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Harvard University

Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Located in Cambridge, just north of Boston, Harvard University is synonymous with prestige and accomplishment. Known for a curriculum that challenges and inspires its students, this Ivy League university boasts over 45 Nobel Prize winners and eight US presidents, including Barack Obama, among its faculty and alumni.

The Harvard campus is full of historic buildings, libraries, museums, monuments, classic architecture, and scenic green spaces. Free hour-long campus tours led by Harvard students are available. You can also take a self-guided tour by downloading an app, which features a campus map that highlights important landmarks. Some all-day tours of Boston include a visit to Harvard, while others couple Harvard with a stop at MIT.

Head to Harvard Yard to see the iconic John Harvard Statue. Some call it the “Statue of Three Lies” because John Harvard didn’t found Harvard (he was a major donor), Harvard was not founded in 1638 (it was 1636), and the statue is not actually of John Harvard (the model for the statue was a man named Sherman Hoar).

  • Harvard is a must-visit for art and science lovers for its many museums.

  • Student-led tours begin at the Harvard Information Center in the Holyoke Center Arcade.

  • Historical tours of Harvard University tickets are free but require reservation.

  • Wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis for tours; you can book them a week in advance.

  • There are no guided tours on Sundays.

  • Visitors should not hold cameras up to dorm rooms or classroom windows.

  • Harvard Square is near plenty of shops, bars, and restaurants.

If you are traveling by car, depending on the direction, take Interstate 93 north to exit 26 or south to exit 26A. From Logan Airport, it’s about a 15-minute drive. Parking is very limited around Harvard Square. There are metered parking spaces, though they are usually full, and private garages. You can also hop on Boston’s subway, known as the T; the Harvard Square stop on the red line is across the street from Harvard Yard.

From June to October, you will encounter more tourists than students. So while the campus won’t be bustling with activity, it will be easier to navigate. During the fall, hotel rates drop and the area’s foliage makes it perhaps the most picturesque time to visit. Also, keep in mind that wintertime in Boston can be brutal, but this is when hotel prices are at their lowest.

The Harvard Art Museums consist of the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, each with its own collection and identity. The Fogg Museum holds Western paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, photographs, and more from the Middle Ages to the present. The Busch-Reisinger Museum focuses on art from central and northern Europe, particularly German-speaking countries, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum boasts works from Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean.

Yes, you can just walk around Harvard’s campus. If you’d like a free walking tour, current students lead them across Harvard grounds, including Harvard Yard. If you’d like to skip the group tours but still want to explore campus, download Harvard’s tour app from their website to start exploring the university’s landmarks on your own.

Yes, a few buildings across the Harvard campus are open to the public. The Welcome Pavilion and Arcade are open daily; the Harvard University Visitor Center is open Monday through Saturday. Of course, there are also beautiful outdoor spots like the Arnold Arboretum that are open to the public and worth exploring.

Whether or not visiting Harvard is worth it depends on your interests. But if you’re into history at all, you’ll probably enjoy it—the university dates back nearly 400 years, and visiting the campus will get you a deep dive into Harvard’s long history of world-changing ideas, iconic leaders, hidden gems, landmarks, and more.

Many visitors to the Harvard campus will choose to take a public tour. They’re free with registration, offered daily, led by students, and last between 45–60 minutes—and, yes, they include Harvard Yard. Otherwise, on the Visit Harvard mobile app, you can take a self-guided tour and hit some of the major landmarks yourself.

Yes, you can visit Harvard without being a student. Touring the campus is quite popular—simply register on Harvard’s app to hop on one of the student-led tours from the visitor center, or take a self-guided tour. As one of the country’s finest institutions (one that is nearly 400 years old), there’s a lot to explore.

You can walk around Harvard pretty much anywhere outside—in fact, visiting the historic campus is quite popular. Beyond witnessing the famous Harvard Yard (the oldest part of the university), gaze upon the Gothic-Revival Memorial Hall, see the statue of John Harvard and rub his left foot for good luck, wander the scenic Arnold Arboretum, and more.


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