Should you hire a car in Boston?

Should you rent a car in Boston USA > Boston

The Massachusetts state capital is perhaps best known for its educational institutions, and Harvard University is even situated in the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Boston also developed the first, and still one of the best, underground systems in the USA, and the city has a good network of local buses and state-wide coaches, so is there any need to hire a car there?

Why should you rent a car in Boston?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Boston?

Boston Car hire summary

Overall drive rating



Cheapest rate for one week




How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?





Free parking score

Total 723 - of which 161 have free parking. [full notes - parking]




Reasons why you should rent a car in Boston 

Should you hire a car in Boston?

  • Leaf fall — New England is most famous for its autumn leaves, and Boston is the main gateway for this. Although new England leave fall bus tours are available, this really is the kind of excursion that is best done in the car.
  • Cape Cod — a car is best for driving out to Cape Cod, and even for continuing on to the nearby islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. However, coaches and buses also serve these routes if you have a bit more time.
  • LimiTed although the famous ‘T’ (MBTA) network is generally excellent for getting round Boston itself, it becomes much more limited outside the central city area. The lines don’t always intersect with each other, so you often have to change twice.
    Meanwhile, journeys to the west of the city on the Green line can be tortuously slow, as this route has so many stops, and it divides into five separate fingers, so you can sometimes wait a very long time for your train.
  • Suburban trains operate into separate North and South stations, but there is no direct Metro link between them, and many routes only have limited hours of operation.

Why not? Visiting Boston without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Boston public transport quick facts

Train score



Water travel score


Overall public transport score


Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)


Boston without a car

  • Ride the ‘T’ – despite having some limitations as mentioned above, and not having an acronym as cool as “BART”, MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transit Association) does offer a comprehensive network of routes within and around the city of Boston.
  • Whale watching tours — take a whale watching trip from Boston harbour, and this will be one of your most memorable experiences of a visit to Boston. No car needed.
  • Big dig — Boston’s infamous ‘big dig’ has ended up being one of the most expensive engineering projects in US history, but it has finally buried a waterfront elevated highway which strangled access from the city to its coastal shores. Now visitors to the city can enjoy a network of linked parks, whilst the cars whizz around in tunnels below. This is definitely one to appreciate on 2 feet, not from behind the steering wheel from the bowels below!
  • Quincy — take the “T” out to Quincy, Massachusetts, birthplace of John Quincy Adams, and home to the famous Quincy library, rated as one of America’s favourite buildings. From here, you can also get great views looking back towards the city.


Car rental in - Boston Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Boston?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.

Is it worth hiring a car in Boston?

Based on value for money

Should you rent a car in Boston?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Boston if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?


Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Boston if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?


What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Boston if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?



Final score:


Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Should you hire a car in Boston? Conclusion – whilst public transport in Boston itself is perfectly adequate, you will almost certainly want to leave the city, and although you can venture out by bus or train, a hire car will definitely be best for this. When should you rent a car in Boston? This is especially so during the leaf fall season.

Verdict — yes (especially seasonally during Fall / Autumn)

Links and notes:


Would you hire a car in Boston?

Have you driven in Boston? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Boston?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
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