Boston Logan International Airport, +1 800-23-LOGAN (56426), is the main gateway to Boston and New England. It is in East Boston a few kilometers from downtown. Logan is a modern, relatively clean, and easy to get around airport, with terminals directly connected: A and B are fairly close to each other, it is possible to walk from C to E, and all are connected by above-ground enclosed walkways like spokes to the hub of the central parking garage. Free MassPort shuttle buses do the loop around the terminals (number 11) and also go to the Airport subway station on the MBTA Blue Line (number 55; in peak hours two shortened routes, 22 and 33, connect the station with terminals A-B and C-E respectively). Logan has a bevy of dining options considering its size, although they're typically expensive, even for Boston. It also has limited shopping facilities. Security is typically tight, as is true at most major American airports, and you can expect the TSA to be thorough, although reasonably efficient and quick, especially compared to other airports such as New York's JFK.
It is the major airport for New England and provides frequent non-stop service to most major cities in the United States and almost all major European airports. Boston is a hub for low cost carrier JetBlue Airways, and is also served domestically by Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United, and US Airways. There is a wide choice of flights to Canada (both Canadian and domestic carriers) and Caribbean (Delta, JetBlue and US Airways). The European carriers that fly to Boston from their hubs include British Airways and Virgin Atlantic (London-Heathrow), Air France/KLM (Paris, Amsterdam), Alitalia (Rome), Lufthansa (Frankfurt, Munich), Aer Lingus (Dublin, Shannon), Swiss (Zurich), Icelandair (Reykjavik), SATA (Azores, Lisbon) and Iberia (Madrid). Getting to Boston from Asia used to require at least a one stop connection, but JAL now flies non-stop from Tokyo-Narita, and both Turkish Airlines and Emirates announced plans to start direct service to Logan from Istanbul and Dubai respectively in the spring of 2014. Central America is represented by Copa (Panama City), and Africa by TACV (Cabo Verde).
International arrivals (apart from most flights from Canada) arrive at Terminal E, even if the airline uses another terminal for departing flights.
Public Airport Transportation
The MBTA Blue Line and one of the two branches of the Silver Line go to Logan. The Silver Line is a BRT, or Bus Rapid Transit system, that stops at each terminal every 10 to 15 minutes, from 6AM-12:45AM every day (5:35AM start M-Sa). It looks like a bus, but also frequently runs on tracks and can draw power from an overhead pantograph, although it is not reliant on electric power. From the airport, the Silver Line travels along the South Boston waterfront and terminates at South Station. Convenient transfers are available to the Red Line, south-side commuter rail trains, and southwesterly Amtrak trains.
A ride on the Silver Line buses or Blue Line trains requires either a CharlieTicket, which is a more expensive paper ticket with a set amount of money pre-loaded, or a CharlieCard, which is a RFID-based fare card in the style of London's Oyster card or Hong Kong's Octopus card. Pricing, which is for a flat fare, varies depending on whether you use a CharlieTicket or a CharlieCard, but is generally around $2 per ride. Transfers are free and both CharlieCards and CharlieTickets are valid on almost all forms of public transportation run by the MBTA, or Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, with the exception of the Commuter Rail and Ferry, neither of which are necessary for tourists.
To get to/from the Blue Line Airport station from the airport itself, you need to take a free Massport shuttle (check the signs outside the terminals to see which ones to take). The last Blue Line train leaves Airport station shortly after about 12:30AM. The subway service is more frequent than buses, but both the Silver Line and the Blue Line will get you to the city centre, albeit on Boston time.
Private Airport Transportation
Taxis are more expensive than in many other cities. Fortunately, the airport is very near the city so the fare is not extremely expensive, if your driver is honest. It would be about $25 for fares to Boston, and less if you are staying downtown in the financial district. If you're not driving or being picked up, you'll need to take a taxi if you are at the airport when the T is not running. A number of travelers have reported taxi drivers taking longer routes on purpose, falsely claiming a $40 flat fare to downtown Boston (there are no flat fares from the airport—insist on the meter), or falsely claiming the often more-direct Sumner Tunnel to be closed and taking the much longer Williams Tunnel route instead. You should research your route and inform your driver what route you want to go, or look up the traffic conditions on your smartphone if possible, to avoid being cheated. Note that a $7.50 origination surcharge from the airport is lawful and permissible (including tolls). There are always unlicensed taxis or vans at Logan, so if you see a taxi or van without what looks like official livery, it's probably fake and you might want to consider a metered taxi unless there are no other options. That said, there is no one livery for Boston taxis, so your taxi may be blue and white or checkered green just depending on who you get. Cab models also vary, but the two most common for official companies are Ford Crown Victorias and Toyota Camry hybrids.
