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World Travel Guide > Guides > North America > United States of America > Massachusetts > Boston

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Getting around Boston

Public transport

The Massachusetts Bay Transport Authority - MBTA (tel: +1 617 222 3200; www.mbta.com), operates Boston's colour-coded subway lines, which spread out from a central point at Park Street Station, at the northeast corner of Boston Common. The 'T', as the system is known, began in 1897 and is the oldest in the USA.

MBTA also runs commuter rail lines, boat services and numerous bus routes. The public buses are cheaper and have more stops than the subway but bus routes can be more difficult to navigate.

Daily and weekly passes are available, allowing unlimited travel on the subway, buses, and ferries. You can also pay as you go with a preloadable CharlieCard, available free at many 'T' stations.

Taxis

Taxis are plentiful and can be hailed on the street or reserved by telephone, but they are not cheap. Reliable companies include Bay State Taxi Service (tel: +1 617 566 5000) and Metro Cab (tel: +1 617 782 5500). Over the river in Cambridge, try Star Taxis (tel: +1 205 355055).

An interesting way to get to know the inner city area is to use water taxis, which run throughout the year both as commuter taxis and as ordinary water buses. Boston Harbor Cruises (tel: +1 617 227 4320; www.bostonharborcruises.com/water-taxi) has a fleet of water taxis which stop at numerous routes around the harbour, including Logan Airport.

Driving

A car is only necessary for locations outside the city as Boston is not on a simple grid plan, curving as it does to accommodate both the Charles River and the coastline. Traffic is congested and parking can be expensive and confusing with many areas having local residents' rules. Much of the central part of Boston was built before cars and so lends itself to exploration on foot, and public transport in and around Boston is good and inexpensive.

Car hire

Car hire companies include Avis (tel: +1 800 633 3469; www.avis.com), Budget (tel: +1 800 218 7992; www.budget.com) and Hertz (tel: +1 800 654 3131; www.hertz.com). Note that most car hire companies require drivers to be over 25 years of age or impose hefty surcharges.

Bicycle hire

Cycling in Boston is not for the faint-hearted. Only brave locals do so. There are scenic cycle paths along the Charles River however. Bike hire is available from Back Bay Bicycles, 362 Commonwealth Avenue (tel: +1 617 247 2336; www.backbaybicycles.com). There's also a bikeshare scheme, Hubway (tel: 1 855 948 2929; www.thehubway.com), which has more than 1,600 bikes at 180 stations across the metropolitan area. You can buy 24-hour or 72-hour membership from any bike station. After that, the first 30 minutes of any ride are free.

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City Highlight: Boston

Bursting with American history and overflowing with city pride, Boston’s grit and old-school charm are sure to rub off on its visitors

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The Liberty Hotel

Prison chic is made a reality in the Liberty Hotel. For 120 years, the Charles Street Jail held some of Boston's most infamous criminals but in 2001, Liberty designers converted the building into a classy, unique hotel. Much of the décor mirrors the building's 20th-century charms, including The Clink restaurant which features authentic cell bars and the main lobby that reveals the inner atrium of the original prison. Far from being prison-like, this upscale hotel boasts all the necessary 21st-century amenities along with stunning views of the Charles River and the Boston skyline.

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.