Hostelworld Guide for Boston


Steeped in history and small enough to explore in a day, Boston is one of America's most charming cities. This is the city that spawned America's first public park, its first public college and its first subway system. Funnily enough, it is America's oldest city too. But it's not all history. Socialising and sports are all pastimes of Bostonians, as is relaxing - one of Boston's finest attributes is its easy pace of life.



In this Guide...      

Useful Information
After Dark
Places to Eat
Top Attractions
Budget Tips
Where to Shop

 The Essentials


Getting There

By plane: The majority of airlines flying to Boston land in Logan International Airport.

It is connected to the city centre via the 'T' (Boston's subway). The journey takes approximately 15 minutes and costs $2.

By train: If you travel to Boston via train you will arrive in either North Station, Back Bay Station or South Station.

By bus: Boston's main bus station is beside South Station.

Getting Around

On foot: Boston is easily explored on foot and is one of America's more compact cities.

Many of its main tourist attractions are within walking distance of each other.

By T (subway): Known locally as the 'T', Boston's underground network consists of 5 colour-coded lines, is efficient and is extremely easy to use. There are a number of stations dotted around the city centre.

By bus: Buses cover all areas of the city that the T doesn't, but chances are you won't use the bus as often as the subway.

 Boston facts

Name: Boston is also known as 'Beantown'.

Location: The city is located in Massachusetts, a state in New England on the east coast of the United States.

Population: Around 600,000 people call Boston home.

Area: Boston covers an approximate area of 232 square kilometres.

Founded: One of the oldest cities in the US, Boston was first settled in 1630 and officially became a city in 1822.

A wise man once said of Boston 'if you don't like the weather around here, wait a minute'. He wasn't wrong as it can rain one day and snow the next. But in general, winters in Boston are very cold and it sees snow regularly in the colder months. The city also enjoys hot (if humid) summers. Like so many cities, spring and fall/autumn are the most pleasant times to visit.


 Good to know...

Language: English
Currency: American Dollar (USD)
Electricity: 110 Volts AC/50 Hz, 2-pin plug
Area Code: +1 (USA) 617 (Boston)
Emergency Codes: Ambulance/Fire/Police 911
Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time (GMT - 5)
Central Post Office: 25 Dorchester Avenue
Main Tourist Office: 2 Copley Place, Suite 105

Consulates / Embassies

UK: +1 617 245 4500
Canada: +1 617 262 3760
Australia: +1 202 797 3000*
South Africa: +1 202 232 4400*
Ireland: +1 617 267 9330
Germany: +1 617 369 4900
Spain: +1 617 536 2506
Italy: +1 617 542 0483
New Zealand: +1 202 328 4800*
France: +1 617 832 4400

*Embassy in Washington

Hostelworld Guide for Boston

 Cheap Eats

 After Dark

The Paramount, 44 Charles Street, Beacon Hill This Beacon Hill favourite has all the traits of a neighbourhood hangout but is just minutes from the city centre. Its lunch menu is perfect for the budget-conscious traveller with sandwiches at particularly affordable prices. It's also famous for its ludicrously tasty breakfasts. Open Mon-Sat 7am-10pm (11pm Fri & Sat), Sun 8am-10pm.

Boloco, 71 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge Every afternoon a stream of students from Harvard University flow into this Cambridge burrito place, keeping the smile on the proprietor's face a permanent one. Create your own wrap from a variety of fillings or choose one of the ready-made ones. These filling burritos are a good option for lunch on the run. Open daily from 10am-11pm.

Ernesto's Pizza, 69 Salem St, North End Some say the pizza in Ernesto's is the best in North End. Others say the pizza in Ernesto's is the best in Boston. Either way, if you're looking for good pizza you can do worse than slices from this pizza joint. It's quite small, but the pizza is superb. Open Sun-Thurs 11am-9pm, Fri & Sat 11am-11pm.

 How do you like your nuts?

Roasted nut stands, various locations For a true Bostonian experience get a portion of roasted almonds/cashew/peanuts from one of the stands dishing them out around Washington Street. To locate one just let your nostrils do the navigating. Portions cost approx $3.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace Comprising of Quincy Market, North Market, South Market and Marketplace Center, the Faneuil Hall Marketplace offers Boston's best selection of places to eat. If you're on a budget stick to the Quincy Market food court where $10's worth of food will have you unfastening that top button. Open Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun noon-6pm.

Bukowski's Tavern, 50 Dalton Street, Back Bay Something of a Boston institution, Bukowski's Tavern epitomises the phrase 'drinking hole'. An eclectic mix of Bostonians fill this small bar on a nightly basis. They come here to sample one of the 99 types of beer on offer and to steer clear of some of the stereotypically Irish bars peppered throughout the city. Open daily from 12 noon-2am.

Cheers, 84 Beacon St, Beacon Hill Yes, that 'Cheers'. Inspiration for one of the best-loved sitcoms to ever come out of America, don't expect to see Sammy pulling beers behind the counter when you descend the stairs and go inside. This bar isn't anything like what you saw on TV, but it's worth having a beer here if only for novelty reasons. Open daily from 11am-1am.

