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The Best Ways to Get from Boston to Cape Cod & the Islands

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Three of Boston’s most popular Summer vacation destinations are Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. After all, they are home to some of the best beach vacations in the US.

Their popularity and proximity mean it can often be difficult to get to any of them, so it’s wise to have a backup plan on how to get there.

Here are the best ways to travel from Boston to Cape Cod and the islands.

How far is Cape Cod from Boston?

The Cape is pretty big, so depending on where you’re headed to, it may take significantly longer to get to.

Here are a few popular towns in Cape Cod and how far they are from Boston:

  1. Boston to Dennis: 78 miles
  2. Boston to Hyannis: 71 miles
  3. Boston to Provincetown: 116 miles
  4. Boston to Truro: 107 miles
  5. Boston to Wellfleet: 103 miles

1. Road trip it

Photo of cars driving over the Sagamore Bridge to Cape Cod.

I’m gonna be upfront with you – if you’re just going to Cape Cod or the islands for the weekend, be ready to spend a lot of that time in your car due to absolutely bonkers traffic.

Yep, even if your employer gives you Summer Fridays, you’ll inevitably hit traffic when driving to Cape Cod from Boston.

Aside from the nasty traffic, the directions for driving from Boston to Cape Cod are simple: take Route 3 South.

Once you cross the Sagamore Bridge into Cape Cod, continue to your destination.

But as you can probably guess, once you cross the bridge, the traffic will continue all the way to the very end of the Cape in Provincetown.

If you really insist on driving, check out my post about the best road trip apps.

Now let’s look at a few other ways to get from Boston to Cape Cod, many of which will help you avoid the nasty South Shore traffic.

2. Take the Cape Flyer train

Photo of a shiny new MBTA commuter rail train, the same organization that provides the CapeFLYER train service.
Photo courtesy of MOTT.

The CapeFLYER is a train that runs from Boston to Cape Cod.

It departs from South Station in Boston and makes several South Shore stops before continuing on to Cape Cod.

The CapeFLYER is a seasonal service that runs between Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.

Train stations for the CapeFLYER include:

  1. Boston South Station
  2. Braintree
  3. Brockton
  4. Middleborough/Lakeville
  5. Wareham Village
  6. Buzzards Bay
  7. Bourne
  8. Hyannis

If your destination is Falmouth, get off at Buzzards Bay, just before the train crosses into Cape proper. From Buzzards Bay, take the local Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority bus to Falmouth.

After Buzzards Bay is the last stop, Hyannis. Hyannis itself is a popular Cape Cod vacation town, but it’s also a transit hub for getting to other areas of Cape Cod or on to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

If you are taking the train from Boston to Hyannis, a round trip ticket for an adult costs $40 round trip. For Boston to Buzzards Bay, the cost is $35 round trip. Kids 11 and under ride for free for all routes.

If leaving from one of the South shore stops, the round trip cost is less – sometimes as low as $8 round trip!

Tickets can be purchased at South Station in Boston or via the MBTA mTicket app, which you can get on the App Store and Google Play. You can also pay onboard using cash.

Lastly, the train has free Wi-Fi, plus pets and bikes are FREE! The train is also wheelchair accessible with ramps and lifts for easy boarding and exit.

3. Boston to Cape Cod bus service

Photo of the Sagamore Bridge at sunset with a red sky.

There are several options for taking a bus to Cape Cod from Boston.

Boston bus stops include Boston Logan Airport, Boston South Station, and Boston Park Square (nearby Copley Square).

P&B bus

Plymouth & Brockton bus provides service from Boston to Hyannis, and Hyannis to Provincetown.

The schedules are set up so that if you want to take the bus from Boston to Provincetown, you can simply transfer buses in Hyannis. The wait time between the 2 schedules is 15 minutes.

After all pickups in Boston, the Boston to Hyannis P&B bus makes 3 stops in Cape Cod in the following order:

  1. Sagamore
  2. Barnstable
  3. Hyannis

After picking up in Hyannis, the Hyannis to Provincetown P&B bus makes 9 stops in the following order:

  1. Harwich
  2. Orleans
  3. Eastham
  4. North Eastham
  5. South Wellfleet
  6. Wellfleet
  7. Truro
  8. North Truro
  9. Provincetown

Peter Pan bus

Peter Pan bus provides service from Boston to Cape Cod, as well.

Service is available to the following areas:

  1. Barnstable
  2. Barnstable Airport in Hyannis
  3. Buzzards Bay
  4. Falmouth
  5. Hyannis
  6. Woods Hole

If your destination is Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket, the stops to look into are Barnstable Airport, Hyannis and Woods Hole.

The Barnstable Airport stop is key for those that will be connecting to the islands via air shuttle (see below section on flying for more info).

The Hyannis stop is roughly .5 mile walking distance (or a cheap Lyft ride if you have a lot of luggage).

The Woods Hole stop is at the Woods Hole ferry terminal, so unless the ferry schedule from Hyannis is more convenient for you, the Woods Hole stop is overall more convenient.

4. Take a ferry

Photo of the Island Queen ferry in docked in Martha's Vineyard at night.
Photo courtesy of MOTT.

Ferry service is available from Boston to Provincetown, aka P-Town, which is the last town at the tip of the Cape.

There are several departing port options for getting from Cape Cod to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket, but you’ll have to decide how to get to those ports first, as there aren’t any direct ferry options from Boston to the islands.

Provincetown ferry options

The best way to get from Boston to Provincetown is via ferry.

