Boston Bus Tours

Reviewed by Local Tour Guides

BOOK MY TOUR!
Updated: November 15, 2023

This post covers the various Boston bus tours, including hop-on hop-off trolley tours, amphibious vehicles, themed tours, and day trips.

If you are unsure which option is best, or which ticket to choose, know that you are not alone.

We regularly answer questions about bus tours from people like you in our Boston Travel Tips Facebook group.

We are a group of local tour walking tour guides, and many of us also lead or have led tours on the city's buses, so, we know a thing or two about all of them.

There's no simple answer to which one is best because a lot depends on what you want or need, your budget, your interests, etc.

And, in this post, we don't actually rank the options, rather we do our best to illustrate for whom each deck is best suited.


HOP-ON-HOP-OFF BOSTON BUS TOURS & TROLLEY TOURS

Through these tours, you will explore Boston attractions like Old North Church, seaport, historic Copley Square, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, and much more.

You also get a chance to explore historic Boston, be a part of the revolution, and learn the tales of adventurers from the birthplace of American Independence regarding the new world and the rebellion in opposition to the British Crown.

Here is the list of attractions you might visit:

  • Freedom Trail
  • Faneuil Hall Marketplace
  • Paul Revere House
  • Old North Church
  • USS Constitution Museum
  • Bunker Hill Monument
  • Massachusetts State House
  • Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
  • King's Chapel and Burying Ground
  • Old State House Museum

We also provide tips on discount vouchers and value and inform you about all relevant services on Boston Trolley Tours, like full refunds and others.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of hop-on hop-off bus tours?

Hop-on hop-off tours provide an accessible and flexible way to explore new places, covering vast areas and multiple landmarks.

Despite infrequent service and a lack of assigned seating, the advantages, such as onboard commentary, panoramic views, and the ability to customize your itinerary, often outweigh the disadvantages.

TIP: If you are considering a tourist discount pass for your time in Boston, be sure to read our guide to Boston tourist attraction passes.


OLD TOWN TROLLEY

This company offers 18 best hop-on and hop-off stops where you can get on and off as often as you wish (within your ticket time period).

Old Town Trolley Tours operate from 9 am - 5 pm from April through October and 9 am - 4 pm from November through March.

Tours are not available on Christmas Day and Thanksgiving.

If you need a wheelchair-accessible trolley, you must tell us at the time of booking to avoid any inconvenience.

The expert tour conductors are at your service to make it a great introduction to Boston.

As far as pets are concerned, only service animals are allowed, no emotional support animals.

Infants and animals must sit on laps.

Stops are made at the USS Constitution, Famous Boston Common, North Station, Historic North End, Copp’s Hill Burying Grounds, the Cheers Bar, Fenway Park, the Boston Convention Center, and more.

The Old Town Trolley runs every 20 or 30 minutes.

The tour takes approximately 1 and a half hours with the utmost satisfaction guarantee.


Reviews:

Of all the trolley companies, Old Town Trolley is the best-reviewed company of all the 4 trolley companies in Boston, but it is also the most expensive.

Although there are a few negative comments here and there, this company has a 4 ½ out of 5 stars rating overall on TripAdvisor.

Reviews for their hop-on, hop-off service are generally favorable, with most passengers reporting that this is a very good deal.

A lot of guests enjoy the ability to hop off whenever they wish, exploring the city at their own pace.

Recommended for:  Those looking for a premium hop-on, hop-off Boston bus service.


Prices (as of April 2023):

The prices listed below are for advanced online purchases for either a 1-day hop-on, hop-off ticket, or a 2-day ticket.

All tickets include a discount of 50% off a historic harbor cruise for free from April - November.

Each ticket also includes a discount of $6 off admission to the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.

As if that weren't enough, you can also use this ticket to get $10 off the Ghosts & Gravestones Tour!

If you purchase a ticket on board, the prices are slightly more expensive. 

1 Day ticket:

  • 1-Day Hop on Hop Off Trolley Tour
  • 50% off Historic Harbor Cruise
  • $10 off Ghosts & Gravestones Tour
  • $5 off Summer Nights Sightseeing Bus Tour
  • $6 off Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
    • Adults - $49.83
    • Children (4-12) - $28.88
    • Children (under 4) - FREE

2 Day ticket + Harbor Tour:

  • 2-Day Hop on Hop Off Trolley Tour
  • 50% off Historic Harbor Cruise
  • $10 off Ghosts & Gravestones Tour
  • $5 off Summer Nights Sightseeing Bus Tour
  • $6 off Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
    • Adults - $74.75
    • Children (4-12) - $43.32
    • Children (under 4) - FREE

Purchase your tickets here.

