Monterey Vs Carmel

Monterey Vs Carmel: Which One’s The Perfect Getaway?

You’re planning a trip to California. And The Monterey peninsula just stole your heart.

But you can’t manage enough time to visit both. So now you’re stuck with a hard dilemma.

So where should you fly to, in monterey vs carmel?

Between Monterey and Carmel, Monterey is a compelling holiday destination. With their many historic sites, 17 mile drive, and amazing nightlife. But Carmel has a more calm and peaceful environment, with a lot of activities to be engaged in. They both cost nearly the same so it mainly comes down to what you want to do.

Now that you have a basic idea, let’s get down to a full-blown article. Where you tried to make the process easier for you.

So let’s get right into it!

Quick Comparison: Monterey vs Carmel

Visiting different states like Utah or Colorado  and their famous places is always exciting. And visiting the Monterey peninsula from California, hugged by the pacific ocean is always a treat. 

And at the south of the Monterey peninsula, lies Carmel by the sea, or locals call it just Carmel.

With the scenic Monterey to Carmel 17 mile drive road, this is indeed an incredible place to visit.

But nowadays time restricts our hands. So you might have to choose between Monterey and Carmel.

If you’re thinking of a relaxing vacation in a short time you have to pick one between the two.

And to make that decision easier for you we shall discuss their pros and cons. What they offer ultimately gives you a verdict on which one is best for you.

So before getting into a more detailed discussion, let’s see a quick comparison table between them to get a clear idea.

Environment and neighborhood A busy urban area with lots of historical sites. A quiet and charming village, with a storybook feeling to it. 
ActivitiesSightseeing and visiting some historical sites.Lots of art galleries, wine tasting, amazing beaches, and famous restaurants.
Accommodation & TransportationMore hotels in different areas of the town. Lesser number of hotels. 
Visiting TimeBetween April & MayBetween September to November

Both the locations are in the Monterey peninsula. But they have some significant differences. The main decision actually comes down to what kind of vacation you want and what you want to experience.

We’ve got a basic idea of what the differences are. Let’s have a more detailed discussion about these places and how you can plan a holiday here.

Detailed Comparison: Monterey vs Carmel

Monterey and carmel-by-the-sea are both very famous tourist destinations. There are a lot to do in these places.

These two places are really close by and they cost pretty much the same. So the main comparison will come from what you want to do. Because they offer different experiences.

Let’s check out the differences between Monterey and carmel by the sea. And discuss these in detail to come to a conclusion.

Visiting Time

The best time to visit Monterey is between April and May. The days are warmer with fewer crowds. And various food festivals take place, including Pebble Beach Food & Wine and the Artichoke Festival in Castroville.

But if you want to visit to enjoy the traditional festivals, then you must book a hotel earlier. Because most of the time you’ll not get any seat in the respectable hotels. 

And for Carmel, the sunniest time is fall which is between September and November. During this time the days are warm and sunny. And the nights are cool.

This is a great time to enjoy the beach and overall roam around Carmell. And enjoy the traditional life there.


You have to arrive at Monterey and Carmel using the same method. The closest way is to land at the Monterey (MRY) Airport which is 2.6 miles away. 

Or you can use the  San Jose airport (53.5 miles) or San Francisco airport (75.7 miles). But be mindful of the traffic from the latter two airports.

Accommodation & Environment 

Monterey can be described as the center of the Monterey peninsula. It is a small yet busy city with its hustle and bustle. Packed with historical sites and hotels and lodges throughout the city.

Source: hotels

The city is mainly divided into 5 main parts. Downtown, cannery row, motel row, north Fremont boulevard, and by the freeway.

If you want to enjoy the city’s hustle and bustle then Downtown and cannery row is the place for you. But do keep in mind that they have a significant and loud nightlife, so you have to sacrifice tranquility at night. 

Most of the historical sites, waterfront, and the wharf, are within walking distance from the hotels you’ll find in downtown. Cannery row is great if you want to stay closer to the bay.

In the other 3 places, the accommodation is relatively cheaper. But everything is not very close to those places. So you might have to rent a car to go around.

And if you want to have the shortest distance to Carmel, you should stay in a motel row, because it’s about a 5 minutes walk from there.

