free things to do in boston
Boston is one of the most expensive cities in the US but there are plenty of cheap and free things to do in the city. Source: Joseph Prezioso/AFP

Boston is home to some of the US’s best unis and sports teams. This is where the Celtics, Bruins, Patriots or Red Sox call home. For those far from home, cheap eats from all corners of the globe abound, from banh mis to burritos to chicken noodles. 

Yet, B0st0n is also considered one of the most expensive cities to live in in the US and may be costly to explore as a student. With some effort and research, however, you’ll find that there are many attractions and activities that are budget-friendly or entirely free.

Check out this ultimate guide of four things to do in Boston for free as an international student:

Visit or take a tour of galleries and museums 

free things to do in Boston

Bless your eyes with glorious art collections at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA). Source: Scott Eisen/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

For those who are fans of museums, arts and galleries, you’ll love this one. For either a small fee or at zero cost, get ready to bless your eyes with glorious art collections and visual designs at these places: 

  • Institute of Contemporary Art: Free on Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Art lovers will find themselves diving into art talks or even just admiring the installations. 
  • Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum offers free lifetime admission to those named Isabella. If your name isn’t Isabella, tickets for college students with a valid ID is US$13. Alternatively, you can check if your university is under the University Membership Programme where you may be entitled to discounted tickets. 
  • SoWa Art + Design District: Open its door to the public every first Friday of the month. There are over 200 artists, showrooms, galleries and shops to explore with an even wider variety of art to appreciate.

Explore the local history with Freedom Trail 

If it’s your first time in Boston, this is a must-do on the list of things to do in Boston for free. The two-and-a-half mile cultural trail serves as a good starting point as it begins at the Boston Commons and it ends at the Bunker Hill Monument and USS Constitution in Charlestown.

Some quick facts about these two landmarks: Bunker Hill Monument commemorates the first major battle of the American Revolution in 1775 and the USS Constitution is known as the nation’s ship for over 220 years since the Quasi-War.

Passing through the heart of Boston, you will visit 16 of the city’s most historic and attractive landmarks such as Paul Revere House that’s among the earliest house museums in the nation and the USS Constitution. It is a self-guided tour, clearly indicated by a red line, so feel free to explore at your own pace. But there is the option for guided tours or even audio tours of the trail if you’re more comfortable with that. 

Stargaze and learn some astronomy 

Among one of the coolest things to do in Boston for free with your friends or even to bring a date, Public Open Nights are hosted by Boston University’s Department of Astronomy at the Coit Observatory. The programme was first launched in 1967 inviting the public to observe the night sky through telescopes and see things they otherwise might not get to see. 

It is held on most Wednesday nights throughout the year. Those interested would have to purchase tickets in advance to book their slots. The programme starts promptly at 7:30 p.m. during the fall and winter months and 8:30 p.m. during the spring and summer months. You can get your tickets here.

free things to do in Boston

Get in touch with nature and explore some of Boston’s renowned parks and trails. Source: by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

Disconnect from your devices and reconnect with nature 

Need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city? Take this opportunity to get in touch with nature and recharge amidst the lush greeneries and scenic views, all for free. Here are a few places you shouldn’t miss out on:

  • Jamaica Pond: A series of over 1,100 acres of public parks linked throughout the city, Jamaica Pond is a one-and-a-half mile path around the pond for runners and bikers to enjoy the view around the lake. 
  • Public Garden and Boston Commons: The Public Garden was the first public botanical garden in America and is considered the crown jewel of Boston’s parks with its Victorian Era elements. 
  • Arnold Arboretum: A botanical research institute under Harvard University, this 281-acre landscape features more than 15,000 plants. Head over here to learn a thing or two about the stories and science behind the plants. 

If you’re looking for a good sweat, these hike trails in Boston will interest you. 

Boston awaits you with new and exciting experiences to try. We hope this gives you a quick idea on some of Boston’s offerings. Happy exploring! Read here for free or cheap things students can do in London.

Watch this video below for more ideas on what to do in Boston: