Savannah vs. Charleston

Deciding between Savannah and Charleston for your next vacation can feel like choosing between two mouthwatering dishes. Both Southern gems have their own unique charm, brimming with historic architecture, vibrant culture, and scrumptious cuisine. But which city will ultimately capture your heart?
Savannah vs. Charleston

Table of Contents

Ah, the age-old dilemma – Savannah or Charleston? It’s not an easy decision, that’s for sure. Both cities have so much to offer, and it might seem impossible to pick just one. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Stick around, and we’ll help you figure out which destination is the perfect fit for your next getaway.

History & Culture

Diving into the history and culture of Savannah and Charleston is like opening a treasure chest filled with Southern gems. Both cities boast fascinating stories, but each has its unique flair. Let’s see how they stack up against each other.

Savannah, Georgia, is a city with a past as rich as its lush green squares. Founded in 1733, it was the first planned city in the US, and its grid layout remains intact to this day. Savannah’s architectural splendor is a blend of Federal, Georgian, and Greek Revival styles, making it a dream come true for history buffs.

Charleston, South Carolina, on the other hand, has a slightly older history, dating back to 1670. This city’s elegance is a testament to its well-preserved Antebellum architecture. Charleston has a more genteel vibe, with grand mansions lining its cobblestone streets.

When it comes to culture, Savannah prides itself on being an artistic haven. The city is home to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), which has helped cultivate a thriving creative scene. You’ll find galleries and studios around every corner, showcasing local talent.

Charleston’s cultural scene, while equally charming, leans more toward the performing arts. The city hosts the annual Spoleto Festival USA, a renowned celebration of theater, dance, and music. If you’re a fan of live performances, you’ll be captivated by Charleston’s artistic offerings.

In summary, Savannah’s history is rooted in its unique city planning, while Charleston enchants with its Antebellum grace. Both cities boast vibrant art scenes, with Savannah leaning more towards visual arts, and Charleston shining in the performing arts department.

Attractions & Activities

Now that we’ve explored the history and culture of Savannah and Charleston, let’s dive into the exciting attractions and activities each city has to offer. Both cities have a wealth of sights to see, but the experiences they provide are quite distinct.

Savannah is a city that invites you to slow down and savor its beauty. A stroll through the 22 historic squares, each with its own unique charm, is a must-do activity. Don’t forget to visit the iconic Forsyth Park, where you’ll find the stunning Forsyth Fountain and plenty of green space for a picnic or a leisurely walk.

For history enthusiasts, Savannah offers the Bonaventure Cemetery, a hauntingly beautiful site adorned with striking sculptures and ornate tombstones. You can also visit the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, the home of the founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA, to learn more about her life and legacy.

Charleston, meanwhile, is brimming with historic landmarks waiting to be explored. Start with a visit to Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. The fort can be accessed by a scenic ferry ride, offering stunning views of the harbor.

Another must-see attraction in Charleston is the beautiful Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, the oldest public gardens in America. Here, you can enjoy a guided tour of the historic plantation house and wander through the lush, romantic gardens that surround it.

Both Savannah and Charleston are known for their ghost tours, with each city offering chilling tales of their haunted pasts. Join a guided tour after dark to explore the spooky side of these historic cities.

In terms of outdoor activities, Savannah has the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, where you can explore diverse habitats, including marshes, forests, and wetlands. It’s an ideal spot for birdwatching and spotting other wildlife like alligators and deer.

Charleston offers a unique outdoor experience at the Angel Oak Tree, an ancient live oak estimated to be between 400 and 500 years old. This majestic tree, with its sprawling branches, is a sight to behold and a fantastic photo opportunity.

In summary, both Savannah and Charleston have an abundance of attractions and activities to offer. Savannah’s relaxed atmosphere invites you to explore its squares and parks, while Charleston captivates with its historic landmarks and breathtaking gardens. Whichever city you choose, you’re bound to make unforgettable memories.


As we continue comparing Savannah and Charleston, it’s time to hit the beach and soak up some sun. Both destinations offer access to stunning shorelines, so let’s see how they stack up when it comes to sandy retreats.

Savannah boasts the beautiful Tybee Island, located just 18 miles (29 kilometers) away from the city. This charming barrier island is home to five public beaches, each with its own unique appeal—

North Beach, for instance, is perfect for history buffs, with the historic Tybee Island Lighthouse nearby. Meanwhile, South Beach is the island’s bustling hub, offering plenty of beach amenities, shops, and eateries.

