How to Travel From Providence to Newport, Rhode Island, by Bus, Ferry, and Car

Providence Newport Ferry

The Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau

Newport is a city on Rhode Island's Aquidneck Island that is famous for its yacht-studded harbor and the elaborate mansions lining Bellevue Avenue. It's about 24 miles (39 kilometers) as the crow flies from the collegiate city of Providence, but by road, it's 34 miles (55 kilometers). Until 2016, the hour-long ferry that conveniently connected the two was suspended. Now, it's up and running again so tourists don't have to stress over highways and parking if they don't want to. However, the ferry is seasonal, running only between May and October.

  Time Cost Best For
Bus 1 hour, 10 minutes $2 Minding a budget
Car 42 minutes 34 miles (55 kilometers) Traveling in a group or with a family
Ferry 1 hour $11 A scenic, stress-free ride
Goat Island Lighthouse in Newport
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Providence to Newport?

The cheapest way to get to Newport—besides piling four or five into a car and splitting the cost—is by bus. The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) operates a bus that departs from Kennedy Plaza every 30 minutes and travels east of the Providence River, arriving at the Marlborough NS Farewell bus stop in Newport about 1 hour, 10 minutes later. It's quite unpredictable, seeing as it has the potential to stop more than 100 times over the course of the journey, so don't board it with a strict timetable in mind. However, it only costs $2.

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Providence to Newport?

The fastest way to get to Newport is by driving. If you take I-95 south out of Providence, follow it after it turns into Rhode Island 4 for about 30 miles, then take the Rhode Island 238 Scenic exit (which leads right into Newport), it'll take you just over 40 minutes. You'd be wise to factor parking into the cost of driving, though, with public lots costing around $3 per hour, $20 per day, or $30 overnight. During the summertime, you'll have a hard time finding a vacant spot.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to Newport?

The best time to visit Newport is between March and May, or between September and November. These months bookend the wildly busy summer season, causing hotels to let up on pricing while the weather is still mild (around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, or 15 degrees Celsius). Try to avoid going in early spring, which is the rainy season, or late fall, when temperatures have a tendency to dip below freezing. In early autumn, though, you'll get to peep at the famous New England foliage. If you plan to travel by ferry, it only runs from late May to October.

What’s the Most Scenic Route to Newport?

If you love a boat ride, then the hour-long ferry that travels down the Providence River will probably be the most scenic for you. It's most definitely the most laidback, offering the opportunity to leave the car behind and explore the adorable seaside city stress-free. As a bonus, there's a bar on board.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) has contracted with Seastreak to offer this ferry service, running seven days a week, including holidays, from late May through Columbus Day in October, during the Ocean State's peak tourism season.

The ferry, which is handicap accessible, docks at the Seastreak Ferry Terminal in Providence, located at 25 India Street. Free parking is available for 120 cars. RIPTA offers a complimentary shuttle bus to the ferry terminal from pick-up stops at the Providence Convention Center, Kennedy Plaza, and Providence Station. The ferry docks in Newport at Perrotti Park, a short walk from the Gateway Visitors Center, from which tour buses depart regularly.

The ferry costs $11 each way for adults and $5.50 for kids between the ages of 3 and 12. Children 2 and under ride for free. You can bring your bike (or your dog) for no extra charge. Tickets are non-refundable, but you can exchange them for a $5 fee. Reservations are a good idea.

What Is There to Do in Newport? 

One of the most popular things to do in Newport is to tour the Bellevue Avenue Historic District, dotted with lavish mansions. The most famous is The Breakers, a century-old Vanderbilt mansion that is now a designated National Historic Landmark. There's also the Marble House (a Gilded Age mansion), The Elms, Rosecliff, and more. Most have been turned into museums, so you can go in and explore. Otherwise, you can take in the mansions and the beach via the Cliff Walk, a seaside trail, or check out the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In the summer, nothing beats a day spent at Easton's Beach.

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