Skip to main content.
Guides

Charleston Travel Tips

Find a place to stay

Famously friendly, Charleston is also a treat for the mind with its handsome historic district crammed with stunningly preserved, pastel-hued Antebellum architecture, while its skyline is dominated by imposing church spires. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back centuries on arrival, but scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find a thriving, modern city, with eclectic nightlife, and cutting-edge arts and restaurant scenes.

 

Best Time to Travel

 

Charleston has a humid subtropical climate. Summers are hot and sticky, with regular thunderstorms, while winters are mild, short, and relatively dry. Late spring and fall are fantastic times to visit, when the weather is pleasantly warm, with little humidity. From late May through to mid-June each year, the city is taken over by the Spoleto Festival, one of the country’s foremost performing arts festivals. Visitors flock from all over the US and beyond for 17 days of world-class theater, dance, opera, jazz, and classical music performances.

 

Not to Miss

 

A short boat ride away from Charleston lies Fort Sumter, one of the country’s most fascinating and historically significant National Monuments. The American Civil War began here in 1861, and today it sits in ruins, but there are amazing displays of original cannons and guns, and fascinating museum exhibits providing all the context you could ask for. Meanwhile, the Charleston Museum tells the story of the city and surrounding areas with beautiful displays covering everything from local prehistoric animals to arts and crafts produced by African American slaves.

 

Getting around

 

Charleston International Airport is conveniently located around 12 miles from the city center. It’s served by regular flights from major US destinations such as New York, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, and Dallas. Taxis, shuttle buses, and rental cars are all readily available at the airport. Charleston’s historic downtown is fairly compact, and so easily explored by foot. If you’re planning to explore the city more widely, there are regular public bus services, but you may find renting a car for the duration of your stay more convenient.

 

Cuisine

 

South Carolina is world-renowned for its exciting variant on American Southern cuisine, with strong African and Caribbean influences. Delicious fresh seafood features prominently in many local dishes, such as catfish stew, crab cakes, and shrimp kedgeree. Mouth-watering side dishes include baked mac 'n' cheese, and Charleston red rice – rice cooked with crushed tomatoes instead of water, further flavored with morsels of bacon and pork sausage.

 

Customs and etiquette

 

Charleston is frequently heralded as America’s friendliest and most hospitable city, so you can be assured of a good old fashioned Southern welcome. Manners are highly prized, so as long as you approach locals politely you should have no problems. Tipping for services is customary throughout the United States, with most people adhering roughly to these guidelines: 15 to 20 per cent of the bill to restaurant servers, around 15 per cent to taxi drivers, food deliverers, and hairdressers; $1 per bag to hotel bellhops; and $1-2 per drink to bartenders.

Fast Facts

 

Population: 128000

Spoken languages: English, Spanish

Electrical: The USA runs on 120V, 60 Hz current

Phone Calling Code: +1 843911

Where to stay

Discover

Find your perfect holiday in Charleston

From 870 hotels.