If you’re into water sports, you’ll appreciate Tybee Island’s options for surfing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. For those looking for a more laid-back experience, take a leisurely stroll along the scenic shoreline, or simply relax on the sand and watch the waves roll in.

Charleston, on the other hand, is surrounded by a collection of picturesque beach towns. Just a 20-minute drive (about 12 miles or 19 kilometers) from the city center, you’ll find Folly Beach, a favorite among surfers and beachgoers alike. With its laid-back vibe and eclectic mix of shops and restaurants, Folly Beach is an ideal spot for a fun-filled day in the sun.

Further afield, Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island offer more serene beach experiences. At Isle of Palms, you can enjoy wide, sandy beaches, perfect for sunbathing or building sandcastles. Sullivan’s Island, known for its historic charm, offers tranquil stretches of sand, making it a great choice for those seeking a quieter beach day.

In conclusion, both Savannah and Charleston provide beach lovers with plenty of options to choose from. Whether you’re drawn to the diverse beaches of Tybee Island or the picturesque shores surrounding Charleston, you’re sure to find your ideal coastal escape.

Eating, Drinking & Nightlife

Ready to indulge in some delicious eats and tasty drinks? Both Savannah and Charleston are known for their mouthwatering culinary scenes and vibrant nightlife. Let’s dig into the flavors of these two destinations and see which one will satisfy your cravings.

In Savannah, you’ll be treated to a delightful mix of traditional Southern comfort food and innovative, contemporary cuisine. From iconic dishes like fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits to farm-to-table fare, Savannah’s food scene is bursting with flavor. The city’s dining options range from cozy cafes to upscale restaurants, ensuring there’s something to suit every taste.

Charleston, on the other hand, is a bona fide food lover’s paradise. The city’s culinary scene has earned accolades from food critics and travelers alike. Like Savannah, Charleston boasts a diverse range of eateries, from casual seafood shacks to fine dining establishments. However, Charleston’s culinary repertoire leans more heavily on seafood, with fresh catches featured prominently on many menus.

When it comes to nightlife, Savannah has a unique, laid-back vibe. The city’s historic district is home to an array of bars, pubs, and live music venues, where you can enjoy a craft cocktail or locally brewed beer. Don’t forget to take advantage of Savannah’s open container policy, allowing you to stroll the picturesque streets with a drink in hand.

Charleston’s nightlife scene is just as enticing, with a focus on rooftop bars and swanky lounges. Whether you’re sipping a handcrafted cocktail while admiring panoramic city views or catching a live music performance in a cozy venue, Charleston offers plenty of options for an unforgettable night on the town.

So, will it be Savannah’s comforting Southern fare and easygoing nightlife or Charleston’s seafood-centric cuisine and sophisticated evening scene? Ultimately, the choice depends on your personal tastes and preferences, but one thing’s for sure: you won’t go hungry (or thirsty) in either city.


If you’re looking to indulge in some retail therapy during your getaway, both Savannah and Charleston offer a fantastic range of shopping opportunities. Let’s explore the unique shops and boutiques that make each city a shopper’s paradise.

Savannah’s historic district is filled with charming boutiques and specialty shops, perfect for finding one-of-a-kind souvenirs and gifts. Meander through the cobblestone streets and discover a treasure trove of antiques, handcrafted jewelry, and locally made products. The city’s thriving art scene also means you’ll find plenty of galleries showcasing the work of local artists and craftsmen.

Charleston, in contrast, offers a more upscale shopping experience. The city is renowned for its luxury boutiques, high-end designer stores, and posh art galleries. As you stroll down King Street, you’ll be treated to an eclectic mix of shopping options, including antique stores, chic clothing boutiques, and elegant home decor shops.

Charleston’s City Market is also a must-visit for those seeking unique, handcrafted items and local goods.

For those in search of shopping malls, both cities have you covered. Savannah boasts several shopping centers, including the popular Oglethorpe Mall, while Charleston is home to the Citadel Mall and Mount Pleasant Towne Centre.

When it comes down to choosing between Savannah and Charleston for your shopping excursion, the decision largely depends on your personal preferences. If you’re after a quaint, leisurely shopping experience with a focus on local artisans, Savannah might be your ideal choice. However, if you’re seeking high-end fashion and luxury goods, Charleston’s stylish shopping scene is tough to beat.


No matter where you choose to stay, finding the perfect place to rest your head is an important part of any vacation. Let’s compare the accommodation options in Savannah and Charleston to see which city best suits your lodging preferences.