 Gay / Lesbian Boston

Even though Boston is one of the smallest of the 'big cities' on the east coast of America, it still has an extremely active gay community. Fritz (26 Chandler Street) has been described as 'Boston's gay Cheers' thanks to its relaxed atmosphere. Buzz (67 Stuart Street) is the place to be on Saturday nights while Cosmopolitan (33 Batterymarch Street) is one of the popular lesbian clubs on the scene.

Lucky's Lounge, 355 Congress Street, South Boston Live music Fridays and Sinatra Sundays are just a couple of the great theme nights to be enjoyed here at Lucky's. With entertainment aplenty and a funky 50s lounge vibe, it's no wonder that this is such a popular spot. Lots of different cocktails are offered here. Open Mon-Fri 11am-2am, Sat 6pm-2am, Sun 10am-2am.

Grafton Street, 1274 Mass Ave, Cambridge This Cambridge watering hole isn't your typical Irish-flavoured bar thanks to its trendy décor, but it's still a firm favourite with Harvard students thanks to its top quality nosh and good beer. People-watching is a favourite pastime here thanks to its large windows which face Harvard Square. Open daily from 11am-1am.

Lizard Lounge, 1667 Mass Ave, Cambridge Hosting bands from around the US, this intimate club close to Harvard Square is where to go for live music. Open nightly from 7.30pm-1am.

Remember it is standard practice to tip bartenders every time you are served.

 Don't Miss

 Mark Your Calendar

Freedom Trail / Black Heritage Trail Spanning 4.8km and 2.5km respectively, these walking tours are not to be missed. The former brings you past 16 of Boston's most significant landmarks like the Old City Hall while the latter explores the history of Boston's 19th century African American community.

 The best view in Boston

Skywalk Observatory, Prudential Center, 800 Boylston Street, Back Bay For panoramic views of Boston, the Skywalk Observatory is unrivalled. Admission includes an audio guide which takes you through every part of the city. Unlike so many audio tours, these are highly engaging. Open daily from 10am-8pm (winter) /10pm (summer); admission $12 (adult), $10 (student).

Boston Duck Tours, 3 Copley Place, Suite 310 Funny, informative, and incorporating trips through the city centre and along the Charles River, the Boston Duck Tours are one of the best ways to see this historic city. Witty guides keep you entertained for the duration of the tour and if you're lucky, you might even get to drive a duck! Tours depart daily every 30/60 minutes from 9am-last hour before sunset; tickets $31 (adult) /$27 (student).

Fenway Park, Lansdowne Street, Kenmore Square Home to some of the most dramatic events ever to take place in Boston, Fenway Park is where the infamous Red Sox call home. Many Bostonians would call it the home of baseball since it is the oldest active ballpark. Whether it's for a tour or a game, pencil it into your itinerary. Season runs from April-October; tickets cost $20-$95; tours $12.

JFK Library and Museum, Columbia Point, South Boston This museum documents the life of JFK from his birth up to his untimely assassination in Dallas in 1963. Open daily from 9am-5pm; admission $12.

January/February - Boston Wine Festival This long-running festival is held in the Boston Harbour Hotel. It includes numerous wine-related events including wine tastings and plenty more.

March - St Patrick's Day Parade Since Boston is America's most Irish city, it comes as no surprise that its St Patrick's Day celebrations are huge. The parade to mark the event boasts outlandish floats and attracts over 600,000 people to the city

April - Patriot's Day Celebrations Boston remembers the start of the revolution with a combination of parades and re-enactments. As Boston is so connected to the revolution, expect massive celebrations.

April - Boston Marathon This 26-mile race is the oldest marathon in the world. It begins in Hopkington outside Boston and ends near the John Hancock Tower in Copley Square.

June - Festival of Bands Boston's finest wind instrument bands entertain thousands on the first Saturday of every June at the city's Faneuil Hall.

June - Dragon Boat Festival Boat races are the focal point of this event which is held on the Charles River, although musical and dance performances are staged also.

June to September - Free Friday Flicks Every Friday during Boston's summer, classic films are screened for free at the Hatch Memorial Shell.

June/July - Boston Harborfest This seven-day Fourth of July celebration, which attracts 2 million people annually, is one of Boston's biggest festivals.

July - Independence Day Commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the banks of the Charles River, and in particular at the Hatch Memorial Shell, are where to be for Boston's 4th of July celebrations.

October - Head of the Charles Regatta Held on the last weekend of every October, this is the largest two-day regatta in the world and attracts over 300,000 spectators annually.

December - First Night Boston's unique New Year's Eve celebrations begin with street parades in the afternoon before climaxing with the obligatory fireworks display that night.

Hostelworld Guide for Boston

 Neighbourhood Watch

 Retail Therapy

Beacon Hill With its quaint cafés, glowing lanterns and cobblestone sidewalks, Beacon Hill is one of Boston's most charming neighbourhoods. Dating back to the 19th century, it is just minutes from Downtown Boston yet manages to maintain a village-like atmosphere. Its main thoroughfare is Charles Street but if you have the time, delve deeper into this district.


