As one of the oldest cities in the country, Boston is filled with history. It’s a mash-up of cobble-stoned streets and historic buildings with modern skyscrapers. There are a few places you cannot miss during your 2, 3, or 4 days in Boston, as well as some lesser-known parts of the city we’ll cover here. Pick and choose parts of the city to create your perfect Boston itinerary. Keep reading for a list of the best things to do during your visit to Boston.
How Many Days in Boston?
Most people feel that 3-4 days is ideal for how many days to spend in Boston. With 2 days in Boston, you’re just scratching the surface. Most of the city’s main attractions are clustered together, so you could see a lot in 2 days, but you’re also missing out on some cool parts that make Boston unique.
If you have 3 days in Boston, you’re in good shape to see all the highlights as well as some lesser-known sites. You’ll be able to strike a balance between visiting historic landmarks and more trendy neighborhoods.
If you’re lucky enough to have 4 days in Boston, you can see more of the city at your leisure or use the fourth day to take a day trip to somewhere nearby. There is no shortage of historic sites and beautiful nature just outside Boston.
Getting To & Around Boston
You’re most likely arriving in Boston through the Logan International Airport. You can easily hail a cab, take the GO Boston Shuttle, pre-book a transfer or use public transportation to reach downtown.
If you’re visiting from another city or town in New England or even some city further south such as Washington DC or New York, you might arrive on a train or bus. Make sure to find out which train or bus transfers you need to make depending on where you’re coming from. You can view schedules here.
The Massachusetts capital is a very walkable city and it’s not actually that big. In fact, one of the best things to do in Boston is walk the Freedom Trail. Many of the most historic landmarks are located near each other.
Boston is also well-connected via a subway system, known locally as the T. You can easily get around the city using this if you want to reach somewhere a bit further afield.
Alternatively, there is the Hop On/Hop Off Trolley Tour that provides a convenient way to see the city. Taxis and rideshare are both readily available as well.
2, 3 or 4 Days in Boston Itinerary
The most important thing to remember when building your Boston itinerary is to fill it with things that interest you. Use everything outlined below to guide your trip planning. Boston has so much to offer its visitors.
If you’re spending a few days in Boston, then there are a number of guided tours that you can take to get an overview of the city such as this historical walking tour, this bike tour or this food tour.
Day 1 – Freedom Trail, Museums, Quincy Market & More
Walk the Freedom Trail
This 2.5-mile trail covers many of the historical highlights in Boston. You’ll want to dedicate a few solid hours to walking the trail. You can opt to walk the entire thing or a portion of it.
There are also guided tours available such as this 2-hour walking tour, which could be helpful for providing context to the landmarks as you pass them. Here are all the landmarks you can expect to see:
- Boston Common & Boston Public Garden
- Massachusetts State House
- Park Street Church
- Granary Burying Grounds
- Boston Latin School/Benjamin Franklin Statue
- Old South Meeting House
- Old State House
- Site of the Boston Massacre
- Paul Revere House
- Old North Church
- USS Constitution
- Bunker Hill Monument
Visit Boston Tea Party and Ships Museum
Veer off Freedom Trail just slightly to pay a visit to the Boston Tea Party and Ships Museum.
The museum is chock-full with historical experts, interactive exhibits, full-scale replica sailing vessels, and historic artefacts to make this monumental event in America’s history come to life. You can pre-book tickets here.
If you have some time to spare, you can watch an award-winning documentary in Minutemen Theatre that depicts the events that led up to the American Revolution.
Visit Quincy Market
Quincy Market is where old and new seamlessly merge. Here you can find hundreds of shops, both inside and outside the building. The market was established in 1825 and spans three buildings: Quincy Market, South Market, and North Market.
It’s another great place to stop as you’re walking the Freedom Trail to grab a bite to eat or do some souvenir shopping. The market is especially charming during the winter months when it’s decorated for the holidays. Quincy Market was named a National Historic Landmark in 1966.
Go to a Red Sox game
Go see the “Green Monster” for yourself during your visit to Boston. Even those who wouldn’t consider themselves baseball fans will enjoy seeing a game at Fenway Park.
It’s been the home of the Boston Red Sox since 1912, making it the oldest stadium in Major League Baseball. If you don’t have time to see a game, you can still take a guided tour of Fenway. It’s a great way to wrap up your first day of sightseeing in Boston.
Day 2 – Boston’s Museums
John F. Kennedy Presidential Museum & Library
This exceptional museum is dedicated to the life and accomplishments of the U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
Here, you’ll wander the permanent exhibit that uses large-screen projections, interactive displays, original artefacts, and re-mastered films to learn more about the former president’s life. Consider reserving tickets online in advance to save you time at the door. You can also opt for a guided tour.
A visit to the JFK Presidential Museum & Library is a great way to kick off your second day in Boston.
Visit the Institute of Contemporary Art
If you have 2 days in Boston, you should consider visiting one of the many local museums. A city that’s so full of history has some great historical museums, but it also has notable art museums like the Institute of Contemporary Art.
Here you’ll find both permanent and rotating exhibits featuring contemporary artists and their work. The museum is located in a beautiful building on the waterfront overlooking Boston Harbor, so you can also take in the view. It’s recommended that you book tickets in advance.
Visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
This museum is known for its beautiful architecture and courtyard garden. It’s a great museum to visit if you want one that is a little less crowded than other larger museums in the city. Beginning in the late 1800s, Isabella started collecting rare books, manuscripts, and pieces of art to fill her home.
