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Known for its rich colonial history, world-famous sports teams and diverse neighborhoods, Boston is a tourism hotspot with more than 18 million visitors annually. Located on the Massachusetts Bay, the city affectionately known as Beantown has gorgeous waterfronts, boat tours and excursions, as well as walking and biking tours, culinary experiences and much more. No matter what sparks your interest, you’ll find it in Boston. So whether you're looking to see the famous Quincy Market, follow the Freedom Trail, cannoli taste test in the North End or head out on the water to spot whales, take a look at the best guided Boston tours to book to get your trip started.
Best Overall: Boston Duck Tour
You’ve probably seen them in cities across the U.S., but the unique Duck Tour boats began in Boston and remain a fantastic way to experience it by land and by sea. Board one of several renovated WWII amphibious vehicles for an 80-minute, in-depth tour of Boston. The tour begins with narrated sightseeing of major Boston attractions by the open-air, “Duck Bus,” including Boston Common, Quincy Market, TD Garden (home of the Celtics), Beacon Hill neighborhood, the Back Bay and several other landmarks – with fun and entertaining commentary from the guide. The bus then makes a splash into the Charles River for the scenic boat ride portion of the tour.
Best Bike Tour: Guided Bike Tour of Boston
For an active and informative way to experience downtown Boston, the Guided Bike Tour is money well spent. On the 2.5- to 3-hour tour, you’ll experience both well-known tourist landmarks and off-the-beaten-path spots, making it a wonderful and fun way to get a feel for the city. The bike tour follows along much of the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile long path that passes a number of significant historic sites. You’ll also explore areas such as Charlestown, Copley Square, Fenway Park and the historic North End (Little Italy), Boston’s oldest residential neighborhood. Cyclists will receive a helmet to wear and a complimentary bottled water before the guide leads the way and educates guests both on the history of Boston, as well as current events.
Best Culinary Tour: Small Group Guided Walking Food Tour
Seafood dominates much of Boston’s local cuisine, but the city is a cultural melting pot with plenty of fantastic dishes and influences from around the world. A culinary tour provides a chance to sample a bit of Beantown’s flavor while learning about the neighborhoods and lifestyle of the city. The Small Group Guided Walking Food Tour starts in historical North End area of the city, also known as Little Italy, where you'll sample a number of Boston's favorites, including the lobster roll, pizza, colonial-recipe chocolate, cannoli and more. You'll also have the chance to swing by a neighborhood public market to try sausages and craft beer or hard cider. The tour group has no more than 12 people – so you won’t be lost in the crowds.
Best Boat Tour: Boston Whale Watching Cruise
From April through November, the waters of the Massachusetts Bay are temporarily home to a number migrating including humpbacks, finbacks, minkes, pilot whales and the critically endangered right whales. Hop aboard a whale-watching cruise for a chance to spot these majestic creatures during your stay in Boston. The three-hour, Boston Whale-Watching Cruise heads to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, a feeding ground for whales, dolphins and birds, aboard a high-speed catamaran. There are three outdoor viewing decks with naturalist guides to help spot the wildlife, as well as a comfortable inside area with video education stations for more fascinating information on the marine life, plus a galley for food and beverages.
Best Sightseeing: Boston in One Day Sightseeing Tour
If you’re trying to see as much of the city as possible, the Boston in One Day Sightseeing Tour has you covered. With more than 20 major attractions to experience in this lengthy, full-day bus tour, you’ll be an expert on the city in a short period of time. The air-conditioned bus picks up and drops off at the hotel of your choice, and begins in nearby Cambridge with a drive past the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University to the Lexington Battle Green - where the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired. The narrated tour also visits Faneuil Hall Marketplace, the Seaport District and the USS Constitution. Be aware that even though the tour lasts seven hours, meals are not included.
Best For Sports Fans: Tour of Historic Fenway Park
Sports enthusiasts will enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of historic Fenway Park – Boston’s iconic ballpark that’s home to the legendary Boston Red Sox. During the affordable, hour-long guided tour you’ll learn about the stadium’s history and take a closer look at famous Red Sox players, including Ted Williams, Babe Ruth and Carl Yastrzemski, plus revisit the epic Red Sox’ World Series wins and see the 90 World Series-team signed baseballs and 36 bats. In addition, the stadium is home to more than 170,000 artifacts and 150,000 photographs. Viator members felt that the tour was very informative and a “must-do” while in Boston. The tour is offered nearly year-round, but times may vary.
Best Walking Tour: Freedom Trail to Copley Square Walking Tour
For a reasonably priced tour that touches on Boston’s history, get out and stretch your legs with the two-hour walking tour that follows the Freedom Trail to Copley Square. Meet the knowledgeable guide in Boston’s Old State House and explore the historic trail that stretches 2.5 miles past colonial buildings and Revolutionary War-era landmarks. Travelers will stop by the location of the 1770 Boston Massacre, Faneuil Hall, the Old Corner Bookstore and King’s Chapel before arriving downtown. Along the way, the guide offers a plethora of information as you pass the infamous Trinity Church and take a ceremonial pass over the finish line location of the Boston Marathon.
Best History Tour: Plimoth Plantation Living Museum Day Trip
For an entertaining look at history, consider a day trip to the Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Hop aboard an air-conditioned bus from select Boston hotels and head 45 miles outside of Boston to Plymouth Rock, where the English colonists first landed. Travelers will learn about the history of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people at the Plimoth Plantation. History comes alive with historic replicas like the Wampanoag Homesite, located on the banks of the Eel River. There’s also costumed actors that discuss the conditions of “their journey” aboard the replica Mayflower II, and a 17th-century English Village – a replica farming and maritime community built by the Plymouth colonists.
Best Value: Boston’s Hop On, Hop-Off Trolley Tour
Those who enjoy traveling at their own pace but enjoy some structure should consider Boston’s Hop-On, Hop-Off Trolley Tour – a fantastic way to get around town and experience Boston’s attractions without paying a fortune. This value-packed tour stops at 19 landmarks and icons on a leisurely one hour and 45-minute jaunt around the city. At any time, passengers can opt to get off the trolley and catch the next one – for up to two consecutive days. The tour is fully narrated by knowledgeable guides (gratuities are not included). As an added bonus, admission to the State House is bundled into the tour package.