This post is about how to visit Boston, Massachusetts, on the cheap.
We list dozens of ways that you can enjoy all that this city has to offer even if you are on a shoestring budget.
Much of our advice comes directly from our tour guides in Boston who have personal experience with how to save money, or from members of our Facebook Group who have their own interesting tips.
Let's start saving money!
- Finding Discounts Online
- Flight and Travel in Boston
- Free Museums and Attractions
- Save on Sightseeing Tours
- Eating, Drinking, and Nightlife on a Budget
- Affordable Accommodations
- Discount Shopping
FINDING DISCOUNTS BEFORE YOU ARRIVE
Be sure to check our comprehensive list of free things to do in Boston.
We even have Boston ghost tours!
When reviewing the below discounts, you may find it helpful to have a breakdown of where your money will go on your trip to Boston.
Tourist Attraction Discount Passes
Even before you arrive in Boston, consider buying a tourist pass.
Depending on which pass you buy, you could save as much as 55% on the cost of attractions that are likely on your must-see list.
Likewise, many companies offer bundles that combine their boat and bus tours with popular Boston attractions.
There are two tourist passes worth considering on your trip to Boston. First is Go City pass and second one is CityPass.
Even members of our Facebook Group recommend using these passes, indicating they saved quite a bit of money by using them.
Most popular among the tourist is Go City pass which offers day wise and attractions wise passes.
You can buy All-Inclusive pass which is available in 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 day options and lets you visit as many attractions as you can within the chosen time limit.
Explorer pass lets you chose the number of attractions with the choices of 2, 3, 4 and 5 attractions and gives you 60 days’ time to visit the chosen attractions at your convenience.
Both the variants of this pass give you access to 45+ attractions of Boston and includes some popular attractions like New England Aquarium, USS Constitution Museum, Franklin Park Zoo and Hyannisport Harbor Cruise.
This pass provides admission to 4 attractions of Boston, 2 fixed attractions (New England Aquarium & Museum of Science) and 2 more attractions of your choice.
These attractions are Boston Harbor City Cruises, Franklin Park Zoo, Harvard Museum of Natural History & View Boston Observation Deck.
Unlike the Go City Pass, this pass only lets you visit 6 attractions thus making it relatively less popular choice among tourists.
The validity of this pass is 9 days from the first day of visit to an attraction.
Also, check Groupon for discounts on tours, tickets to shows, meals, top attractions, and more.
Getting to Boston
You can find cheap flights to New York City if you know the tricks on when to book, what days to travel, and where you can find discount discounts.
Here are some common tips which you should follow to minimize your travel expense to Boston.
- For the start, search on flight comparison websites like Google Flights, Skyscanner, and Kayak to compare ticket prices across various airlines and booking platforms.
- Try to be flexible with your travel dates, as mid-week flights and off-peak seasons tend to offer cheaper fares.
- Boston has 3 airports in its vicinity, Logan International, Manchester Regional Airport & Worcester Regional Airport. Consider the airport with more affordable ticket options.
- Finally, book your flights in advance and explore different booking options, like one-way tickets or package deals, to find the most economical options for your trip to Boston.
If you want to save money on cell phone costs, our post Which SIM Card to Buy? will help you out.
Getting around Boston
Once you are here, you will want to save some money getting around.
Best way to get around Boston is using the MBTA, also commonly known as the "T".
It operates an extensive network of buses, subways, trolleys, and commuter trains that serve the Greater Boston area.
The subway, known as the "T," consists of four lines: Red, Orange, Blue, and Green, connecting various neighbourhoods and key attractions.
Buses cover additional areas and are a reliable means of transport.
Commuter rail services are available for travel to suburbs and nearby cities.
Ferry routes connect city to nearby islands and waterfront neighbourhoods, providing a scenic and budget-friendly alternative.
All these options together cover almost every attraction in and around Boston and offers cheap commute to them.
If your luggage is weighing you down before you can check in or after you check out of your hotel, check our post on where to store your luggage in Boston.
FREE MUSEUMS AND ATTRACTIONS
With plenty of free museums and attractions, one could keep themselves busy in Boston for a week or more without spending a penny.
Also, check Groupon for discounts on tours, tickets to shows, meals, top attractions, and more.
Again, look at the options for tourist passes (mentioned above).
They include so many of the city's tourist attractions, museums, and other activities, you really could save a bundle.
Museums and Institutions
You will be amazed by how many museums offer free admission in Boston.
Some museums are technically free, but they just don't advertise it.
You don't need to pay the full price, which is a suggested donation.
You can donate any amount of money to gain entry to their main exhibit halls. This could be huge savings for families!
