Provincetown, Massachusetts is a popular vacation destination located at the very northernmost tip of Cape Cod. It sits on the shores of Cape Cod Bay, and is known for its beaches, lighthouses, art galleries and distinctive souvenir shops. It is also known as a thriving LGBTQ+ destination, and has a rich creative and cultural history.
You can take a passenger ferry directly from Boston to Provincetown. There are two ferry options, both of which take 1 hour 30 minutes to arrive in central Provincetown. Alternatively, there is another ferry option which departs from Plymouth, or you can drive over land around the Cape via US-6.
Read on to discover the best travel options for the journey from Boston to Provincetown, with all the information you need to plan your trip.
Is there a ferry from Boston to Provincetown?
There are two direct passenger ferries from Boston to Provincetown, operated by Bay State Cruise Company and Boston Harbor Cruises. The Provincetown Fast Ferry departs from the World Trade Center in Boston, while the Salacia Fast Ferry departs from Rowes Wharf, close to the New England aquarium. Both ferries take 1 hour and 30 minutes to make the crossing.
Between May and October, Bay State Cruise Company operates 3 return ferries per day, 7 days a week, while during the late fall up to December ferries operate only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Boston Harbor Cruises operate on a different schedule to their competitor, with one or two ferries per day from May to June, two or three ferries per day from June to September, a varied schedule in September, and a one per day service from the very end of September through to early October.
There are no ferries on either service from late December through to mid-May.
There is another ferry service that operates from Plymouth, Massachusetts to Provincetown. Plymouth is a 40-minute drive from central Boston, and the ferry departs from the State Pier at 77 Water Street. This ferry also takes 1 hour 30 minutes to reach MacMillian Wharf in Provincetown.
Another option is to drive around Cape Cod Bay directly from Boston, which takes just over 2 hours. Alternatively, you can simply fly from Boston to Provincetown on a direct flight with CapeAir.
How to reach Provincetown from Boston
Taking one of the two passenger ferries is the quickest way to make the journey from Boston to Provincetown. You can't take your car on the ferry, but Provincetown is highly walkable as a destination.
If you are taking the Bay State Cruise Company ferry, you will need to arrive at the Rowes Wharf ferry terminal, which is located on Long Wharf. The nearest local landmark is the New England Aquarium.
You can't take your car on this ferry, so if you drive there you can leave your car at the parking lot at Rowes Wharf Garage, which is a part of the port. You can take your bike on the ferry for an extra fee.
Bay State Cruise Company operates three fast ferries a day from Boston to Provincetown during the peak season, which runs from May 16 to October 9. These ferries run at 8:30am, 1pm and 5:30pm, 7 days a week. In the late fall season from October 13 to December 3 they operate just 3 ferries per week, one each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Boston Harbor Cruises operate a limited service from May 15 to June 9, with a morning ferry departing at 9am Monday to Wednesday, with a 9am and 2pm ferry from Thursday to Sunday. Their peak season operates from June 10 to September 4, during which there is a 9am and 2pm ferry operating Monday to Wednesday, and three ferries departing Thursday to Sunday, at 9am, 2pm and 6:30pm.
Boston Harbor Cruises ferry services wind down from September 5, with two ferries running Monday, one ferry running Tuesday to Thursday and the same three ferries per day from Friday to Sunday. To close out the season, there is just one ferry departing every day at 9am from September 25 to October 9.
It's worth noting that on the Boston Harbor Cruises service, ferry timetables are subject to change according to holidays, including revised services on Memorial Day, Labor Day and Indigenous Peoples Day Weekend.
There is an alternative ferry which runs from Plymouth to Provincetown. The Captain John Ferry operates one service a day from Plymouth at 10am, returning at 6pm.
If you are flying, planes go directly from Logan International Airport Boston to Provincetown Municipal Airport. The flight takes 20 minutes and is operated by Cape Air Airlines. There are a couple of flights per day, depending on the season. The airport is only a 6-minute drive from central Provincetown.
Driving to Provincetown from Boston
Alternatively, if you want to travel by car, it is a fairly straightforward drive from Boston to Provincetown.
Follow Interstate 93 (I-93) south out of Boston to hug Marina Bay, then cross Neponset River and take exit 7 for MA-3 S. There is the opportunity here to stop and stretch your legs in the 7,000 acres of Blue Hills Reservation state park.
Continue on MA-3, otherwise known as Pilgrims Highway. You'll pass through Plymouth as you reach within spitting distance of Cape Cod Bay. Continue south past Myles Standish State Forest. There are plenty of golf courses a short detour away, such as Crosswinds Golf Club and Pinehills Golf Club.
