Where to stay in Boston first time: 8 Best areas & safe neighborhoods

Hi guys, on my website, I already wrote articles about Boston for car-free travelers and for families (I will put the links to them at the end of this article). In today’s article, I will help you to find the safe places to stay in Boston for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safest areas to stay in Boston for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Boston and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Before getting into the main topic, let’s look at some highlights about Boston:

Boston is the capital and largest city in Massachusetts. Founded in 1630 by Puritan settlers, it is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The city played a crucial role in American history, particularly during the American Revolution, when events like the Boston Tea Party and the Battle of Bunker Hill took place.

Boston is home to numerous prestigious universities, including Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston University, and Northeastern University.

The city has a rich sports culture and is home to several professional sports teams, including the Boston Red Sox (MLB), Boston Celtics (NBA), New England Patriots (NFL), and Boston Bruins (NHL).

A popular tourist attraction in Boston is the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile-long path that leads to 16 historically significant sites, including the Massachusetts State House, Old North Church, and the site of the Boston Massacre.

The city has a picturesque harbor and waterfront area. The Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area provides opportunities for recreational activities and scenic views.

Boston has a significant Irish heritage, and this influence is evident in various cultural events and celebrations, especially during St. Patrick’s Day.

Boston has an extensive public transportation system, including the “T” subway system and buses, making it relatively easy to get around the city, without the need of having a car.

Is Boston safe to visit?

Yes, Boston is overall a safe city to visit. But, as in any urban environment, there is the risk of pickpocketing, mugging, and homeless people asking for money. 

You should be aware of your surroundings, take care of your belongings, be more cautious at night and avoid poorly lit areas after dark. 

Popular tourist areas like Downtown and Back Bay are generally safe to stay. You should avoid staying in Dorchester, Mattapan, Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain because they have higher crime rates compared to other parts of the city. If you need to go there, do so during the day.

Where to stay in Boston for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in Boston for first-timers and tourists are Downtown, Back Bay, Waterfront, Beacon Hill, North End, South End, and South Boston. Remember that safety can vary within neighborhoods, and it is important to stay alert no matter where you stay.

Downtown and Back Bay are the most popular areas in Boston for first-time visitors to book their accommodations. Downtown is known for its proximity to major historical attractions, Back Bay is an upscale area with more shopping and dining options.

During my trip to Boston, I stayed in the Downtown area at the Hyatt Centric Faneuil Hall. It was a great mid-range hotel in the heart of the city, easy access to public transport, attractions, and tourist amenities. My room was comfortable and clean, and the staff was very helpful.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Boston for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of Best areas in Boston for first-time visitors
Map of Best areas in Boston for first-time visitors

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Boston, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Boston have been carefully selected by me from well-known and secure booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them.

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

8 Best areas to stay in Boston for first-timers and tourists:

1. Downtown Boston

Downtown Boston is one of the best areas to stay in Boston for first-time visitors. This area is known for its central location, great public transportation, proximity to historical sites, and a wide range of accommodations for all budgets.

Downtown is the heart of the city, making it easy to access many of the city’s major attractions. This includes places like Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Quincy Market, the Freedom Trail, the Boston Common, the Massachusetts State House, and more.

This area is the central business district and historical heart of the city of Boston. It is a bustling area characterized by its mix of modern skyscrapers and historic buildings.

As one of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston’s history is deeply ingrained in its downtown core. You can explore numerous historical sites and immerse themselves in the city’s rich heritage.

Freedom Trail is the 2.5-mile-long red-brick path that takes you through 16 historically significant sites, including the Massachusetts State House, Old North Church, and Faneuil Hall, offering a glimpse into the city’s rich history during the American Revolution.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace is a lively marketplace featuring various shops, restaurants, and food stalls. Quincy Market, within the complex, is a popular spot to grab a bite to eat and enjoy some live entertainment.

Boston Common is America’s oldest public park, providing a green oasis in the heart of the city. It’s a great place to relax, have a picnic, or enjoy seasonal events.

