Boston: Need to Know

City Basics

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Arriving. Getting to Boston from Logan International Airport (code: BOS) is, quite simply, a pleasure. By car or cab, it is an effortless 10- to 12-minute drive to the city center (with traffic, maybe 15). A taxi will run you about $25 without tip. You can also take the subway, known as the T (short for MBTA, which is short for Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority), which will take about 25 to 30 minutes. Catch the Silver Line at the airport, then transfer to one of the T's other four color-coded lines once you hit the city.

Getting Around. Unless you're planning a lot of travel outside the city there's no real need to rent a car. This is a small city and easily walkable. If you get tired, you can hail a cab on the street or jump on the T. ("The T" refers to the subway, but the MBTA system encompasses an extensive network of subways, buses and commuter rail and boat.) The T is safe and clean, if a little slow, and services virtually every neighborhood in Boston, Cambridge and the nearby suburbs — an area, which combined, is known as "The Hub" to locals. You cannot pay cash on the T, so you'll have to buy a pass (called a CharlieCard or CharlieTicket) at a T stop or convenience store. Rides are $1.70 apiece. Do note that many of the stations do not have escalators or elevators and often involve long fights of stairs. You can check which ones are wheelchair accessible at MBTA.com. Also, the subway shuts down after midnight.

Driving. If you do decide to rent a car, be warned: Boston streets are poorly marked and seldom follow any logic. You can be driving down a street that suddenly, and without warning, becomes a left-turn lane, or gets a new name or ends abruptly. To ease frustration, make sure you get a GPS. Also, parking is tough. Many residential neighborhoods require resident permits to park on the street (although some of these areas have specially marked "Visitor Parking" areas for nonresidents), and parking lots can get extremely expensive. Many of the better restaurants, however, do offer valet parking.

Taxis. Taxis are widely available downtown and at the airport, and your hotel will call one for you, if there aren't any parked outside. You'll also see marked taxi stands near popular tourist destinations and transport hubs. Cabs are a good, if expensive (click here for rates), way to get around town, especially late at night after the T shuts down. If you're having trouble finding a cab on the street, try calling one of these companies:

Top Cab: 617-266-4800
Boston Cab: 617-536-3200
I.T.O.A. Cab: 617-825-4000
City Cab: 617-536-5100
Metro Cab: 617-782-5500
Tunnel Taxi: 617-567-2700

Tipping. Though most Bostonians display the stereotypical Yankee frugality, tipping is pretty standard: on restaurant bills, tip 15% or more, depending on service. Tip valet parkers $3 to $4.

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