Charleston is South Carolina’s Holy City, while Savannah is regarded as America’s first planned city.
The former is a historic hub, hosting over 400 churches and endless historic landmarks. Meanwhile, the latter is one of the most sought-after cities in the South, partially thanks to its manicured parks, coastal landscapes, and iconic architectural structures.
So, Savannah vs Charleston, which one would you visit??
The main differences between Savannah and Charleston are the activities you could do in both cities. Charleston is more about history, while Savannah is more about lush beaches and well-preserved architecture.
Follow this article for a detailed comparison between the two cities!
All about Savannah
There are a lot of exciting facts about Savannah that make it one of the best travel destinations. First, having more than 300 years of history, Savannah is the oldest city in Georgia.
Located on the Southeast side of Georgia, Savannah is home to many beautiful architectures. Not to forget the infamous haunted cemeteries that draw in many ghost seekers.
Besides the hauntings and the architecture, Savannah also includes many festivals and events you can participate in!
Savannah has a population of 140,000 people and it’s also only 18 miles away from Tybee Island. Tybee Island is famous for its beautiful white-sand beaches that all tourists in Savannah can enjoy.
No matter what your interest is, you’ll surely enjoy your time in this gorgeous city!
All about Charleston
Like Savannah, Charleston is also a city with a long history beginning in 1670. It was founded under Charles Town in honor of King Charles II. Its name was then changed in 1783 to the now known Charleston.
Because of its history, Charleston is home to many older homes and architecture. It’s also famous for its rich culture and friendly residence, so you’ll definitely experience the famous southern hospitality while visiting!
Charleston has three beaches you could visit: Sullivan’s beach, Isle of Palms, and Folly beach. Because of their gorgeous beaches, they became a hot tourist spot.
Charleston’s population reached almost 142,000, making it the most populated city in South Carolina.
Charleston also has many attractions that you can enjoy, from museums to ghost tours, making Charleston a great candidate for your vacation!
Savannah vs Charleston: which to choose for your vacation? 6 main points
Though Savannah and Charleston have many common aspects, they also have a few differences.
1. City Vibes
The first thing to think about is which vibe you’d like more in your vacation. Both Savannah and Charleston are similar in the historical aspect. However, if you’d like a more calm journey to relax, Savannah might be the city to choose.
Though they’re both close in terms of population, Charleston’s streets can be busier than Savannah’s, especially downtown can be pretty crowded. For Savannah, however, you’ll find that the roads are quieter without rushing people all around, downtown included.
Charleston is a bit larger than Savannah (135K square miles vs 113K square miles). Though they’re both pretty large cities, they’re also quite walkable – you’ll find that many people in both Charleston and Savannah walk to their destination or take a bike for a ride.
2. When should you visit?
If you’d like to enjoy the trees blossoming and decorating the streets, spring would be the perfect time to visit Savannah! Spring usually starts around March to July, with the highest temperature of around 75F (24C).
Though because it’s the recommended time to visit, the hotel rates can become relatively high during this period. If you’d like a more modest rate, then you can consider visiting Savannah in the fall – usually starting in mid-September to November.
Since it’s not a traveling season, the city won’t be as crowded, and the expenses of staying should be at a more affordable rate.
Charleston, unlike Savannah, has two traveling seasons. So when Savannah has spring as its vacationing season and fall as its off-season, Charleston has both spring and fall as its best time to visit.
Spring in Charleston starts around March to May, while fall starts from September to November. In both seasons, there are many things to enjoy in Charleston, from the great weather to the sunny beaches. Having said that, just like in Savannah, the rates for lodging can be quite high in this period.
If you’d like to enjoy lower rates, then you can visit Charleston once winter starts. Winter is known to be an off-season for the city of Charleston because of its cold and irregular weather.
You’ll find many hotels offering rooms for way lower prices than in spring or fall. Winter usually starts in December in Charleston and ends in March. If you decide to visit in December, you’ll be able to experience Christmas in this beautiful city.
The streets will have fairy lights and Christmas decorations on all corners, making it quite a sight to see!
3. Lodging and accommodation
In regards to their lodging, both cities have various options to choose from. No matter if you’d like an accessible room, smoking room, or a pet-friendly one, you’ll have more than one option to choose from in all districts around both Charleston and Savannah.
The difference, though, will be in the room price per night. Looking through the hotels, if you’d like a room for two adults in Charleston, you’ll find the lowest price to be around $60, while the highest can reach $2300 for a luxurious room in a 5-star hotel. The average price most people pay in hotels is around $140 for two adults. Check our post on Where to stay in Charleston here!
As for Savannah, you’ll be able to find a room for $56 a night, while the highest rate for luxurious rooms can reach up to $2200 a night for two adults. For the average hotel price, it can be around $135 for two adults. This makes Savannah slightly cheaper than Charleston in terms of lodging. Check our detailed article on Where to stay in Savannah here!
To have the best experience in Savannah, it’s recommended to spend at least 3 full days to get the full experience of the city. While for Charleston, 4 days should be the minimum to allow you enough time to visit everything the city has to offer.
4. Budget for visiting Savannah and Charleston
For the budget needed, you’ll need to consider lodging, food, and transportation as your main priority before counting on the entertainment costs. We’ve already discussed the lodging cost in both cities in the previous section. Now let’s talk about the food!
