This past summer I made two amazing travel discoveries. 1) There are great deals to be had flying to Europe from Boston. (Even with buying a roundtrip ticket to Boston from SF we saved hundreds of dollars in airfare) 2) You can get to downtown Boston from the airport in 15 minutes or less making it a really easy and affordable city to spend a day in.
Getting to Downtown Boston from Logan International Airport
There are so many ways that you can get to downtown Boston from the airport. Aside from good ol’ Uber you can take the metro or even a water taxi.
Taking A Water Taxi: We took a water taxi into the city when we arrived. The water taxi option appealed to me because I had heard that with Rowes Wharf Water Transport they will store your luggage for the day, which was a huge selling point. But when we got to the dock and tried to call a water taxi from Rowes Wharf, nobody answered. fortunately a bubbly captain from Boston Harbor Cruises picked us up and by the time our 10 minute journey had concluded we had info on a different place to store our luggage and where to grab a bite for breakfast. PROS: Nice views of the city from the boat, refreshing to be on the water after being on a plane, fun. CONS: Pricey. Rowes Wharf Airport/Luggage Storage Package is $28 per person and includes roundtrip water taxi ticket and all day luggage storage. The Boston Harbor Cruises water taxi is $12 per person each way.
Getting to downtown from the airport via water taxi
- Get your bags from baggage claim.
- Follow signs to the area to catch the free airport shuttle bus (#66). The bus stops at all terminals every 10-15 minutes.
- Take the free airport shuttle bus #66 to the dock
- Use the free phones at the dock to call a taxi or call beforehand via cell phone
- Expect to pay around $12 per person (depending on which company/package you chose) for an approximately 10 minute ride
- Get dropped off at the dock by the Marriott Long Wharf
- Make your way inside to the luggage storage area and drop off your bags. It’s expected that you will tip the bellhop in exchange to storing your bags for the day. We were told to “give a little on the way in and a little on the way out”.
- Explore the city baggage free
Taking the Metro: After having spent a day wandering the city we felt confident getting back to the airport via metro. It was absurdly easy and fast. And about 1/4 of what we paid to take the water taxi into the city. There is a Metro stop a few steps away from the Marriott (on the side of the Marriott closest to the aquarium) which makes it remarkably easy to store your bags and get to and from the airport for cheap. Pros: Cheap, Fast, Easy Cons: Less ambiance than the water taxi. Probably no Christmas card photo ops on the metro…
Getting to downtown via the Metro
- Take the free Massport Airport Shuttle to the Blue Line Subway
- Purchase your ticket
- About five minutes later get off at the Aquarium stop which puts you next to the Marriott Long Wharf for luggage storage and a few short blocks away from Freedom Trail attractions such as Faneuil Hall.
What To Do With Your Baggage
Dragging suitcases around a city is a surefire way to turn a day of sightseeing into a torturous, physically exhausting, stressful endeavor. Money spent on ditching your bags for the day is money well spend. unfortunately Logan International Airport doesn’t have baggage lockers. So your best bet for freeing yourself of your 49lb “rolling” suitcase is to go with either the Rowes Wharf Water Taxi option or leaving is at the Marriott as mentioned above.
What To Do On Your Long Layover
There are so many free attractions in Boston that you can easily have a thoroughly enjoyable day for less than $20. The Freedom Trail is the easiest way to see many of the cities historic sites. To explore the 2.5 mile Freedom Trail you can book a tour through the Freedom Trail Foundation or make your own DIY tour. Ticket Cost: Adult: $12 ,Children 6-12: $6.50, Under 5 years old: Free
- Drop your bags at the Marriott. Grab a free map of the city while you’re there.
- Head in the direction of Quincy Market/ Faneuil Hall. You can can grab some food at Quincy Market. If you’ve arrived before 8am the food vendors inside will likely still be closed. In that case it’s probably best just to grab breakfast someplace else or simply grab a coffee and a pastry from any of the many coffee shops in the area. If you’ve booked a tour go to the arranged meeting spot.
- If you’re doing a DIY Freedom Trail tour, follow the red line on the pavement. As long as you’re following the line you are on the Freedom Trail. Sleep-deprived, jet-lagged exploration made easy!
- Wander through the cemeteries, stroll through Boston Commons, pass by Paul Revere’s house and continue onward to Bunker Hill.
- Retrace your steps to end up back where you began or hop in an Uber if your legs are tired or you’re short on time.
Note: Many of the attractions are free. Some have an entry fee. Most don’t open until 9 or 10am. If you arrive early you can explore Boston Commons or get breakfast while you wait for everything to open. Also, the National Parks Service offers free talks/programs throughout the day at many of the sites. We were captivated by the ranger led lesson on Bunker Hill and also enjoyed listening to the program at Faneuil Hall.
Where to Eat
A big perk of spending your layover in the city versus in the airport is all the great food options. Instead of munching greasy, overpriced airport chow mien under fluorescent lights you can fill your belly with a nourishing meal that will keep you fueled up until you get to your destination.
- Quincy Market: Every possible type of eatery imaginable. Great place to get a quick bite to eat.
- Legal Harborside: There are several “Legal” eateries throughout the city. This one is a little bit of a walk from the Quincy Market area but it’s a lively place to eat and has nice views of the water.
- “Athleisure” was invented for travel+urban exploration days. Make sure to wear layers and clothes that you can easily wander a city in.
- Pack anything that you might need for your day in Boston at the top of your suitcase or in a bag in your suitcase so it’s easily accessible.
- A small backpack is perfect for carrying your water bottle, Freedom Trail map, some sunscreen, etc
- If the weather isn’t conducive to city exploration or you’re traveling with young children the Aquarium is also an easy option and can be reached from the airport via water taxi or blue line subway ( aquarium stop).
- Read the info in the Freedom Trail map or plan on listening to a few of the free ranger programs to enrich your understanding of the historical significance of the different sites.