Savannah is known for its charming inns and historic bed and breakfasts, offering visitors a cozy and intimate experience. Many of these establishments are located in beautifully restored historic buildings, allowing you to immerse yourself in the city’s rich history. Of course, if you prefer the amenities of larger hotels, Savannah also has a variety of well-known hotel chains and boutique properties.

Charleston, on the other hand, is famous for its luxurious hotels and high-end accommodations. The city boasts several world-class hotels, featuring top-notch amenities and stunning views of the city’s historic landmarks.

Charleston also offers a selection of charming bed and breakfasts, as well as a growing number of vacation rentals for those seeking a more home-like atmosphere.

When it comes to choosing between Savannah and Charleston for your accommodation needs, it really depends on what type of lodging experience you’re after. If you’re looking for a quaint, historic bed and breakfast, Savannah might be your ideal choice. However, if you’re in search of upscale hotels and luxury stays, Charleston is likely the better option.

Family-Friendliness & Children’s Activities

Taking a trip with the whole family can be a blast, but finding the right destination with activities suitable for all ages is crucial. Let’s see how Savannah and Charleston stack up when it comes to family-friendliness and children’s activities.

Savannah is a delightful destination for families, offering plenty of activities to keep the young ones entertained. The city has numerous parks and squares where kids can run around and play, while parents can relax and soak up the charming atmosphere.

In addition, Savannah boasts a few kid-friendly museums, interactive exhibits, and even a historic train museum that will pique the interest of children and adults alike.

On the other hand, Charleston is also a great destination for families, providing a wealth of age-appropriate activities to engage and entertain children. The city features a fantastic aquarium that showcases marine life native to the region, as well as several historic sites with interactive exhibits tailored for younger visitors.

Outdoor activities are abundant in Charleston, including family-friendly walking tours and scenic boat rides around the harbor.

In terms of family-friendliness, both Savannah and Charleston have a lot to offer. Each city provides a unique mix of activities to keep kids entertained and parents happy.

If you’re looking for a destination with more parks and open spaces for the little ones to explore, Savannah may be the better choice. However, if your family is interested in a blend of historical and outdoor activities, Charleston might be the more suitable option. In any case, you can’t go wrong with either destination when planning a fun-filled family vacation.

Getting There & Getting Around

When planning your vacation, it’s essential to consider how you’ll arrive at your destination and how you’ll get around once you’re there. Let’s take a look at the travel logistics for both Savannah and Charleston.

Getting to Savannah is a breeze, thanks to the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, which is located just about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the city center. Numerous airlines offer flights to this airport, making it a convenient option for travelers.

Charleston, on the other hand, is served by Charleston International Airport, which is situated approximately 12 miles (19 kilometers) northwest of downtown Charleston. Both airports are well-connected and offer a variety of flight options.

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, getting around Savannah is pretty simple. The city is known for its walkable layout, allowing you to explore its historic district and various attractions on foot.

For longer distances, you can rely on the public bus system, rideshares, or even rent a bike to move around the city with ease. If you prefer a guided experience, hop-on-hop-off trolley tours are available to take you to popular sites.

Similarly, Charleston is an easily navigable city, with many attractions and points of interest within walking distance. The city’s downtown area is compact, making it perfect for strolling along its cobblestone streets and admiring the historic architecture.

For destinations beyond walking distance, the public bus system is a reliable and affordable option. Charleston also offers pedicabs, rideshares, and guided tours to help you explore the city effortlessly.

In summary, both Savannah and Charleston offer convenient options for getting to the city and exploring the sights once you’re there.

While Savannah may be slightly more walkable, Charleston’s compact layout and variety of transportation options make it easy to navigate as well. No matter which city you choose, you’re sure to have a fantastic time exploring these charming Southern destinations.


Let’s talk about the weather, shall we? When planning a trip, it’s important to consider the climate of your destination. Here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect from the weather in both Savannah and Charleston.

Savannah’s climate is best described as humid subtropical, which means you can expect hot summers and mild winters. The average summer temperature hovers around 91°F (33°C), while winter temperatures tend to stay around 60°F (16°C).

The city experiences a fair amount of rainfall, particularly in the summer months, so it’s a good idea to pack an umbrella just in case.

Charleston, on the other hand, also features a humid subtropical climate, with slightly cooler temperatures compared to Savannah. During the summer, Charleston sees average temperatures around 89°F (32°C), while winters are milder with average temperatures of 58°F (14°C).

