A Travel Price Comparison for Virginia Norfolk vs. Virginia Beach for Families, Food, Nightlife, and Couples

Should you visit Norfolk or Virginia Beach?

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

Should I visit Norfolk or Virginia Beach? 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 maritime, authentic, and blue collar city. Visitors also love the museums, nightlife, and food.

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is a relaxing, bustling, and fun-filled coastal city. It's a gorgeous place to visit. It's also known for nightlife and beaches.

Norfolk and Virginia Beach: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples
Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for students


Is there more to do in Norfolk or Virginia Beach?

Travelers will generally find more things to do in Norfolk than Virginia Beach. While Virginia Beach is larger than Norfolk, Norfolk has more sights and attractions for tourists. Norfolk is very popular for its museums, food, and shopping, while Virginia Beach attracts visitors for its resorts, beaches, and impressive beauty. Virginia Beach is more touristy than Norfolk and is popular for its fun boardwalk, many seafood restaurants, and classic beach town vibe. Norfolk is famous for its naval base and military presence. It is also well known for the Battleship Wisconsin.

How is Norfolk different from Virginia Beach?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Virginia Beach 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 Virginia Beach?

Norfolk
Virginia Beach

Norfolk is a nice place to visit for its historical sights. However, Virginia Beach does not have museums and landmarks.

Norfolk offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. 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.

Virginia Beach does not have museums and landmarks.


Is the Food Better in Norfolk or Virginia Beach? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Norfolk
Virginia Beach

Norfolk is a nice place to visit for its local flavors and cuisine. However, Virginia Beach is not a good destination for its local cuisine and restaurants.

Norfolk has a delicious restaurant scene that relies on local flavors. You'll find a decent collection of restaurants in the downtown area. Food options include local seafood, brunch, casual eateries, and fine dining.

Virginia Beach may not make the list for most foodies, but you'll find what you need while you're in town. Seafood is plentiful around town and there are all-you-can-eat buffets as well as high end, waterfront seafood restaurants. Make sure you try the She Crab Soup, soft shell crabs, and oysters.

Is Norfolk or Virginia Beach Better for Nightlife?

Norfolk
Virginia Beach

It's hard to distinguish whether Norfolk or Virginia Beach 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 Virginia Beach has a few options to choose from. While it's a family-friendly beach, there's still a great nightlife scene with many bars and clubs in the area. Popular places to hang out at night include Omega Bar, Peabody's Nightclub, and Sky Bar.

Is Norfolk or Virginia Beach Better for Resorts?

Norfolk
Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is a popular place for its resorts. However, Norfolk is not a resort destination.

Virginia Beach has a handful of resorts to choose from. Some of the best resorts in the area include the Historic Cavalier Hotel and Beach Club, the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront, and The Founders Inn and Spa.

Norfolk is not a resort destination.


Is Norfolk or Virginia Beach Better for Beaches?

Norfolk
Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is a popular place for its beaches. However, Norfolk is not a beach destination.

Virginia Beach is a good option for a beach vacation. The beaches are long and sandy, but they can get crowded during the summer months. The waves are just the right size for playing in the surf and the water temperature is usually warm enough to swim well into the fall months.

Norfolk is not a beach destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Norfolk or Virginia Beach?

Norfolk
Virginia Beach

Norfolk is a nice place to visit for its shopping opportunities. However, Virginia Beach is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Norfolk. There's a mix of shopping malls, local boutiques, farmer's markets, and shopping centers around town.

Virginia Beach is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Is Norfolk or Virginia Beach Better for Families?

Norfolk
Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is a great destination for its family-friendly activities. Also, Norfolk is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

Virginia Beach is a very family-friendly place to visit. This is a popular family-friendly beach with a nice boardwalk, a fun waterpark, aquarium, and nice beaches. It attracts families in the area for its long beaches and fun atmosphere. Most restaurants have kid's menus and there are ice cream shops and minigolf around.

Norfolk offers lots of family activities. 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.


Is Norfolk or Virginia Beach Better for Couples?

Norfolk
Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is a popular place for romance. However, Norfolk is a city with minimal options for its romantic activities.

Virginia Beach is a nice destination for couples. Couples will enjoy a nice escape to the beaches and boardwalk. There are many great seafood restaurants, some with waterfront settings. There's also a variety of activities ranging from many golf to dance clubs.

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 Virginia Beach Better for Students?

Norfolk
Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is a popular place for students. However, Norfolk is not popular with students.