Continue onto US-6 and head east to cross Sagamore Bridge, then follow the line of Cape Cod up via the towns of Eastham, Wellfleet and Truro. You'll be driving through the Cape Cod National Seashore, which stretches for over 40 miles of beaches, dunes and salt marshes.
You can stop at any of the beaches just off US-6, including Ryder beach, Fisher Beach and Corn Hill Beach. At the very tip of the Cape you'll arrive in Provincetown, where you can park your car and explore on foot.
How long does it take to reach Provincetown from Boston by ferry?
|Mode||Operator||Ferry Duration||Adult fare|
|Passenger Ferry||Bay State Cruise Company||1 hour 30 minutes||$118|
|Passenger Ferry||Boston Harbor Cruises||1 hour 30 minutes||$130|
*Prices calculated at the time of writing for 1 adult, round trip
For both ferries from Boston to Provincetown, it's a good idea to generally arrive around an hour before departure to allow for ticketing and boarding, though consult the exact times with your ferry operator. The ferry crossing itself takes 1 hour and 30 minutes.
The Plymouth ferry takes 1 hour 30 minutes exactly, though you may need to add on an extra hour to include the driving time from Boston to Plymouth, allowing for traffic.
Keep in mind that windy weather or heavy rain may impact the crossing time or the ability to sail. However, most crossings should be fine as the ferries do not sail during the rougher conditions during the winter.
How much does it cost to take the ferry to Provincetown?
Keep in mind that prices can vary by time of year, with higher fares at peak departure times, in peak seasons, on weekends and holiday days. You can often save money by booking in advance or taking advantage of group travel discounts.
Please refer to the table in the section above for the ticket prices, calculated at the time of writing.
Which ferry port should you choose as your destination in Provincetown?
There is only one port in Provincetown at which all of the ferries arrive at. The MacMillan Pier is conveniently located to explore the town, as it's only a short walk away from the restaurants, shops and art galleries on Commercial Street.
It's a 9-minute walk from Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum, a 12-minute walk from Provincetown Art Association and Museum, and a one hour walk from Long Point Light Station at the very tip of Cape Cod.
Things you need to know about taking a ferry to Provincetown
Here are our top tips when it comes to preparing for a ferry ride to Provincetown:
- Check the ferry operator websites for schedules, regulations and when to arrive at the terminal.
- You cannot take your car on either ferry, but you can park your car in Boston at the port car park.
- Provincetown is known for being walkable, so you can easily get to many of the attractions on foot, meaning that you won't have to rent a car. You can also take the bus.
Best time to visit Provincetown
Provincetown is most popular during the high season when ferries operate. It gets particularly busy during the summer vacation when families descend on the many surrounding beaches.
Does the ferry to Provincetown run all year round?
Both ferries operate between mid-May and October, though the Bay State Cruise Company also runs a reduced service between October and December.
There are no ferries from December to May, so if you wish to travel to Provincetown during this period you'll need to either drive or take a flight from Boston.
When is the best time to travel to Provincetown?
Spring is an ideal time to visit Provincetown. There are fewer crowds, so you can experience the natural beauty and history of the town in relative calm.
There is also plenty happening during the spring: April is whale watching season, with events such as Moby Dick Marathon Reading, Miss Gay Mass US of A, and Spring Stomp: A Hoedown in Ptown, a testament to the thriving LGBTQ+ community in the town.
Things to see once you reach Provincetown
Provincetown is a popular destination for a reason. The sandy shores, liminal position at the edge of the ocean, charming houses, restaurants and galleries all make for a magical vacation experience.
There are plenty of events happening throughout the year, but we've picked out a selection of must-see attractions and activities to pack out your stay.
- Whale Watching - Here you can see whales in their own environment and learn about their lives and habitats.
- Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum - This iconic landmark and museum portrays the role of the town in Pilgrim history, dating back to 1620 when the Mayflower landed in Provincetown Harbor.
- Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) - This museum is a great place to discover local and emerging artists, and also runs plenty of school programs for aspiring artists.
- Gay Pride Parade - Provincetown has always been known to support the LGBTQ+ community, and the annual Pride Parade attracts tens of thousands of colorful visitors each year.
- Beaches - There are a lot of stunning beaches around Provincetown where you can relax and swim on golden sandy shores.
One trip to Provincetown is all you need to join the ranks that flock to this creative destination year after year. Now you have all the information you need, start planning your getaway from Boston and book your tickets!