In the Downtown area, you can find the Financial District, home to many of Boston’s financial institutions and high-rise office buildings. It’s a hub of business activity during the workweek.

Additionally, the Theater District nearby is known for its various theaters, with a wide range of performances, including Broadway shows, concerts, and cultural events.

The waterfront neighborhood is not far from downtown, and you can enjoy scenic walks, harbor cruises, and various water-related activities.

Downtown is teeming with restaurants, bars, cafes, and theaters. You can indulge in a variety of cuisines and enjoy the vibrant nightlife. It also has plenty of shopping opportunities to enjoy, including high-end boutiques and famous retail chains.

Downtown is easily explored on foot. Additionally, it is well-connected by public transportation, including buses, trains, and the subway (known as the “T”). This accessibility makes it convenient for travelers to explore other neighborhoods and areas in Boston.

Best places to stay in Downtown Boston for first-timers:


2. Back Bay 

Back Bay is a popular and safe areas to stay in Boston for first-timers and tourists. It is one of the most upscale areas in the city, known for its historic architecture, upscale shopping, fine dining, and cultural attractions.

The neighborhood is renowned for its elegant Victorian brownstone buildings, which give the area a distinctive and charming character. Many of these buildings date back to the late 19th century and have been well-preserved over the years.

Back Bay is home to Newbury Street, a famous shopping destination in Boston. This street is lined with upscale boutiques, art galleries, cafes, and restaurants, making it a popular spot for both locals and tourists to stroll and shop.

Additionally, you can shop at The Prudential Center, often referred to as “The Pru,” a large commercial complex that includes a shopping mall, restaurants, offices, and the Skywalk Observatory, which provides panoramic views of Boston.

The central gathering place in Back Bay is Copley Square, which is surrounded by iconic landmarks such as the Trinity Church, Public Library, and John Hancock Tower (200 Clarendon).  

Located along the Charles River, the Esplanade offers a scenic area for walking, jogging, picnicking, and enjoying outdoor activities. It’s a lovely green space in the heart of the city.

Back Bay offers easy access to numerous cultural institutions and museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts and Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, both of which house impressive art collections.

Back Bay is also located within walking distance from Downtown and Kenmore Square. It is well-served by public transportation, with several subway stations providing easy access to other parts of Boston and surrounding areas.

Best places to stay in Boston in Back Bay for first time:

  • Luxury ($$$): The Eliot Hotel, 5-star historic hotel, located in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. It is located within walking distance from Hynes Convention Center, Prudential Shopping Center and Newbury Street shops, as well as Fenway Park.
  • Mid-range ($$): The Westin Copley Place, Boston, 4-star hotel located in the trendy Back Bay area and connected to the Copley Place Mall. It is a short walk from restaurants and shops on Newbury Street.
  • Budget ($): Courtyard Boston Copley Square,  3-star hotel, set in Boston’s Back Bay, a short distance from Copley Place Mall and Newbury Street.

3. Waterfront

The Waterfront is a great base for families, couples, and those seeking scenic waterfront views, bustling atmosphere, and proximity to the downtown area.

This area is situated east of downtown Boston and north of the Financial District. It stretches along the harbor from Long Wharf to the Moakley Bridge and includes areas like the Seaport District.

One of the most notable parts of the Waterfront is the Seaport District, a rapidly developing area with a mix of contemporary architecture, high-end restaurants, shops, and offices. The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center is also located in this district.

The Waterfront has several historic landmarks, including Long Wharf, which dates back to the 18th century and once served as a major shipping and commercial hub. Today, it is a popular destination for leisure activities and ferry services.

The Waterfront boasts the Harborwalk, a public walkway that stretches along the harbor, offering stunning views of the water, city skyline, and access to parks and green spaces. The Harborwalk provides a scenic route for walking, jogging, and cycling.

Art lovers can visit the Institute of Contemporary Art in the Seaport District for contemporary art exhibitions, performances, and educational programs.

The Waterfront has numerous family friendly attractions including the New England Aquarium on Central Wharf, houses a wide variety of marine life, including penguins, sea turtles, sharks, and more. It’s a fun and educational experience for all ages.

