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An aerial view of Boston, USA.

- © Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
Boston
Boston

A city brimming with charm, Boston is a very pleasant destination full of contrasts.

Boston in short

Boston remains the American metropolis closest in many ways to the European continent. A city brimming with charm, Boston is a very pleasant destination full of contrasts. What's more, it remains the historic and cultural heart of the United States of America!
Boston enjoys a remarkable geographical location. Opening out onto the Atlantic Ocean at the head of Massachusetts Bay, the city is one of the oldest ports in the country. While you're here, don't miss the chance to take part in a cruise. You can see the city and its buildings from the ocean. What's more, some cruises offer the chance to go on a whale safari!
Another great thing about New England's largest city is that its architecture is like an open history book. Ancient meets modern, gleaming buildings tower over red-brick Victorian houses. History is an inseparable part of Boston. Don't forget that this city is the historic cradle of the country. Its history dates back to 1630, since when Massachusetts' largest city has been a beacon of freedom in the United States. Although the area was originally home to Puritan settlers, that's all changed now.

Downtown Boston, old meets new.

- © Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

Ever since, the region's inhabitants and politicians have been fighting for the rights of Americans. Whether it's the battle for independence, for women's rights or against slavery. Boston remains a tolerant city where culture is a bulwark against many evils.
It's easy to discover the key sites and monuments in the city's history. Just follow the Freedom Trail. Along its 4-kilometre route, you can admire no fewer than 16 historic monuments...

The Freedom Trail in Boston.

- © James Kirkikis / Shutterstock

The city is a patchwork of different neighbourhoods. Some of them are very reminiscent of Europe. Beacon Hill and the North End, for example, are home to beautiful colonial homes.

The architecture and ambience of the cobbled streets are a must for lovers of urban life.

Boston's Beacon Hill district.

- © Sunny Chanruangvanich / Shutterstock

A change of atmosphere at the Waterfront. Here, the harbour quays and the ocean provide an intense sense of escape.
Alternatively, for a dose of buildings and American excess, the downtown area and the Financial District are sure to please!

If you have an irrepressible need for culture, set off to discover the city's greatest museums. The choice will be difficult. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum offer a huge and valuable art collection. A word of advice? Visit them both!

Entrance to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

- © Jay Yuan / Shutterstock

Finally, don't miss out on a visit to the Harvard campus! A mythical, world-famous name.
This temple of knowledge and culture is just a few kilometres from the centre of Boston. Accessible by metro, Harvard University, which opened in 1636, can be visited in the company of student volunteers. Another exceptional experience that only Boston can offer.
Boston and the surrounding area have so much to offer that a stay here is a traveller's dream!

Harvard campus, Boston.

- © Jon Bilous / Shutterstock
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The must-sees

All the must-sees

How to get there?

Boston is accessible by plane from the UK, with a direct flight from London taking 7 hours 25 minutes. Travellers can choose from a wide range of airlines, including Delta Airlines, American Airlines, United, US Airways, British Airways, Air France, and KLM. Some flights have stopovers in Europe or the United States. The city can also be reached from other American cities by plane, train or bus.

Boston

✈️ Flights to Boston

Boston is easy to reach from the UK. Direct flight from London, approx. 7.5 hours.
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Where to stay?

Boston is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. As a result, there is a wide range of accommodation on offer to meet the different aspirations of travellers. Note that the city is also one of the most expensive in the United States when it comes to accommodation. But remember to book as early as possible. As a bonus, you'll benefit from preferential rates!

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Practical information

Key figures

  • Surface area: 232 km²

  • Population: 675,000 in 2021

Language:

Anglo-American is the majority language in Boston, and Spanish is also spoken.

Formalities and visa United States

Since January 2009, nationals of visa-exempt countries, including the UK, have had to apply online for ESTA travel authorisation (for a fee) at least 72 hours before departure. Travellers can do this via their travel agent and will receive an electronic authorisation in return, which is essential before boarding a plane or a boat. This authorisation is valid for two years or until the passport expires. The new measure, one of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, is designed to make it more difficult for potential terrorists from countries such as France, Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Singapore, New Zealand, Japan and Australia to enter the United States.

Good to know If you have an old-style passport, you will need a visa, as this type of passport is not machine-readable and therefore not secure under US regulations. However, you can use it until its expiry date.

The United States requires an individual passport, whatever the age of the traveller. Babies (even a few months old) and children must therefore have the same passport as adults (or an individual visa if the child is included in the passport of one of the parents who has a visa).

You need to apply for a visa:

  • if you are using an old-style passport, regardless of when it was issued.

  • if you have a machine-readable passport issued after 26 October 2005.

You are exempt from the visa requirement:

  • if you hold a biometric passport.

For more information on the formalities for entering the United States, see the Office's website or that of the US Department of Homeland Security. By telephone, the Visit USA Committee's audiotel service provides information on 0 899 70 24 70 (dial #1).

For information on the different passport models, see the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. To obtain a visa: First consult the embassy's website or its voice server. If you have not received an answer to all your questions, or if you think you need an appointment, you can call an embassy adviser on 0-810-26-46-26 (fee per call). You may be asked for an interview. Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for an interview to be arranged.

Please note that visa applications will no longer be accepted by post, except for children up to the age of 13 and people aged 80 and over.

Religion:

Protestantism is the majority religion in the United States. Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism and Islam are also represented.

Currency:

The currency is the US dollar (USD), the rate of which can fluctuate quite widely (small denominations are preferable). It is divided into 100 cents. There are plenty of exchange offices, but rates are higher at airports than in town. There is no problem exchanging traveller's cheques. All the major cities are well equipped with ATMs and 24-hour banking machines, which allow you to withdraw cash anywhere with any international credit card. Payment by bank card is widespread, but the use of cheques is relatively uncommon. Banks are generally open from 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday and from 9am to 1pm on Saturdays.

Transport:

Use public transport to get around Boston. The city can be explored by metro, train and bus.

Health:

No specific vaccinations are required, but very good insurance is strongly recommended (care and repatriation costs) in the event of illness or accident, given the very high cost of medical care in the United States.

Electricity:

The current standard in the United States is 110 V 60 Hz. Electrical sockets have 2 or 3 flat pins, which means that they cannot be used for UK appliances. An adaptor is essential.

Taxes:

The prices of products displayed in shops are always exclusive of tax. State tax must be added. An additional local tax may be applied to hotels in certain towns, for a total that may vary from 11% to 14%. Prices quoted in the service sector (restaurants, taxis) always exclude a tip: it is customary to add a 15% tip to the price quoted. If you pay by credit card, you should add the tip yourself and make up the final bill before signing.

lightbulb_outline Editor's tip

Boston is best explored on foot. Don't forget a good pair of trainers: the city centre and the oceanfront are perfect destinations for walking. You'll be able to discover the atmosphere of this historic city at your leisure.

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