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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.

The oldest and most famous university in the United States, Harvard University has been educating the country’s brightest young minds since it was founded in 1636. Along with seven other prestigious academic institutes in the north east, Harvard University is a member of the USA’s Ivy League group of schools. The term “Ivy League” was created in the 1930s for a college football competition, and refers to the presence of the ivy plant on the university buildings.

The University takes its name from John Harvard, the first official benefactor of the institution. When Harvard died, he left half of his estate and a library of 320 volumes to one of the colleges. It was considered to be such an impressive donation that the university was renamed in his honour.

Harvard University is not actually in Boston itself. It’s located just outside the city in beautiful and extensive grounds that cover over 154 hectares. It’s a good idea to allow at least a couple of hours to visit the University, to appreciate the architecture and museums or simply soak up the atmosphere.

Enter the university is through the historic Johnston Gate. You can pick up maps, brochures and guides from the Harvard Information Center, which is located in the Holyoke Centre Arcade. It is definitely worth taking advantage of the great historical tours on offer here – group tours are led by students and last an hour.

The true heart of the university is the famous Harvard Yard, which in itself covers 10 hectares of grounds. Many of the most iconic architecture and monuments can be found here, including the lovely Widener Library that was built in 1915. The Library has over 92 kilometres of shelving which contain over 3 million different books! Harvard Yard is also home to Sever Hall, the Wren Building and University Hall.

Alongside the many architectural treasures, Harvard features several good museums, including the Harvard Museum of Natural History and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. After a few hours sightseeing, join the students and faculty in enjoying a coffee and some food in one of the many cafés and eateries located around Harvard Square.

Harvard University is located in the small city of Cambridge, some seven kilometres from Boston, and is easily reached by bus or subway. If you choose to take a car remember that you will be charged a fee for on-campus parking.

Make the most of your time at Harvard University. Below is a list of some of the most popular activities:

For many more activities, have a look at our Cambridge things to do page.


Guide to Exploring Harvard University


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Top Hotel Deals

See all 1,493 properties near Harvard University
Boston Park Plaza £123
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.

    The Charles Hotel £498
    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
      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.

        Hotel Veritas £119
        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.

          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.

            Irving House At Harvard
            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.

              The Cambridge Karma House £199
              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 Friendly Inn at Harvard £148
                A Friendly Inn at Harvard

                A Friendly Inn at Harvard

                1673 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA
                   
                  3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Mid-Cambridge, this inn is within a 10-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 10 minutes by foot and Central Square Station is 20 minutes.