Back Bay Designed using a strict grid layout (similar to that of Manhattan in New York) by architect Arthur Gilman, Back Bay is home to Boston's more affluent natives. Also just a stone's throw from the city centre, its two best known areas are around plush Newbury St with its designer shops and the vicinity around tree-lined Commonwealth Avenue, perfect for an afternoon stroll.

North End Considered to be Boston's first neighbourhood, North End is the city's very own Little Italy. Famed (unsurprisingly) for its top quality restaurants, there is a lot more to see in this Mediterranean melting pot. Here you'll find numerous churches along with Paul Revere's house.

Kenmore Square Best known as the home of the Boston Red Sox who delight thousands of adoring fans in Fenway Park, Kenmore Square is also famously affiliated with nightlife. If you wish to paint the town red look no further than Lansdowne Street.

South Boston Affectionately known as 'Southie', South Boston is the home of Boston's reputable Irish community. It might be best-known for the Irish pubs that line East and West Broadway but there's more to it than that. It has great views of Boston's harbour and is also the gateway to Marine Park. It was featured heavily in the Oscar-nominated 'Good Will Hunting'.

Washington Street/Winter Street These two streets which interconnect at Downtown Crossing T station are Boston's flagship shopping streets. Pedestrianised, they are lined with clothes stores, shoe stores, music stores and more. It is also where you will locate 'the world's favourite department store', Macy's.

Harvard Square Whether it's Harvard kitsch, skate clothes, jigsaw puzzles, speciality foods or camera accessories, you'll have no problem finding it around Harvard Square. It's just five stops north of Downtown Crossing on the Red Line. If nothing in the stores inspires you to dig into your pockets, you may feel brave enough to challenge the square's chess masters who wait for opposition.

 Fabulous daaahling!

Newbury Street On par with New York's Fifth Avenue and LA's Rodeo Drive, Newbury Street is Boston's best-known shopping street. Designer boutiques adorn each side of this street where the city's more affluent people go to stock up their wardrobes. If you're not in the position to fill your backpack with such goods, it is one of the most beautiful streets in the city and is worth the visit regardless.

Filene's Basement / DSW If you've returned from Newbury Street feeling a little deflated, and you're adamant on purchasing something for yourself, visit either of these discount stores within a stone's throw of each other on Washington Street. The former specialises in discounted clothes while the latter stands for Discount Shoe Warehouse which, you will agree, speaks for itself.

Copley Place, 100 Huntington Ave In a nation synonymous with shopping malls, it's no surprise that Boston has many. This one in the Back Bay district has lots to offers people intent on doing damage to their flexible friend.

 Budget Tips

 A Day in Boston...

Visit Boston's free museums If you're down and out in Boston you can always take advantage of some of its free museums. These include the USS Constitution Museum dedicated to the celebrated ship and the Massachusetts State House where you can walk onto the chamber floors.

Go to the Boston Harbor Islands State Park The ferry from Downtown Boston to Boston Harbor's islands may cost $14, but entrance to the islands themselves is free. Make your way out and you can traipse the trails of Bumpkin Island, stroll along the pier on Peddocks Island, or walk through the woods on Lovells Island. Ferries operate between May and October.

Embark on free guided walks You can save yourself a few dollars by embarking on free guided walks of the Freedom Trail and the Black Heritage Trail. National Park Service Rangers offer free tours of both walks so make sure to take advantage of them. For more information on where and when tours depart, check out

Explore Harvard Make sure to visit Harvard University, America's most famous college. Located in the Cambridge district north of the Charles River, you can easily imagine what it would be like to study there as you walk around the beautifully kept grounds.

 A walk in the park

Relax in Boston Common/Public Garden Situated side by side in downtown Boston, Boston Common and Public Garden are two of America's most beautiful parks. They are the perfect place to while away an afternoon, watching the world go by along with the extremely tame squirrels. Established in 1634, Boston Common is Boston's oldest public park while the Public Garden dates back to the 19th century.

Start the day at the beginning of Boston's famed 'Freedom Trail'. The 3-mile walk passes by some of Boston's, and America's, most historically significant landmarks.

Upon returning to the city centre, chill out in Boston Common, Boston's oldest public park. Check out the Public Garden also which is right beside it.

Take a stroll up Charles Street in Beacon Hill and grab your lunch in 'The Paramount'. This is a local favourite and does exceedingly good sandwiches.

After lunch take a stroll down busy Boylston Street until you get to the Prudential Tower. Enjoy breathtaking views from its observation deck.

Boston's two busiest streets are Washington Street and Winter Street. Window shop or treat yourself to something before getting the T from Downtown Crossing to Harvard.

North of Boston's Charles River is Harvard University, the most famous university in America. Wander its grounds (below) and imagine what studying here would be like.


There are loads of nice eateries around Harvard Square. Grafton Street, one of Boston's Irish bars, does great food. Follow it up with a pint!

Return to Boston city centre and check out some of its bars. You could do worse than 'Bukowski's Tavern' in Back Bay.

End the day off on Lansdowne Street, Boston's most vibrant street. Lined with bars, you'll find some of the city's best clubs are here too.

Hostelworld Guide for Boston