Getting there & around
Flights, tours and rail tickets can be booked online at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel_services.
Cabs are plentiful (although you may have to walk to a major hotel to find one) but expensive. Rates are determined by the meter, which calculates miles. Expect to pay about $10 to $15 between most tourist points within the city limits, without much traffic. You'll have lots of trouble hailing a cab during bad weather and between 3:30pm and 6:30pm weekdays. Again, head to major hotels or Faneuil Hall. Recommended taxi companies include Independent (617-426-8700) and Metro Cab (617-242-8000).
The MBTA (617-222-5215; www.mbta.com) operates bus routes within the city. These can be difficult to figure out for the short-term visitor, but schedules are posted on its website and at some bus stops along the routes. Bus fare is $1.25; exact change is required. Bus fare is free with a transfer from the T.
The new Silver Line, a so-called 'rapid' bus, starts at Downtown Crossing and runs along Washington St in the South End to Roxbury's Dudley Sq. Another route goes from South Station to the Seaport District, then under the harbor to Logan International Airport. This waterfront route costs $1.70 instead of the normal $1.25 fare.
For inter-city travel, Boston has a modern, indoor, user-friendly bus station (700 Atlantic Ave; South Station), at Summer St, conveniently adjacent to the South Station train station and above the red-line T stop.
The nationwide bus company is Greyhound (617-526-1800, 800-231-2222; www.greyhound.com). Buses depart for New York City throughout the day. Express buses take only 4½ hours, but others take up to two hours longer. One-way adult fares are $30 for a non-refundable ticket, $35 for a more flexible ticket. Greyhound buses travel across the country. A seven-day advance purchase on one-way tickets often beats all other quoted fares.
All of these regional lines operate out of South Station:
Concord Trailways (617-426-8080; 800-639-3317; www.concordtrailways.com) Plies routes from Boston to NH (Concord, Manchester, and as far up as Conway and Berlin) and ME (Portland and Bangor). Its partner Dartmouth Coach goes to Hanover, NH.
C&J Trailways (603-430-1100, 800-258-7111; www.cjtrailways.com) Provides daily service to Newburyport, MA, as well as Portsmouth and Dover, NH. Kids travel for free when accompanied by a full-paying adult.
Peter Pan Bus Lines (800-343-9999; www.peterpanbus.com) Serves 52 destinations in the northeast, as far north as Concord NH and as far south as Washington, DC, as well as western Massachusetts. Fares are comparable to Greyhound.
Vermont Transit (800-552-8737; www.vermonttransit.com) The route from Boston goes via Manchester and Concord, NH to White River Junction, Montpelier and Burlington, VT, then all the way to Montréal, Québec in Canada. Another route runs up the coast to Newburyport, MA; Portsmouth, NH; and Portland, Augusta, Bangor and Bar Harbor, ME.
The cheapest way to get to New York city is on one of the Chinatown Buses (www.chinatown-bus.com). These are bus companies that run between the major cities on the East Coast, from Chinatown to Chinatown. It's crowded, it's confusing, but it sure is cheap ($15). This rock-bottom price is already more expensive than it used to be, but the buses actually leave from South Station, which makes life easier for the non-Chinese traveler. Buses depart at the top of every hour:
Fung Wah Bus Company (212-925-8889; www.fungwahbus.com; 7am-10pm & 11:30pm) Fung Wah started the Chinatown service eight years ago.
Lucky Star Bus (800-881-0887; www.luckystarbus.com; 7am-8pm & 11:30pm) Arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled departure to assure that your seat is not given away.
In the aftermath of September 11, security has become more stringent at US airports, as it has all over the world. Count on arriving at the airport at least one hour before your flight (airlines recommend two hours for international flights) to allow time for security checks. Remember that carry-on baggage is severely restricted: for the latest information on what not to carry and what not to check, reference the Department of Homeland Security (www.tsa.gov).
Flying to Boston is like flying anywhere in the US. For the cheapest tickets, be sure to book early; avoid weekends and holidays; and always keep your eyes open for airline sales. STA Travel (800-777-0112; www.statravel.com), which offers discounts for student travel, has offices in major cities nationwide.
Otherwise, the cheapest fares are often available online. Search these online services for good fares:
Cheap Tickets (www.cheaptickets.com) Search engine covers airline tickets, hotels, rental cars and cruises.
Expedia(www.expedia.com) A flexible search engine allows for one-way fares and multiple-leg journeys.
Orbitz (www.orbitz.com) 'Flex Search' allows you to compare fares on different dates - an excellent tool if you have a flexible travel schedule.
Smarter Travel (www.smartertravel.com) Offers tips for finding the lowest fare, as well as a list of current published fares and last-minute deals.
