Air

There are no scheduled flights that travel solely within Maine.

Bicycle

Maine is ranked among the most bike-friendly states in the country. Cycling is both a popular sport here and a handy means of transportation on city streets and country roads. Disused railroad rights-of-way have also been turned into bike trails that are perfect for bicycle touring.

Bicycle rentals are available in many Maine towns and resorts at reasonable prices (often $20 to $35 per day).

Boat

Maine State Ferry Service (www.maine.gov/mdot/ferry) operates boats to several larger islands, mostly in the Penobscot Bay region, from terminals at Rockland, Bass Harbor and Lincolnville.

An excellent resource for all the state's ferry routes, state and privately run, is www.exploremaine.org/ferry.

Bus

The national bus company, Greyhound (www.greyhound.com), provides services to and within Maine. Concord Coach Lines (www.concordcoachlines.com) covers routes along the south coast and Midcoast.

Car & Motorcycle

Driving is the best way to see New England. But be prepared: traffic jams are common on summer weekends along the coast, and at rush hour in more built-up locations. The state's most congested area is Acadia National Park. During high season (June to September), it's often best to park your vehicle outside the park and use the free bus service to get around.

Municipalities control parking by signs on the street, stating explicitly where you may or may not park. A yellow line or yellow-painted curb means that no parking is allowed there.

Car Rental

Rental cars are readily available. The handiest places to rent them are at the airports (Portland and Bangor), and in towns along the coast. Most rental companies require that you have a major credit card, be at least 25 years old and have a valid driver's license.

Rules of the Road

Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road. Maine drivers aren't known for being particularly aggressive, though summertime brings plenty of drivers from Boston, NYC and other urban areas who are decidedly less laid back. The use of seatbelts is required, and children under four years of age must be placed in a child safety seat secured by a seatbelt.

The maximum speed limit on Maine interstates is 65mph, but some have a limit of 55mph. On undivided highways, the speed limit will vary from 30mph to 55mph. It's 25mph to 35mph in cities and towns, and as low as 15mph in school zones (strictly enforced during school hours). It's forbidden to pass a school bus in either direction when its lights are flashing.

Police enforce speed limits by patrolling in police cruisers and in unmarked cars. Fines for exceeding the speed limit and other violations range from $120 to above $250.

Unless signs prohibit it, you may turn right at a red light after first coming to a full stop. At four-way stop signs, cars should proceed in order of arrival; when two cars arrive simultaneously, the one on the right has the right of way. When in doubt, just politely wave the other driver ahead. When emergency vehicles (ie police, fire or ambulance) approach from either direction, pull over safely and get out of the way.

In Maine it's illegal to text while driving – including while stopped at traffic lights.

The maximum legal blood-alcohol concentration for drivers is 0.08%. Penalties are very severe for 'DUI' – driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Police can give roadside sobriety checks to assess if you've been drinking or using drugs. If you fail, they'll require you to take a breath test, urine test or blood test to determine the level of alcohol or drugs in your body. Refusing to be tested is treated the same as if you'd taken the test and failed.

In Maine it's illegal to carry 'open containers' of alcohol in a vehicle, even if they're empty.

If You Are Pulled Over

If you are pulled over by the police, remain in your car and get your license and other documentation (rental agreement, insurance card) out while the officer approaches the car.

Once the officer reaches your vehicle, roll down the window to speak with them. Do not reach for anything out of sight without first telling the officer what you are doing, and do not try to argue your way out of a ticket.

Driving Conditions

Maine's roads are very good – even the hard-packed dirt roads in and near Baxter State Park in the north. Some roads across northern mountain passes in Maine are closed during the winter, but good signage gives you plenty of warning.

Traffic can be heavy in the summer all along the coast (though it thins considerably north of Acadia National Park), and it can be bumper to bumper on summer weekends and during the peak of leaf-viewing season in autumn. Around built-up areas, traffic is heaviest during morning and evening rush hours (7:30am to 9:30am and 4:30pm to 6:30pm).

In the summer, there's little need for a 4WD in Maine, though it's best to take it slow when leaving the pavement. In the winter, a 4WD can give you extra traction in the snow, though most municipalities do a fine job of keeping the roads clear after snowstorms. If you do travel in the winter, make sure you have a vehicle with all-weather or snow tires. Watch out for black ice on the road (a thin glaze of ice not always obvious to spot) and slow way down.

Resources

  • American Automobile Association (AAA; www.aaa.com) Offers travel insurance, tour books and even discounts at some accommodations. Has reciprocal membership with several international auto clubs.
  • New England 511 (www.newengland511.org) Regularly updated map showing road work and road closures.
  • Maine Emergency Management Agency (www.maine.gov/MEMA) Lists weather warnings and advisories for the state.

Fast Facts

  • Minimum age to drive: 16
  • Minimum age to rent a car: 25
  • Seatbelt law: required
  • Blood alcohol limit: 0.08%
  • Interstate speed limit: 65mph (some 55mph)
  • Town and residential speed limit: 25–35mph

Driving Distances (Miles)

OgunquitPortlandRocklandBar HarborBaxter State Park
Ogunquit38115200260
Portland3880175220
Rockland1158085150
Bar Harbor20017585140
Baxter State Park260220150140

Driver's License

An International Driving Permit (IDP), obtained before you leave home, is only necessary if your regular license is not in English, or if your driver's license does not contain your photo.

Moose Crossing

Moose are a particular danger to drivers in Maine, even as far south as Portland. They've been known to cripple a bus and walk away. Be especially watchful in spring and fall and around dusk and dawn, when moose are most active.

Train

For train travel within Maine, Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) operates the Downeaster, which runs from Boston's North Station to Brunswick, ME. Maine stops along the way include Wells, Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Portland and Freeport.