Founded in 1670 by a group of English gentlemen, Charles Towne boomed as a strategically-placed port serving the region's rice and cotton plantations. It became the commercial and cultural heart of South Carolina and attracted immigrants from Europe as well as free and enslaved Africans. Slaves were sold at the riverfront market, bringing with them farming, iron working and building skills.
In 1861 the Civil War started here at Fort Sumter when the city was taken by Union forces and was practically destroyed. A catastrophic earthquake followed in 1886 and the city's decline was not halted until World War II when it became an important naval base.
Today the city has been carefully restored and is one of the finest towns in the USA. Its historic district is confined to the tip of a peninsula and here you will find tall, narrow houses adorned with shutters and wide porches, wrought-iron balconies, leafy courtyards and pretty gardens.
Charleston is a delightful place to stroll, perhaps pausing to admire White Point Gardens, the swinging benches of Waterfront Park, the Calhoun Mansion or the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon. There are many historic homes to visit such as the Edmondston-Alston House which overlooks the harbour, and the neoclassical Manigault House. In addition, the Confederate Museum, the Charleston Museum and the Aquarium are all well worth visiting.
Charleston also offers a great choice of music venues, bars, and excellent restaurants specialising in southern cuisine, while around the city there are some magnificent plantations to visit including the beautiful Magnolia Plantation and Gardens and the Audubon Swamp Garden.
Suggested itinerary featuring Charleston
This sample itinerary will give you an idea of what is possible when you travel in Charleston, and showcases routes we know work particularly well. Treat this as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Charleston
Places & hotels on the map
Places near Charleston
Photos of Charleston
Accommodation choices for Charleston
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Charleston. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.