Have a look at our long list of always-free museums. To name some, here are a list of few always free museum:
- U.S.S. Constitution Museum
- Waterworks Museum
- Commonwealth Museum
- Boston University Art Galleries
- Boston Fire Museum
- Ancient & Honorable Artillery Company
- Bunker Hill Museum
Attractions and Other Activities
Start saving by reading our post on Boston Passes which offers huge discounts on city’s top attractions.
For even more affordable attractions, see our post on Free Things to Do in Boston.
Here are a few activities and attraction that you can enjoy for free:
- Walk the Freedom Trail.
- See the Granary Burying Ground.
- Take a Tour of the Samuel Adams Brewery.
- Enjoy Harvard Square and a Free Tour of Harvard University.
- Visit the Boston Public Library.
- Climb the Bunker Hill Monument.
- Check Out the Faneuil Hall Marketplace.
- Have Fun at Boston Common and public gardens.
- Stroll on riverside path at Charles River Esplanade.
- Take a photo with Make Way For Ducklings statue.
FREE AND DISCOUNTED SIGHTSEEING TOURS
Of course, we would love for you to join us on one of our pay-what-you-wish tours. But you have many other options too.
We have a vast array of downloadable and free self-guided tours, as well as many GPS-enabled audio tours.
Here are some of our popular tours among tourist worth looking:
WEEKLY TOURS (4-6 times a week)
- North End & Little Italy
- Beacon Hill Crime
- Cambridge & Harvard
- The Story of Boston: Told along the Freedom Trail
TIP: Before booking a tour, note that many sightseeing tours are included for free in several tourist passes.
EATING, DRINKING, AND NIGHTLIFE ON A BUDGET
Boston is well-known for its delicious inexpensive cuisine (if you know where to go).
We do, and our post on Boston Food has dozens of listings for every type of food.
To get you started, see our most popular food posts:
Our Boston Facebook group also provide you with suggestions of locals, tour guides and travellers.
For an affordable way to taste a variety of Boston flavours, try one of the food tours listed by TripAdvisor.
Also, always check out Groupon for deals. Especially when it comes to food and drink, they will often have great deals of between 20% - 30% off at local restaurants.
Here is our post on one of the most famous bars of Boston, Cheers Bar in Boston.
To know more affordable places to grab a drink, read our Facebook group.
It's also worth noting that most Boston pub crawls offer drink specials at the bars and clubs they visit, allowing you to save money while discovering some of the best spots for a drink in the city!
In addition to getting a meal or grabbing a drink to occupy your night on a budget, take a look at our Free Things to Do at Night in Boston.
There, you will find a section with free activities. Throughout the post many other things to do at night are affordable.
We also have a full post on What to do at Night in Boston.
If you are on a strict budget, here are just a few suggestions:
- Stargaze at the Coit Observatory.
- Laugh at an open mic comedy show.
- Watch a movie at the Hatch Shell. (seasonal)
- Enjoy a concert at the Berklee Performance Center.
- Take in the sights at the observation deck at Prudential Center (View Boston).
- See what’s available at the Faneuil Hall Marketplace.
- Learn about Astronomy at the Museum of Science.
WHERE TO STAY IN NEW YORK ON A BUDGET
Believe it or not, it’s possible to find great Budget hotel as low as $80 per night for a clean, comfortable hotel room in a prime location.
In our "Affordable Hotels in Boston" (upcoming) post, we list budget options in each of Boston’s main hotel districts based on feedback from our Facebook group members.
These additional posts will also show you how.
Inexpensive Hotels in New York City (link for the upcoming post) - an extensive list of hotels with reasonable prices in many neighborhoods around the city. Our top 3 choices are:
Hostels in New York – Our Facebook group will provide you with best hostel options in Boston.
TripAdvisor Best Value Hotels - Top 10 affordable hotels in Boston. You can book here as well.
Air B+B - Stay with local guests in your private room or even rent an entire apartment for yourself. Prices are comparable or less than hotels.
TIP: For something a little less conventional but a huge money saver to be a House Sitter - watch someone's house (and sometimes pets) for free while they are away.
DISCOUNT BOSTON SHOPPING
Boston is one of the top world destinations for shoppers. It's easy to spend all your travel money on top-shelf designer clothes.
However, shopping can be both fun and affordable. Follow our advice on how to save big in shopping in Boston.
Members of our Facebook Group frequently discuss this very subject, covering retail sales, sample sales, discount department stores, designer resale, and consignment stores as well as thrift and second-hand shops.
Visit a premium clothing outlet. The most famous is Wrentham Village Premium Outlets, but there are others that are also quite excellent.