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Getting around in Maine – Lonely Planet

People walking around and hanging out in the Historic Waterfront District of Portland, Maine, with cobblestone streets and red-brick buildings.

Maine is the largest state in New England by far, with a small population concentrated in the southern third, especially along the stunning coast.

This means much of the state, bordering on New Hampshire to the southwest, the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast and Canada everywhere else, retains a rural beauty that can be hard to fully appreciate without a car – especially outside of the busy summer and fall months, as tourist activity plummets in winter and spring and many services follow suit.

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Getting around by car is relatively easy, thanks to abundant cheap or free parking, the availability of rental cars and major north-south highways like Interstate 95 (I-95) and Rte 1. That said, it’s always easier to appreciate the sights along the way when you’re not in the driver’s seat – and the scenery in Maine will make you want to keep your face pressed to the window.

We can help you take advantage of some decent (if limited) transportation options by bus, train and ferry so you can enjoy some of the top destinations within the state, like Portland and Acadia National Park, without being stuck behind the wheel yourself.

Explore Portland’s working waterfront on foot © Amy Sparwasser / Getty Images

Bussing and walking: a winning combo

You’re likely to spend some, if not all, of your time in and around Portland, as Maine’s most populous city houses Portland International Jetport (PWM) and the Portland Transportation Center (PTC), the state’s primary hubs for flights and regional trains and buses. 

From PWM airport, you can get to downtown Portland with Greater Portland Metro bus route 5; from PTC, route 1. Unfortunately, metro service is limited, so it’s hard to recommend for regular use. Thankfully, the peninsula that encompasses downtown Portland is relatively small and walkable for most, so you can easily explore its working waterfront, boutique shops and art galleries, world-class breweries and transcendent dining scene on foot – or hail a taxi or Uber if something is beyond your reach.

To travel from major cities nearby, like Boston and New York, and to venture north of Portland, look to Concord Coach Lines, a comfortable, reliable and affordable provider of two routes through Southern Maine. Most tourists will want the Midcoast Maine option, as it travels along the astoundingly beautiful coast from Portland to Searsport and just…

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