13 Recommended Tours in Boston

A duck boat tour will take you from Boston’s streets into the Charles River
A duck boat tour will take you from Boston’s streets into the Charles River | © Tom Croke / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Dana Forsythe
20 August 2019

From visiting Fenway Park and checking out the region’s many breweries to historical sightseeing, there are hundreds of activities in Boston that neatly fit into packaged tours for traveling convenience.

As one of the nation’s oldest cities, Boston is brimming with history, culture and architecture, all of which tells the story of the start of Massachusetts and the United States of America. While it is easy to walk around this compact city and see a handful of these historic sites at once, there are still numerous activities that could take much longer than the limited time you have. Culture Trip has put together a listing of the best tours in Boston that truly capture the spirit of the city.

Fenway Park

Stadium, Park
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Fenway Park is the home of the Boston Red Sox baseball team
Fenway Park is the home of the Boston Red Sox baseball team | © Paule Saviano / Alamy Stock Photo
A tour of Fenway Park, renovated several times since its debut in 1912, not only provides a look back at the early days of baseball in America, but it’s also a great example of Boston architecture. The official tour offers a peek behind the scenes, as fans can visit the press box, Pesky’s Pole, the bullpens or even the famous scoreboard embedded in the Green Monster.

Boston Bike Tour

Historical Landmark
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Boston has become more bike-friendly over the years by installing more bike lanes, better traffic signals and rolling out education for drivers. Aside from walking, cycling is the best way to navigate the city quickly since it’s so flat. A quick hop on your bike and you’ll be able to see the Italian North End, Fenway Park, the Charles River Esplanade, Beacon Hill and the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Boston Bike Tours are designed for all ages and skill levels, so you’ll be able to bring the kids as well.

North End Food Tour

Market, Italian
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North End Market Tour
Go on a culinary adventure in the North End | © Urban Adventures

Boston’s food scene boasts an eclectic mix of options, from quality Indian food in Cambridge to German bratwurst in Somerville. There’s also amazing Korean barbecue in Brookline and incredible sushi just down the road in Coolidge Corner. Visitors can also select from more than a dozen sports restaurants near the TD Garden, while Beacon Hill is home to more higher-end establishments. Explore the Italian side of Boston with a North End Food Tour, which covers the old neighborhood. On this two-hour culinary adventure, you’ll stop by various North End businesses, taste Italian delicacies and even visit a historic church.

Boston Movie Mile Walking Tour

Historical Landmark
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The Boston Movie Mile Walking Tour offers a quick way to explore the city’s movie history. The Departed (2006), Good Will Hunting (1997) and The Town (2010) are just a few of the blockbuster films that not only take place in Boston but were also filmed here. A few decades ago, Hollywood filming in Boston was a pretty big deal, and while it’s still exciting when big stars come to Beantown, it happens a lot more regularly these days. Check out some of the Boston-centric places in your favorite films on this tour.

Old Town Trolley

Historical Landmark
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Old Town Trolley Bus Taking Visitors on a tour of Boston
The Old Town Trolley Tour allows passengers to hop on and hop off at various points | © Norman Pogson / Alamy Stock Photo

With the Boston Common, the Paul Revere House and the Freedom Trail, Boston’s historical significance is inescapable. Luckily, many tours provide a glimpse into Boston’s past, ranging from the specific (Old State House) and all-encompassing (Old Town Trolley) to a drinking tour along the Freedom Trail. The Old Town Trolley is probably the easiest and most popular way tourists experience parts of the city. With launch sites all over Downtown and Faneuil Hall, the tour focuses on the area between the Boston Common and Waterfront. Additionally, the adventure is set up so you can hop on and off the trolley all day long.

The Freedom Trail

Historical Landmark
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The Freedom Trail, Boston.
© Peter Conner / Alamy Stock Photo
The Freedom Trail, marking 16 historic sites that all played a part in America’s independence, is one of the most sought-after experiences for tourists coming to Boston. Along the 2.5-mile (four-kilometer) route, visitors and history buffs will be able to see and experience historic churches, meeting halls, cemeteries and battlegrounds. There are several options for tours, including guided walks and even apps that explain the colonial history and significance of the sites.

Boston Duck Tour

Historical Landmark
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Close-up shot of a Boston Duck tour in progress
Explore Boston by land and water via a duck boat | © John Gaffen 2 / Alamy Stock Photo

Have you really experienced Boston if you haven’t taken a duck boat tour or at least seen one? Most notably seen around the Esplanade, Charles Street and the Back Bay, the Boston Duck Tours have become the go-to mode of transportation for the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins (the city’s baseball, football, basketball and hockey teams, respectively) when celebrating major wins. But the company also gives fantastic tours. The duck boats offer a land and water trip around some of the best parts of Boston.

Ghosts and Gravestones Tour

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The Ghosts and Gravestones Tour is a favorite because it focuses on the haunted aspects of Boston’s historical heritage. On this tour, you’ll get the lowdown from the gravediggers, haunted guides who dress the part and may assume the personality of the deceased. Visitors can expect to learn about executions on the Boston Common, paranormal high jinks going down at the Omni Parker House and the legend of the Boston Strangler.

Whale watching

Natural Feature
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Watching the whales from Boston Harbor
Spot a whale off Boston Harbor | © Veronica Bruno / Alamy Stock Photo

Boston Harbor is home to a vast array of marine life, including several whale species. Attracted to the icy waters just off the coast, humpbacks, finbacks, minkes and even endangered North Atlantic right whales – which after being hunted nearly to extinction are making a comeback – are often seen a few miles from the harbor. Whale-watching excursions usually run from May through October.

Hahvahd Tour

School, Historical Landmark
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Harvard University campus
Take a student-led tour of Harvard University | © Andrew Cribb / Alamy Stock Photo
Harvard is known around the world for its academics and, of course, the Yard. The Hahvahd Tour is led by a student who will take you on an outdoor walk through Harvard Yard, telling you about the university’s history and life as a Harvardian. While most of the historic buildings are off limits, the tour includes a look at Memorial Hall and Widener Library, along with other landmarks.

Boston Harbor Codzilla High-Speed Boat Ride

Historical Landmark
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Seeking a bit of high-speed excitement with your guided tour? Then look no further than the Codzilla harbor ride. Boston Harbor Cruises runs this thrill ride, which feels more like a speedboat than a tour vessel. Codzilla is 70ft (21m) long with two “turbo-charged diesel engines, state-of-the-art water jets and 2,800 horsepower,” so be ready for 360-degree turns and spinning on a dime.

Boston Harbor Sightseeing Cruise

Historical Landmark
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Tourist tour boats sailing across Boston Harbor
Visit the Boston Harbor Islands | © Michael Walters 10 / Alamy Stock Photo

Built alongside Massachusetts Bay, Boston offers visitors both land-based and water-based adventures. One of the best and mostly untapped resources in the city happens to be the Boston Harbor Islands, a chain of 34 small islands just off the coast. There’s also no shortage of spots to go fishing or whale watching, as dozens of tours take off from Boston Harbor daily.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Tour

School, Historical Landmark
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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is among the top universities in the world
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is among the top universities in the USA | © Neiliann Tait / Alamy Stock Photo

Known for its commitment to higher education and culture, Greater Boston is still a world leader in art and architecture. Just take a stroll over to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) campus in Cambridge and you’ll see examples of both. Equally as impressive are the research and innovation that you’ll find inside – both of which could have a profound and direct impact on lives around the world. The MIT Tour also includes a look at MIT culture, its roots and growth, and famous alumni. Stops include Kendall Square, the Great Dome and several other points of interest.

These recommendations were updated on August 20, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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