Boston is a vibrant city with plenty of history, culture and food to explore when you travel there. If you have been to Boston you know this. If this is your first time there are a few things you should know before you go.
Getting around Boston is fairly easy and there are several options.
Rental cars in Boston. Rental car rates vary from reasonable to expensive. Summertime rates are higher and if you shop around several times before you depart you can find some deals, even if you have already booked a car. The real expense is parking. Parking in Boston is very expensive. Most Boston natives take public transportation so parking lots are few and far between. Most hotels charge $35.00 to $48.00 per night to park. If you take your car out you will have to pay to park every place you stop. And we didn’t see a single gas station in downtown Boston. If you are sightseeing this can get expensive quickly. Rental cars will cost you several hundred dollars on top of the rental rate. Therefore Rental cars are not recommended.
Taxi Cabs. Taxis are usually affordable. Since Boston is a condensed city most trips are less than $20.00. I took several cab rides and all but 1 were reasonable. Here is a tip though. Never take a cab ride when the cabbie tells you the cost before you go. Always demand a metered ride. Upon arriving at Boston Logan I need a ride to the hotel. The cabbie said it would be $35.00. Not knowing I agreed. The same metered ride to the airport when I left was $18.00. Quite a difference. It is OK to ask the cabbie what he thinks it will cost, but always use a metered cab ride. All of the cabbies I rode with were nice and friendly. Other than being over-charged on the first one, all of my rides were safe and enjoyable.
Boston Metropolitan Transit Authority, (BMTA) or the “T”.
The BMTA consist of trains, buses, and ferry’s. The good news is that $19.00 gets you unlimited rides on all 3 for a week. It takes some getting used to but it is well worth the price. Single rides run anywhere from $2.00 to $5.00 so you will easily save money by buying a pass. The BMTA website has some great tools to help you get to your destination. This tool tells you what transportation to take to get to your destination, where to change, and when to start in order to get you at your destination at the time you want. There are some downsides. The system is crowded between 7 and 9 AM and between 5 and 6:30 PM. The subways are crowded, hot in the summer, and there is a good chance you will be standing in the trains packed like sardines. If you can avoid these hours you can expect easy trips. Weekend schedules are different than weekdays, and although less crowded you may be waiting at a bus stop longer. One of our buses failed to show up at all one day and we walked……a long way. You can easily get confused on where you are, if you are going outbound or inbound and if the lines ( called green, red, orange and silver) will get you to your destination. Fortunately there are people in almost every station that will help you buy your ticket and get you going in the right direction. Again, overall it is worth the price.
Then there is walking. You will wind up walking some in Boston. The Freedom Trail alone has some parts that you are better off walking. There are some obstacles though. Some of the streets are hilly, some are still cobblestone, and some sidewalks are narrow, all making it a little difficult. One other problem is that Boston is not bathroom friendly at all. There are limited public restrooms and most shops and restaurants have signs stating “No Public Restrooms” or “Restrooms for Customers Only”. There are a few in the subways that you can access without paying for a ticket, and the Monuments and National Parks have bathrooms as well. I was uncomfortable a few times. Just be aware my prostate brothers.
If you get lost, I found that the native Bostonians were friendly and more than happy to help out. Some sensed my confusion and offered to help without being asked. A very nice man named “Kevin” went out of his way to point us in the right direction. and gave great restaurant suggestions! Don’t be afraid to ask a native.
I recommend using a combination of taxis and public transportation. It is the most economical way to see Boston and truly an experience you won’t soon forget.