A Travel Price Comparison for Virginia Norfolk vs. Roanoke for Couples, Attractions, Food, and Nightlife

Should you visit Norfolk or Roanoke?

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

Should I visit Norfolk or Roanoke? 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.

Norfolk

Norfolk is a authentic, blue collar, and maritime city. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.

Roanoke

Roanoke is a outdoorsy, laid back, and scenic town. It's also known for shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Norfolk and Roanoke: Pros and Cons

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


Is there more to do in Norfolk or Roanoke?

Travelers will generally find more things to do in Roanoke than Norfolk. While Norfolk is larger than Roanoke, Roanoke has more sights and attractions for tourists. Roanoke is better known for its hiking, while Norfolk is more popular for its food. Roanoke is more touristy than Norfolk and is popular for its welcoming hospitality and convenient access to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Also, Roanoke is famous for the Roanoke Star. Norfolk is well known for its naval base and military presence.

How is Norfolk different from Roanoke?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

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

Norfolk
Roanoke

Both Norfolk and Roanoke have notable landmarks and museums for visitors.

Norfolk is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. There are some interesting museums in town like the Chrysler Museum, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, and the Norfolk Police and Fire Museum. You should also check out the Nauticus and the Battleship Wisconsin.

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 Norfolk or Roanoke? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Norfolk
Roanoke

Norfolk is a popular place for its local flavors and cuisine. However, Roanoke is not known for its local cuisine and restaurants.

Norfolk is becoming an appealing option for foodies. You'll find a decent collection of restaurants in the downtown area. Food options include local seafood, brunch, casual eateries, and fine dining.

Roanoke offers some easy restaurants to choose from. There are burger joints, pizza restaurants, and plenty of other casual eateries where you can grab a quick meal.

Is Norfolk or Roanoke Better for Nightlife?

Norfolk
Roanoke

It's hard to distinguish whether Norfolk or Roanoke has a better nightlife scene.

Norfolk has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. Downtown is where you'll find the most busy nightlife venues. The city has great breweries, and the live music scene has taken off. There are also lounges, dance clubs, and wine bars to choose from.

If you're looking for night time activities Roanoke has a few options to choose from. 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 Norfolk or Roanoke Better for Hiking?

Norfolk
Roanoke

Roanoke is a great destination for its hiking experiences. However, Norfolk is not a hiking destination.

You'll find a nice variety of hiking trails around Roanoke. 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.

Norfolk is not a hiking destination.


Is the Shopping Better in Norfolk or Roanoke?

Norfolk
Roanoke

Shopping is a popular activity in both Roanoke and Norfolk.

Norfolk is a great destination for shopping. There's a mix of shopping malls, local boutiques, farmer's markets, and shopping centers around town.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Roanoke. 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 Norfolk or Roanoke Better for Families?

Norfolk
Roanoke

Kids will enjoy a visit to either Norfolk or Roanoke.

You'll find plenty of kid-friendly things to do in Norfolk. The Norfolk Zoo is always a hit with kids. You should also visit the USS Wisconsin which offers tours, as well as the Douglas MacArthur Memorial Museum.

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.

Is Norfolk or Roanoke Better for Couples?

Norfolk
Roanoke

Roanoke is a great destination for romance. However, Norfolk is a city with minimal options for its romantic activities.

Couples visit Roanoke frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. 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.

Most people don't think of Norfolk as a couple's destination. There are some nice hotels and several great parks and outdoor activities.


Is Norfolk or Roanoke Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Norfolk
Roanoke

Roanoke is a popular place for backpackers. However, Norfolk is a city with minimal options for backpackers and budget travelers.

Plenty of budget travelers visit Roanoke. There are several campgrounds in the area as well as great hiking trails.

Norfolk is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. This is an often overlooked area for backpackers.

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

Norfolk
Roanoke

You'll find somewhat comparable public transit options in both Norfolk and Roanoke.

Public transit is generally limited in Norfolk. While there are buses, ferries, and even lightrail in the area, you really want to have a car to get around.

Public transit is mostly 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 Norfolk or Roanoke a more walkable city?

