Things To Know Before Visiting Boston
If you get the opportunity to take some time out of the mundane 9 to 5 to travel, then you should seize it with both hands. It is important that you get to experience as many amazing destinations around the globe as possible.
The U.S. is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, and with so many different states, towns and cities to explore. Many people decide to take an extended break and plan trips to some of the more famous and well known destinations like New York, Miami and California.
If you are dreaming of a USA break, and would like a destination with culture, history, tradition, sports and lots of things to do then you really need to consider Boston.
If you live in States you will be surprised at the wonders you have sitting right on your doorstep here. Or if you are planning a trip from overseas, there are lots of things to consider before booking and departing including visas, flights, accommodation, how long to stay for and also what to do.
If you are keen to visit Boston, here are some essentials things to know which should help you to plan a really smooth and amazing break to this city.
1. Check Your Passport’s Validity
If you are arriving on an international flight into the U.S.A., you will need to have a valid and up to date passport. This might sound like one of the most obvious things but many travelers make the mistake of not checking close to departure. Not only will your passport need to be valid for the duration of your visit, it will also need to be valid for up to six months from the return date you are flying. Failure to do this could result in you being denied entry to the US.
2. Get Your Visa
It is very important that travellers to the U.S. are fully aware of the strict VISA requirements that are in place even for tourists. For all trips to the USA, even short visits, you must complete an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) form.
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is a system that checks the eligibility of visitors to the USA under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). You need to obtain an ESTA in advance of your arrival. This is compulsory for all British and other nationality tourists no matter if you are arriving by plane, boat or via land.
If you fail to apply for an ESTA in advance, you will usually not be allowed entry into the USA.
3. Book Flights
Boston Logan International Airport is where most international arrivals arrive and to get the best deals you will need to book in advance.
Airlines that fly to Boston direct from United Kingdom include: Delta, Virgin Atlantic, Primera Air, British Airways and Norwegian Air.
Other airlines flying to Boston Logan Airport from international locations include: American Airlines, Qatar Airways, SAS, United, Iberia, Air New Zealand, KLM, SWISS, WestJet, Aer Lingus, Turkish Airlines, SATA, Lufthansa, Icelandair, EL AL Israel Airlines, Air France, TAP Air Portugal, Aeromexico, Emirates, Alitalia, LATAM Airlines Brasil, Air Canada, WOW air and Avianca.
Norwegian Air offer incredibly low fares all year round. If you are going to be flying into other destinations in the USA like New York, you can reach Boston fairly easily by train, public bus or by renting a car.
4. Get a TSA-Approved Lock
It is recommended that you always lock your luggage when you travel so that you know the contents are safe and have peace of mind once you wave off your suitcase at the check-in counter. There are very strict regulations for travelling to the USA put in place by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) who are in charge of security and safety.
Therefore, all bags are checked and scanned, and if they have any reason to physically search your bag, they will break your lock to get inside. However, if you have a TSA approved lock, then they are able to use a master key to enter your luggage and you won’t lose/break your lock during the search.
5. Find Accommodation
Don’t assume that hotels, hostels and AirBnB are your only accommodation option in Boston. There are lots of companies like Blueground who offer furnished apartments which provide a great place to stay within close proximity to all the Bostons tourist areas.
Blueground’s furnished apartments are in various central locations, and they are available for mid to long-term stays. If you are going to visit Boston or the US for a longer period, be sure to consider a monthly rental. This will save you a lot of money on the cost of hotels.
6. Best Places to Visit in Boston
Plan your itinerary and look for things to do in Boston in advance. You can easily spend days or weeks exploring this city and the surrounding areas.
These are some of the top rated tourist attractions and destinations to add to your itinerary, a lot of which are free or low cost:
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
- Boston Public Library and Copley Square
- Freedom Trail
- Faneuil Hall
- Beacon Hill
- Old North Church and the North End
- John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
- Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
- Boston HarborWalk and Cruises
- Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park
- Museum of Fine Arts Boston
- Museum of Science
- USS Constitution and Bunker Hill (Boston National Historic Park)
- Boston Pops and Boston Symphony Orchestra
7. Consider Sightseeing Tours
If it is going to be your first time in Boston, one of the best way to see the all the local attractions and learn about the places you visit is to book an organised tour.
There are lots of day tours and longer excursions available including hop-on hop-off bus tour and also the Boston Duck tour, where you explore the sights in a revamped WWII amphibious vehicle that travels on both land and water. This is fun for both adults and children.
8. Boston is Sports Crazy
Boston is home to several major league sports teams including the Red Sox (baseball), the Celtics and the Bruins (ice hockey). Locals are sports mad, be sure to try to watch a live game to experience the passion and atmosphere for yourself. Something you also might not realise is basketball was invented in Massachusetts!
9. Best Day Trips from Boston
If you have more time to spare and would like to escape the city there are some amazing day trips all within a short distance of Boston. You can visit these places independently or via an organised tour, be sure to check out:
- Cape Cod
- Martha's Vineyard
- Newport, Rhode Island
- New England Coast
- Old Sturbridge Village
- Whale Watch at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
- Portsmouth Historic Houses and Strawbery Banke
- Lexington and Concord: First Shots of the Revolution
- Plimoth Plantation
10. Boston is Old & Full of History
Boston is the capital city of Massachusetts and largest city in New England. This is one of the most historic cities to visit in the whole of the United States.
11. Take Comfortable Footwear
Boston is full of tourist sights but a lot of places are spread out so be prepared to walk a lot.
You will be walking – a lot
Pack comfortable, seasonal-appropriate footwear because you’re going to need it. Downtown Boston is compact, at roughly two square miles (5.1 square kilometers), making it a walkable destination. While subway stations near the city center are often just a couple of blocks apart, it’s faster to walk than wait for a train. Also, the Freedom Trail – a red-brick path connecting many of the city’s most famous historic sites – is 2.5 miles (four kilometers) long, and best explored on foot if possible.
12. Understand Tipping Etiquette
Tipping is something that many travellers to the U.S. struggle to wrap their heads around. Even though tipping is discretionary around 15 to 20 percent is expected in restaurants. This is because the minimum wage is so low. You should also tip other services such as bartenders, housekeepers, valets, and cab drivers.
13. Weather & Best Time to Visit
There is no best month to visit Boston, it really depends what you want to do or type of experience you are seeking. Boston does have very extreme weather though, in summer is get really hot whilst in winter temperatures can plummet. For some people, winter can be too extreme and difficult to go out to enjoy the sights as temperatures regularly go below 0. Spring and Autumn are recommended times of the year due to the mild climate. Summer (June to August) is peak season, prices can be at a peak for these months.
There can be a lot to think about when planning a trip to Boston, but hopefully by following our general advice and tips, you can be prepared and make the most of your exciting adventure! Boston really is such an interesting city to visit and we guaranteed you will love exploring all the local sights.
Have you ever been to Boston? Got any tips or recommendations to share? Let us know in the comments section below.