Traveling to Boston and worried about how to commute there? Asking questions like do you need a car in Boston? This article will answer all your questions!
From it’s illustrious history, to successful sports teams, and a center of world-class education, Boston has it all. Officially known as the City of Boston, it is the capital city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the U.S.
Several significant events of the American Revolution, including the Boston Tea Party, Boston Massacre, and the Battle of Bunker Hill, took place right here in the city.
A rich history, breathtaking scenery, cultural attractions, and excellent quality of life encourage tourists to visit Boston.
But do you need a car in Boston for a tour? Is it possible to get around without a car? What about Boston’s public transportation? In this guide, we’ve answered all your travel-related questions regarding Boston.
Table of Contents
- Do You Need a Car in Boston?
- How Is Boston’s Public Transportation?
- Light Rail
- Water Taxis
- Tour Trolley
- Do You Need to Rent a Car in Boston?
- Are There Any Other Options to Get Around Boston Without a Car?
- By Foot
- Exploring Boston Without a Car: Is It Possible?
- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
- The Rose Kennedy Greenway
- Boston Common
- Newbury Street
- Black Heritage Trail
Do You Need a Car in Boston?
Many wonder if living in Boston without a car is possible. Well, that depends on your preferences.
For instance, if you are traveling with small children or your family, exploring Boston in a car might be convenient. Also, if you wish to visit far-off places in the city, a vehicle will be a more feasible option.
However, if you want to wander around the city streets, visit the malls, shop, or dine in without a car, you can do that easily on foot.
Further, if you want to avoid traveling in your car because you believe it’ll add to the travel expenses, you have several other options to go around the city at your disposal.
How Is Boston’s Public Transportation?
Is Boston public transportation good? What about the Boston public transportation from airport?
Fortunately, Boston’s public transport is very good, and you can easily rely on it to travel across the city. Below are a few local transport mode options in Boston.
The T subway is the Boston Light Rail service that runs beneath the city and is the fourth largest Metropolitan Transit System in the U.S. Its construction began in 1895, and till today it is being used.
It serves 175 towns and cities in central and eastern Massachusetts. So, whether you wish to visit beaches, museums, or go to an educational institution, the T subway has you covered with its color-coded lines.
- Red Line: The green line will take you to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, and the JFK Library.
- Blue Line: The blue line will take you to the Logan International Airport, Beaches, and the Old State House.
- Orange Line: Takes you to Boston’s North End Neighborhood, Faneuil Hall, the TD Garden (Boston Garden), Samuel Adams Brewery, and Boston’s Back Bay Neighborhood.
- Green Line: You can use this one to reach the Museum of Science, Symphony Hall, Museum of Fine Arts, and the Faneuil Hall. It also runs across a series of parks in the city known as the Emerald Necklace.
You can get your tickets from the T subway station. A one-way trip would cost you around $2.75. But if you have a “Charlie Card”, a round trip will cost you $4.50.
The Charlie Card is Boston’s subway smart card scheme.
Lastly, the T Rail also offers Boston public transportation from the airport. So whether you want to travel to or from the airport, you can hop on the subway and reach your desired location within minutes.
Boston’s buses offer comfortable seating and accessible travel locally and regionally. So whenever you plan to visit, you can purchase the ticket, get on the bus, and reach your preferred location.
Boston Express Bus offers various ticket deals, including Commuter Pass, Same-Day Round Trip, Children’s Fare, and Monthly passes.
Further, you can check the official website for discounts on fares.
Boston water taxis provide fun, fast, convenient, and affordable transport around and across the Harbor, without having to contend with road traffic!
Standard water taxi stops include CruisePort Terminal, Logan Airport, TD Garden, Boston Harbor Hotel, the World Trade Center, the New England Aquarium, and the list goes on!
Typically, it will take around 7-10 minutes to reach your desired location on a water taxi – which is about what you’d expect from a road-going cab. Plus, you get to enjoy the fantastic city skyline views!
Besides that, the boats are covered and have a heating system for the harsh winter weather, and the seats are comfortable, so you’ll feel at ease while riding.
You’ve already done most of your work as a tourist if you know your directions and have a list of places to visit. Now all you need is a reliable transport system to get moving.
But what if you don’t know what to hit up? A Tour Trolley is your best bet if you are sans list of attractions. The service offers comfortable seating and knowledgeable travel guides to get the most out of your Boston tour.
You have the option to choose from Silver, Golden, and Platinum passes. The price and features vary per pass.
Check the website to know the ins and outs of the tour options.
Do You Need to Rent a Car in Boston?
While Boston’s local transport is pretty doable, if you want to avoid traveling with people for safety purposes, you can rent a car, thorough services such as Kayak and Rentalcars.com.
In fact, you will find exploring Boston with a car better than other available options, as it offers more control on your travel.