Norfolk
Roanoke

Norfolk is a popular place for its ease of walking around. However, Roanoke is not known for its walkability.

Norfolk is a somewhat walkable city. Downtown is the most walkable part of the city.

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 Norfolk Worth Visiting? and Is Roanoke Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Roanoke or Norfolk?

How long in Norfolk or Roanoke?

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

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Roanoke than Norfolk 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 Roanoke.


  • How many days in Norfolk or Roanoke? Ideal Length of Stay
    Norfolk 1-2 
    Roanoke 1-3

One day in Norfolk or Roanoke?

In Norfolk, you'll find nightlife and food. This city offers something for everyone. This would be the perfect place to spend one day, as it has just the right amount of activities.

In Roanoke, you'll find museums and nightlife. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. This town offers something for everyone. This would be the perfect place to spend one day, as it has just the right amount of activities.

A weekend in Norfolk or Roanoke?

In Norfolk, you'll find food and shopping. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Norfolk has to offer.

In Roanoke, you'll find nightlife and shopping. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Roanoke has to offer.

Five days in Norfolk or Roanoke?

Norfolk is a great place to explore. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

Roanoke is a great place to explore. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. Anyone can find something fun to do here.


A week in Norfolk or Roanoke?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Norfolk. Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Norfolk. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Roanoke. Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Roanoke. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Family-Friendly Tours to United States of America, The Best Wildlife Tours to United States of America, The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in United States of America, and The Best Historical Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Roanoke or Norfolk?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Norfolk is $166, 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 Norfolk and Roanoke in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Norfolk $84
    Roanoke $96
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Norfolk $168
    Roanoke $192
Compare Hotels in Norfolk and Roanoke

Looking for a hotel in Norfolk 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 Norfolk


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: Norfolk Hotel Prices and Roanoke Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Norfolk $54
    Roanoke $23

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Norfolk

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Norfolk:

  • Bamville Transportation (Private & Airport Transfers): $275

Is it cheaper to fly into Norfolk or Roanoke?

Prices for flights to both Roanoke and Norfolk 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
    Norfolk $49
    Roanoke $48

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Norfolk

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

  • Norfolk Buffet Dinner Cruise : $101
  • Buffet Dinner Cruise: $101
  • Norfolk Father's Day Buffet Dinner Cruise: $126
  • Norfolk Mother's Day Signature Dinner Cruise: $140
  • Norfolk 4th of July Buffet Dinner Cruise: $182

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.
    Norfolk $14
    Roanoke $35

Tours and Activities in Norfolk

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

  • Electric Bike Rental Downtown Norfolk (self guided tour) : $60
  • Experience the season with a scavenger hunt in Norfolk with Holly Jolly Hunt: $20
  • Mother's Day Signature Brunch Cruise Norfolk: $124
  • Neon District Contemporary Art Walking Tour: $32
  • Norfolk Buffet Brunch Cruise : $84
  • Norfolk Father's Day Buffet Brunch Cruise: $104
  • Elizabeth River Candlelit Buffet Lunch Cruise: $76
  • Elizabeth River Sunday Buffet Brunch Cruise: $84
  • Virginia Zoo & Battleship Wisconsin Combo Ticket: $38
  • Skip the Line: Virginia Living Museum Admission Ticket: $22

Tours and Activities in Roanoke

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

  • Blue Ridge Parkway Virginia Audio Driving Tour: $9.99
  • Blue Ridge Parkway (Virginia) Driving Tour with Audio Guide: $9.99
  • Blue Ridge Parkway – Driving Audio Tour (Roanoke ↔ Afton): $12
  • Blue Ridge Parkway (Roanoke to Afton) Self-Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • Roanoke Downtown Food and Cultural Tour: $78
  • Roanoke Holiday Season E-Bike Tour: $92
  • 3-Hour E-Bike Sightseeing and Breweries Tour in Roanoke: $98
  • Mountain Bike Tour from The Roanoke Star: $120

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Norfolk $10
    Roanoke $30

Sample the Local Flavors in Norfolk

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Norfolk:

  • Party Bike Pub Crawl in Downtown Norfolk: $30


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


Which is Bigger, Norfolk or Roanoke?