Other shuttle services that go to the airport include:
If you're driving to Logan from the north, take the Callahan Tunnel; from the south or the west, take the Ted Williams Tunnel. Routes are well marked, and there is no toll in this direction. Driving from the airport to downtown Boston or to points north, including Interstate 93 northbound (as long as it is at exit, take the Sumner Tunnel; for points south and west, including Interstate 93 southbound (or northbound for exit 23) and Interstate 90, take the Ted Williams Tunnel. There is a $3.50 toll for either tunnel. Routes are well marked, but the airport road system is complex. Read the signs carefully and be sure you're in the correct lane, or you may be forced to swerve across several lanes of traffic to catch an unexpected off-ramp.
You may also consider flying into nearby airports which sometimes offer less expensive fares: Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (50 miles north of Boston, accessible via Interstate 93) or T.F. Green Airport (60 miles south of Boston, accessible via Interstate 93 then Interstate 95). Public transportation from these airports to Boston is infrequent, so if your final destination is Boston, renting a car is the best option. The cost of getting from these airports into central Boston often negates any savings on lower airfares, and Logan is the only airport in the region which offers frequent service to essentially any destination. If you use a flight planning tool, Logan will typically come up as your only option just due to the sheer size of Logan in comparison to the other regional airports.
Hanscom Field off Interstate 95 near Bedford, Lexington and Burlington, northwest of Boston mostly serves general aviation traffic - although the airport has at various times been served with commuter flights to Trenton, New Jersey .
Worcester Airport, 40 miles west of Boston and also, like Logan and Bedford, under control of MassPort, is in a state of constant negotiation of contracts for commercial traffic, which so far failed to produce stable results. The latest attempt holds promise, as it is not with a small regional player, but with JetBlue, which opened daily service to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale in Florida in 2013.
Amtrak, +1 800 872 7245, the national passenger rail service, serves Boston. Boston has three intercity rail stations, which serve both Amtrak and MBTA commuter rail trains.
The following Amtrak routes serve Boston:
There is no direct train service between Canada and Boston, although you can string a trip together on two separate tickets using the Maple Leaf and Northeast Regional. The trip to Boston results in a five hour layover at Penn Station and a connecting train to Boston that leaves at 2:30AM, the return trip requires spending a night in Manhattan. You can also connect from the Maple Leaf to the Lake Shore Limited at Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, or Albany - although this requires an overnight layover in both directions. Unless you're interested in visiting New York City or an upstate city in addition to Boston, you'd probably be better served by bus: Boston can be reached directly from Montreal or with one connection (in Buffalo) from Toronto on Greyhound, Trailways, Megabus and a few others.
The local regional rail system is the Commuter Rail. The Commuter Rail uses older heavy rail train cars similar to those on New York's Metro-North. They are cheap, although much more expensive than the Boston "subway", or T. If you are coming from Providence, the Commuter Rail is significantly cheaper ($7.75 versus $16) and more frequent than Amtrak. Remember, the North-South rule applies to which station you use:
Arriving by train has the advantage of putting you within easy reach of most downtown destinations by public transit.
Greyhound and Peter Pan Bus serve many cities from South Station but are generally much more expensive than the so-called Chinatown buses, with Greyhound and PPB averaging $30 to the Port Authority bus terminal in midtown Manhattan (New York City). However, eSaver fares available online make the Greyhound fare between Boston & NYC as low as $15 each way. The Chinatown buses, along with low-fare competitors Megabus and BoltBus, specialize exclusively in nonstop express service between Boston's South Station and various points in NYC from Chinatown to midtown Manhattan. Some Chinatown buses average $12.50 one way. BoltBus, Megabus, as well as Greyhound/PeterPan also advertise free Wi-Fi aboard most buses to New York City - whether it works or not is a completely different story.