Travel Zoo(www.travelzoo.com) Highlights sales and specials; also includes discount airlines that are often overlooked by other search engines.
All of the airlines have offices at Logan International Airport.
Air Canada (888-247-2262; www.aircanada.com)
American Airlines (800-433-7300; www.aa.com)
British Airways (800-247-9297; www.british-airways.com)
Delta (800-221-1212; www.delta.com)
Jet Blue (800-538-2583; www.jetblue.com)
KLM (800-374-7747; www.klm.com)
Lufthansa (800-645-3880; www.lufthansa.com)
Northwest (800-225-2525; www.northwest.com)
Spirit Air (617-772-7117; www.spiritair.com)
United (800-241-6522; www.ual.com)
US Airways (800-428-4322; www.usairways.com)
On MA 1A in East Boston, Logan International Airport (800-235-6426; www.massport.com) has five separate terminals that are connected by a frequent shuttle bus (bus 11). Public information booths are located in the baggage claim areas of Terminals A, B, C and E.
Just outside the city of Providence (Rhode Island), TF Green Airport (401-737-4000; www.pvdairport.com) is also serviced by major carriers. Southwest Airlines, in particular, offers very competitively priced tickets. The airport is one hour south of Boston.
With any luck you won't have to drive in or around Boston. Not only are the streets a maze of confusion, choked with construction and legendary traffic jams, but Boston drivers use their own set of rules. Driving is often considered a sport - in a town that takes its sports very seriously.
From western Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Turnpike ('Mass Pike, ' or I-90, a toll road) takes you right into Downtown. After paying a toll in Newton, drive east 10 more minutes on the pike and pay another toll; then the fun begins.
There are three exits for the Boston area: Cambridge, Copley Sq (Prudential Center) and Kneeland St (Chinatown). Then the turnpike ends abruptly. At that point, you can head north or south of the city on the I-93 Expressway or directly past South Station, into Downtown.
Two highways skirt the Charles River: Storrow Dr runs along the Boston side and the more scenic Memorial Dr parallels it on the Cambridge side. There are exits off Storrow Dr for Kenmore Sq, Back Bay and Government Center. Both Storrow Dr and Memorial Dr are accessible from the Mass Pike and the I-93 Expressway.
If you're driving from the airport into Boston or to points north of the city, the Sumner Tunnel ($3 toll) will lead you to Sturrow Dr or over the Zakim Bridge to I-93 North. To points south of Boston, use the Ted Williams Tunnel ($3) to I-93 South. To or from points west, the Mass Pike should connect directly with the Ted Williams Tunnel. When you're heading to the airport from downtown Boston, take the Callahan Tunnel. All three tunnels are off I-93 and free when heading inbound.
At the time of research, the I-90 connector tunnel was closed for repairs, so it's useful to double-check your route before you set out. See www.massport.com for details on alternative routes.
All major rental car agencies are represented at the airport; free shuttle vans will take you to their nearby pick-up counters. When returning rental cars, you'll find gas stations on US 1, north of the airport. Rental car companies with offices downtown include:
Avis (617-534-1400, 800-331-1212; www.avis.com ; 3 Center Plaza; Government Center) Another outlet is in the Charles Hotel in Harvard Sq.
Budget (617-497-1800, 800-527-0700; www.budget.com ; 24 Park Plaza; Arlington)
Enterprise (617-262-8222, 800-736-8222; Prudential Center, 800 Boylston St; 7am-6pm Mon-Fri, 9am-3pm Sat, 9am-1pm Sun; Prudential)
Hertz (617-338-1500, 800-654-3131; www.hertz.com ; 30 Park Plaza; 7am-7pm Sun-Thu, 7am-8pm Fri, 7am-6pm Sat; Arlington)
Folks on Beacon Hill pony up $150, 000 to own a space at the Brimmer Street Garage. The explanation is simple economics: supply and demand. Since on-street parking is limited, you could end up paying $25 to $35 daily to park in a lot. Some cheaper lots include:
Boston Common Garage (617-954-2096; $10; after 4pm Mon-Fri, all day Sat & Sun; Park St) Enter from Charles St.
Boston University Lot
Center Plaza Garage (617-742-7807; 1 Center Plaza; $8; after 4pm Mon-Fri, all day Sat & Sun; Government Center) Great option for Garden events.
Clarendon Garage (100 Clarendon St; $9; after 5pm; Kenmore) Walk to Fenway Park in about 15 minutes. Price for game days only; game ticket required.
Farnsworth Street Garage (Farnsworth St; $8 Mon-Fri, $5 Sat & Sun; South Station) Requires validation from the Children's Museum.
