Where to stay in Boston without a car: 6 Best areas

In this article, we will help you to decide the best areas to stay in Boston without a car, how to get around without a car, and the best hotels in Boston without a car for all budget visitors.

It is possible to get around Boston without a car. The city has a well-developed public transportation system, making it relatively easy to navigate the city using buses, subways, commuter trains, and other forms of public transit.  

Boston is the capital of the state of Massachusetts and one of the oldest cities in the United States, founded in 1630. The city is often referred to as the “Cradle of Liberty” due to its historical importance in the fight for American independence.

Boston played a significant role in the American Revolution. The Boston Tea Party, which took place in 1773, was a pivotal event leading up to the American Revolutionary War.

Boston is home to the iconic Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile-long path that is home to 16 historical sites related to the American Revolution. Other popular sights are the Fenway Park, Quincy Market, Massachusetts State House, and the USS Constitution Museum.

Boston is known for its Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston University, and Boston College, among others.

The city has a rich cultural scene with numerous museums, theaters, and art galleries. The Boston Symphony Orchestra, Museum of Fine Arts, and New England Aquarium are popular cultural attractions.

Boston is passionate about sports. The Boston Red Sox (baseball), the New England Patriots (American football), the Boston Celtics (basketball), and the Boston Bruins (ice hockey) are some of the major teams based in the city.

Boston has an extensive public transportation system, including buses, subways (known as the “T”), and commuter rail lines, making it relatively easy to get around the city. Logan International Airport serves as the primary airport for the region.

Where to stay in Boston without a car?

The best areas to stay in Boston without a car for tourists are Downtown Boston, Back Bay,  Beacon Hill, Waterfront, North End, and Cambridge. These areas are well-connected to public transportation and have easy access to the city’s attractions.

Downtown Boston and Back Bay are generally more central and convenient for tourists and first-timers, but each neighborhood offers a unique Boston experience.

When choosing your hotel, consider proximity to subway (MBTA) stations, bus stops, and other forms of public transportation. Boston’s public transit system is efficient and can get you to most major attractions and neighborhoods. 

Additionally, you can also use rideshare services like Uber and Lyft if needed.

Overviews of the best areas to stay in Boston without a car

Here is an overview of recommended areas in Boston for visitors without a car and why you should stay in each area: 

Best areas in Boston without a carWhy should you stay in this area?
Downtown BostonStaying in the heart of the city, such as the Downtown Crossing or Financial District areas, allows you to be within walking distance of many attractions, including Faneuil Hall, the Freedom Trail, and Boston Common. You’ll also have access to several subway lines (the “T”) and bus routes.
Back BayThis upscale area is known for its beautiful brownstones, Newbury Street shopping, Copley Square and Public Library. The area has excellent access to public transportation, including the Green Line and Orange Line.
Beacon Hilla historic and charming neighborhood, close to the Massachusetts State House and is known for its cobblestone streets and gas lamps. It’s accessible via the Red Line and is a short walk to many downtown attractions.
WaterfrontStaying near the Waterfront gives you access to beautiful harbor views, the New England Aquarium, and the lively Seaport District. It’s a good choice if you enjoy waterfront activities and dining.
North EndIf you’re a food lover and want to be in the heart of Boston’s Italian district, the North End is a great option. You can access it via the Orange Line or by walking from nearby neighborhoods.
Cambridgeoffers a vibrant atmosphere with its own set of attractions, including Harvard Square and MIT. You can easily access Boston via the Red Line subway/buses.

Map of best areas and neighborhoods in Boston without a car:

Map of Best areas to stay in Boston for tourists
Map of Best areas to stay in Boston for tourists

How to get around Boston without a car as a tourist?

Getting around Boston without a car is very doable thanks to its extensive public transportation system, pedestrian-friendly streets, and various alternative transportation options. 

Here are some ways to navigate the city without a car:

MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority):

Boston’s subway system, known as the “T,” consists of four lines: Red, Orange, Blue, and Green. It can take you to various neighborhoods and attractions within the city.

The MBTA operates an extensive bus network that serves Boston and the surrounding areas.

The MBTA commuter rail system connects Boston to suburbs and nearby cities. It’s useful if you need to travel beyond the city limits.

Bike Sharing: 

Boston has a bike-sharing program called Bluebikes, which allows you to rent bicycles for short trips around the city. There are also bike lanes and bike-friendly routes.


