Boston Sightseeing Guide & Map

Where to Find Top Boston Attractions and Events

Boston's compact size makes sightseeing easy because most of our top attractions cluster in just the few central neighborhoods shown on the map on this page.   

To plan your Boston sightseeing experience, use the map and attractions guide on this page to locate top Boston museums, attractions, tours, shopping, and events.

Boston is a city of gorgeous neighborhoods - Beacon Hill, Back Bay, the North End, Fenway - each with its own personality, attractions, mouth-watering restaurants, and fascinating places to visit and things to do.

The best way to start planning your Boston travel itinerary, especially if you'll be here just for a short time, is to focus on the top attractions in your "must see" list, and then find other interesting places to visit located nearby. 

This map of Boston Massachusetts will help you get started.

 

Boston neighborhood map for your sightseeing planning

Boston map showing neighborhoods with tourism attractions
Boston's Fenway neighborhood Boston's Back Bay neighborhood South End South Boston Waterfront Bay Village and Park Square Boston Common and Public Garden Beacon Hill Historic Downtown and Faneuil Marketplace area of Downtown Boston Theatre District in Downtown Boston Chinatown and Leather District in Downtown Boston Boston's Downtown Waterfront Boston's West End South Boston Boston's North End neighborhood Downtown Crossing and the Financial District in Downtown Boston Boston Harbor East Boston cambridge Somerville You'll find most top tourism attractions in the neighborhoods shown in this sightseeing map

Use this map and the following Boston sightseeing guide to see how the city's neighborhoods relate to each other, and which attractions, tours, sites, events, shopping venues, and restaurants you'll find in each one.   

If you're interested in guided tours, here are a few to consider:

And here are a couple of tours to do on your own:

Rremember, sometimes the best way to experience sightseeing in Boston, made easy by the city's compact size, is to simply wander around and explore.  The photo gallery at the bottom of the page will give you a taste of what you will see in different neighborhoods.




 

Top Boston sightseeing attractions for you to explore

Here's a quick overview of what you'll find in central neighborhoods, districts, and areas, plus Cambridge (a separate city) across the Charles River. 

If you need more details than our sightseeing map showing neighborhoods provides, find out where to get the best free Boston maps showing streets and subway stations.

Neighborhoods / Areas Top Attractions / Tours

Boston Common / Public Garden

These two iconic parks form the heart of the city.  Perfect place to begin your sightseeing

Beacon Hill

Gas lights, narrow streets, excellent restaurants, boutiques, and 19th century mansions and row houses - the most historically preserved neighborhood in the city

Historic Downtown / Faneuil Marketplace

The oldest part of the city, filled with Freedom Trail sites, Faneuil Marketplace, and historic taverns, including one where the Sons of Liberty met to plot the American Revolution.

Theatre District

Over a dozen thriving theaters, restaurants, and Emerson College make this one of our most vibrant neighborhoods.

Bay Village / Park Square

A tranquil mostly-residential area with Federal and Art Deco architecture - one of Boston's "hidden secrets."

  • Gas-lit streets lined with Federal-era homes and Art Deco buildings
  • Hotels and restaurants
  • Boston Center for Adult Education

Chinatown / Leather District

Restaurants, markets, and boutiques, bordered by trendy condos carved from former tanneries.

Downtown Crossing / Financial District

Primarily a commercial area, with pedestrian-only shopping along Washington Street and financial firms filling the skyscrapers

  • Orpheum Theatre
  • Pedestrian-only shopping in Downtown Crossing
  • Post Office Square / Norman Levanthal Park
  • U.S. Custom House
  • More Irish pubs
  • Brattle Bookstore - one of the city's best!

Downtown Waterfront

Luxury hotels and nice restaurants share space with wharfs and departure points for Harbor cruises

Back Bay

Designer boutiques, art galleries, skyscrapers, but also home to Romanesque Revival Trinity Church and Boston Public Library in Copley Square, and breath-taking Victorian mansions and brownstones.

Fenway
Sports, culture, colleges and universities, nightlife, and medical centers compete for space in Fenway.  Includes commercially-oriented Kenmore Square and Longwood Medical Area.

North End
Enjoy delicious fare in the many outstanding restaurants and bakeries in this traditional Italian neighborhood.  Explore famous Freedom Trail sites.

West End
Site of massive urban renewal during the 1960s, the mostly new West End includes Government Center, world-famous medical institutions, and plenty of entertainment / cultural options.

  • TD Garden and Sports Museum
  • Museum of Science
  • Massachusetts General Hospital, other world-famous medical research centers / hospitals
  • Mid-century "brutalist" style government buildings
  • North Station

South End
Mostly residential, so not a lot of Boston sightseeing goes on here - but with the largest area of Victorian brick row houses in the US, art galleries and trendy shops in SoWa, and some of the best restaurants in the city, the South End provides plenty to see, do, and eat.

South Boston Waterfront
Home to CruisePort, museums, artist studios in the Fort Point area, and a new convention center, this waterfront area just across from Downtown is Boston's most rapidly developing neighborhood

Charlestown
One of the oldest Boston neighborhoods, with famous Freedom Trail sites, antique shops, lots to see and do in the historic Navy Yard, and one of our oldest taverns

  • Freedom Trail sites:  USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides"), Bunker Hill
  • Charlestown Navy Yard
  • USS Cassin Young
  • Constitution Museum
  • Warren Tavern

Boston Harbor
Once your boat pulls away from the wharf, you're in another world, full of history, fascinating sights, and marine life.

Cambridge
A  separate city directly across the Charles River from Boston - home to Harvard University and MIT, boutiques and bookstores in Harvard Square, lots of ethnic restaurants, and top-notch live music in the many student-oriented bars.

  • Harvard University
  • Harvard Museum of Natural History (glass flowers)
  • Harvard Square
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Mount Auburn Cemetery
  • Longfellow House
  • American Repertory Theatre

Return to top - Boston Sightseeing Map and Guide

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Photo Gallery - Top Attractions in Each Neighborhood

Historic Downtown - Old State House on the Freedom Trail, with Financial District skyscrapers and historic Custom House in the background

Historic Downtown - Old State House on the Freedom Trail, with Financial District skyscrapers and historic Custom House in the background Boston's Public Garden - Swan Boats in the Lagoon Beacon Hill - Narrow street lined with early 19th century houses Back Bay - Boutiques along Newbury Street Charlestown - Bunker Hill Monument on Boston's Freedom Trail
Boston Common - Colorful October foliage Downtown Waterfront - Boats next to New England Aquarium Chinatown - Entrance North End - Near North Square, Paul Revere's neighborhood Theatre District - Newly restored historic Paramount Theatre

Find out about the best Boston sightseeing tours

 

Blurred boundaries

Boston is a city of neighborhoods, and that's part of what makes it special - but boundaries between neighborhoods shift over time ("official" boundaries don't exist), some overlap, and even the names change and evolve.

For example, there's a lack of consensus about where Back Bay ends and the South End begins - is it Huntington Ave, Columbus Ave, or the Southwest Corridor, a garden-lined park where a 12-lane highway almost got built 50 years ago?  Likewise, is the Longwood Medical Area part of Fenway or Mission Hill?  Where does the boundary between the South End and Roxbury lie?

"Downtown" includes many smaller neighborhoods, districts, and areas - Downtown Crossing, the Financial District, Park Square, the Theatre District, the historic area near Faneuil Marketplace, Chinatown, the Leather District, the Downtown Waterfront.  If you hear locals say "Downtown," they may mean all of these areas - or just some of them.  Or they also may be including the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and the North End.  It can be confusing.

Developers sometimes add their own labels.  For example, the South Boston Waterfront gets called the "Innovation District" as biotech firms are lured to relocate in this rapidly developing area, which used to be called the "Seaport District."  

And then there's "Boston Proper" - technically the area first occupied by the Puritans, including Beacon Hill, Boston Common, the West End, the North End, and Downtown - but today, the term sometimes stretches to include Back Bay and other parts of central Boston. 

 

Fun Tours for Getting to Know Boston

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Other Boston neighborhoods with key attractions and events

Although most Boston sightseeing attractions cluster the central neighborhoods listed above, a few are located in the mostly-residential neighborhoods to the south, west, and even east.

Here are the neighborhoods and areas where you'll find other key Boston sightseeing attractions, historic sites, cultural venues, entertainment, and tourism-related attractions and events.

Neighborhoods / Areas Top Attractions / Places

East Boston
Just across Boston Harbor - 10 minutes from Downtown by water taxi

  • Boston Logan Airport

South Boston
South of the South Boston Waterfront area - if that makes sense

Dorchester

  • John F. Kennedy Library and Museum
  • University of Massachusetts, Boston campus
  • Dorchester Heights Monument
  • Franklin Park Zoo

Jamaica Plain

  • Arnold Arboretum

Brookline

  • John F. Kennedy birthplace (National Historic Site)

Chestnut Hill

Allston

Lots of student-oriented spots

  • Boston University (straddles the Boston/Allston line)
  • Harvard Business School
  • Paradise Rock Club
  • Many inexpensive restaurants, Irish bars, student-oriented nightlife

Mission Hill / Roxbury

Somerville
Like Cambridge, a separate city.
  • Irish bars, clubs, student pubs around Davis Square
  • Artist studios in former factories

Return to top - Boston Sightseeing Map and Guide

 

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