There are 2 companies that service this route: Boston Harbor Cruises and Bay State Cruise Company.

Bay State Cruise Company offers 2 ferry options, regular and high-speed. Service is run daily from mid-May through early October and weekends only from early October through early December.

The high-speed ferry takes 90 minutes and costs $108-118 round trip for an adult. The regular ferry takes 3 hours and costs $70 round trip for an adult.

Boston Harbor Cruises ferry departs from Boston’s Long Wharf, next to the New England Aquarium, and operates from around mid-May to early October. Trips take about 90 minutes one way.

Ticket prices vary depending on the time of year that you visit, but average between $90-100 for an adult round trip ticket.

Martha’s Vineyard ferry options

To get to Martha’s Vineyard, the most economical way is via ferry.

There are 4 ports in Massachusetts from which you can leave: New Bedford, Falmouth, Wood’s Hole, and Hyannis.

Falmouth, Wood’s Hole, and Hyannis are the most convenient if you’re coming from Boston.

To decide which departing port is best, know your destination on the island, as the ferries don’t all go to the same arrival port on the island.

Keep reading for tips on getting to Edgartown, Oaks Bluff, and Vineyard Haven ports.

Edgartown

For ferry service to Edgartown, the departing port is Falmouth. Service is provided by Island Queen Ferry and runs from late May to mid-October.

A round-trip ticket for adults is $27. There is an extra charge if you want to bring a bike, kayak, or paddleboard with you. 

While there are several departure times each day, tickets are not for a specific departure time, so it is best to show up about 45 minutes before the departure time you want.

Oaks Bluff

As the most popular of vacation towns in Martha’s Vineyard, there are several departure ports that provide service to Oaks Bluff: Woods Hole, Hyannis, and Nantucket.

The Steamship Authority provides year-round service from Woods Hole to Oaks Bluff.

A round trip ticket costs $20 for adults, with an extra cost for large items like bikes and surfboards.

The ferry has limited space for motor vehicles, so you have to reserve space ahead of time if you intend to take your car with you. A reservation is not needed if you aren’t taking a car.

Price for vehicles varies depending on the time of the year, as well as the size of the vehicle, so it’s best to check the Steamship Authority website for exact pricing.

Hy-Line Cruises provides several daily departures from Hyannis to Oaks Bluff from early May through late October.

The route takes about 1 hour. An adult round trip ticket is $62, with an extra charge for bicycles.

The Island Queen Ferry provides ferry service from Falmouth to Oaks Bluff from late May to mid-October.

A round trip adult ticket is $27 with an extra charge for bicycles. The trip takes about 35 minutes.

Vineyard Haven

The Steamship Authority provides year-round ferry service from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven.

A round trip ticket for adults is $20 and the trip takes about 45 minutes.

As with their service to Oaks Bluff, there is an extra charge for large items and reservations are required for vehicles due to limited space.

Nantucket ferry options

There are three options for catching a ferry to Nantucket: New Bedford, Hyannis, and Harwich.

Hyannis to Nantucket ferry

The Steamship Authority and Hy-Line Cruises both run service from Hyannis to Nantucket.

The Steamship Authority provides 2 year-round ferry options on their schedule: high-speed and regular. Both options have limited space for vehicles, so reservations are required.

The high-speed ferry gets you from Hyannis to Nantucket in 1 hour. A round trip ticket for an adult costs $81, with an extra charge for large items like bikes and trailers.

The regular ferry takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes. A round trip ticket for an adult costs $41.

Hy-Line Cruises also provides year-round high-speed service from Hyannis to Nantucket.

A round trip ticket for an adult costs $48. They do not have space for vehicles, so if you intend to take your car, The Steamship Authority is your only option.

Harwich to Nantucket

Freedom Cruise Line provides seasonal service from late May to late September from Harwich to Nantucket.

A round trip ticket is $85 for an adult, with an extra charge for bikes. The ride takes less than 80 minutes one-way.

Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Inter-island Ferry

From late May to early October, Hy-Line Cruises runs ferry service between Oaks Bluff in Martha’s Vineyard and downtown Nantucket.

A round trip ticket is $74 for adults. There are several departures per day and the trip takes about 1 hour.

5. Flying

Photo of a Cape Air seaplane taking off into the air.
Photo courtesy of MOTT.

Flying is a super convenient time-saving option for getting from Boston to Cape Cod. It’s certainly not the cheapest option, but a short flight certainly beats sitting in a traffic jam.

Cape Air runs flights from Boston to Provincetown, Hyannis, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket.

In the Summer months, Cape Air partners with JetBlue to provide connecting service from outside Boston.

If your destination is Nantucket, Nantucket Airlines provides air shuttle service between Hyannis to Nantucket.

Nantucket Airlines partners with United, American Airlines, and JetBlue to provide connecting service from outside the area.

If you’re starting from Boston, you’ll either have to get to Barnstable Airport in Hyannis or stick with Cape Air for flights from Boston’s Logan Airport.

Lastly, if you’re really rolling in the dough, you can connect with BLADE to charter a flight from Boston to the Cape or the islands.

What’s the best way to get from Boston to Cape Cod?

In my opinion, taking a ferry or train are the best ways to get from Boston to Cape Cod, Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard.

With either of these options, you’ll avoid the epic South Shore traffic, thereby maximizing your vacation time and keeping stress levels low.

Flying is also a decent option, but not as affordable if you’re originating from Boston.

This post was originally published June 2, 2018. It was last updated January 22, 2023.

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