Besides New York City, bus service to Boston is also available from:
Keep in mind that if you're taking a bus to Boston from anywhere other than New York City, typically only a single bus company serves the route. Philadelphia and Washington (served by Bolt) are fairly reasonable if you book at least a week or two in advance (since pricing is demand based), although routes served by Greyhound/ Peter Pan can range from pricey to outright extortion. If you're coming from upstate New York, Ohio or beyond, it's worth looking on Kayak or Expedia - a plane ticket may be comparable or even cheaper than traveling by bus. For Canadian visitors, direct flights between Buffalo and Boston on either JetBlue, Southwest or US Airways can downright cheap if booked far enough in advance.
A word about driving in Boston: DON'T! Why not?:
Consider dropping your car at a lot and taking the "T" in. Parking at MBTA commuter rail and terminal subway locations is usually cheaper than parking in the city. In particular, the Riverside (Grove Street) stop at the end of the Green D line is right off I-95, and is $5.75 to park ALL DAY. You can even park overnight for $6.75 each extra day. Stations on the south end of the Red Line (Braintree, Quincy Adams, etc...) are $7. Commuter rail stations are even cheaper. See the Public Transit section in the "Get around" section below.
Boston has two major highways entering it, I-93 and I-90 (the Massachusetts Turnpike, or "Mass Pike", or just "the Pike"; locals do not usually call it "I-90", though they will typically know what you are referring to). I-93 enters the city from the north and the south; the section running from Boston southward is usually referred to as the "Southeast Expressway" (or just "the Expressway") but the northern section is just "93" (sometimes called the Northern Expressway, although this is much less frequent than I-93 south of Boston's tunnels) The Pike enters Boston from the west. The Mass Pike is a toll road - expect to pay $1.25 to enter the city via the Pike, in addition to the tolls charged when arriving at the I-90 / I-95 interchange in Weston, just outside the city (variable based on distance travelled, max price is $3.85 if you drive all the way from the automatic ticket machines near the New York border). Also, if you enter The Pike in East Boston (at Logan Airport) the toll is $3.50. There are minor roads, of course, that enter Boston as well, including Route 9 (Old Worcester Turnpike), Route 2, and US 1. Another major highway, I-95, encircles the Boston area. Be aware that the vast majority of locals refer to I-95 as "Route 128", which is I-95's former name, so they may not know what is being referred to. Route 128 is still reflected to on signs with I-95 and its signage only due to public pressure on MassDOT. It is rare for traffic reporters to not omit the I-95 and I-93 designations from this stretch. Past Canton and I-93's southern end signs no longer reflect the 128 designation, although traffic reporters and much of the public still call it 128. North of I-95's departure from the half-beltway in Peabody on the North Shore the road is still designated as 128 to its ending. Adding to this mass confusion US-1 follows the southern part of the road, and only white roadside signs indicate the old 128 designation.
There are many car rental places around Boston, but one of the most unique is Zipcar, an hourly car rental service. If you don't plan to do much driving, this may be an economical alternative to owning a car. If you want to use Zipcar, you should try signing up in advance (students of universities in Boston may be able to get a discount). Rental fees and taxes differ between Boston and Cambridge, but the rental agencies at Logan Airport (in East Boston) are still usually less expensive and have a greater fleet of cars available.
In addition to the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90), the Sumner Tunnel is a toll road (coming from the airport only), along with the Ted Williams Tunnel (from airport only), and the Tobin Bridge (southbound/from the North Shore only).
If driving on a major highway during rush hour, do not be surprised to see cars driving in the breakdown lane on the shoulder. This is permitted in certain areas, at certain times, as indicated by signs along the road.
As a general rule, especially as a tourist unfamiliar with the city, alternatives are favored over driving - even when just getting in or out of the city. Boston is one of the densest major cities in the U.S. - perfect for walking, biking, or using the collection of mass transit systems known as the T. Driving can be confusing and dangerous with numerous one way streets, narrow roads, and continuous road construction. Driving conditions have improved after the completion of the infamous Big Dig, but it is still not recommended to those unfamiliar with the area.
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