Charleston, SC

Travel Guide
Charleston
Steeped in history, this Southern town is an ideal spot for walking tours of antebellum mansions, beautiful gardens and fine restaurants.

Charleston is best explored on a walking tour or in a horse-drawn carriage with your driver telling stories about city landmarks. Learn about military history and the Southern way of life. Sample local foods of shrimp and grits, Lowcountry barbecue, collard greens and sweet pralines.

The American Civil War began here, when the seceding Confederacy fired upon and overtook federal Fort Sumter in the Charleston River. A later Union attack reduced the fort to rubble. Take a ferry to see the historic site, which also contains a complete timeline of U.S. naval activities along the Atlantic Ocean coastline.

Across the harbor, walk along The Battery and White Point Garden to gaze at the fort, now a national monument. Reflect on this pivotal moment in U.S. history. Turn around to view pretty antebellum houses surrounded by flowers in this neighborhood known as South of Broad. The writer Pat Conroy lived here. Many of his popular novels reveal not only Charleston’s geography, but also its cultural nuances.

To the west, the brilliant white Romanesque architecture of The Citadel gleams against a bright blue Charleston sky. Watch military cadets in dress uniforms during weekly parades or competing in weekend football games against other Southern colleges in the fall.

Nearby visit Middleton Place, a 1755 plantation with one of the nation’s earliest landscaped gardens. Something blooms here at any time of year. You might see an alligator sunning itself next to the Ashley River.

To the east, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge is an impressive modern structure, especially with its triangular arches illuminated at night. Walk, bike or drive across for excellent views of the river and harbor or run across during the Cooper River Bridge 10K Run in early April.

Spring’s Spoleto Festival offers opera, theater, dance, music and artist talks. Throughout the year, visit the Charleston Historic Market to purchase locally made handicrafts. Famous hand-woven sweetgrass baskets, once used during rice harvesting, are still made by locals and treasured as artworks.

Where to stay in Charleston

Town & Country Inn and Suites
Town & Country Inn and Suites
3 out of 5
2008 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, SC, 29407-6286
The price is $129 per night from Nov 29 to Nov 30
$129
per night
Nov 29 - Nov 30
Stay at this 3-star business-friendly hotel in Charleston. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking, and breakfast. Our guests praise the restaurant and the helpful staff ...
4.6/5 Wonderful! (1,525 reviews)
"Clean, quiet, easy access and reasonably priced. Well managed establishment."

Reviewed on Nov 27, 2022

Town & Country Inn and Suites
Emeline
Emeline
4 out of 5
181 Church St, Charleston, SC, 29401-3122
The price is $339 per night from Dec 4 to Dec 5
$339
per night
Dec 4 - Dec 5
Stay at this 4-star business-friendly hotel in Charleston. Enjoy free WiFi, breakfast, and a fitness center. Our guests praise the restaurant and the helpful ...
4.5/5 Wonderful! (868 reviews)
Short Stay
"Great room on the first floor next to the outdoor patio where we had a night cap next to a fire place. In walking distance of a lot of shopping and the old slave market which has rows of crafts. Also on the horse drawn carriage route. We will stay longer next time."

Reviewed on Nov 23, 2022

Emeline
The Francis Marion Hotel
The Francis Marion Hotel
4 out of 5
387 King St, Charleston, SC, 29403-6404
The price is $189 per night from Nov 29 to Nov 30
$189
per night
Nov 29 - Nov 30
Stay at this 4-star spa hotel in Charleston. Enjoy free WiFi, a full-service spa, and breakfast. Our guests praise the breakfast and the helpful staff in our ...
4.3/5 Excellent! (1,467 reviews)
"2 bathrooms in the room"

Reviewed on Nov 27, 2022

The Francis Marion Hotel
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
The Quarters on Spring
The Quarters on Spring
3.5 out of 5
171 Spring Street, Charleston, SC, 29403
Stay at this 3.5-star condo in Charleston. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking, and a flat-screen TV. Popular attractions Port of Charleston Cruise Terminal and Harborage ...
4.1/5 Very Good! (28 reviews)
"Bigger than expected, very clean, and location was perfect. Other than a lot of traffic noise it was a great place…I would stay there again!"

Reviewed on Nov 12, 2022

The Quarters on Spring
The Quarters on King
The Quarters on King
3 out of 5
292 King Street, Charleston, SC, 29401
Stay at this 3-star aparthotel in Charleston. Enjoy free WiFi, onsite parking, and concierge services. Our guests praise the helpful staff and the family amenities ...
4.3/5 Excellent! (155 reviews)
"Great location, though be aware how loud king st is at pretty much all hours, but especially at night. The place was cool, but definitely a bit run down. Stains on the rug, lots of marks on the floors and rugs, the shower curtain was not super clean and yeah it’s nice to have a kitchen but it would’ve ..."

Reviewed on Oct 10, 2022

The Quarters on King
The Iris Charleston
The Iris Charleston
3 out of 5
84 Line St, Charleston, SC, 29403
Stay at this 3-star apartment in Charleston. Enjoy free WiFi, onsite parking, and laundry facilities. Popular attractions Port of Charleston Cruise Terminal ...
5/5 Exceptional! (1 review)
First time in Charleston, SC
"Our assigned unit was on the ground floor and was quite dark - we needed to have the lights on during the day. The kitchen was adequately equipped. The “bedroom” was a comfortable bed separated from the rest of the apartment by a curtain. Parking ($25 per night) was on-site on a carousel (see photo) ..."

Reviewed on Nov 1, 2022

The Iris Charleston
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Getting around Charleston

Much of Charleston is walkable, and this is by far the most enjoyable way to explore this historic city. When you do need to get somewhere fast, you have a few options. Make use of the trolley to get to popular attractions, or ride the bus to reach more residential areas. Taxis are another possibility. Note, though, that taxis aren’t easy to hail in the street, so should be booked in advance. Visit the Charleston Regional Transportation Authority website.Browse Charleston rental cars.

Best time to visit

The summer months in Charleston can get very hot, so most people will find a spring or fall visit more pleasant. Come between March and May or between September and November for sunny weather and temperatures that rarely climb above the low 80s F (20s C). One benefit of coming in spring is that you'll see the city’s pretty flowers in bloom. In fall, meanwhile, colorful foliage transforms the streets.

Popular places to visit

Things to do

Read travel guides and advice on visiting Charleston

Cities near Charleston