In a day, the average price for dining out is around $46 per person for both cities. However, if you’re the type who enjoys cooking more, you’ll be able to buy your groceries for around $12 per person in Charleston and $10 per person in Savannah. This makes Savannah once again a bit cheaper than Charleston.
Now, if you’d like to spend the three recommended days in Savannah, your total budget for lodging, food, and transportation alone will be $813 for two people on average (this is if you’d like to eat out in restaurants). If you’d like to cook, then your total budget would round to around $600.
For Charleston, if you stayed for four days, your average budget should be around $992 if you decide to dine out and ~$890 for cooking at home.
Whether you’d want to travel by land or water, Charleston has many entertaining transportation options you could choose from.
One of the must-try choices is the water taxi. Not only will it take you to the location you’d like, but it’ll also allow you to enjoy the view from the middle of the water!
Another fun option would be the bike taxi. This is more for navigating through intricate roads while also experiencing a new and enjoyable ride.
And if you’d like a safe traveling option for solo women travelers, you’ll be able to find plenty of rides offered by a company called “Pink checkered express.” They provide safe rides for women to all destinations by other women drivers. That’s why it’s a great option to consider for female travelers!
Other than these few examples, you’ll be able to find all kinds of transportation options all around, from bikes to large limos. Charleston isn’t lacking when it comes to rides you could take!
Not only are there many options you could choose for transportation, but Savannah also offers entertaining rides, such as the Belles ferry. Belles ferry is a great way to travel across the Savannah river and can be found every 30 minutes.
The best thing is? It’s completely free!
That’s right! You can enjoy this ferry ride on the Savannah river completely free of charge, and you can ride it as many times as you’d like! The ferry is both comfortable and clean, with very experienced captains and friendly staff.
All in all, it’s a must-try ride!
In addition to the ferry, there are plenty of on-land transportations you could choose from. One of the more enjoyable rides would be the pedicab, where you can enjoy both the view and weather as you travel around the streets.
6. Attractions to Visit
There are plenty of places you could visit in both cities, from historic sites to museums and beaches.
An example of the places you could visit in Savannah is the Telfair Museums, where you can visit three different famous historic sights. All you’ll need is a $20 ticket, and you’ll be able to visit all three attractions for a week!
Telfair Museums include: Telfair academy – which was also alexander Telfair’s mansion, built in 1819, Jepson Center, and Owen-Thomas’ house and slave quarters. Guided tours are offered through this 1800s mansion, where you can walk through the house and learn the history behind it.
If you’d like to spend a more active day on your vacation, there are plenty of outdoor activities you can choose from. Hiking, kayaking, dolphin and whale watching, and fishing are just a few activities available in Savannah.
If you want to have a fun day outdoors for a change, you can go to Starland Yard. It’s a family-friendly park that offers a variety of entertainments, including a bar and a kids’ play area. There are also a bunch of local food trucks in the area you can enjoy.
Just like Savannah, Charleston also has its fair share of tourist attractions. If you’re a plant-enthusiast, your next destination should be the Magnolia plantation and gardens, where humanity and nature become in harmony.
Not only will you be able to learn about the garden’s long history, but you’ll also be able to enjoy the different plant species arranged in romantic set-ups. You may also encounter different animals in the Audubon swamp, where gators and turtles could be found.
If you’re not in the mood for plants, you can always pay a visit to the Fort Sumter National Monument. It’s best known for witnessing the first shots of the American Civil War. Not only that but it was also occupied by the Confederate forces for some time during the war.
If you want to visit one of the oldest places in the city, don’t miss the Historic Charleston City Market. It’s been used as a market since the 1800s, and to this day, it’s one of the main shopping hubs in the city.
Whether you want to buy souvenirs, leather products, toys, or even clothes, the City Market won’t disappoint. It’s also filled to the brim with handmade crafts that you’ll love.
How do you summarize the pros and cons of Savannah and Charleston?
Now for the final showdown! What are the pros and cons of each city?
- Generally more affordable than Charleston
- Plenty of historical sights and museums to visit
- Free public transportation
- Walkability is high
- Beautiful architecture
- Not many water sports are available
- A lot of bugs around
- High temperature
- Streets aren’t wheelchair accessible
- Many water sports are available
- A lot of art and historical museums to visit
- Lively streets
- Many transportation options are available
- Beautiful architecture
- It has three beaches you can visit
- More expensive than Savannah
- Not many hiking opportunities
|👑 For Luxury:||Charleston|
|💵 For Mid Range:||Savannah|
|🛏️ For Budget:||Savannah|
|🏖️ For Relaxation:||Charleston|
|🛕 For History:||Savannah|
|👩🦽 For accessibility:||Charleston|
|🚌 Better public transport:||Savannah|
|🍸 For nightlife:||Charleston|
|🖼️ More attractions:||Savannah|
|🐚 Better Beaches||Charleston|
Both Charleston and Savannah are very similar to each other, with similar activities and sights to visit. However, there are still some distinct differences available. These differences will determine which city is more suitable for you personally.
So whether you’d like a more relaxing trip or a more lively one, a water activity-filled vacation, or a hiking experience through the mountains. Whichever your preference is, you’ll find the perfect fit for you in either one of the two cities.
Now that you’ve finally completed the comparison between Savannah and Charleston, you can confidently choose your vacation city!
Be sure to let me know if you have any questions in the comments below, otherwise have a great trip!