanks -9°F (-23°C)

Should I visit Juneau or Fairbanks in the Spring?

Both Fairbanks and Juneau are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. Many visitors come to Juneau in the spring for the natural beauty. Also, most visitors come to Fairbanks for the natural beauty during these months.

Fairbanks can be very cold during spring. Juneau can get quite cold in the spring. In the spring, Juneau is much warmer than Fairbanks. Typically, the spring temperatures in Juneau in April average around 40°F (4°C), and Fairbanks averages at about 32°F (0°C).

In April, Juneau usually receives more rain than Fairbanks. Juneau gets 2.7 inches (68 mm) of rain, while Fairbanks receives 0.4 inches (9 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Juneau 40°F (4°C) 
    Fairbanks 32°F (0°C)

Typical Weather for Fairbanks and Juneau

Juneau Fairbanks
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 24°F (-4°C) 4.6 inches (116 mm) -9°F (-23°C) 0.5 inches (13 mm)
Feb 28°F (-2°C) 3.7 inches (94 mm) -2°F (-19°C) 0.4 inches (11 mm)
Mar 33°F (0°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm) 13°F (-11°C) 0.5 inches (12 mm)
Apr 40°F (4°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm) 32°F (0°C) 0.4 inches (9 mm)
May 47°F (8°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm) 50°F (10°C) 0.6 inches (16 mm)
Jun 53°F (12°C) 3.1 inches (80 mm) 62°F (16°C) 1.4 inches (36 mm)
Jul 56°F (13°C) 4.2 inches (106 mm) 64°F (18°C) 2 inches (51 mm)
Aug 55°F (13°C) 5.3 inches (135 mm) 58°F (15°C) 2.2 inches (57 mm)
Sep 49°F (10°C) 7 inches (179 mm) 47°F (8°C) 0.9 inches (24 mm)
Oct 42°F (6°C) 7.8 inches (199 mm) 27°F (-3°C) 0.9 inches (22 mm)
Nov 32°F (-0°C) 4.9 inches (123 mm) 4°F (-15°C) 0.9 inches (22 mm)
Dec 27°F (-3°C) 4.4 inches (113 mm) -5°F (-21°C) 0.9 inches (23 mm)