What Are The 10 Biggest Cities In North Carolina? (Find Out Now!)

Biggest Cities In North Carolina

North Carolina is a historically significant state with a strong economy and tourist industry throughout. You get mountain, forest, and ocean views all in the same state in North Carolina without having to venture far out. With so many significant cities in the state, what are the biggest cities in North Carolina by population and size?

Charlotte is the biggest city in North Carolina with 912,096 residents, followed closely by Raleigh.  Greensboro, Durham, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, and Cary also boast large populations and landmasses. Wilmington, High Point, and Concord close out the list with moderate population density and lots of land.

10 Biggest Cities In North Carolina

North Carolina has 10.49 million residents, and many of them live in the cities on this list. You won’t find another state like North Carolina, and these cities exemplify how diverse and comfortable the state can be. Let’s take a deep dive into the 10 biggest cities in North Carolina.

1. Charlotte

  • Population: 912,096
  • Square Miles: 297.7

Charlotte is the biggest city in North Carolina by a landslide in both population and size. North Carolina earns a fortune through the commerce, travel, and 912,096 tax-paying residents of Charlotte. Countless North Carolina residents commute to Charlotte each day for work, but the city is packed full of residents as well.

Charlotte never feels too cramped as the residents are scattered across 297.7 square miles. Over 115,000 Charlotte residents are college students, and there are 9 colleges in the city. That helps boost the local economy and also draws hundreds of thousands of residents.

Sports teams such as the Charlotte Hornets and Carolina Panthers attract tourism to Charlotte as well. You can find great food, gorgeous views, and exciting nightlife in Charlotte, North Carolina.

2. Raleigh

  • Population: 483,579
  • Square Miles: 147.6

You probably recognize Raleigh as North Carolina’s state capital, but it’s also one of the state’s biggest cities. There are currently 483,579 residents in Raleigh, NC, and they are packed into 147.6 square miles. This may seem like a big step down from Charlotte, but the smaller landmass in Raleigh makes this city feel heavily populated.

Raleigh boasts the nickname “City of Oaks”, and its many oak trees are what makes this city stand out. The countless oak trees and beautiful views help make Raleigh feel like less of a big city and more of a quiet suburb.  There are countless job opportunities in Raleigh, and the local economy is strong.

Raleigh is another college town, and the North Carolina State University helps bolster the population. This city is family-oriented and quiet despite its large population.

3. Greensboro

  • Population: 301,094
  • Square Miles: 134.3

Greensboro is the third-largest city in North Carolina, but it’s spread out enough to never feel crowded. There are currently 118,046 households in Greensboro, and that makes Greensboro a family city. There are single residents and college students as well, of course, but the city has a distinct family vibe.

Colleges like Greensboro College, Bennett College, and Guilford College are staples of Greensboro. Greensboro residents can enjoy peace and calm without having to worry about high crime rates. This city is a great place to live in North Carolina if you value an exciting city without the noise and hustle of Charlotte.

4. Durham

  • Population: 287,865
  • Square Miles: 112.6

You may recognize Durham, North Carolina as the home to the famous Duke University. However, Durham residents may know the city better as a hub of great technology companies and job opportunities. The city is largely safe and has a low poverty rate due to widespread employment and decent wages.

Durham is known for its large presence in the medical world, and there are over 300 medical companies in the city. That helps bolster the economy in Durham and North Carolina as a whole, while allowing the 287,865 residents great job opportunities. Most of Durham is considered safe, but you should be careful in the area around Duke University where there is a lot of property crime.

5. Winston-Salem

  • Population: 250,765
  • Square Miles: 133.8

Winston-Salem is home to large industries, gorgeous views, and a large population of 250,765 residents. This city draws many commuters in addition to its residents due to the many jobs in Winston-Salem. You can find jobs in healthcare, manufacturing, construction, and hospitality in abundance in Winston-Salem.

