Boston on a Budget: 8 Top Money-Saving Tips for Your Trip

One of the biggest shocks I experienced on my first visit to Boston was how expensive the city was. I expected it from New York City and Los Angeles but from Boston?

Despite the city’s high cost, Boston is still well worth visiting. Plus, there are some great ways to save on a budget.

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This estimate covers accommodation, transportation, food, attractions, and miscellaneous expenses. It does not include the cost of transport to Boston.

1. Explore Boston in the Off-Season

With many significant events throughout the year, Boston’s off-season can be hard to find. The Boston Marathon, Red Sox games and college graduations all increase the cost of visiting the city.

The cheapest time to visit Boston is November to April. However, there’s a catch. This is also when the city experiences the coldest weather, with several feet of snow not uncommon.

2. Boston’s Cheapest Neighbourhoods

The cheapest neighbourhoods to stay in while visiting Boston include:

  • Allston-Brighton
  • Jamaica Plain
  • Mission Hill

Staying in these neighbourhoods means a slightly longer commute to some of the city’s major attractions. However, staying here can also save you upwards of $200 a night.

3. Boston’s Hotel Alternatives

Accommodation is going to be your biggest expense when visiting Boston. If you’re travelling on a shoestring budget, you may have to look at hotel alternatives. These include:

  • Hostels
  • Guesthouse
  • Airbnb & Vrbo
  • Couch Surfing

On my first visit to Boston in 2016, I stayed at HI Boston. This is one of the best hostels in the city, and it is centrally located with plenty of amenities.

4. Grab a City Pass

If you want to visit multiple attractions in Boston, consider picking up a Boston City Pass. These fixed-price tickets give you entry into several of Boston’s most popular attractions. This includes:

  1. New England Aquarium
  2. Museum of Science
  3. Boston Harbor City Cruises
  4. View Boston Observation Deck
  5. Franklin Park Zoo
  6. Harvard Museum of Natural History

5. Take the T

You don’t need to hire a car while in Boston. The city is very walkable. However, if you need to travel further, I recommend public transport.

Boston’s public transport network is one of the best in the United States and is made up of the following:

  • Buses
  • Subway
  • Rail

Run by the MBTA, commonly known as the T. A single ride starts from $2.40, but you can get a 7-day pass from just $22.50.

Navigating the city of Boston using the T is easy. The subway has four lines: Red, Orange, Green, and Blue. Meanwhile, the Silver Line is a bus service that connects you to South Station and Logan Airport.

When travelling to the airport using the T, allow plenty of time for cancellations or delays. You should aim to arrive at Boston Logan Airport roughly 2 to 3 hours before your flight.

6. Walking & Cycling Through Boston

Walking and cycling are great alternatives to public transport in Boston. Most of the city’s major attractions are within 2 square miles. Meanwhile, neighbourhoods are connected by open green spaces and parks.

For slightly longer distances, check out Boston’s bike-sharing program, BlueBikes. There are hundreds of BlueBike stations in Downtown Boston and nearby towns. Borrowing a bike costs just $2.95 for a single ride (up to 30 minutes) or $10 for a 24-hour pass.

7. Boston’s Best Free & Low-Cost Attractions

The city of Boston has several fantastic attractions for visitors to enjoy. Many of which are free or very affordable. Some of my favourite budget-friendly Boston attractions include:

  • Freedom Trail: This trail takes you to 16 historic sites within the city.
  • Boston Common: The oldest city park in the United States.
  • Fenway Park: Home to the Boston Red Sox, daily guided tours start from just $21.
  • Faneuil Hall: Played a pivotal role in Boston’s history.
  • Quincy Market: This food hall has more than 50 different vendors.

Did you know? Boston is one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly cities in the United States. I have travelled to Boston independently as a masc presenting lesbian and with my wife and received no form of discrimination.

8. Budget-Friendly Boston Eats

Boston has an underrated culinary scene. While high-end restaurants here are expensive, tasty, cheap eats are easy to find if you know where to look.

  • Time Out Market Boston: Located in Fenway, this is my go-to food spot in the city.
  • SOWA: You’ll find several fantastic food trucks here.
  • Chinatown: An excellent choice for flavourful food, but seating in the best cheap places here can be limited.


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