Virginia Beach is popular with students. It's not as popular as more southern beach towns, but you'll still find students heading here for the spring break holidays.

Norfolk is not popular with students.

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

Norfolk
Virginia Beach

Norfolk is adequate for times when you don't have a car. However, Virginia Beach is not a good destination for its public transit.

Public transit is mostly 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 limited or non-existant in Virginia Beach. There is very limited public transit in the area so you'll need to have a car to get around.


Is Norfolk or Virginia Beach a more walkable city?

Norfolk
Virginia Beach

Norfolk is a nice place to visit for its high level of walkability. However, Virginia Beach is not a good destination for its ease of walking around.

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

Virginia Beach is generally not very walkable. Most people prefer to have a car but do note that parking can be a nightmare, particularly during the summer season.

For even more information, also check out Is Norfolk Worth Visiting? and Is Virginia Beach Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Virginia Beach or Norfolk?

How long in Norfolk or Virginia Beach?

Both Norfolk and Virginia Beach have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Virginia Beach than in Norfolk. Usually, 1-2 days is a good amount of time for Norfolk, and 5-7 days is enough time in Virginia Beach.

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

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

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


  • How many days in Norfolk or Virginia Beach? Ideal Length of Stay
    Norfolk 1-2 
    Virginia Beach 5-7

One day in Norfolk or Virginia Beach?

In Norfolk, you'll find museums and nightlife. So, one day is just the right amount of time to spend here.

In Virginia Beach, you'll find nightlife. This coastal city offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

A weekend in Norfolk or Virginia Beach?

Norfolk is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Because of this, a weekend is usually enough time for a trip here.

In Virginia Beach, you'll find nightlife. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.


Five days in Norfolk or Virginia Beach?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Norfolk. It offers something for everyone. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

Virginia Beach is a great place to explore. It is common to spend five days here. Five days is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Virginia Beach has to offer. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

A week in Norfolk or Virginia Beach?

Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the city of Norfolk. Your budget might influence how long you stay. 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's hard to know how much time to spend in Virginia Beach. In Virginia Beach, you'll find nightlife. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one week here.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 10-Day Tours in United States of America, The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in United States of America, The Best 2-Week Tours in United States of America, and The Best 3-Week Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Virginia Beach 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 Virginia Beach is $126. 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 Virginia Beach in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Norfolk $84
    Virginia Beach $71
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Norfolk $168
    Virginia Beach $142
Compare Hotels in Norfolk and Virginia Beach

Looking for a hotel in Norfolk or Virginia Beach? 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 Virginia Beach


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 Virginia Beach Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Norfolk $54
    Virginia Beach $39

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Norfolk

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Norfolk:

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

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Virginia Beach

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Virginia Beach:


  • Beach Parking
    $10

Is it cheaper to fly into Norfolk or Virginia Beach?

Prices for flights to both Virginia Beach 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
    Virginia Beach $30

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 Mother's Day Signature Dinner Cruise: $119
  • Norfolk Father's Day Buffet Dinner Cruise: $126
  • Norfolk 4th of July Buffet Dinner Cruise: $182

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Norfolk $14
    Virginia Beach $21

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
  • Neon District Contemporary Art Walking Tour: $32
  • Norfolk Buffet Brunch Cruise : $95
  • Norfolk Father's Day Buffet Brunch Cruise: $104
  • Elizabeth River Candlelit Buffet Lunch Cruise: $76
  • Elizabeth River Sunday Buffet Brunch Cruise: $95
  • Virginia Zoo & Battleship Wisconsin Combo Ticket: $38
  • Skip the Line: Virginia Living Museum Admission Ticket: $22

Tours and Activities in Virginia Beach

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

  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Virginia Beach by Wacky Walks: $10
  • Neptune Ghosts Haunted Walking Tour: $26
  • Neptune Ghosts: Ghosts of the Coast By US Ghost Adventures: $30
  • Sunset Stand-Up Paddleboarding Tour: $45
  • Morning Stand-Up Paddleboarding Tour: $45
  • Ziplining and Climbing at The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium: $59
  • Dolphin Stand-Up Paddleboard Tour: $60
  • Wetland Zip Tour: $65
  • Sunset Dolphin Kayak Tours: $68
  • Small Group Dolphin Kayak Eco-Tour: $68
  • Kayak Dolphin Tours | Must Know How to Swim: $78
  • Dolphin Kayak Tour in Virginia Beach Must know how to swim: $85

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Norfolk $10
    Virginia Beach $11

Sample the Local Flavors in Norfolk

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Norfolk:

  • Party Bike Pub Crawl in Downtown Norfolk: $30


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

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


Which is Bigger, Norfolk or Virginia Beach?