Boston is a walkable city, especially in its central areas like downtown, the North End, and Back Bay. Many of the city’s attractions, restaurants, and shops are within walking distance of each other.

Taxis and Rideshares: 

You can easily hail a taxi or use rideshare services like Uber and Lyft to get around the city.


Boston Harbor is served by several ferry routes, which can be a scenic and efficient way to travel to nearby islands or waterfront destinations.

Logan Airport Transportation: 

If you’re arriving at or departing from Logan International Airport, you can use the free Silver Line bus service or the Logan Express shuttle to connect to the subway system.


If you’re traveling to Boston from other cities, Amtrak provides train service to Boston’s South Station.

Remember that Boston’s traffic can be congested, and parking can be expensive and limited, so opting for public transportation and alternative methods can often be more convenient and cost-effective. Plus, it helps reduce congestion and contributes to the city’s sustainability efforts.

6 Best areas to stay in Boston without a car are:

1. Downtown Boston

Downtown Boston is a great area to stay in if you don’t have a car. It is the central business district and cultural hub of Boston. It is one of the most historic parts of the city and features a mix of modern skyscrapers, historic buildings, cultural attractions, and a vibrant atmosphere. 

Pros of staying in Downtown Boston without a car:

Walkability: Downtown Boston is extremely pedestrian-friendly. Many of the city’s major attractions, including historical sites like Freedom Trail, Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, and the Boston Common, are within walking distance.

Public Transportation: The area is well-served by public transportation, home to several subway stations including Downtown Crossing, Government Center, Aquarium, South Station, Chinatown, Boylston, and Park Street T stations.

Dining and Entertainment: Downtown Boston is home to a wide range of restaurants, bars, theaters, and entertainment venues. You’ll have plenty of options for dining out and enjoying nightlife without needing a car.

Cultural Attractions: Many of Boston’s cultural institutions, such as the Museum of Fine Arts, the Boston Public Library, and the Boston Opera House, are located in or near downtown.

Historical Charm: Staying in downtown Boston means immersing yourself in the city’s rich history. You’ll be surrounded by historic architecture and landmarks.

Cons of staying in Downtown Boston: 

Cost: It can be relatively expensive. Accommodation costs can be high, and dining out in the area may also be pricey.

Ultimately, downtown is a great place to stay in Boston without a car for first-timers and visitors who value convenience, access to iconic historic attractions, and a vibrant city atmosphere.

  Best places to stay in Downtown Boston without a car:


2. Back Bay

Back Bay is often considered one of the best areas to stay in Boston without a car, thanks to its central location, excellent public transportation options, and a wealth of amenities. 

Pros of staying in Back Bay:

Central Location: Back Bay is centrally located, making it easy to explore many of Boston’s top attractions on foot. Fenway Park, the Boston Common, the Public Garden, Copley Square, and the Prudential Center are all within walking distance.

Public Transportation: Back Bay is home to  numerous T stations including Copley, Arlington, Hynes Convention Center Station, and Back Bay Station, which is a major transportation hub, allowing you to easily access Harvard Square, and the airport.

Shopping and Dining: Newbury Street, a famous shopping district, runs through Back Bay. You’ll find a wide range of boutiques, restaurants, cafes, and bars, making it a great place to explore and enjoy the city’s culinary scene.

Historic Architecture: The neighborhood is known for its beautiful Victorian brownstones and historic buildings, giving it a unique and charming atmosphere.

Cons of staying in Back Bay:

Expensive: Back Bay is one of Boston’s more upscale neighborhoods, so accommodations can be pricey. You may need to budget accordingly.

Crowds: Due to its popularity among tourists and locals alike, Back Bay can get crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons.  

In summary, Back Bay is a fantastic area to stay in Boston without a car if you’re looking for convenience, accessibility, and a vibrant urban atmosphere. But, be prepared for higher costs and consider your hotel options carefully to find the best fit for your needs and preferences.

Best places to stay in Back Bay without a car:


3. Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill is often considered one of the best areas to stay in Boston, especially if you don’t have a car, because of its central location and historic charm.  

Beacon Hill is a historic neighborhood located in the heart of Boston. It is situated just north of Boston Common and the Boston Public Garden. It is bounded by the Charles River to the north, Cambridge Street to the south, Storrow Drive to the west, and Bowdoin Street to the east

Pros of staying Beacon:

Historic Charm: Beacon Hill is known for its beautiful historic architecture, cobblestone streets, and gas lamps, which create a unique and charming atmosphere.

Walkability: This neighborhood is very pedestrian-friendly, and you can easily explore the area on foot. Many amenities, shops, and restaurants are within walking distance.

Public Transportation: Beacon Hill is close to Charles/MGH subway station (on the Red Line) and Park Street station (serving the Red and Green Lines) are nearby.

Close to Attractions: It’s close and home to several top attractions, including the Acorn Street, Charles River Esplanade, Massachusetts State House, Boston Common, Public Garden, and Freedom Trail.

Cons of staying in Beacon Hill:

Cost: Beacon Hill is one of Boston’s most expensive neighborhoods to live in or stay in, with high rent and hotel prices. Accommodations can be costly.

Small Living Spaces: Accommodations, especially in historic buildings, can be small with limited space. Hotel rooms may be cozy, and apartments may have limited square footage.

In summary, Beacon Hill is a desirable place to stay in Boston without a car due to its central location, historic charm, and accessibility to public transportation. But, the cost of accommodations can be a potential drawback.

Best places to stay in Beacon Hill without a car:


4. Waterfront

The Waterfront area in Boston can be a great choice for travelers who do not have a car, as it offers proximity to many attractions, restaurants, and public transportation options.  

Pros of Staying in Boston’s Waterfront Area without a Car:

Proximity to Attractions: The Waterfront is home to popular attractions, including the New England Aquarium, the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, and the Institute of Contemporary Art. You can easily explore these places on foot.

Public Transportation: Boston’s Waterfront is well-connected to the MBTA’s Blue Line subway, as well as buses and ferries. Aquarium and South Station served the area.

Scenic Views: The Waterfront offers beautiful views of Boston Harbor, making it a picturesque place to stay. You can enjoy waterfront strolls and even take scenic harbor cruises.

Cultural Events: The Waterfront often hosts cultural events, concerts, and outdoor festivals, providing entertainment options for residents and visitors.

Cons: Limited public transportation options (primarily the Blue Line).

In summary, staying in Boston’s Waterfront area without a car is a convenient location for travelers who want to explore the city’s main attractions, dine at various restaurants, and enjoy scenic views without the need for a car. 

Best places to stay in  Boston in Waterfront:


5. North End

The North End is one of the best places to stay in Boston, especially if you don’t have a car. It’s a historic and vibrant neighborhood known for its Italian culture, delicious food, and proximity to many attractions. 

However, like any neighborhood, it has its pros and cons when it comes to staying there without a car:


Walkability: The North End is one of the most walkable neighborhoods in Boston. You can easily explore the area on foot, and many attractions are within walking distance.

Public Transportation: It has easy access to subway stations like the North Station, Haymarket and Aquarium stops on the Green and Blue lines, respectively. You can use the subway, buses, and even water taxis to get around the city.

Historic Charm: The North End is rich in history and character. You can explore historic sites like the Freedom Trail, Paul Revere’s House, and the Old North Church right in the neighborhood.

Food and Dining: The North End is famous for its Italian restaurants and bakeries. You’ll have a wide range of dining options, from classic pizzerias to upscale Italian eateries.

Cultural Events: The area hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year, such as the St. Anthony’s Feast and the Fisherman’s Feast, providing a unique atmosphere.

Cons: Limited hotel options, so book early.

Best places to stay in  North End:


6. Cambridge

Cambridge is one of the popular areas to stay in the Boston metropolitan area, especially for those who prefer not to have a car. Cambridge is just across the river from Boston, and it’s easy to access the city by public transportation or even on foot. 


  • Home to Harvard and MIT with a vibrant cultural scene.
  • Accessible via the Red Line on the T and several bus routes.
  • Often more affordable accommodations compared to downtown Boston.


  • Across the river from Downtown Boston, so you’ll need to use public transportation to reach most attractions.
  • Limited nightlife compared to Downtown Boston.

Best places to stay in  Boston in Cambridge:


In conclusion, Downtown Boston, Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Waterfront, North End, and Cambridge are the best places to stay in Boston without a car for tourists. Each of these neighborhoods has its own unique charm and advantages. 

The best neighborhood for you to stay in Boston without a car depends on your preferences and what you plan to do during your visit. 

About Author: Linda Smith

I'm Linda Smith, the Hotel Expert, an experienced travel blogger who passionate about traveling. I'm here to share with you all my travel experiences and tips. I cover a wide range of travel topics, specializing in sharing information about the best areas, neighborhoods, and hotels in each city. I hope all these things will make your travel easier.

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