Water fountain at the First Ward Park Fountain in Charlotte, North Carolina

Asheville vs Charlotte (Which is Better to Visit in 2023?)

I’m a North Carolina local who’s lived in both Asheville and Charlotte, and in this guide, I compare Asheville vs Charlotte across several categories. 

One is a mountain and nature haven, while the other is a growing city with lively arts, culture, and sports scenes. You may be wondering which city is better, especially if you’re a first time-visitor. 

In this article, I’m going to walk you through the pros, cons, and features of Charlotte and Asheville — based on a local’s perspective and trustworthy data. 

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Which is Better Asheville or Charlotte? 

Water flowing on a river around Blue Ridge Mountains
River in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Asheville, North Carolina and Charlotte, North Carolina are two distinctly different cities. Which is better largely depends on your personal interests and preferences. 

Asheville is located in Western North Carolina in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hiking and outdoor recreation are extremely popular in Asheville, and the city has a robust brewery scene. The atmosphere in Asheville is quirky and down-to-earth, and the locals are friendly. 

Charlotte is the largest city in North Carolina and it is located in the Piedmont region. Charlotte is a rapidly growing destination with activities ranging from arts and culture to sports. The NASCAR Hall of Fame and the U.S. National Whitewater Center are two of Charlotte’s top attractions. Charlotte’s vibe has an urban feel with a touch of Southern charm.  

Advantages of Asheville, NC

  • Endless opportunities for outdoor recreation
  • Beautiful mountain scenery
  • Great foodie scene
  • Incredible breweries in Asheville
  • Smaller city
  • Many great day trips nearby
  • Many Asheville hotels and vacation rentals

Advantages of Charlotte, NC

Asheville, NC is Best For

  • Outdoor enthusiasts
  • Beer lovers
  • Foodies 
  • Families
  • Short romantic weekend getaways
  • Wellness trips 

Overall, Asheville, NC is the best city in the state for enjoying the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Local shops, eateries, and incredible breweries can all be found here. Hiking trails and waterfalls are aplenty. A weekend or longer can easily be spent enjoying the charm and artsy atmosphere that Asheville offers. For more, check out my full list of things to do in Asheville.

Charlotte, NC is Best For

  • Sports fans
  • Shoppers 
  • Foodies 
  • Families
  • Younger visitors 
  • Entertainment like concerts, plays, etc.

There is no shortage of fun things to do in Charlotte, NC. Charlotte is a go-to destination for visiting arts, science, and history museums. The sports and entertainment attractions in Charlotte are also top-notch. Overall, Charlotte is a vibrant destination for visitors of all ages. Charlotte also makes an ideal base for exploring all that North Carolina has to offer.

Charlotte vs Asheville – Detailed Comparison 

Charlotte, NC and Asheville, NC are both vibrant North Carolina cities. Each has a lot to offer in terms of experiences, local North Carolina food, and memorable sites and attractions. Asheville is a smaller city while Charlotte is a larger city. Both Asheville and Charlotte offer fantastic accommodations and decent transportation options.

In the table below, I break down Asheville, NC and Charlotte, NC by category. This way, you can get a feel for each North Carolina destination based on what you’re looking for.

Feature/CategoryAsheville, NCCharlotte, NC🏆 Winner
Cost & BudgetRent and living prices can be expensive, but free things to doCost of living is lower than Asheville. Attractions cost more moneyCharlotte
Things to DoOutdoor attractions, breweries, Biltmore Estate, wellness activities, nearby day trip destinationsNASCAR attractions, art, science, history museums, entertainment and sports eventsTie
AccommodationsMix of large and boutique hotels, and bed & breakfasts. Vacation rentals availableNASCAR attractions, art, science, history museums, entertainment, and sports eventsAsheville
Food & DrinkMany great local restaurants, fantastic brewery sceneVariety of cuisine available and many great restaurantsTie
NightlifeMostly chain hotels, some boutique hotels, and bed & breakfasts. Vacation rentals availableNumber of bars and clubs in different neighborhoodsCharlotte
WeatherMild winter and beautiful fall. Summer is warm but nice. Spring allergies are bad.Mild fall and winter. The summer is hot and humid. Spring allergies are bad.Asheville
Getting AroundMostly breweries, some bars, and clubsA car is helpful but not required. Public transportation and rideshare availableCharlotte
LocationIn the Blue Ridge Mountains with many day trip destinations nearbyIn the center of North Carolina’s Piedmont. Good base for visiting other cities Asheville

Asheville vs Charlotte: Which is Cheaper?

