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Harvard University

Walk in the footsteps of presidents and Nobel laureates at one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the United States.

For a truly educational experience pay a visit to Harvard University, the oldest institute of higher learning in the U.S. Universities don’t come much more prestigious, or prettier, than Harvard. Founded in 1636, it’s one of the “Ivy League” schools. This term refers to a group of eight elite northeastern US universities known for their high academic standards. It was first coined in the 1930s and referred to football competition between older universities, with ivy-covered buildings. 

Harvard University is just outside of Boston proper, on 380 acres (154 hectares). Set aside at least two hours to experience the atmosphere, architecture, museums and shops. 

The university was named after its first benefactor, John Harvard, who bequeathed half of his estate and his 320-volume scholarly library to one of the colleges. The staff were so pleased with the donation that the university was renamed in his honor.

There are many entrances to the university. Check out the ornate, Georgian Revival-style Johnston Gate, and then head for the Harvard Information Center in the Holyoke Centre Arcade. Learn about the history of Harvard, stock up on maps and gather brochures on the university’s architecture. Historical tours depart several times daily from the information center. These student-led tours run for about an hour. Or, take your time with a self-guided tour, made easy with a tour pamphlet which is available for a small cost.

The iconic Harvard Yard serves as the 25-acre (10-hectare) heart of the university. This is where you’ll find some of the campus’s most significant architecture, including the Wren Building, Sever Hall and University Hall. Don’t miss the Widener Library, a Beaux Arts masterpiece completed in 1915. It’s easy to lose yourself in the library’s 57 miles (92 kilometers) of shelving, which houses 3 million volumes.

Harvard features some notable museums, including the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, the Harvard Museum of Natural History, as well as the Harvard Art Museums (comprising the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Arthur M. Sackler museums). And when school’s over for the day, join students and faculty in the many bars and cafés around Harvard Square.

Harvard University is in Cambridge, a city four miles (seven kilometers) from Boston. Take the subway, a bus, or your car from the city. On-campus parking is available for a fee. The Harvard Information Center is open Monday through Saturday.


Guide to Exploring around Harvard University


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Best Lodging Options Near Harvard University

See all 1,430 properties near Harvard University
The Charles Hotel CA $259
The Charles Hotel

The Charles Hotel

One Bennett Street, Cambridge, MA
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in West Cambridge, this spa hotel is 0.2 mi (0.4 km) from Harvard University, and within 3 mi (5 km) of Fenway Park and Hynes Convention Center. Boston Museum of Fine Arts and TD Garden are also within 6 mi (10 km). Harvard Square Station is 6 minutes by foot and Central Square Station is 23 minutes.

    Harvard Square Hotel CA $208
    Harvard Square Hotel

    Harvard Square Hotel

    110 Mount Auburn Street, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA
       
      2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in West Cambridge, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Harvard University and Harvard Square. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Boston University are also within 3 miles (5 km). Harvard Square Station is only a 5-minute walk and Central Square Station is 23 minutes.

      Boston Park Plaza CA $141
      Boston Park Plaza

      Boston Park Plaza

      50 Park Plaza at Arlington Street, Boston, MA
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Back Bay, this historic hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Newbury Street, Boston Public Garden and Boston Common. Copley Place and Hynes Convention Center are also within 1 mi (2 km). Arlington Station is only a 2-minute walk and Boylston Station is 8 minutes.

        Hotel Veritas CA $180
        Hotel Veritas

        Hotel Veritas

        1 Remington St, Cambridge, MA
           
          3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Mid-Cambridge, this romantic hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Harvard University and Harvard Square. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Boston University are also within 2 miles (3 km). Harvard Square Station is 6 minutes by foot and Central Square Station is 14 minutes.

          Irving House At Harvard CA $112
          Irving House At Harvard

          Irving House At Harvard

          24 Irving Street, Cambridge, MA
             
            3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Mid-Cambridge, this bed & breakfast is within a 15-minute walk of Harvard Museum of Natural History, Harvard University and Harvard Square. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Kendall Square are also within 2 miles (3 km). Harvard Square Station is 11 minutes by foot and Central Square Station is 21 minutes.

            Sheraton Commander Hotel
            Sheraton Commander Hotel

            Sheraton Commander Hotel

            16 Garden St, Cambridge, MA
               
              3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Neighborhood Nine, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Harvard Law School, Harvard University and Harvard Square. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Boston University are also within 3 miles (5 km). Harvard Square Station is 8 minutes by foot and Porter Square Station is 17 minutes.

              The Cambridge Karma House CA $250
              The Cambridge Karma House

              The Cambridge Karma House

              17 Banks Street St, Cambridge, MA
                 
                3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Riverside, this apartment building is within a 10-minute walk of Harvard University and Harvard Square. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Boston University are also within 2 miles (3 km). Harvard Square Station is 7 minutes by foot and Central Square Station is 15 minutes.

                A Bed & Breakfast in Cambridge
                A Bed & Breakfast in Cambridge

                A Bed & Breakfast in Cambridge

                1657 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA
                   
                  3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Mid-Cambridge, this bed & breakfast is within a 10-minute walk of Harvard Graduate School of Design, Harvard Science Center and Harvard University. Harvard Square and Harvard Law School are also within 15 minutes. Harvard Square Station is 11 minutes by foot and Central Square Station is 20 minutes.