Additionally, there is the Boston Children’s Museum, the Boston Tea Party Museum, to learn about the famous Boston Tea Party event that played a crucial role in American history.  

The Waterfront offers a diverse selection of restaurants, bars, and cafes, ranging from seafood establishments with fresh catches from the harbor to trendy eateries offering global cuisine.

Being close to downtown Boston, you can easily access other popular areas, such as the North End, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and the Financial District.

The Waterfront is well-connected by public transportation, with several MBTA stations nearby, including South Station and Aquarium Station.

Best places to stay in Boston in Waterfront:

  • Luxury ($$$): Boston Harbor Hotel,  5-star waterfront hotel, situated at Rowes Wharf, close to South Station, and New England Aquarium, offering views of the Boston Harbor. 
  • Mid-range ($$): Boston Marriott Long Wharf , 4-star hotel, set on Long Wharf, right next to the New England Aquarium and Blue Line Subway Station, easy access to  North End, Financial District and Seaport District.
  • Mid-range ($$): Boston Yacht Haven, great waterfront inn located within 10 minute walk from Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market, easy to reach waterfront restaurants such as the Chart House Restaurant and Joe’s American Bar & Grill.

4. Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill is a historic neighborhood located in the heart of Boston. It is one of the city’s charming areas, known for its picturesque streets, historic architecture, and prominent role in American history.

The neighborhood is famous for its Federal-style row houses with red brick facades, ironwork, and gas-lit lanterns. These buildings date back to the 19th century and are well-preserved, contributing to the area’s unique character.

Beacon Hill is home to several important historical landmarks, including the Massachusetts State House, which overlooks the Boston Common, the oldest public park in the United States. 

The African Meeting House, the oldest surviving black church in the country, and the Museum of African American History are also located here.

Beacon Hill is situated near the Charles River, and the Esplanade is a beautiful park along the riverbank. It offers walking and biking paths, and scenic views of the city skyline.

Charles Street is the main shopping and dining street in Beacon Hill, lined with boutique shops, restaurants, cafes, and art galleries. It’s a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.

Another popular street is Acorn Street, known as one of the most photographed streets in the United States. It is a charming cobblestone lane with historic houses on either side, offering a glimpse into the neighborhood’s past.

Best places to stay in Boston in Beacon Hill first time:

  • Luxury ($$$): The Whitney Hotel Boston, 5-star hotel, located in central Boston, close to  King’s Chapel and Burying Ground, Boston North Station and TD Garden.
  • Luxury ($$$): The Liberty, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Boston, 5-star hotel, offering views of  the Charles River, easy walk to the Museum of Science and Kendall Square, Faneuil Hall, and harbor.
  • Budget ($): 94 Charles Street by Thatch, great self-catering accommodation, short walk from Boston Common and Charles River Esplanade.

5. North End

North End is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city and is known for its historical significance, Italian-American culture, and vibrant atmosphere.

North End is often referred to as Boston’s “Little Italy” due to its strong Italian-American community. It has been the center of Italian immigration in Boston since the late 19th century. As a result, you’ll find many Italian restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and specialty shops in the area.

The area is filled with historic buildings, cobblestone streets, and narrow alleys, giving it a unique old-world charm. Famous landmarks include the Old North Church, which played a role in the American Revolutionary War, and Paul Revere’s House, home of the American patriot Paul Revere.

North End is a food lover’s paradise to enjoy authentic Italian cuisine, especially the famous Italian pastries like cannoli and sfogliatelle. Some well-known restaurants in the area include Regina Pizzeria, Mike’s Pastry, and Giacomo’s.

North End is located near the Boston Harbor, making it a popular spot for scenic walks and enjoying the waterfront views. You can take a leisurely stroll along the Harborwalk or even hop on a ferry to visit nearby islands like the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.