Having your own wheels creates a private comfort zone, and you get to enjoy independent freedom of movement. Renting a car can get expensive, but a lot of this depends on the company you hire the car from.
While some companies are costly, it is up to you to choose the right one.
Within no time, you’ll have the ride waiting at your doorstep!
If you wish to travel in a private space that offers comfort and ease to you and your family, renting a car is the way to go.
Are There Any Other Options to Get Around Boston Without a Car?
If you do not want to move around in your car or travel locally, you still have a few options to explore Boston. Read below to find other ways to roam around Beantown and have a whale of a time!
Bikes are a fun and affordable way to ride to your favorite location. The hiking trails, parks, and historic streets of Boston are worth exploring on a bike ride.
All you need to do is get a bike, clip on a helmet and get peddling. If you do not have your bike, there are plenty of places to hire or rent bikes in Boston. Policies and prices vary per company.
When biking, you also get a chance to meet other bikers. So, if you’re a cycling social butterfly, this opportunity may interest you.
Head out to an eco-friendly tour exploring the captivating sights of Boston on a natty little scooter!
You get a chance to discover beautiful hidden spots, meet locals, and avoid traffic jams. So, what are you waiting for? Get on the scooter for a spin and travel in style!
Now that walking tours are once again in vogue, you have even more reasons to ditch your car. There are tons of walk-friendly attractions in Boston.
For instance, you can take a stroll in Harvard Yard (the oldest institution of higher education in America). The exotic, bright, and glorious trees and flowers in the garden will certainly relax you.
Besides, you can go Back Bay shopping, Beacon Hill, or North End to shop, dine-in, explore the history, and discover Victorian brick row houses lit by vintage lanterns.
And of course, there is the world famous Boston Freedom Trail, which can only realistically be enjoyed on foot.
Exploring Boston Without a Car: Is It Possible?
Short answer, yes. Exploring Boston without a car is pretty much possible. The choice is yours: Do you want to take a tour in a car or not?
If you chose not to bring your own car, you can always rent a car or use public transportation to save a mint. There’s always the choice to get around the city on foot, scooter or on a bike. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the best places to easily visit in Boston without a car.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
If you are fond of fine arts, this museum is the ideal destination for you to tour. Also, the art isn’t limited to one or two categories.
The museum holds several exhibitions featuring classic, fine, modern and new arts. Ongoing collections include the Garden of Boston and Art of America.
Besides, you’ll also discover artwork related to Black History, Ancient Egyptians, Chinese, British, and Korean artistic history.
The museum also arranges several activities for kids. So, if you have young children, they’ll enjoy the visit just as much as you!
The Rose Kennedy Greenway
Whether you love art, food, plants, or fun activities, The Rose Kennedy Greenway Park has it all!
The park has a rich diversity of trees, plants, beautiful blossoms, and shrubs. Nothing will unwind your spirits like taking a brisk walk through this perfectly manicured chain of green in the heart of the city.
Furthermore, the Kennedy Greenway series of linked parks hosts various events, art exhibits, and attractions.
Also, the fun-filled and exciting festivals and a fantastic selection of Boston’s food trucks draw thick crowds every day.
If you have less time on your hands and a desire to view everything at once, you can take a trip to the Kennedy Greenway to catch a glimpse of Boston’s best.
Established in 1634, the Boston Common is on the list of top National Historic Landmarks. It was used as a site for public executions, campgrounds for British troops, and is also where notable leaders and politicians have given legendary speeches over the years.
The remarkable speeches of Gloria Steinem, Pope John Paul II, and Martin Luther King are some of the most famous ones that took place in Boston Common.
Today, this spot is the starting point of the Freedom Trail, which goes all the way to the Emerald Necklace.
You can walk, jog, or ride a bike to enjoy the pristine scenery of the place. Besides, various events, concerts, and sports also take place in the Common. So, if you prefer public gatherings, you can check the schedule and catch an event.
Newbury Street has something for everyone. So whether you love fabulous dining, boutiques, or salons, you get everything, all in one place.
It is one of the earliest streets in Boston and was once called Washington Street and Back Bay.
Black Heritage Trail
Grab your bike and head straight to the Black Heritage Trail. It features many memorials, homes, and sites associated with the African American community of Boston during the 19th century.
On your way to the trail, you’ll come across the George Middleton House, once home of Revoilutionary War hero and early civil rights activist, George Middleton. Then there’s Philips School, one of Boston’s first integrated schools. Perhaps most haunting of all is the 54th Massachusetts Regiment Memorial, dedicated to the first Union Army infantry unit comprised of Black volunteers.
So, do you need a car in Boston? It depends entirely on how you wish to explore the city, but yes, Boston is a totally accessbile city, with tons to see and do even without a car!