11 Unique Places to View the Boston Skyline—Local’s Guide

Trees with fall leaves framing tall buildings in the distance

There’s nothing more iconic than a city skyline, and it’s no different in Boston. After living in Boston for 3 years, I’ve scoped out some lovely places to snap shots of the city skyline. If you’re looking to visit Boston, you may also want to book a stay at the hotels with views in this post.

Stay till the end for a free, interactive map of these best spots to view the Boston skyline!

Best Places to See the Boston Skyline

1. MIT Sailing Pavilion (Cambridge)

You’ll be able to get great views of the Boston skyline from most of Memorial Drive, a road in Cambridge right next to the Charles River. In my opinion, however, the view is the best at the MIT Sailing Pavilion on Memorial Drive. There, you’ll have iconic Prudential Center in the center of your shot, and you may even be able to catch a sailboat in your image.

Just a short walk away is also Harvard Bridge, which will give you a couple more angles of the city skyline.

2. On a sunset cruise in the Boston Harbor

silhouette of the Boston skyline at sunset, photo by Roaming Boston

There are few images of Boston that are dreamier than the skyline silhouette against the sunset over the water. While you will have to pay for a sunset cruise, tickets start at around $20 and the experience is well worth it. Many cruises also serve food and drink for an extra price, so you can make it a whole evening outing.

3. Boston University Bridge (Brookline)

Boston University Bridge with the city skyline in the background and a biker going by

While this Boston skyline view is a bit more distant, the BU bridge frames the downtown buildings perfectly. This spot is also a short walk from the Boston University West stop on the B line, and you can continue your walk down Memorial Drive after crossing the bridge, hitting more photo spots like Harvard Bridge and the MIT Sailing Pavilion.

4. Fan Pier Park at night (Seaport)

Boston skyline at night from Fan Pier Park at Seaport, with the reflection on the water

Fan Pier Park offers a classic view of the the city, and it’s especially romantic at night when the buildings light up and are reflected on the water.

Seaport is also a lively neighborhood with many restaurants and trendy shops (think Mejuri and Outdoor Voices), so there’s plenty to do before or after you admire the Boston skyline.

5. Boston Athenaeum (Beacon Hill/downtown)

The Boston Athenaeum is one of the city’s hidden gems and most instagrammable spots. While the library itself is stunning, the patio view of the city is another big draw.

The library is private, but you can purchase a day pass for $40. Previously, you could only visit the first floor with a $10 ticket and see the rest of the library on a $2 tour, but this is currently unavailable. $40 is quite pricey, but it could be worth it if you plan to spend most of the day admiring the library, browsing its books, or studying.

Learn more about the Boston Athenaeum in my guide.

6. Wright’s Tower at Middlesex Fells (Medford)

The view of the city skyline at Wright's Tower at Middlesex Fells during the golden hour in the fall

The city is far in the distance at Middlesex Fells in Medford, but the views are lovely, especially at the golden hour in the fall.

If you park at the South Border parking lot, Wright’s Tower is only a short hike away (.3 miles), though it is a little steep in spots. The tower itself isn’t always open, but there’s an open rocky area where you can catch this view. Many hikers stop and rest here, and take photos.

I’d recommend hiking boots or good athletic shoes if you decide to visit the park, as the trail can be rocky in places.

7. Longfellow Bridge (Cambridge/downtown)

The tall stone columns make this bridge stand out from the others on the Charles River. The bridge has to be especially sturdy as the Red Line runs across it! If you’re sitting in the train between Charles/MGH and Kendall/MIT, be sure to take a glimpse out the window.

Otherwise, you can stroll across the bridge as well and take your time to get the perfect shot.

8. From a kayak on the Charles River (Cambridge)

Boston skyline from a kayak in the Charles River

Paddle Boston rents kayaks and paddleboards from Kendall Square, allowing you to get a close-up view of the city over the water. Prices start at $30 for a single kayak, $45 for a double, and $30 for a paddleboard.

You can reserve online or just show up. Bring a drybag for your phone and belongings, or rent one onsite for $1.

9. Spectacle Island (Boston Harbor Islands)

Boston skyline across the water in the distance against a blue sky with wispy clouds

Spectacle Island is a relaxing getaway that’s just a 20-minute boat ride from the city. From the boat and the island, you can get a full panorama of the city skyline.

On the island, there’s also a small beach, easy hiking trails, and grassy fields for lying out or picnicking.

Learn more in my guide to visiting Spectacle Island.

10. Peters Hill at Arnold Arboretum (Jamaica Plain)

Boston skyline in the distance at Peters Hill at Arnold Arboretu

The city is quite tiny from Peters Hill, but it’s still a lovely view, especially with the trees and plants framing the Boston skyline. Swing by around the golden hour to get shots of the skyline against a blue and pink sky.

After relaxing on Peters Hill, you can take the time to stroll around the extensive arboretum and admire the different species of trees and plants (most of which are labeled).

The arboretum is especially beautiful in the spring and fall.

11. Charles River Esplanade (Back Bay)

sunset on the Charles River

While the Charles River Esplanade mostly gives you views of Cambridge (as pictured above), you can see some of the Boston side by going out to the boat docks. The docks towards the city, past the Hatch Memorial Shell, are where you want to be (just double-check and make sure you’re not going onto private docks).

Even better, the Esplanade is between Harvard and Longfellow Bridge, so you’re a short walk away from other Boston skyline views.

The Esplanade is especially beautiful at the golden hour and around sunset. In the summer, many people lounge around on the grass, walk along the bike path, and gather on the docks.

Hotels with the Best Views of the Boston Skyline

If you’re visiting Boston and want to be able to see the skyline from your hotel, here are some top options. Since these hotels are in prime locations, prices are on the higher side ($200+ per night), but you may be able to get better deals in the off season.

This section contains affiliate links, meaning that I earn a small commission from any bookings made through these links, at no extra cost to you. This income keeps this blog running and is much appreciated!

1. Royal Sonesta, $$ (Cambridge)

The Royal Sonesta Hotel is right along the water on the Cambridge side of the Charles River. The Museum of Science and the iconic Longfellow Bridge are just a short walk away. You can even dine outside at the hotel restaurant with the city skyline in the background.

2. YOTEL Boston, $$ (Seaport)

YOTEL is in the heart of trendy Seaport, with shops like Lululemon and Fjällräven just across the street. The hotel itself is also pretty trendy, offering tiny “cabins” that are designed to be space-efficient and high-tech (think smart beds, mood lighting, etc.). YOTEL also has a rooftop terrace with a stunning view of the city.

Nearby attractions include the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston Children’s Museum, and Fan Pier Park.

3. Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor, $$

Located close to the airport, Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor is across the water from downtown Boston, offering panoramic views of the city. The Boston skyline can be seen from the outdoor patio, select rooms, and their indoor restaurant.

4. Hyatt Regency Boston/Cambridge, $$

This massive, upscale hotel is right along the Charles River on the Cambridge side. You’ll have a clear view of the city skyline and easy access to the Charles River bike path (as well as BU Bridge).

If you’re planning to host a special event, this Hyatt Regency Boston/Cambridge has a ballroom and plenty of meeting rooms.

5. The Envoy Hotel, $$$$ (Seaport)

The Envoy Hotel in Seaport has a Lookout Rooftop and Bar overlooking the water and city skyline. Rooms are modern and elegant, plus you’re in the heart of one of Boston’s upscale neighborhoods.

Map of the Best Boston Skyline Views

Here’s an interactive Google Map of all these spots. Click the icon on the top left to see the names of these places.

If you there are other spots where you go to see the city skyline, let us know in the comments!

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