Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Things to Know Before Planning a Trip to Cambridge

As two of America’s most historic cities, Boston and Cambridge are among the most popular tourist destinations on the East Coast. While travelers to New England may experience sticker shock at the area’s sky-high cost of living, it is possible to book a budget trip that won’t break the bank. Here are the essential things to know before planning your next trip to Cambridge.

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Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts © Todd Nienkerk

Skip the Rental Car

Driving in New England can be a bit overwhelming for non-locals. For visitors accustomed to the simplicity of planned cities like Manhattan, Cambridge can feel like a mind-boggling, nonsensical maze of one-way streets. Avoid the hassle and added expense of gas and parking by skipping the rental car altogether.

Save Big on Public Transportation with a T Pass

The city’s public transportation system, and the subway in particular, is the most convenient and affordable means of getting around. All stops are marked with a large, clearly defined black-on-white letter “T.” Visit or pick up a free map at any of the local T stops around the city. A one-day CharlieTicket pass is $12, while a full week costs just $19. Both passes allow unlimited subway, bus, and inner harbor ferry travel.

There’s More Than One Airport

Logan International Airport (BOS) isn’t the only option for visitors to Boston and Cambridge. While it is the most convenient, nearby T.F. Green Airport (PVD) in Providence, Rhode Island, and southern New Hampshire’s Manchester Airport (MHT) can often be cheaper options. Roundtrip train or bus transportation is available between these airports and Logan, often for less than $30 roundtrip.

Be Flexible With Your Hotel Stay

As most travelers know, the best possibility for finding a cheap hotel in Cambridge is midweek during spring or fall. As home to one of the largest concentrations of universities in the country, Boston and Cambridge collectively host families of students at Harvard and MIT during the school year. For travelers, it’s important to be aware of school-related events, as well as any major events, festivals, and fairs.

Strolling through JFK Park in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Strolling through JFK Park in Cambridge, Massachusetts © Mark Crawley

Pack Smart and Plan for the Weather

With its position on the Atlantic Ocean, New England weather is unpredictable almost any time of year. Summers can be cool, blazing hot, or everything in between; winters can be brutally cold, but not always. The best bet for travelers is to pack in layers, with breathable fabrics in a variety of lengths and weights.

Find Cheap Things to Do on the Charles River

Cambridge is situated along one of the country’s most beautiful urban waterways—the Charles River. Outdoor-loving travelers will find countless cheap—even free—things to do on and along the water. Visitors can opt to simply take a quiet stroll, jog, or bike along its banks. Numerous waterfront rental shops also offer affordable daily kayak and canoe rentals for travelers looking to explore the city with an authentic river experience.

Founding Editor
  1. I just went to Boston (we also visited Cambridge) for a visit in September. The hotels are CRAZY expensive. Fortunately, airbnb was a MUCH cheaper alternative. And I second that the T served all of our needs, from getting to & from the airport to getting around town.

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