Aerial view of houses at a suburbs area in Charlotte, North Carolina
Suburbs in Charlotte (photo: Gus Valente / Shutterstock)

🏠 Charlotte is technically cheaper based on the cost of living index. Asheville has slightly higher prices for things like housing, bills, and groceries than Charlotte. However, this is a cost of living comparison. 

🧳 Visitors will find that the cost of visiting Asheville and Charlotte is pretty similar. Accommodation, transportation, and food and drink prices will be roughly the same. Asheville does have more free things to do, though.

🏆 Winner: Charlotte, NC (based on a cost of living comparison)

Asheville vs Charlotte: Which Has More Things to Do?

Aerial view of the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina
Bank of America Stadium (photo: Grindstone Media Group / Shutterstock)

⛰️ Outdoor Attractions: Asheville is the clear winner as far as outdoor attractions. The Great Smoky Mountains, Mount Mitchell State Park, the French Broad River, and Pisgah National Forest are just a few of its many outdoor attractions. You can go on infinite hikes in Asheville, visit Asheville waterfalls, and do outdoor activities like rafting, camping, and zip lining. 

🎭 Entertainment: Charlotte takes the cake for having a wide range of entertainment choices. The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center and the Knight Theater are two top theaters for seeing concerts, plays, dance performances, and more. You can see the Charlotte Panthers play at the Bank of America Stadium and the Charlotte Hornets play at Spectrum Center. Charlotte is also a main destination for touring artists and other entertainment events.

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Family-Friendly Activities: Asheville and Charlotte are both family-friendly cities. Asheville is better for summer camps and outdoor activities but Charlotte has more kid-friendly museums and attractions.

🏆 Winner: Tie

👉 Read Next: 5-Day Asheville Itinerary

Asheville vs Charlotte: Which Has Better Accommodation Options?

The Omni Grove Park Inn from the outside in Asheville North Carolina
The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville (photo: Irina Mos / Shutterstock)

🏨 Hotels: Asheville hotels and Charlotte hotels are available for different budgets. This includes larger hotel chains and smaller hotels. 

🛏️ Boutique Accommodations: Both Asheville and Charlotte have boutique hotels and bed & breakfast options. However, Asheville has better choices, in my opinion. Asheville is home to the scenic and historic Grove Park Inn and The Inn on Biltmore Estate. But there are others, too. Asheville also has many charming bed & breakfasts in the Montford neighborhood.

🏡 Vacation Rentals: Asheville and Charlotte both have vacation rentals available through Airbnb and VRBO. There are very nice places to stay in Charlotte in areas like South End, NoDa, and Plaza Midwood. However, Asheville offers some unique accommodations in the mountains if you’re looking for something a little different.

🏆 Winner: Asheville, NC

Asheville vs Charlotte: Which Has Better Food & Drinks?

View from the outside of New Belgium Brewery
New Belgium Brewery in Asheville

🍳 Asheville: Asheville and Charlotte both have great food & drink scenes. Asheville has a number of fantastic local restaurants, including ones specializing in Southern fare and Carolina barbecue. 12 Bones Smokehouse, Luella’s BBQ, and Tupelo Honey are all great choices. 

🍳 Charlotte: The food in Charlotte is also fantastic. 7th Street Public Market and Optimist Hall are perfect for getting a taste of multiple local restaurants. South End is the go-to neighborhood for foodies. What sets Charlotte apart is that it has a variety of cuisine choices because it’s a larger city. 

🍺 Beer in both cities: The beer scene in Asheville is truly unmatched. I highly recommend checking out some of the over 50 breweries in Asheville. Charlotte also has its fair share of breweries, but not as many as Asheville.

🏆 Winner: Tie

Asheville vs Charlotte: Which Has Better Nightlife?