Parcel 7 Garage (cnr New Sudbury & Congress Sts; with validation 2/3 hr $1/3; Haymarket) Convenient for dining in the North End. Be sure to get your ticket validated at the restaurant where you eat.
Prudential Center (617-236-3100; 800 Boylston St; 4hr $10, daily $20; Prudential) Requires a $10 purchase from the Shops at Prudential Center (save your receipts). Discounted rates available for Red Sox games ($15) and other special events ($13).
Rowes Wharf Parking (617-439-0328; 30 Rowes Wharf; Mon-Fri $18, Sat-Sun $13; Aquarium) Requires validation from New England Aquarium.
Sargent's Wharf Parking (269 Commercial St; $12 all day; Aquarium)
South Boston Fan Pier ($7 all day; South Station or Aquarium)
State Street Parking (617-742-7275; 75 State St; $12; after 5pm Mon-Fri, all day Sat & Sun; State)
Bay State Cruise Company (617-748-1428; www.boston-ptown.com ; Commonwealth Pier; adult/senior/child/bike $44/40/20/5; depart Boston 8am, 1:30pm & 5:30pm, depart Provincetown 10am, 3pm & 7:30pm mid-May-Sep; South Station) Operates boats from the World Trade Center in the Seaport District to Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod.
Boston Harbor Cruises (617-227-4321; www.bostonharborcruises ; Long Wharf;Aquarium) Operates a ferry to Provincetown (adult/senior/child/bike $45/40/35/5; depart Boston 9am & 2pm, depart Provincetown 11am & 4pm mid-June-mid-October, reduced schedule Sep-Oct) and a commuter service to Charlestown Navy Yard (adult/child $1.50/0.75; 6:30am-8pm Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm Sat & Sun).
City Water Taxi (617-422-0392; www.citywatertaxi.com ; $10; 7am-10pm Mon-Sat, 7am-8pm Sun) Makes on-demand taxi stops at about 15 waterfront points, including the airport, the Barking Crab, the Seaport District, Long Wharf, Sargents Wharf in the North End and the Charlestown Navy Yard. Call to order a pick-up.
Harbor Express (617-222-6999; www.harborexpress.com ; adult/senior & child $6/3; 5:45am-11:45pm Mon-Fri, 8am-11:45pm Sat & Sun; Aquarium) Operates commuter boats from Long Wharf to Quincy and Hull on the South Shore. Also operates boats from Long Wharf to George's Island and Spectacle Island.
Salem Ferry (978-741-0220; www.salemferry.com; Central Wharf; round-trip adult/senior/child $22/18/14; 9am-9pm mid-Jun-Aug, 9am-7pm Mon-Fri & 11am-7pm Sat & Sun Sep-Oct; Aquarium) A new service between Boston Central Wharf (at the New England Aquarium) and Salem. From Boston, the boat docks in Salem, leaving early enough so commuters can be in Boston before 8am on weekdays. The last return to Boston is at 8pm Sunday to Thursday and at 10pm Friday to Saturday (June to August), 6pm Sunday to Thursday and 8pm Friday and Saturday (September and October).
The national railway line is Amtrak (800-872-7245; www.amtrak.com ; South Station; South Station). Trains leave from South Station, located at Atlantic Ave and Summer St; the trains also stop at Back Bay Station at Dartmouth St. Service to New York City's Penn Station costs $54 to $73 one-way and takes four to 4½ hours. Service to Manhattan on the high-speed Acela train (three to 3½ hours) is a lot more expensive ($99 to $116 one-way); reservations are required. Amtrak's online 'Rail Sale' program offers substantial discounts on many reserved tickets.
The MBTA commuter rail (617-222-3200, 800-392-6100; www.mbta.com) services destinations in the metropolitan Boston area. Trains heading west and north of the city, including to Concord, leave from bustling North Station on Causeway St. Catch the 'beach trains' to Salem, Gloucester and Rockport here. Trains heading south, including to Plymouth, leave from South Station.
Boston has been rated 'Worst City for Cycling' by Bicycle magazine. That is because Boston's streets are old and narrow and they are often overcrowded with cars. Many roads in Cambridge have marked bicycle lanes but in Boston they do not.
That said, plenty of students, commuters and messenger services get around by bike. Boston drivers are used to sharing the roads with their two-wheeled friends (and they are used to arriving after their two-wheeled friends, who are less impeded by traffic snarls). Bikers should always obey traffic rules and ride defensively.
You can bring bikes on the T for no additional fare. Bikes are not allowed on green-line trains or Silver Line buses, nor are they allowed on any trains during rush hour (7am to 10am and 4pm to 7pm, Monday to Friday). Bikes are not permitted inside the buses, but many MBTA buses have bicycle racks on the outside.