Historic Boston is a great city break packed full of attractions to keep you busy for 48 hours.
As the largest city in Massachusetts and New England itself, Boston will take more than two days to cover. Yet, you can see most major attractions and explore a decent amount of the city in your 48 hours!
The summer months are pleasant and warm whereas the winter in Boston can be brutal. Head there for spring or summer for the best climate.
Although driving in Boston is do-able, most people go by foot, or use the MBTA (the “T”, as natives call it). Almost everything in the North End as well as Downtown is within walking distance although the MBTA and bus have a good and reliable network. You can pay cash and buy paper tickets at stations or get a CharlieCard (the local perpaid card) and top it up with credit as and when you need it. The T will cost you $2.75 per subway ride if paying cash or $2.25 if using the CharlieCard.
Where to Stay
Boston is a compact city so most places are not far from the downtown area. For a good location in downtown aim for a pad around Boston Common (Chinatown area tends to be quite cheap) or West End. Wherever you end up you’ll be a short walk or ‘T’ ride from downtown.
Hostels can be found for as cheap as $30 per night, while hotels will run a little more expensive. A three-star hotel can be found for about $100 per night in the downtown area.
If you’re looking for more authentic neighbourhoods away from from the tourist centre, head to the hip hangouts around Harvard (Cambridge area), Coolidge Corner, Mission Hill or Allston-Brighton. These are all great places to be based for nightlife, boutique shops, independent cafes and the more ‘real’ Boston.
Kick off your 48 hours in Boston with a big New England breakfast. The US of A takes breakfast seriously, so if you’re looking for a proper feed head to Mike’s City Diner (1714 Washington Street, South End) for one of their massive helpings. Or head to The Breakfast Club in Allston for a real old school vibe. This diner in an old train carriage is a real Boston experience with classics like corned beef hash, omlettes and breakfast burritos.
Grab the ‘T’ and make your way to ‘Aquarium’ or ‘Government Center’ which will drop you in the heart of downtown. Head into Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market where you’ll find general information on the city, lots of food stalls and shops.
The area is packed full of retail stores such as Urban Outfitters, Newbury Comics and plenty of souvenir and merchandise shops. Do some people watching, grab a coffee and get ready to walk some more.
Head to the Old State House for a glimpse at Boston’s history (entry $10). Once the headquarters of the British in the new world, it now houses artefacts and exhibits relating to the revolution and old Boston.
A short walk from here you’ll find the Granary Burying Ground, resting place of famous figures including Paul Revere, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams.
The United State’s oldest park, Boston Commons is a beautiful park to catch your breath and take a moment. Here is where you’ll find Beacon Hill, and then the Massachusetts State Capital building at the top. You can’t do much there, but one can still marvel at it. Walk through the rest of the park to encounter the Boston Public Garden, the first public botanical garden in America. It is a stunning scene there, and the best part is that the entire park (as well as the garden & cemetery) is free.
Charles River Esplanade
For a different type of leisurely walk, wander the three miles of the Esplanade next to the Charles River. You can either walk or hire a bike and take in the view.
Take In The View
For the best views in town, of the town, head to the Skywalk at the Prudential Center (nearest ‘T’ is Prudential). Entry is $19 for adults and you can take in the view and learn about the city too…
You can grab a ferry from the wharf near the Aquarium and head to Charlestown Naval Shipyard Park. Take in the great views and if you’re hungry for more history head to the USS Constitution Museum. Grab some food at my personal favorite Pier 6, a waterfront restaurant on the Boston Harbor that serves fantastic seafood with amazing views of downtown.
Follow the Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile tour through American history. There are many different (sixteen total) attractions on the Freedom Trail which you follow by tracing the orange markers on the ground. Almost all of them are free (paid ones have an asterisk). Pick which ones you want, and be sure to enjoy them.
- Boston Common
- Massachusetts State House
- Park Street Church
- Granary Burying Ground
- King’s Chapel and Burying Ground
Benjamin Franklin statue and former site of Boston Latin School
- Old Corner Bookstore
- Old South Meeting House*
- Old State House*
- Site of the Boston Massacre
- Faneuil Hall
- Paul Revere House*
- Old North Church
- Copp’s Hill Burying Ground
- USS Constitution
- Bunker Hill Monument
You can pay for tours which take around 90 minutes and cover some of the most important sites, or if you prefer make your own way around. With stops and entry into some of the sites you will probably take around 3 or 4 hours.
No trip to Boston is complete without catching a ball game. Red Sox are the local baseball team based at Fenway Park. Either walk to the Fenway neighborhood or grab a subway there. Find tickets online from around $50 (although usually more). Even if you’re not really a baseball fan, go for the experience and see some of the local passion. It’s a staple of visiting the city.
If baseball isn’t your game, check out NBA basketball with Boston Celtics. Tickets can be picked up for around $60 if you’re lucky.
North End/Little Italy
The North End is the Italian end of town. You’ll find stacks of excellent Italian eateries including Regina Pizzeria (one of the best in town) and Assagio. Wander around Hanover Street and follow your nose for some of the best Italian food in the USA.
If You Have Longer…
Soaking up some of the best of American history will probably leave you wanting more. If you have more than 48 hours in Boston and New England, head out of town and explore this fantastic region. Nearby Springfield makes a great stop (check out our review of the town), hit the beach at Cape Cod and hang out in beautiful historic towns like Martha’s Vineyard or Salem.
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