Boston Day Trips from New York

If you feel like escaping the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple, the charm, culture and tranquillity of Boston are a great option.

Isabel Catalán

Isabel Catalán

7 min read

Boston Day Trips from New York

Typical Boston streets | ©Michael Browning

The birthplace of the American Revolution for its independence from the United Kingdom, Boston is filled with museums, libraries and important historic buildings that bear witness to the origins of one of the country's oldest cities, founded by British settlers in 1630.

Boston is considered the capital of culture and learning in the United States. Boston is home to such prestigious universities as Harvard and MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as art schools, laboratories, conservatories and major banks and financial institutions. Its port is also one of the most important on the East Coast. For these and other reasons, a trip to Boston from New York is one of thethings to do if you're spending 15 days in the city of skyscrapers.

The best option

Boston and the Freedom Trail Day Trip from New York

The best of Boston, in one day

Enjoy one of the most emblematic cities in the United States with an expert guide. You will also visit Harvard and MIT.

Duration: 14 hours

If you want to get to know the capital of Massachusetts but don't want to worry about the transport you have to take, a very convenient and recommended option is to take this day trip to Boston with a visit to Harvard and MIT from £85

Boston is about 350 km from New York, so the adventure starts early, at 6:30 AM when the group of no more than 50 people assembles at the meeting point in Midtown Manhattan to set off for Boston with the guide in a comfortable minivan. A 4-hour drive along the Connecticut coastline awaits you, but with the Wi-Fi in the minivan and the beautiful scenery along the way, it's made even shorter. You'll see the city centre, the famous Freedom Trail, the Queency Market, Harvard and MIT, but more about the tour later. Lunch is included.

Why I like this option: This is the cheapest and most comfortable way to visit Boston on a guided tour. Accompanied by an expert guide, you'll tour the city's essential sights and return to New York the same night. It's that easy and convenient.

Recommended if .... you want to take a break from your trip to New York to get to know another of the most important cities on the East Coast of the United States.

Book a tour to Boston from New York

How long does an organised tour to Boston from New York last?

Strolling through downtown Boston| ©Audrey Odom
Strolling through downtown Boston| ©Audrey Odom

Tours to Boston from New York take between 11 and 13 hours including travel time. This means you'll have about 4 hours to see the city, most often as part of an organised tour. The drive, which you'll do in either a bus or a luxury minivan, takes about 4 hours (not long considering the great distances between the American cities).

My advice: it may take you a little longer on an organised tour than on your own because you have to take into account, for example, the stops you'll have to make along the way. However, it's worth it because, by going with an expert guide, you'll make the most of your time in Boston and you'll see much more than you would if you chose to travel on your own.

If you're new to Boston, an organised tour from New York is a great way to get a first impression of the city. You'll also have plenty of time to explore at your leisure and choose where to have lunch.

Book a Boston tour from New York

How to get from Boston to New York on your own?

New York Highway| ©Tetiana Bykovets
New York Highway| ©Tetiana Bykovets

Perhaps you prefer not to stick to a specific day and time to visit Boston during your visit to New York. However, just because you're not a fan of organised tours doesn't mean you can't make the trip. Here's a brief overview of the transportation options available to you so you can choose the one that best suits your travel plans:

  • The bus: this is the same means of transport used by most of the tours and you can get a ticket for as little as US$10 each way. It's important to book your ticket in advance so that prices don't go up. Some of the companies operating are Megabus, Greyhound and Boltbus. The trip takes about four and a half hours if there is no traffic.

  • The train: If you choose the express train, the trip from New York to Boston will take less than four hours. Still, I don't think it's worth it unless you get a great deal online. The price can be around $100, which is too high to save on traffic.

  • The rental car: if you are travelling in a group, this is a cost-saving option, but if you are not travelling in a group, it is probably not worth it. The trip takes about five hours and car parks are expensive.

  • By plane: the fastest option? Is it the fastest option? On the face of it, yes; the flight takes less than an hour, but don't forget to add in the time it will take you to get to New York airport and from Boston airport to the city centre. In the end, while the airfare, at around $60, may be worth it, the price and overall journey time may not.

What will you see on organised tours to Boston from New York?