TIP: You can save an extra 5% off using Tiqets!

NOTE: The Summer Nights Sightseeing Tour is only available from June - September.


CITY VIEW TROLLEY

This hop-on-hop-off company offers Boston tours year-round and their first stop is at Long Wharf Boston.

Depending on the season, they also offer a 45-minute harbor cruise with the purchase of tickets.

This is one of the more affordable options available to the visitor.

Cityview Trolley Tours Boston

It also doesn’t hurt that the company has a 4 ½ out of 5 stars rating on TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide (see some of the reviews).

Most reviews for this service are very favorable, with some guests indicating that they do a good job of staying on schedule.

Other comments suggest that this is a great way to discover the city before heading out on your own.

Trolley Tour (1 day) (as of April 2023):

  • Adults (13 years or over) - $44
  • Seniors (62+) - $42
  • Children (5-12) - $21
  • Children (under 4) - Free

Trolley Tour (2 days):

  • Adults (13 years or over) - $88
  • Seniors (62+) - $84
  • Children (5-12) - $42
  • Children (under 4) - Free

Purchase your tickets here with a 24-hour cancelation policy.

NOTE: This tour is included at no extra cost with the Boston Go City All-Inclusive Pass.

Hours: 

  • April to August: Daily. 9:30 am - 5:00 pm, Trolleys run at 10-15 minute frequency
  • September, October, and November:  Daily, 9:30 am to 4:30 pm; Trolleys depart every 20-30 minutes

BEANTOWN TROLLEY

Offered by Gray Line, this company provides hop-on, hop-off tours year-round.

With a total of 20 stops, a full circuit takes approximately 90 minutes.

That being said, if you decide to hop off and enjoy the sites for a while, you could easily spend all day exploring some of the most notable locations in Boston!

In addition, you can add a 45-minute Boston Harbor cruise to each ticket option for an extra $12.

This is a great way to enjoy two different tours and see as much of the city as possible in a short amount of time. Their TripAdvisor reviews are average at best.

Recommended for those who are also looking for a harbor cruise and/or to save money.


Prices (as of April 2023):

1-Day Ticket:

  • Adults - $40
  • Children (3-12) - $18
  • Children (under 3) - Free

2-Day Ticket:

  • Adults - $47
  • Children (3-12) - $23
  • Children (under 3) - Free
  • You could purchase 2-day tickets directly here.

BOSTON DUCK TOURS

One of the most popular bus tours in this city is the famous Duck Tours of Boston.

This company uses WWII-era amphibious landing vehicles, which work surprisingly well for touring, to take the guests on both a short city tour and a short water cruise on the Charles River.

The Duck Tours are not a hop-off/hop-on tour like many of the other bus tours in the area, but in 90 minutes they cover a lot of ground and the guides are usually very knowledgeable as well as entertaining.

In Boston, the duck tours leave at three different locations: one on the waterfront behind Faneuil Hall, another in the Back Bay behind the Prudential Center, and a third in Cambridge at the Museum of Science.

Recommended for: families

The reviews for Boston Duck Tours are pretty good, and the company has received an accumulated rating of 4 ½ stars on TripAdvisor. 


Prices (as of April 2023)

Additionally, if you are on a cruise ship for a quick stopover in Boston, this company has a dock at the Black Falcon Terminal.

They will shuttle you to our tour meeting sites and will take you back to the Terminal when it is time to return to your cruise ship.


NIGHT BOSTON BUS TOURS

GHOST AND GRAVESTONES BUS TOUR

If you’re looking for a more spooky experience in Beantown, perhaps a haunted bus tour is in order.

Hear about Boston’s dark side on this 90-minute ghost bus tour with numerous costumed guides.

The tour takes place at 7 pm from April 2nd – November 15th. During the winter, you can take this tour either at 6 pm or 8 pm.

The tour covers 4 different haunted locations, which include walks through two of the city’s oldest graveyards and sights related to the Boston Strangler.