A group of friends enjoying their night at Charlotte, North Carolina
Nightlife is more lively in Charlotte

Charlotte is the clear winner in the nightlife category. There are several bars and clubs located throughout the Queen City, so there’s something for everyone. Bars range from swanky rooftop establishments to more casual dive bars. Uptown Charlotte also has its fair share of clubs for dancing. 

Asheville’s nightlife scene is more limited. Breweries are the main drinking attraction here.

🏆 Winner: Charlotte, NC

Asheville vs Charlotte: Which Has Better Weather?

View at the Blue Ridge Parkway during fall season
Fall foliage along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Asheville generally runs cooler than Charlotte because of its mountain elevation. Temperatures are more mild and pleasant, and there are good times to visit Asheville throughout the year. This makes Asheville a winner in the weather category.

All four seasons in Asheville are pretty distinct, but again, generally mild. Fall in Asheville is especially beautiful because of the abundance of fall foliage. Summers are warm but tend to not be unbearably hot.  

The weather in Charlotte is also mild and winters don’t get too cold. Summers in Charlotte are hot and humid. Springtime brings bad allergies in both cities.

🏆 Winner: Asheville, NC

Asheville vs Charlotte: Which Has Better Transportation?

View of a Charlotte Light Rail system train
Charlotte Light Rail

🚗 Driving: Charlotte is the winner for having better transportation overall. This is because a car in Charlotte is convenient but not 100% necessary. Transportation in Asheville is limited to mostly driving. Having your own car or a rental car is needed. Both cities can get quite backed up with traffic, which can make driving and commute time lengthy.

🚊 Public Transportation: Charlotte has a Light Rail system and buses, and rideshare is widely available. Buses run throughout Asheville, but they aren’t the most common way to get around. Rideshares in Asheville exist, but they aren’t as widely available as those in Charlotte.

✈️ Airports: Charlotte’s airport is Charlotte Douglas International Airport, which services many airlines and destinations throughout the United States and the world. Asheville is home to Asheville Regional Airport, which mostly caters to regional flights and airlines. However, it’s growing. 

🏆 Winner: Charlotte, NC

Asheville vs Charlotte: Which is the Better Location?

Aerial view of Asheville in North Carolina
Asheville—with mountains all around

The true winner of location is truly down to preference. However, Asheville has the better location overall. Asheville is surrounded by scenic mountains and is conveniently located near many charming western North Carolina towns. Asheville also has great weather. 

Charlotte is located in the heart of North Carolina’s Piedmont. This makes it a prime location for visiting different parts of North Carolina. Many areas in Charlotte are pretty, but it just isn’t as scenic as Asheville. Plus, the summers can be quite brutal.

🏆 Winner: Asheville, NC

Final Verdict – Charlotte vs Asheville

Aerial view of downtown Asheville during sunset
Lively downtown Asheville

As a final verdict, both Asheville, NC and Charlotte, NC are great cities. But they’re each catered to different types of people and activities.

Asheville, NC is better for nature lovers and those who want a more relaxing, local atmosphere. It’s a great place to visit and live, and it’s a family-friendly and pet-friendly destination. Asheville may technically cost more money for living and accommodations, but there are many free nature activities to enjoy. 

Charlotte, NC is better for people interested in visiting museums and attending entertainment events. There are attractions for all ages, so there’s something for everyone. Sports are quite big in Charlotte. So, if you’re a sports fan (particularly of the NFL and NBA), Charlotte is the city for you. Living and accommodation prices may be a tad cheaper than in Asheville, but activities are likely to cost more. 

FAQs About Asheville vs Charlotte

Is Asheville, NC more expensive than Charlotte, NC?

Asheville, NC does tend to be more expensive than Charlotte, NC. This is largely due to the general cost of living index being higher in Asheville. This includes price approximations for things like groceries, housing, rent, transportation, tax, medical care, and other factors. However, it is possible to visit Asheville on a budget.

Is Asheville, NC bigger than Charlotte, NC?

Asheville, NC is not bigger than Charlotte, NC. Asheville is a reasonably small city with a population of 93,776. Charlotte is the largest city in North Carolina with a population of 897,720. Read our guide to learn more about Asheville safety and other city factors.


Comparison of Asheville vs Charlotte aside, both cities are lively, unique, and worth visiting. It all just depends on your travel style and what activities in North Carolina you want to experience!

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