Harvard University campus| ©Benjamin Rascoe
Harvard University campus| ©Benjamin Rascoe

On an organised tour you have a major advantage: you don't have to think about what to see once you arrive in Boston as the tour guide will take you directly to the most important sights. This way you will get a complete picture of the city without having to plan your time in the city in detail.

Visit to MIT and Harvard University

This tour of Boston takes you to Harvard University with its Harvard Yard campus (the oldest part and heart of the campus, a green space with elm and pine trees that contrasts with the urban character of the adjacent Harvard Square) and the great Widener Library (whose holdings comprise one of the most comprehensive collections in the humanities and sciences in the world). There will also be time to visit the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The guided tour of the city centre

Once downtown you will visit places of interest such as Trinity Church, the finest example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture in Copley Square. Then the Boston tour continues with a stroll along the historic Freedom Trail, which starts at Boston Common and winds through Downtown on a 4-kilometre route to the harbour area and flagship USS Constitution.

The Freedom Trail tour

It is a commemorative trail marked by a line of red bricks that leads to the 16 sites that played a key role in the American Revolution for independence. In Boston Common Park, where the Freedom Trail begins, there is a visitor centre where you can get some maps and extra information to complement the information provided by the guide during the activity.

You will learn anecdotes and legends about this episode of American history while admiring the architecture of colonial buildings that were very important in the development of the events, such as the Revolution:

  • The Old South Meeting House (where the meeting that started the tea riot was held).
  • The Old State House (seat of the British Colonial Government until 1776)
  • Faneuil Hall (where the speeches of the Revolution were made, known as the "cradle of liberty").

Quincy Market

The best place to get the full experience of historic Boston is Quincy Market, the city's oldest market (1800) with a multitude of stalls and carts selling delicious dishes (pasta, hot dogs, sandwiches, noodles...) although the city's signature dishes are clam chowder and lobster rolls. This market is right opposite Faneuil Hall and the open spaces in the area are great for relaxing while enjoying the entertainment and street art.

The Tea Party Ships and Museum

The last stop on this tour of Boston is the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, a floating museum where actors explain the episode that lit the fuse for the revolution against England - a fun experience! Finally, after several hours in Boston, it's time to wrap up the tour and hop in the minivan to head back to New York.

Book a tour to Boston from New York

Lunch stop and free time during the organised tour

The interior of Trinity Church| ©Audrey Odom
The interior of Trinity Church| ©Audrey Odom

The Freedom Trail in Boston is a long route, so there is a midday break for lunch and to recover your energy. Do you want to know what you can see during your free time in the city?

  • Harvard Yard: The oldest part of the Harvard campus, the Yard is filled with historic red-brick buildings, large groves of trees and ivy-covered walkways that exude the academic and intellectual spirit that characterises this place.
  • Widener Library: Harvard's main library was donated by the Widener family to honour the memory of Harry Widener, a Harvard graduate who died in the Titanic tragedy. Its staggering collection includes 6.5 million books and one of the few complete copies of the Gutenberg Bible still in existence.
  • Copley Square: It is a square located in the Back Bay neighbourhood where important buildings such as the Boston Public Library and Trinity Church are located.
  • Trinity Church: It is the best example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture in Boston. Its exterior is notable for its large portico and lateral cloister, while the interior is full of murals and stained glass windows, almost all the work of the artist John LaFarge.

Other interesting excursions

Downtown Boston skyline| ©Lance Anderson
Downtown Boston skyline| ©Lance Anderson

If you're ready to leave the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple but still don't know which destination to choose, I recommend you take a look at this handy guide I've written on the best excursions you can take from New York. You'll find all the options here, but my favourites are the Washington getaway, the Philadelphia excursion and a visit to Niagara Falls.

That's why I've chronicled my experience, analysing the best organised tours to these destinations in the following articles:

Frequently asked questions

  • Is Boston close to New York?

    Boston is over 320 kilometres (200 miles) from New York, and it takes about 4 hours by car to get there. As for the tours, they leave early enough from New York to get to Boston at a good time.

  • What can you do in Boston?

    Boston's interesting history makes it one of the most visited destinations in the United States. Attractions include the Museum of Fine Arts, the Boston Public Garden, Fenway Park and the Boston Tea Party boats.

  • What do people in Boston usually eat?

    Some of Boston's signature dishes include clam chowder, lobster rolls, baked beans and cream pie.