Over the course of her worldwide travels, she acquired art like Rembrandt’s Self Portrait and Titian’s Europa. The museum as it stands today was built in 1901. She lived on the fourth floor and spent the remainder of her life arranging the art throughout its halls.
It’s a unique museum that’s a quiet way to spend the afternoon.
Day 3 – Boston Common, Trinity Church, Paul Revere House & More
Enjoy Boston Common
You might’ve already passed through Boston Common if you walked the entirety of the Freedom Trail. If you didn’t stop for long then, it’s worth your time to dedicate a couple hours to really enjoying the park. Boston Common is America’s oldest public park having been established in 1634.
Today, the park is filled with fountains, picnic tables, and green spaces for visitors to lounge and enjoy the day. Make sure to stroll through the adjacent Public Garden, as well, to truly enjoy this urban green space. If you’re seeing Boston in 3 days, then a visit to Boston Common is a great idea.
When you start exploring Boston, you’ll immediately notice Trinity Church. This historic stone church sits squarely in the middle of downtown’s towering skyscrapers. It’s considered by the American Association of Architects as one of the top 10 buildings in the country.
The parish located there today was founded in 1733, which is more than 150 years before the church was built in 1877. You can enter Trinity Church on your own or schedule a tour with a knowledgeable tour guide to learn more about the church’s history.
See Paul Revere House
Located in the North End neighborhood, the Paul Revere House was the former home of the famous Founding Father Paul Revere. He played a pivotal role in the American Revolution, noted in history books for his famous “midnight ride” to warn colonists that the British were approaching Boston.
The home was built in 1680 and is downtown Boston’s oldest building. Inside, the home is set up to mimic what it would have looked like while Revere lived there. In fact, 90% of the structure today is original material, including doors, windows, flooring, and internal wall material.
You can pop into this Boston museum for a self-guided tour or try to time your visit to see colonial reenactors demonstrate key moments of America’s history.
If this doesn’t interest you as much or if you’re traveling with children, consider, as well, heading to the nearby New England Aquarium where you can learn all about local marine life or you can take a food tour of North End.
The Museum of Bad Art
You’ve probably never been to a museum that focuses on bad art. The Museum of Bad Art houses “art too bad to be ignored” and is a highlight worth adding to your time in Boston. It’s the world’s only museum dedicated to bad art that began in the basement of a private home.
The museum has since grown into a local favorite that shines the spotlight on quality bad art. It’s a quirky and fun addition to your Boston trip, especially if you happen to be planning a 3 days in Boston itinerary.
Day 4 – Day trip From Boston
Lexington and Concord
Lexington and Concord is arguably the most famous site of the Revolutionary War. For history buffs, this is a great way to round out your 4 days in Boston. It’s where the first shots of the war were fired.
To reach Lexington, you’ll take the subway and bus for a total travel time of about 45 minutes before getting off at Lexington Battle Green. You can reach Concord by taking the MBTA directly from Boston.
Lexington Green is a good starting point for your visit. This small town is home to the Belfry that sounded the alarm in 1775 to call the militia to fight. Here, you’ll also find John Hancock’s childhood home or Buckman’s Tavern. In Concord, make sure you visit the Old North Bridge.
You can also find Walden Pond, made famous by writer Henry Thoreau, and Louisa May Alcott’s “Orchard House”. There’s a lot to see during a day trip to Lexington and Concord, so make sure you leave early in the day to give yourself ample time.
You’ve most likely heard of Salem, Massachusetts due to its famous 1692 witch trials. Salem is only about 30 minutes from Boston, so it’s an easy day trip. You can easily reach it by taking the commuter train that connects the cities, a high speed ferry or an organised day tour.
During your day in Salem, make sure to visit the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, Peabody Essex Museum, the Old Town Hall, and the Witch House. You can end your day with a visit to Winter Island Park and Lighthouse.
As you might’ve guessed, one of the best times of year to visit Salem is Halloween. The little town comes to life with spooky decorations.
Without a doubt, Cape Cod is beautiful, especially in summer. This stretch of coastline is full of charming towns, great seafood, and relaxing beaches.
Cape Cod is about 3 hours from Boston by car, which tends to be a little long for a day trip. Instead, you can take the Cape Cod Fast Ferry from Boston to Provincetown, which is the largest town on the Cape.
In Provincetown, you can enjoy the local art galleries, lounge on the beach, and walk around and enjoy the quaint homes and shops.
If you have more than 4 days in your Boston itinerary, spending more than one day on the Cape is a relaxing way to bring your time in the area to a close.
Where to Stay in Boston
Harborside Inn – This 3-star hotel in downtown Boston is a great choice for mid-range travelers to the Massachusetts capital. There are a number of great rooms to choose from, a wonderful location for exploring the city and plenty of other amenities to enjoy. Click here to check availability
Omni Boston Hotel – If you’re looking for luxury while in Boston, then this sophisticated hotel is a great option. They have a range of lovely rooms on offer and an unbeatable location for exploring all this historic city has to offer. Click here to check availability
HI Boston – Those visiting Boston on a budget will love this backpacker’s hostel in the center of the city. They have a range of both dorms and private rooms on offer along with other perks and great common areas for guests to enjoy. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Boston hotels!
The perfect Boston itinerary is the one that’s packed with what excites you most. If you’re a history buff, you’re going to love it here. Foodies, explorers, and everyone in between will find something to love in Boston. Use this sample itinerary to help plan a trip that will be one to remember.
Are you planning a trip to Boston? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!