Virginia Beach has a larger population, and is about 81% larger than the population of Norfolk. When comparing the sizes of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, 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 Virginia Beach?

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 Virginia Beach in the Summer?

Both Virginia Beach and Norfolk during the summer are popular places to visit. Many travelers come to Norfolk for the family-friendly experiences. Furthermore, many visitors come to Virginia Beach in the summer for the beaches and the family-friendly experiences.

In the summer, Norfolk is around the same temperature as Virginia Beach. Typically, the summer temperatures in Norfolk in July average around 79°F (26°C), and Virginia Beach averages at about 79°F (26°C).

In Virginia Beach, 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 Virginia Beach. Norfolk gets 279 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Virginia Beach receives 279 hours of full sun.

Virginia Beach gets a good bit of rain this time of year. It rains a lot this time of the year in Norfolk. Norfolk usually gets around the same amount of rain in July as Virginia Beach. Norfolk gets 5.7 inches (145 mm) of rain, while Virginia Beach receives 5.7 inches (145 mm) of rain this time of the year.


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

Should I visit Norfolk or Virginia Beach in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Many visitors come to Norfolk in the autumn for the shopping scene. Furthermore, most visitors come to Virginia Beach for the natural beauty of the area during these months.

In October, Norfolk is generally around the same temperature as Virginia Beach. Daily temperatures in Norfolk average around 62°F (16°C), and Virginia Beach fluctuates around 62°F (16°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Virginia Beach 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 Virginia Beach during autumn. Norfolk gets 211 hours of sunny skies, while Virginia Beach receives 211 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Norfolk usually receives around the same amount of rain as Virginia Beach. Norfolk gets 3.1 inches (78 mm) of rain, while Virginia Beach receives 3.1 inches (78 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Norfolk 62°F (16°C) 
    Virginia Beach 62°F (16°C)

Should I visit Norfolk or Virginia Beach in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to Norfolk as well as Virginia Beach. Most visitors come to Norfolk for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months. Additionally, the winter months attract visitors to Virginia Beach because of the cuisine.

The weather in Virginia Beach can be very cold. Norfolk can be very cold during winter. Norfolk is around the same temperature as Virginia Beach in the winter. The daily temperature in Norfolk averages around 39°F (4°C) in January, and Virginia Beach fluctuates around 39°F (4°C).

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

Norfolk usually gets around the same amount of rain in January as Virginia Beach. Norfolk gets 3.3 inches (85 mm) of rain, while Virginia Beach receives 3.3 inches (85 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Norfolk 39°F (4°C) 
    Virginia Beach 39°F (4°C)

Should I visit Norfolk or Virginia Beach in the Spring?

Both Virginia Beach and Norfolk are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. Also, the beaches and the natural beauty are the main draw to Virginia Beach this time of year.

In the spring, Norfolk is around the same temperature as Virginia Beach. Typically, the spring temperatures in Norfolk in April average around 58°F (14°C), and Virginia Beach averages at about 58°F (14°C).

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

In April, Norfolk usually receives around the same amount of rain as Virginia Beach. Norfolk gets 2.7 inches (69 mm) of rain, while Virginia Beach receives 2.7 inches (69 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Norfolk 58°F (14°C) 
    Virginia Beach 58°F (14°C)

Typical Weather for Virginia Beach and Norfolk

Norfolk Virginia Beach
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 39°F (4°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm) 39°F (4°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm)
Feb 41°F (5°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm) 41°F (5°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm)
Mar 49°F (10°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm) 49°F (10°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm)
Apr 58°F (14°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 58°F (14°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
May 67°F (19°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm) 67°F (19°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm)
Jun 74°F (24°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm) 74°F (24°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm)
Jul 79°F (26°C) 5.7 inches (145 mm) 79°F (26°C) 5.7 inches (145 mm)
Aug 78°F (25°C) 5.9 inches (150 mm) 78°F (25°C) 5.9 inches (150 mm)
Sep 72°F (22°C) 4.2 inches (107 mm) 72°F (22°C) 4.2 inches (107 mm)
Oct 62°F (16°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm) 62°F (16°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm)
Nov 53°F (12°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 53°F (12°C) 3 inches (75 mm)
Dec 44°F (7°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm) 44°F (7°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm)