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Boston Travel Guide

About Boston

For all intents and purposes, Boston, the capital of Massachusetts, is the oldest city in America. Founded in 1630, its winding streets and stately architecture recall a legacy that is unmatched in the US, including key moments from the American Revolution, the abolition of slavery and the founding of the country’s first university, newspaper and labour union.

But Boston’s notable past doesn’t mean that the city is backward looking. Quite the contrary, it remains pioneering in intellectual and entrepreneurial fields, its historic universities attracting the very best scientists, philosophers and writers from around the world. What’s more, the city continues to foster a rich cultural life, offering visitors a bewildering array of lectures, music gigs, poetry slam sessions and symphony concerts to choose from.

Divided into distinct and characterful districts, Boston is a small city. It’s easy to walk around and public transport is extremely efficient. Begin at Boston Common, where you’ll find the tourist office and the start of the Freedom Trail. Rising above the Common is Beacon Hill, the city’s most historic and affluent neighborhood. To the east is Downtown with a mix of Colonial sights and high-rise, modern office blocks. North of Beacon Hill, across the broad Charles River lies pretty Cambridge, home to Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

To get an overview of the city ascend the Skywalk Observatory on the 50th floor of the towering Prudential building. From here you’ll be able to look out over the Harbor and to the islands beyond, where day-trippers escape to enjoy whale-watching cruises and lazy afternoons at one of the 30-odd islands in the bay.

With its mix of cutting-edge museums and galleries; historic cultural sites; sophisticated restaurants and shopping; fantastic outdoor activities, from sailing in the bay to cycling the Charles River Cycle Path, Boston is an endlessly interesting, year-round destination. That said, the most popular time to visit is undoubtedly autumn, when the legendary New England foliage bursts into fiery colours.

Key facts

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Featured Hotels


Mandarin Oriental

Located in the cosy Back Bay the Mandarin Oriental combines comfort and style to produce one of Boston's most luxurious and trendy hotels. Rooms resonate with classic oriental styles with a modern flare and boast beautiful views of the Back Bay cityscape. After a long day of touring and shopping enjoy a soak in the oversized Jacuzzi baths or indulge in a massage at the Mandarin Oriental's five-star spa. Perfect for a business retreat or a relaxing holiday the Mandarin Oriental will not disappoint.

Harding House

This classic, baby blue Victorian guesthouse has fourteen handsome rooms decked out in all-American style with quilts, patterned rugs and dark hardwood furniture. The period character of the house gives the place a warm, homely atmosphere which is reinforced by the freely available cakes and coffee, Thursday evening wine tastings and the generous home-cooked breakfast, which is included in the price.

Liberty Clipper

Between June and September only, board one of Boston's elegant tall ships for an alternative, budget accommodation option. Moored in the historic waterfront district of Boston, a block from the North End and Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market, you will be offered a choice of one of six cabins all featuring a skylight, hot/cold water, three shared bathrooms and three shared showers. This is definitely an experience.

Oasis Guest House

This modest 30-room guesthouse is located in one of Boston’s best neighbourhoods and offers simple but comfortable accommodation in a series of attractive brick-fronted buildings. Rooms are simply furnished with queen beds, armchairs, TVs and generic prints. The price includes free internet access, use of the kitchen facilities and a complimentary breakfast.

HI Boston

This cheap and cheerful hostel offers 481 beds in total, and is niftily located in the Theater District/Chinatown area. There is a games room, cafe bar, internet access and laundry facilities. If you're not a member of Hostelling International, you have to pay a daily $3 charge, but this is still one of the cheapest, centrally located accommodation options around.

Hotel Marlowe

Stars, compasses, planets and diamond/harlequin patterns are part of the 'discovery' motif at the funky and fun Hotel Marlowe. Around the faux-marble fireplace of the tufted-velvet walled living room, there are complimentary evening wine hours and Wednesday evening poetry readings. Comfortable crimson and gold guest rooms are accented with velvet, leopard-print carpets, furry blankets and amenities that include modern electronic comfort, Aveda toiletries and leopard-patterned terrycloth robes. Even four-legged guests are regaled with leopard-print collar tags, treats and other pet services. The inviting American-styled brasserie, Bambara, is adjacent to the hotel.