Norfolk has a larger population, and is about 3 times larger than the population of Roanoke. When comparing the sizes of Norfolk 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 Norfolk or Roanoke?

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 Norfolk or Roanoke in the Summer?

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

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

In Roanoke, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Norfolk. In the summer, Norfolk often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Roanoke. Norfolk gets 279 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Roanoke receives 273 hours of full sun.

Roanoke gets a good bit of rain this time of year. It rains a lot this time of the year in Norfolk. Norfolk usually gets more rain in July than Roanoke. Norfolk gets 5.7 inches (145 mm) of rain, while Roanoke receives 4.2 inches (106 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Norfolk 79°F (26°C) 
    Roanoke 79°F (26°C)

Should I visit Norfolk or Roanoke in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Norfolk and Roanoke. The shopping scene are the main draw to Norfolk this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Roanoke for the hiking trails and the shopping scene.

Norfolk is around the same temperature as Roanoke in the autumn. The daily temperature in Norfolk averages around 62°F (16°C) in October, and Roanoke fluctuates around 60°F (16°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Roanoke this time of the year. In Norfolk, it's very sunny this time of the year. Norfolk usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Roanoke during autumn. Norfolk gets 211 hours of sunny skies, while Roanoke receives 210 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Norfolk usually receives less rain than Roanoke. Norfolk gets 3.1 inches (78 mm) of rain, while Roanoke receives 3.7 inches (94 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Norfolk 62°F (16°C) 
    Roanoke 60°F (16°C)

Should I visit Norfolk or Roanoke in the Winter?

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

Roanoke can get quite cold in the winter. Be prepared for some very cold days in Norfolk. In the winter, Norfolk is a little warmer than Roanoke. Typically, the winter temperatures in Norfolk in January average around 39°F (4°C), and Roanoke averages at about 38°F (3°C).

In the winter, Norfolk often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Roanoke. Norfolk gets 168 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Roanoke receives 165 hours of full sun.

Norfolk usually gets more rain in January than Roanoke. Norfolk gets 3.3 inches (85 mm) of rain, while Roanoke receives 2.9 inches (73 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Norfolk 39°F (4°C) 
    Roanoke 38°F (3°C)

Should I visit Norfolk or Roanoke in the Spring?

Both Roanoke and Norfolk are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities.

In April, Norfolk is generally around the same temperature as Roanoke. Daily temperatures in Norfolk average around 58°F (14°C), and Roanoke fluctuates around 59°F (15°C).

It's quite sunny in Roanoke. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Norfolk. Norfolk usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Roanoke during spring. Norfolk gets 253 hours of sunny skies, while Roanoke receives 246 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Norfolk usually receives less rain than Roanoke. Norfolk gets 2.7 inches (69 mm) of rain, while Roanoke receives 3.1 inches (79 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Norfolk 58°F (14°C) 
    Roanoke 59°F (15°C)

Typical Weather for Roanoke and Norfolk

Norfolk Roanoke
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 39°F (4°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm) 38°F (3°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm)
Feb 41°F (5°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm) 41°F (5°C) 3 inches (77 mm)
Mar 49°F (10°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm) 50°F (10°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm)
Apr 58°F (14°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 59°F (15°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm)
May 67°F (19°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm) 68°F (20°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm)
Jun 74°F (24°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm) 75°F (24°C) 3.4 inches (88 mm)
Jul 79°F (26°C) 5.7 inches (145 mm) 79°F (26°C) 4.2 inches (106 mm)
Aug 78°F (25°C) 5.9 inches (150 mm) 78°F (26°C) 3.6 inches (91 mm)
Sep 72°F (22°C) 4.2 inches (107 mm) 72°F (22°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Oct 62°F (16°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm) 60°F (16°C) 3.7 inches (94 mm)
Nov 53°F (12°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 51°F (11°C) 3.1 inches (80 mm)
Dec 44°F (7°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm) 42°F (5°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)