Best places to stay in Boston in North End:

  • Mid-range ($$): Battery Wharf Hotel, Boston Waterfront, 4-star hotel, located in the North End by Boston Harbor, short walk from the New England Aquarium, providing private water taxi to Logan Airport. 
  • Mid-range ($$): Bricco Suites , great apartments, located a short distance from Paul Revere House in the historic North End, and the Old North Church.  
  • Budget ($): Courtyard Boston Downtown/North Station , 3-star hotel, located an easy walk from Boston North Station and TD Garden, where you can find Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. 

6. South End

South End is located just south of Back Bay and is bounded by Massachusetts Avenue to the west, Harrison Avenue to the east, the Massachusetts Turnpike to the south, and the Southwest Corridor Park to the north.

This area is known for its beautiful Victorian brownstone buildings and tree-lined streets. Many of the homes in South End are well-preserved historic buildings with unique architectural details.

South End is a diverse neighborhood with a mix of residents from various backgrounds, including young professionals, families, artists, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

South End is famous for its vibrant culinary scene, with numerous restaurants, cafes, and bars offering a wide range of cuisines, from traditional New England fare to international delights.

Despite being an urban neighborhood, South End boasts several parks and green spaces, such as Blackstone Square and Peters Park, great places to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

Within South End, you can find SoWa Art & Design District, known for its trendy shops, art galleries, and a popular weekly SoWa Open Market, where you can find local crafts, food trucks, and vintage treasures.

South End is well-connected by public transportation, including the MBTA’s Orange Line and Silver Line bus service, making it easy to access other parts of Boston.

Best places to stay in Boston in South End:


7. South Boston

South Boston, commonly known as “Southie,” is  located south and east of the Fort Point Channel and Fort Point neighborhood and is surrounded by Dorchester Bay on the east and south.

Historically, South Boston has been a predominantly working-class, Irish-American community, and it has played a significant role in the city’s history. The area is known for its strong sense of community and cultural pride. Over the years, it has experienced changes in demographics, with increasing diversity and gentrification in some parts.

The neighborhood has been home to one of the oldest and largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the United States, celebrating Irish heritage and culture.

Located in South Boston, Castle Island is a popular recreational spot and offers beautiful views of Boston Harbor and the city skyline.

South Boston’s eastern edge is adjacent to the Seaport District, a rapidly developing area with modern buildings, offices, hotels, and a variety of dining and entertainment options.

South Boston Waterfront, aka the South Boston Innovation District, has seen significant development in recent years, attracting tech companies, startups, and businesses.

South Boston has been featured in several movies and television shows, often portraying its unique cultural identity and strong sense of community.

Best places to stay in South Boston:


8. Logan Airport

Logan International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the country and serves as a major gateway to New England. It is situated in East Boston, approximately three miles northeast of downtown Boston.

If you have a short layover between flights, early morning or late-night flight, staying near the airport can save you time and stress. It eliminates the need for a long commute to catch your flight, allowing you to rest longer or arrive at the airport without rushing.

The airport has four main passenger terminals – A, B, C, and E. Each terminal handles various airlines and destinations.

Several major and regional airlines operate at Logan Airport, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, United Airlines, and more.

Various transportation options are available from/to the airport, including ride-sharing services, taxis, hotel’s shuttles services, and Silver Line bus, which connects to the subway system.

Best places to stay in Boston in Logan Airport:

  • Mid-range ($$): Hilton Boston Logan Airport, 4-star hotel, connected to Logan International Airport via a skybridge and directly connected to Terminals A & E. The shuttle to the underground rail station and the terminals of the airport. 
  • Mid-range ($$): Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor, 4-star hotel with soundproofed rooms  and free transfers to the airport terminals.
  • Budget ($): Embassy Suites Boston at Logan Airport , 3-star hotel, offering free shuttle service to Logan International Airport and to the ‘T’ underground station, offering easy access to attractions in Downtown Boston.

You can continue reading about Boston and other cities in USA in these articles:

In conclusion, Downtown, Back Bay, Waterfront, Beacon Hill, North End, South End, and South Boston are the best places to stay in Boston for first-timers and tourists. These are central and safe areas for visitors to book their accommodations and explore the city.

I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful. If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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