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Boston skyline

© / Stephen Orsillo

Boston travel guide

For all intents and purposes, Boston, the capital of Massachusetts, is the oldest city in America. Founded in 1630, its winding streets and stately architecture recall a legacy that is unmatched in the US, including key moments from the American Revolution, the abolition of slavery and the founding of the country’s first university, newspaper and labour union.

But Boston’s notable past doesn’t mean that the city is backward looking. Quite the contrary, it remains pioneering in intellectual and entrepreneurial fields, its historic universities attracting the very best scientists, philosophers and writers from around the world. What’s more, the city continues to foster a rich cultural life, offering visitors a bewildering array of lectures, music gigs, poetry slam sessions and symphony concerts to choose from.

Divided into distinct and characterful districts, Boston is a small city. It’s easy to walk around and public transport is extremely efficient. Begin at Boston Common, where you’ll find the tourist office and the start of the Freedom Trail. Rising above the Common is Beacon Hill, the city’s most historic and affluent neighborhood. To the east is Downtown with a mix of Colonial sights and high-rise, modern office blocks. North of Beacon Hill, across the broad Charles River lies pretty Cambridge, home to Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

To get an overview of the city ascend the Skywalk Observatory on the 50th floor of the towering Prudential building. From here you’ll be able to look out over the Harbor and to the islands beyond, where day-trippers escape to enjoy whale-watching cruises and lazy afternoons at one of the 30-odd islands in the bay.

With its mix of cutting-edge museums and galleries; historic cultural sites; sophisticated restaurants and shopping; fantastic outdoor activities, from sailing in the bay to cycling the Charles River Cycle Path, Boston is an endlessly interesting, year-round destination. That said, the most popular time to visit is undoubtedly autumn, when the legendary New England foliage bursts into fiery colours.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.