Why go to Boston? Only because it’s one of the most historic cities in the entire United States of America. In fact, some people refer to it as the “Cradle of American civilization.”
That, plus sports teams, eateries, and amazing walking tours, can easily keep you busy for a week. So how do you see the best of Beantown on a budget? Let’s take a look.
Average Trip to Boston Cost in 2024
An average one-week trip to Boston for two people will cost around $3,100:
- Average Accommodation Cost: $125 per night
- Average Flight Cost: $300 per person
- Food, Drink & Activities: $100 per person, per day
- Transportation: $200 total
- Total Cost: $3,100
Boston is a somewhat expensive city, but that doesn’t mean you can’t see it for less. From its amazing public transportation to the many free attractions, there are still many ways to make your Boston trip affordable.
Below, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular approaches to Boston travel as well as our favorite money-saving hacks.
By the time you’re done reading, we hope you’ll have a full appreciation of all this lovely city has to offer, as well as the tools you need to make your vacation a reality!
Boston Trip Cost: Average by Item
There is no “average” trip price because we all travel differently. That said, we have taken the most common costs – lodging, food and drink, activities, transportation, and flights – and collated them here.
That way, you can get a baseline for what your trip will cost.
Then you can adjust up or down based on what you want your trip to look like. For instance, if you’re happy with free activities but love lounging in a soft king-sized bed, you can spend more on accommodations.
If you simply have to eat out every night and taste the city’s best cuisine, then opt for a hostel and put that money toward your dining budget. It’s all up to you!
Many websites will tell you that Boston lodging is, on average, about $200. But that’s only because they’re including major resorts in the equation, which can range up to $500 and more.
It’s also because they don’t include forms of accommodation other than hotels, which are quite expensive – about $200 a night, in fact. If you’re a typical middle-class couple traveling to see family or take in the sights, you don’t have to spend nearly that much.
If you travel during the off-season and book your lodging well ahead of time, our estimate for a Boston hotel is around $150 a night, $100 if you don’t care that much about location or amenities.
Prepare to pay more if you travel during the high season (summer) and less during the low season (October through March).
You can also take a few other tacks when it comes to finding lodging. Airbnb and VRBO are both more affordable ways to travel, and you can find rooms in homes for about $100 a night or studios and guesthouses for about $150.
Note that the latter are harder to come by, so you should search for them between 6 and 12 months in advance. Hostels in Boston are also a fun option for younger travelers, especially backpackers.
Dorm rooms start at about $50, and most hostels have additional amenities on site, such as pubs, pool tables, or restaurants. Overall, plan on about $125 a night, assuming you do thorough research, book ahead of time, and are okay with fewer amenities.
From New England airports and much of the East Coast, you can hop a flight to Boston for less than $150 round trip. From further destinations, it’s a bit more: $200 from LA or Houston and $300 from Seattle.
If you’re flying from a smaller regional airport, tack on about $100 for the short hop to a hub (though many regional airports will fly straight to Boston).
If you have to check bags, fly Southwest to avoid fees.
You get two free checked bags and can reschedule your flights without a fee (though you may pay a difference in flight fares). Overall, budget about $300 per round trip ticket from anywhere in the US.
Food, Drink & Activity Costs
Boston is such a fun city, and you don’t need to pay much to have a great time there. Self-guided tours are an awesome way to get out and about, see the sites, and get your steps in.
You can book free and low-cost tours to see the most popular sites as well, often with audio accompaniment.
Consider a trip to Quincy Market as well. This giant indoor/outdoor market makes a delightful way to while away several hours on a budget. You can take in the fantastic array of shops, from candy to apparel and everything in between, for the price of lunch and some foot power.
The Freedom Trail is another free activity, where you can enjoy numerous historic stops along a well-marked route.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum has Free First Thursdays of the month and the USS Constitution Museum is free all the time, though it’s first-come, first-served, so show up early.
Another fun activity you might consider is a boat tour of Boston’s architecture.
These run about $50 per person and take you on a journey through time, from Rowes Wharf (built in 1764) to the Custom House Tower (built from 1837-1847) to the Hancock Tower (with its amazing glass-fronted facade), as well as newer buildings from cutting-edge architecture firms.
Beantown is also a great place to take in a game. From the Red Sox to the Celtics to the Patriots (located not in town but nearby), you’re never short on options if you come during the applicable season.