There are various festivals that happen at different times of the year. North Fremont is within walking distance of the Monterey Fairgrounds. This is the home of many special events such as the Monterey County Fair, and Monterey Jazz Festival.

 If you want to attend any of them, staying in North Fremont would be a wiser choice.

Let’s quickly check out the Monterey and Carmel hotels:

Monterey PlazaHotel Carmel
Hotel PacificLa Playa
Monterey InnHighlands  Inn
Monterey TidesThe Elegant Cypress Inn

Carmel is more of a quirky village type area. Carmel has a fairytale forested setting. There are lots of art galleries, miscellaneous shops, and interesting coffee shops and restaurants for you to enjoy.

Source: worldatlas

Carmel by the sea is a place for peace and tranquility. The main business district may have some hustle and bustle during the day. But everything other than the restaurants closed down within 6 pm.

So Carmel has little to no nightlife. And if you want to roam around Carmel at night, it is advisable to carry a flashlight as there aren’t a lot of streetlights.

Carmel is also divided into downtown and a residential neighborhood. Downtown is the active place of Carmel. There is a variety of Carmel by the sea hotels and fine dining restaurants at downtown.

If you want to stay near the luxurious hotels, restaurants, shops, and unique art galleries, downtown Carmel is the place for you. 

And if you’re interested in a beach vacation, like Bethany Beach or Rehoboth beach then this place’s for you. The beach is also a walk downhill from downtown. But getting back up will be a bit of cardio. 

The residential neighborhood has a motel here and there scattered throughout. But they are quite convenient if you want to walk to most of the places.

It’s the place to stay to enjoy the traditional quiet Carmel lifestyle without breaking the bank.


Getting around in Monterey and Carmel is a different picture. Carmel is totally walkable but in Monterey, it’s better to rent a car or use a taxi. Because of some famous spots, there is no public transport available.

Now what to do in Monterey and carmel? In Monterey, there isn’t much to do. Visiting historical sites doesn’t actually need a lot of time. But you can enjoy the nightlife if you want the downtown.

You can also have some amazing evening views at Monterey.

But in Carmel, there are lots of activities you can engage in. The art galleries, murals, exclusive restaurants, and quirky shops. All of these offer a wonderful experience.

Guidance, Navigation & Tour Plan

It’s pretty easy to get around both in Monterey and Carmel. They are very simple to navigate around. So you won’t need to arrange for a guide or a travel plan. You can do them all by yourself just fine.

Carmel hotels are pretty much available all the time of the year. But if you visit Monterey during any of its festivals, then it’s pretty hard to get decent accommodation. So you should plan your trip earlier and book a room.

So, What’s Our Suggestion?

Monterey and Carmel don’t vary that much in terms of cost. It actually depends mainly on how many days to spend in Monterey and Carmel and what activities to do.

Monterey and Carmel hotels also don’t vary much. But the hotel stay is a bit better in Monterey as it has more luxurious hotels. And it has a nightlife that you can enjoy.

On the other hand, if you want a relaxing trip, Carmel will give you tranquility and peace. And you can also roam around fun places during the day and pamper yourself in shops and fancy restaurants. 

But in general,  carmel by the sea just has more things to do. And it’s also more convenient to roam around Carmel. So if you had to choose one, you can choose carmel for a relaxing getaway.


Is Carmel Beach Dog Friendly?

Yes, Carmel beach is dog friendly. You can have your dog off-leash, but it must be under strict voice command. It can be a very nice visit to the beach with your canine friend.

Is Carmel Far From Monterey?

No, Carmel is not far from Monterey. It’s only 4 miles or 6 kilometers away. You could easily drive between them in 15 minutes. Is There Public Transport Between Monterey & Carmel? Yes, there is a line 24 bus starting from Monterey transit plaza gate 4. The journey takes nearly 20-25 minutes.

How many days do you need to stay in Monterey?

You can stay in Monterey for four to six days to cover the whole area. You can visit the beach and other sightseeing places around. Shopping is also an option for visitors. Trying local cuisine and the famous sardines of the city can be an adventure. You can stay longer if you like it. 

Wrapping up

Hopefully, now you can easily decide between monterey vs carmel. Remember, a good trip starts with good planning beforehand.

Enjoy your vacation and have a great day!

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