Discover some of the grisly history of this city on a fun and hair-raising bus trip. 

Recommended for: Families with kids over 6.

Almost all of the reviews for this service are very positive, which has led to the 4 ½ star rating that Ghosts and Gravestones Bus Tours has received on TripAdvisor.

Many guests have said that the cast of tour guides on this trip are very entertaining and informative.

Other comments suggest that this may, in fact, be the best tour in Boston, and that might be true if you’re interested in the haunted history of the city.


Prices (as of April 2023):

  • Adults - $42.48
  • Child (6-12) - $35.86
  • Children under 6 not permitted
  • Purchase tickets here (save 5% with Trusted Tours!)

TIP: Don't forget that if you get tickets for the Old Town Trolley, you can actually save $10 aus tickets for the Ghosts & Graveyards Tour.


BOSTON TV + MOVIE TOURS

On-Location Tours offers a "Boston Movie Mile" Walking Tour from April to October.

It is approximately 90 minutes long and covers over 30 TV shows & movie locales. 

The tour starts at the Old Town Trolley Stop store and heads through beautiful Beacon Hill, the most filmed area of Boston.

Sites include locales from The Thomas Crown Affair, Good Will Hunting, Parent Trap, The Real World, The Departed, and more.

The tour concludes at that place where everybody knows your name -- the original Cheers™

Prices (as of April 2023)

NOTE: This tour is often included with the Go City Boston Pass.


DAY TRIPS FROM BOSTON

There are a lot of exciting activities and interesting historic locations both in and around the Boston area.

If you’ve ever wanted to visit Martha’s Vineyard or get a good look at Cape Cod, a day trip from Beantown is an excellent idea. 

Plymouth, Quincy, and Mayflower II – Walk the Pilgrim’s path and watch history come to life for $145 per Adult and $109 per Child (1-12).

Fabulous Newport – Discover the mansions of Newport and enjoy a free Trolley tour for $129 per Adult and $109 per Child (1-12).

Martha's Vineyard – Visit one of the most beautiful areas of New England for $119 per Adult and $99 per Child (1-12).

Fall Foliage Spectacular – Take in the sights and sounds of New England in the fall for $132 per Adult and $114 per Child (1-12).


COMBO PACKAGES AND DISCOUNTS

If you’re looking to partake in more than one tour during your visit to Beantown, a combo package could save you a lot of money.

There are a variety of combo packages and discounts available for various attractions and tours.

Here are a few options you might want to consider before booking two or more individual trips in and around the Boston area.


GO CITY BOSTON CARD

If you’re going to be spending more than a few days in Boston, this could be an excellent opportunity to save money and experience a lot of the attractions and tours available in the area.

The Go City Boston Card offers an All-Inclusive Pass and an Explorer Pass with plenty of different tours and activities to enjoy.

If you want to combine a Trolley Tour with tickets to one or more of the many wonderful locations in Beantown, consider picking up one of these passes!

Be sure to read our post, which compares all the different tourist attraction discount passes available in Boston.

Here are the Bus and Trolley tours available with the Go City Boston Card:

City View Trolley Tour 2-Day Ticket – Included with every All-Inclusive pass and Explorer Pass.

Liberty Ride Trolley Tour – Only included with the All-Inclusive pass.


Previous Travelers' Ranks and Reviews

A great resource to find tips from real people is to pick the brains of members of our Boston Travel Tips Facebook group.

There are dozens of posts where members ask questions, give recommendations, rank options, answer polls, or simply help people understand what's available.

Our group is made up of locals, like our tour guides, expats, regular visitors, as well as newbies.

You don't need to be a member to search for and read these posts and recommendations.

It's very easy to get answers. Just watch this video below.

Und vieles, vieles mehr

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About The Author

Brian Burgess

I was born in Cambridge and have been living in the Boston area all my life. I am a graduate of Boston's Emerson College with a degree in communications with a journalism/history focus. I have been leading tours for Free Tours By Foot Boston since it was started in the city of Boston in 2012, and enjoy sharing my knowledge of Boston's rich history with not only the guests on my tours, but with everyone I meet. <a href="https://freetoursbyfoot.com/contributors/brian-burgess/" Read More...
Updated: November 15th, 2023
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