Day Trip to Cape Cod from Boston or Brookline Without a Car
(St Louis, Mo)
Question: How can I get from Boston or Brookline, where I'm staying, to Chatham on Cape Cod without a car? I want to take a trip where I leave in the morning, and return to Boston/Brookline the same night.
Hi Janice -
You'll have a number of transportation options to choose from, but much depends on your budget and how much time you'd like to have in Chatham.
One option is to fly from Boston to Hyannis or Provincetown and then take a cab to Chatham.
Cape Air has regularly scheduled Boston-Cape Cod flights every day, from early morning to early evening; and taxi service is available from the airports.
Your total travel time each way would likely be under 2 hours, including flight time and cab ride. However, that does not include waiting time at the airports, which could add significantly to your total travel time.
I'd estimate that flights/cabs would cost somewhere around $250-$350, round trip. Of course, if you know someone who can pick you up at the airport and drive you to Chatham, that would certainly help lower your travel costs quite a bit.
Another option is to take the Boston-Cape Cod fast ferry from Boston to Provincetown, then take a cab/get a ride to Chatham.
The earliest ferry departs Boston around 9 a.m., and the last ferry departs Provincetown early evening (about 8:30 p.m., I believe). I'd estimate the cost for ferry and cabs to be under $200, round trip.
Please remember, however, that on occasion the ferry is delayed or cancelled if the seas are very rough. If that happens on your travel day, you'd need to find another mode of transportation.
Finally, you could take a bus from Boston to Cape Cod.
This is the least expensive option by far. Bus fares range from about $34-$56 round trip, depending on your departure location in Boston and your destination on Cape Cod.
The bus ride from Boston to Hyannis (the main terminal on Cape Cod) takes about 2 hours.
From the Hyannis terminal, you could then take the "H2O", a local bus service, to Chatham. The ride from Hyannis to Chatham on the H2O is a little over an hour, with stops in each town along the way. Adult fare is $2 each way ($1 for seniors and disabled persons).
The Realities of a Car-Free Day Trip
All that being said, Janice, a "round-tripper" in one day from Boston to Chatham and back to Boston really is an ambitious undertaking. Even if you had your own car, you'd still be looking at about 4 hours travel time, round trip, and maybe more depending on traffic conditions.
I'm concerned that no matter which travel mode you choose, you'll spend more of your day traveling than enjoying your time on Cape Cod.
Of course, if you're coming to Chatham for business (or some reason other than sightseeing), then all the travel time/expense might be unavoidable.
But if your trip is purely for pleasure, I really do urge you to try to add at least one more day to your Cape Cod itinerary. That way, you'll have some time to relax a little, take a stroll on Lighthouse Beach (the most spectacular of all Chatham beaches, in my humble opinion), and explore the lovely town of Chatham.
I hope this helps. If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask!
Update: May 2013
When I responded to Janice's question, there was no passenger train service between Boston and Cape Cod. Now there is.
The train is called CapeFlyer, and it's a great option for summer weekend daytrips to the Cape!
More Boston-Cape Cod travel info.