While Red Sox tickets can get expensive ($300 on average), a Celtics seat can go for as little as $10 and a Patriots ticket for around $100 (also averaging $300).
Just make sure to budget accordingly. You should also consider the Boston CityPASS if you’re the type who likes to hit up all the main tourist spots.
It gets you into the New England Aquarium and the Museum of Science, as well as two of the following four attractions: Boston Harbor City Cruises, Franklin Park Zoo, Harvard Museum of Natural History, or the View Boston Observation Deck.
You don’t have to decide ahead of time which of the four you want to see, and the pass gets you half off every admission. A good lunch in Boston will usually come to about $15 or $20 per person, while dinner out is likely to be more like $30 or $40.
Ideally you’re staying somewhere that has a free breakfast, but if not, the best bet is to get breakfast and snacks at a grocery store to keep costs down.
Drinks out aren’t cheap, either, so buy from the store where you can. Overall, plan for about $100 per person, per day. This will give you plenty of money for dining, entrance fees, and a tour or two.
While we often recommend renting a car if you want to see the surrounding countryside, Boston isn’t the place to do it. Sure, rental prices are reasonable enough at about $30 a day (a bit higher than average), but parking is a nightmare.
You may pay $50 a night for parking at your hotel and $20 to park your car downtown. Yikes. Instead, take advantage of Boston’s amazing public transportation to get where you want to go.
One-time fares are less than $2 by bus and less than $3 by subway. Day passes give you unlimited travel for 24 hours for only $11. If you were to buy one every day of the trip, that would come to about $150 for two people.
It’s well worth it, especially since you can take it from the airport to anywhere in the city. Assuming you might want to take a taxi or two, budget $200 to be safe.
Things to Consider
Here are a few other things to consider when planning your trip to Boston:
- Many of the historical places in Boston still have cobblestone streets. While that’s awesome for vibes and photo ops, it’s not so awesome for, you know, heels and arches. Make sure to bring supportive shoes if you’re going to visit these old-fashioned neighborhoods.
- Boston’s universities are plentiful and lovely. I’m always a fan of a good campus stroll, which is rich in greenery, history, and architecture. Additionally, it’s a free pastime that can keep you busy for half a day, with lunch on or near the university afterward. Good options in or near the city include Boston College, Boston University, Tufts, Brandeis, and of course, Harvard.
- Lobster roll and clam chowder are Boston classics. If you’re a foodie, you won’t want to miss either option!
- The set of popular TV show “Cheers” was based on Boston’s Bull & Finch Pub. If you liked the show, enjoy set design, or simply want to hit up a good eatery, you’ll find the Bull & Finch at 84 Beacon St. across from the Public Garden.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about budgeting your trip to Boston:
Are Boston accommodations really that expensive?
Be wary of websites that scare you with sky-high Boston hotel prices. Although hotels can be very expensive, especially in the summertime – averaging $200 or so – that’s not the only form of lodging available to you. Try Airbnb, VRBO, or even upscale hostels.
Is it safe in Boston?
Yes, Boston is a relatively safe place to visit. Stay away from large and raucous crowds to avoid purse snatching or pickpocketing, and don’t walk alone at night. Overall, though, you don’t have anything to worry about on your Boston trip.
What are the best free activities?
Walking tours, Quincy Market, the Freedom Trail, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the USS Constitution Museum are all free or sometimes-free activities to put on your roster.
Walking around its many public parks and universities is also a great way to pass the time and take in the architecture.
When is the cheapest time to visit Boston?
Late fall through early spring are the cheapest times to visit Boston. Note that Boston does have several fun Christmas markets, however, which will drive up costs during the month of December.
This is, in any case, a more expensive time of year because so many people are traveling to visit their families.
What are the best ways to save money?
Don’t rent a car. This will cost you hundreds of extra dollars when you can instead take advantage of the city’s epic public transportation. Also, driving in Boston ain’t fun!
Also, book your tickets close to your departure date, when you can find great deals. Where possible, don’t check a bag, which can result not only in higher fees but in lost luggage that you must replace while you wait for it (if it ever comes).
Wrapping It Up: Over to You!
|🛎️ Average Accommodation Cost
|$125 per night
|✈️ Average Flight Cost
|$300 per person
|🍽️ Food, Drink & Activities
|$100 per person, per day
|💲 Total Cost
The average cost of a one-week trip to Boston is around $3,100 for two people. Considering the vast array of historic sites, eateries, and fun – often free – attractions, that’s not half bad!