Like Savannah, Charleston experiences a significant amount of rainfall throughout the year, with the summer months being the wettest.

In conclusion, the weather in both Savannah and Charleston is quite similar, with hot and humid summers and mild winters. Rainfall is a common occurrence in both cities, so be prepared with some rain gear when visiting. Ultimately, your choice between these two charming cities may come down to factors other than weather, but it’s always good to know what to expect from Mother Nature.


Safety is always a top concern when planning a trip, right? Let’s look at how Savannah and Charleston stack up in terms of safety so you can have peace of mind while exploring these beautiful cities.

Both Savannah and Charleston are generally considered safe for tourists, with crime rates relatively low in their popular tourist areas.

However, it’s still essential to take the usual precautions, like avoiding poorly lit areas at night, keeping an eye on your belongings, and not leaving valuables in plain sight in your car. By practicing common sense and staying vigilant, you can enjoy a safe and worry-free trip to either city.

When it comes to unique safety concerns, Savannah has a few areas with higher crime rates located outside the historic district. As a visitor, it’s best to stick to the popular tourist areas to ensure a safe experience.

On the other hand, Charleston is known for its occasional flooding, especially during the rainy season. Be sure to check the local weather forecasts and stay informed about potential flood risks during your visit.

In summary, both Savannah and Charleston are relatively safe destinations, but it’s crucial to remain aware of your surroundings and take standard safety precautions. Keep these safety tips in mind, and you’ll be able to focus on enjoying all the wonderful experiences these cities have to offer.


Budgeting for a trip is super important, so let’s dive into the cost differences between Savannah and Charleston. This way, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect when you’re deciding between these two charming destinations.

Generally speaking, Savannah is known to be slightly more affordable than Charleston. For instance, you might find accommodations in Savannah for around $100 per night, while similar lodging in Charleston could set you back about $120. That said, there’s a range of options for every budget in both cities, so it’s always worth shopping around to find the best deal.

When it comes to dining, you can expect to pay around $10-$15 for a meal in Savannah, whereas in Charleston, you might be looking at $15-$20. Of course, both cities offer everything from budget-friendly to high-end dining experiences, so it’s really up to your personal preference and budget.

In terms of attractions and activities, the cost difference between the two cities is not significant. Both Savannah and Charleston offer a mix of free and paid attractions, with entry fees typically ranging between $10-$25.

Overall, while Savannah may be a more budget-friendly option, both cities offer a variety of experiences to suit different budgets. Just make sure to plan accordingly and allocate your funds wisely to make the most of your trip.

Which Is Better – Savannah or Charleston?

Alright, folks, we’ve reached the end of our in-depth comparison between Savannah and Charleston. Time to wrap things up and help you decide which destination is the better pick for your next adventure. Remember, each city has its own unique charm and appeal, so it’s all about what fits your preferences best.

Savannah is your go-to destination if you’re looking for a slightly more budget-friendly option. With its lower accommodation and dining costs, it’s easier on the wallet. History buffs and fans of spooky ghost tours will also love the haunted vibe that Savannah offers. Plus, if you’re into a more laid-back atmosphere, Savannah’s slower pace might be just what you’re after.

On the other hand, Charleston is the spot for those who crave more of a sophisticated and upscale experience. With its booming culinary scene and classy nightlife, Charleston is perfect for foodies and those who want to dress up for a night on the town. Additionally, if you’re a fan of pristine beaches and water-based activities, Charleston’s coastlines are simply hard to beat.

When it comes to family-friendliness, both cities have a lot to offer in terms of activities for kids. However, if you’re traveling with little ones, Savannah might have a slight edge with its more affordable prices and lower-key vibe.

For history and culture lovers, both cities boast rich histories and plenty of attractions to explore. Savannah may have more of a haunted, mysterious feel, while Charleston leans more toward refinement and elegance. It really depends on your preference.

In terms of getting there and around, Savannah and Charleston are similar in travel options and distances. However, it’s always good to check for any deals on flights or ground transportation that might sway your decision.

Lastly, when considering safety, both cities have their own unique concerns. It’s crucial to be aware of your surroundings and take the necessary precautions regardless of which destination you choose.

So, the final verdict? It all comes down to your preferences and priorities. If you’re after a budget-friendly, relaxed getaway with a touch of spookiness, Savannah is your spot. But if you’re craving a refined experience with top-notch dining and beautiful beaches, Charleston is the way to go. Whichever destination you pick, you’re in for a memorable adventure.