Boston on a Budget

Discover cheap things to do in Boston to enjoy your vacation affordably

When you travel to Boston, you'll want to explore its past and present - which is easy to do when historic landmarks such as The Freedom Trail are located alongside hip, eclectic restaurants, and world-renowned performance theaters stand next to trendy nightclubs. While you can find cheap things to do in Boston, you'll also probably want to splurge and see a baseball game at Fenway Park or have dinner on the Spirit of Boston cruise. Before you leave on your trip, use our travel guide to discover Boston on a budget with a list of free activities that can help you save so you can see the other, more expensive attractions. We'll also highlight the cost of accommodations and noteworthy attractions you'll want to see. Plus, with mobile banking from Citizens Bank, you can stay connected to your finances and manage funds while you travel to Boston.

Top 5 free activities to do in Boston

Traveling to and around a major city like Boston can be expensive, especially when there's so much to see, and such good food to eat. So, we've compiled a list of the top five free activities in Boston. Start here to save money and still experience the best of Boston.

  1. Harvard Square. Harvard Square is home to the prestigious Harvard University and more than 300 registered street performers. The streets are packed on the weekend with locals and tourists but quiet during the week. While at Harvard, you can also visit the book store or a few of the stops on the JFK trail.
  2. Bunker Hill Monument. The Battle of Bunker Hill, fought on June 17, 1775, was the first major battle of the American Revolution. Climb the 294 steps to the top of Bunker Hill Monument for a stunning view of Boston. The monument is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and the exhibit lodge is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It's also a stop on the 2.5 mile Freedom Trail (as is the Massachusetts State House - the oldest building on Beacon Hill) and a good place to start your walking tour through American history.
  3. Museum of Fine Arts - Free Admission Day. Boston offers 'Free Community Days' - check the Museum of Fine Arts website for a complete listing of free days. The museum also offers free birthday admission.
  4. Tour Sam Adams' Brewery. Learn how Sam Adams brews beer with a tour of their Jamaica Plain facility. Tours and tastings are on Monday-Thursday, and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., starting every half hour. Plus, kids can get free root beer during the tasting. If you don't want to drive, there's a public transit ('T') station within walking/cab distance of the brewery. After the tour, you can take the complimentary shuttle to Doyle's Café, where John F. Kennedy used to go. When you order one of Sam Adams' beers at Doyle's, you'll get to keep a souvenir glass.
  5. Tour the Boston Public Library. Don't miss the Boston Public Library, which features rotating art exhibits, movies, lectures and breathtaking architecture. A free Art and Architecture Tour of the building is offered on Sundays at 2 p.m., Mondays at 2:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays at 11 a.m.

Accommodations and travel in Boston

Available Boston accommodations include hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts. To help with your planning, the cost of a Boston hotel depends on the location within the city and if it's a 2-star or 5-star hotel. The average 2-star hotel is about $79 per night while a 5-star hotel may cost you $595 per night. However, if you opt to stay at a bed and breakfast, you can expect to pay around $55 and up per night.

You'll also want to consider how to get around. Instead of driving around Boston, think about taking the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) or the 'T,' as it's known by the locals. Buy a CharlieCard at any T station for one ride or add stored value for your entire trip. If you want unlimited travel on the Subway, Local Bus, Inner Harbor Ferry and Commuter Rail Zone 1A during your visit, you can purchase a LinkPass for $11 a day or $18 for 7 days. Check with the MBTA because prices and schedules are subject to change.

Other top activities to include in your trip to Boston

Since you will be traveling to Boston on a budget with the free activities listed above, you may have some more flexibility in your funds to indulge in delicious delicacies from Mike's Pastry as well as visit one or more of these popular attractions:

  • New England Aquarium. The aquarium opened in 1969 and is a leader in marine conservation and ocean exploration. It has over 1.3 million visitors per year. Don't miss the delicate seadragons, fearsome lionfish, Northern fur seals, and California sea lions. Adult admission to the aquarium is $24.95 while admission for children (ages 3-11) is $17.95, and senior admission is $22.95. Children under age 3 are free. You also have the option to combine the aquarium admission with other attractions such as IMAX films and whale watching tours.
  • Fenway Park. See a baseball game at Fenway Park, which opened in 1912 and is home to the Boston Red Sox. The park has been renovated and expanded throughout the years, but unique features include Pesky's Pole, The Triangle and Green Monster in left field. When planning for the game, bleacher seats are $30 while a loge box seat is $104.
  • Boston Duck Tour. Tour Boston in a DUCK - a World War II-style amphibious landing vehicle. You're greeted by a 'ConDUCKtor' who narrates the tour and points out little-known and interesting facts about Boston. Once you've finished the land portion of the tour, you'll splash down into the Charles River and for a spectacular view of the Boston and Cambridge skylines. If you depart from the Prudential Center and Museum of Science for an 80-minute tour, tickets range from $10.50 for children under three to $34.99 for adults with special pricing for students, seniors, military and older children. If you depart from the New England Aquarium for a 65-minute seasonal tour, prices are slightly less expensive.
  • Spirit of Boston Dinner Cruise. Dinner, dancing, entertainment and views await you as you board the Spirit of Boston. You can take a cruise year-round, starting from Boston's historic Seaport District; themed cruises are also available. The cost of cruises ranges from $67.90 to $94.90, depending on the time and date of the cruise.
  • Big Dig Boston Private Tour. Take a 3-hour walking tour of Boston's streets with an architectural historian and see the city's structural evolution. Learn about the 20-year project dubbed 'The Big Dig,' which involved covering Boston's highway system and restoring the city center to its traffic-free condition. Discover the history of the Old Massachusetts State House and Faneuil Hall and more. The tour costs $325 per group or $70 per person.

Travel to Boston with the mobile banking app from Citizens Bank

Boston is a welcome destination that has something for everyone. Before you leave for your trip to Boston, download the Citizens Bank mobile banking app so you can keep your finger on the pulse of your finances while you travel. Find ATMs, check balances, transfer funds and more. You can also take advantage of overdraft protection while traveling in Boston, so you won't have to worry about overdraft fees if you make a purchase or withdrawal before you have the chance to transfer funds.


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