Getting Around Boston
1. By the MBTA or The "T"
Boston has a very extensive public transportation system. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority or "The T" (their logo is an encircled "T") operates the system. There are four major lines and they are color-coded: Green, Red, Orange, and Blue. The Blue line connects the city center with Logan Airport (about 15 minutes into the city).
Central Boston is geographically small, and the four subway lines intersect there, creating a square around the "downtown" area.
The standard MBTA fare is $2.00, except for the Green Line D train surface portion. Most bus lines are $1.50. Visitor Passes, with unlimited subway, bus, and limited ferry travel, can be a great deal. A 1 day pass is $9.00 and a 7 day pass is $15. The "T" has a complete Fare Listing and Subway Map available on line. Within CelebrateBoston, is a Cross-Reference tool of sites/attractions and MBTA stations.
About the MBTA, the subways generally run North/South or East/West. You should always refer to the roll-signs on the front and sides of the trains to see their destination if you get confused.
The Green Line has several lines that branch off into different destinations. B trams run from Boston College to Government Center. C trams run from Cleveland Circle to Government Center. D trams run from Riverside to Lechmere. E trams run from Heath Street to Lechmere. Thus, you may need to change at Government Center or Park Street depending on the direction you are heading. Also please note E trams branch off at Copley Station, so take a B, C, or D trams if you are heading to Kenmore Square. Just read the roll-signs to avoid getting on the wrong train.
One final note, a lot of local people prefer to park at MBTA parking lots adjacent to stations in the suburbs, then commute into work. This is an excellent alternative, but remember these parking lots are often full during weekday business hours.
2. By Foot
Boston is a walker's paradise. The city center is quite small, and there are short walks that can give you a good feel for the city. The streets of Boston are not laid out in a grid except for the Back Bay. The layout of the streets date back to when Boston was a peninsula into the inner harbor. Washington Street dissected the peninsula and streets emanated from its center near the Old State House. The hills on the peninsula were cut down and were used to fill areas on the waterfront and eventually fill the Back Bay.
Thus, the streets have little order but are great to walk around on to view the city. The National Park Service has Boston Maps available on line in PDF format, including the Freedom Trail which shows the downtown area. Below are some interesting walks:
From the Green/Blue Lines Government Center Station, exit the station and walk across City Hall Plaza. Walk to the right of City Hall, down the stairs, and across Congress Street to Faneuil Hall. Behind Faneuil Hall is the Marketplace with restaurants and cart vendors. If you are not too tired, you can keep walking south and cross Atlantic Avenue to Christopher Columbus Park and the New England Aquarium. Aquarium Station on the Blue Line is a block from the Marriott Hotel if you do not want to walk back to Government Center Station or State Street Station.
From the Green/Red Line Park Street Station, exit the station and walk up Tremont Street toward Government Center. In this very short walk you will pass the Park Street Church, Granary Burying Ground, and King's Chapel with its burying ground. Continue on to Faneuil Hall if time permits.
From Green Line B, C, D tram Hynes Station, exit the station and walk to the right to Newbury Street. This is a nice walk for several blocks in an upscale shopping district. There are sidewalk cafes, hair salons, and sandstone architecture. Please note the intersecting streets are alphabetic, from this end they go Hereford, Gloucester, Fairfield, Exeter, Dartmouth, Clarendon, Berkeley, and Arlington. If you do not have time or do not want to walk that far, you can exit Green Line Copley Station, and just walk down Dartmouth Street to Newbury Street. Newbury Street ends at Arlington Street at the Public Garden, and you can take a right toward Boylston Street and Arlington Station is one block up.
Please remember a city is a city, and thus you should always be aware of your surroundings and safe guard your belongings.
3. By Tourist Trolley
Tourist trolleys are an excellent way to get around the city. Most allow unlimited boarding, so you can have lunch or shop, and see the city at your own pace. Tour operators include Beantown Trolley Tours, Old Town Trolleys, Boston Trolley Tours, CityView Luxury Trolleys, and Discover Boston Multilingual Tours.