Just under 12,000 residents work for the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem alone. Unfortunately, Winston-Salem has a high crime rate, and 58 of 1,000 residents experience a crime. Even still, Winston-Salem is a great city, and that’s why its large population stays there through the years.

6. Fayetteville

  • Population: 213,475
  • Square Miles: 150.1

You wouldn’t guess that Fayetteville is one of the biggest cities in NC by population just by looking at it. That’s because this city is contained within 150.1 square miles, and that gives residents plenty of space. Fayetteville is a family community with 80,956 households within city limits and over 120,000 single residents.

There are many safe neighborhoods in Fayetteville, and housing prices are affordable. Fayetteville also boasts a strong economy with many jobs within the defense industry. Come to Fayetteville for the jobs, and stay for the laid-back lifestyle.

7. Cary

  • Population: 174,762
  • Square Miles: 59.94

Cary, North Carolina has a large population, but a small landmass. The city only covers 59.94 square miles, and that’s small for 174,762 residents. Luckily, there is no shortage of things to do within the confines of Cary to keep its many residents occupied.

You can experience, culture, arts, commerce, and a laid-back lifestyle in Cary, North Carolina. Cary was ranked the safest city in the U.S in 2013, and while it doesn’t hold that title, it is one of the safest places in North Carolina. Cary feels simply like a suburb of Raleigh, but it stands on its own as one of the biggest and best cities in North Carolina.

8. Wilmington

  • Population: 126,000
  • Square Miles: 52.97

Wilmington gives its 126,000 residents an unforgettable glimpse at the Cape Fear Coast that North Carolina is known for. There’s nothing to fear, however, as Wilmington is a comfortable and family-oriented port community. Wilmington is a port city, and that attracts many residents looking for stable and reliable jobs.

Wilmington and the surrounding areas are tourist hotspots due to the gorgeous beach views. That means that Wilmington can get crazy during the spring and summer, and that is one of the only downsides. However, the influx of tourists and even retirees only works to boost Wilmington’s economy for the residents to enjoy.

9. High Point

  • Population: 114,227
  • Square Miles: 57.51

It can be hard to map out High Point, North Carolina as it spills into four counties. That is because of the 57.51 square mile landmass and position of this big North Carolina city. High point played a vital role in the early furniture industry, and the city still retains thousands of jobs in the business.

The city boasts a great public transit system to accommodate 114,227 residents. High Point is not massive in size, but the large population makes this city feel busy. It’s a great place to work, and High Point has no shortage of affordable housing, good jobs, and gorgeous sights.

10. Concord

  • Population: 100,639
  • Square Miles: 63.54

Finally, Concord is one of the biggest cities in North Carolina with 100,639 residents. Concord is an even mix of families, couples, and single residents, and there are 32,528 family households. Tourism is huge in Concord, and thousands of visitors flock to this city each year in the spring and summer.

The NASCAR Motor Speedway creates jobs and boosts the tourism industry in Concord. Concord can get crazy and busy at times, but it is still a mostly quiet city. You can rest easy in Concord knowing that you’re in one of the safest cities in Concord, as well as one of the biggest.

Largest Cities In North Carolina



Square Miles

1. Charlotte 912,096 297.7
2. Raleigh 483,579 147.6
3. Greensboro 301,094 134.3
4. Durham 287,865 112.6
5. Winston-Salem 250,765 133.8
6. Fayetteville 213,475 150.1
7. Cary 174,762 59.94
8. Wilmington 126,000 52.97
9. High Point 114,227 57.51
10. Concord 100,639 63.54

What Did We Learn?

Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, and Durham are the biggest cities in North Carolina in population. They also boast large landmasses, as does Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, Cary, Wilmington, and High Point. Concord is also one of the biggest cities in North Carolina, and its population and size are only rivaled by its historical significance.

Charlotte and Raleigh specifically are massive cities for a state like North Carolina. Each of the cities on this list has strong industries, job opportunities, and local economies. None of these cities feel overcrowded, and they are spread out enough that the residents feel comfortable.

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Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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