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How To Get Around Boston Without a Car

March 25, 2024 By CityPASS

Boston, a city rich in history and culture, is wonderfully accessible even without a car. The city's compact layout, combined with a robust public transportation system, makes exploring its diverse neighborhoods easy and enjoyable. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned commuter, you'll find that navigating Boston's streets and attractions can be a delightful experience.

Moreover, embracing car-free travel in Boston means you're opting for a greener, more sustainable way to explore. You'll dodge the hassle of parking and city traffic and get a chance to immerse yourself in the local way of life.

What Are the Options for Exploring Boston Without a Car?

From the extensive public transportation network — including buses, subways, and commuter trains — to more specialized modes like bike-sharing, water taxis, and even walking, the city ensures that every corner is accessible. These options are convenient gateways to discovering Boston's history, culture, and modern-day vibrancy.

Public Transportation

Boston's public transportation system, operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), is the backbone of the city's transit network. It's a cost-effective, family-friendly, and efficient way to navigate through the city. The MBTA's network of buses, subways, commuter trains, and ferries is designed to make your travel experience in Boston smooth and hassle-free.

Bus Service

The MBTA bus service offers extensive coverage throughout Boston and its neighboring cities. With over 170 bus routes, you can easily reach areas that are not serviced by the subway. For instance, the Silver Line bus connects South Station with Logan Airport, making airport transfers a breeze. Meanwhile, the No. 1 bus offers a scenic route along Massachusetts Avenue, passing by landmarks such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University.

Another notable route is the No. 39 bus, which takes you through the heart of the city. It's an excellent choice for visiting the Museum of Fine Arts, one of Boston's premier cultural institutions. The buses are frequent, reliable, and equipped with modern amenities, ensuring a comfortable journey as you hop from one attraction to the next.

Subway Lines

The subway, locally known as the "T," is Boston's rapid transit system and a popular choice for visitors. The T's four main lines — Red, Green, Blue, and Orange — cover key areas of the city. The Red Line takes you to the historic sites of Cambridge, including Harvard Square, the Harvard Museum of Natural History, and the Charles River. The Green Line, on the other hand, is perfect for visiting Fenway Park and the Boston University campus.

Each subway line offers a unique perspective of Boston. The Blue Line, for example, provides convenient access to the New England Aquarium and the picturesque waterfront. Meanwhile, the Orange Line is your gateway to the Italian flavors of the North End and the vibrant arts scene in the South End. Subway stations are well-marked and easy to navigate, making your travel experience on the T smooth and enjoyable.

Commuter Trains

For those looking to explore beyond the city limits, the MBTA's commuter rail service is an excellent option. Stretching across the Greater Boston area and beyond, these trains connect you to charming suburban towns and scenic coastal areas. For example, a ride on the Newburyport/Rockport Line leads to the idyllic seaside town of Rockport, a perfect getaway for a day trip.

Alternatively, the Fitchburg Line takes you through the rolling hills and historical towns of Massachusetts' interior. These trains are comfortable and punctual, and they offer a relaxing way to see the state's picturesque landscapes. Stations like South Station and North Station serve as major hubs, providing seamless connectivity and easy transfers to other modes of transportation.


The Boston trolley tours are a delightful way to see the city. These charming open-air vehicles offer guided tours that combine the convenience of transportation with the insight of a guided tour. They cover major attractions like the Freedom Trail, Boston Common, and the State House, offering hop-on-hop-off flexibility.

You can disembark at any stop, explore the area at your leisure, and catch the next trolley when you're ready. It's a leisurely, informative way to experience Boston's rich history and cultural landmarks.

Ferries and Water Transportation

Boston's water transportation adds a unique dimension to urban transit. The MBTA ferries, for instance, connect downtown Boston with locations like Charlestown and the Boston Harbor Islands. These short ferry rides offer stunning cityscape views and a refreshing break from the bustling city streets.

The Harbor Islands ferry is particularly notable, providing access to a tranquil retreat just minutes from the city. Here, you can enjoy hiking, picnics, and historical tours. On the other hand, the Charlestown ferry takes you close to the historic USS Constitution and the Charlestown Navy Yard.

Bike Sharing

Bike sharing is a wonderful way to explore Boston's diverse neighborhoods at your own pace. The city's bike-share program, Bluebikes, offers convenient, affordable access to bicycles across Boston, Cambridge, Brookline, and Somerville. Stations are strategically located near major attractions, parks, and transit hubs, making it easy to pick up and drop off bikes as you explore.

Riding a Bluebike lets you enjoy the freedom of cycling through Boston's picturesque streets, along the Charles River, or through the historic districts. It's an eco-friendly, healthy, and fun way to experience the city's vibrant atmosphere and scenic beauty.


Shuttle services in Boston provide a convenient and efficient way to navigate specific areas of the city. For example, the Logan Airport shuttle offers free rides between airport terminals, the airport subway station, and the rental car center. This service is a boon for travelers, ensuring a hassle-free connection to the city's transit network.

Another notable shuttle service is the Longwood Medical Area shuttle. It connects major hospitals and research institutions in the area, making it a vital resource for visitors and patients. These shuttles are typically frequent, reliable, and free or low-cost, enhancing the accessibility of key areas in Boston.

Water Taxis

Water taxis in Boston offer a unique and scenic way to travel. These small boats provide on-demand service, connecting various waterfront locations, including Logan Airport, the Seaport District, and the North End. It's a novel and enjoyable way to traverse the city, especially during the warmer months.

The water taxis not only offer a swift and direct route to your destination but also provide a mini-cruise experience with stunning views of the Boston skyline and harbor.


Walking is perhaps the most intimate way to experience Boston. The city's pedestrian-friendly streets and public parks make it a delight to explore on foot. Walking at a leisurely pace allows you to absorb the city's atmosphere, from the historic Freedom Trail to the bustling markets of Downtown Crossing.

Strolling through Boston has numerous health benefits, offering a chance to stay active while sightseeing. It encourages you to slow down, notice the intricate details of the city's architecture, and engage with the local culture more deeply. Whether you're meandering along the waterfront or wandering through the cobblestone streets of Beacon Hill, walking in Boston is an experience that connects you to the heart of the city.

Navigate Boston and Enjoy the Best Attractions With CityPASS® Tickets

Don't forget to enhance your experience with Boston CityPASS® tickets. CityPASS® tickets offer a convenient way to visit Boston's top attractions. With them, you can access several premier destinations, including the New England Aquarium, Museum of Science, and Boston Harbor City Cruises.

CityPASS® tickets are the perfect complement to your car-free exploration of Boston, ensuring that you make the most of your time in this fascinating city. Whether you're traveling by public transit, biking, or walking, CityPASS® tickets are your key to unlocking the best of Boston.

Boston Lodging

To get the most out of your stay in Boston, we recommend finding lodging near Boston's top attractions. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:

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