Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is divided into four areas — Upper Cape, Mid Cape, Lower Cape and Outer Cape — and comprises 15 towns, each with its own distinct charm. Tag along and find out exactly where you should stay for your perfect Cape Cod getaway.
Closest to the mainland, the Upper Cape and Mid Cape are the busiest areas featuring the quickest ferry operations to the popular islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
More isolated, the Lower Cape and Outer Cape are home to Cape Cod National Seashore with an array of untouched beaches.
We can exist thanks to compensation from advertising including affiliate links. Learn more ›
The Upper Cape is connected to the mainland by three bridges spanning Cape Cod Canal. Four towns — Bourne, Sandwich, Falmouth and Mashpee — call this area home.
Bourne is the gateway to Cape Cod. It straddles 8-mile (13 km) Cape Cod Canal and encompasses all the three bridges linking Cape Cod with the mainland (Bourne, Sagamore and Cape Cod Canal Railroad bridges).
Sandwich, established in 1637, has bragging rights as the oldest town on the Cape. Discover Town Hall Square, a historic district of more than 200 buildings, crowned by the 1847 First Church and reconstructed Dexter’s Grist Mill.
Falmouth occupies the southwestern part of the peninsula. Come to shop until you drop on delightful Main Street, hop between Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay beaches, cruise along the breezy Shining Sea Bikeway and photograph the landmark Nobska Lighthouse, brilliantly facing Martha’s Vineyard.
Bordering Mid Cape, Mashpee extends for over 5 miles (8 km) along Nantucket Sound. Highlights include, South Cape Beach State Park, a great for quiet beach days or to get back to nature, and Mashpee Commons, an open-air shopping center with a mix of franchise stores and independent gems.
Planning on a trip to Martha’s Vineyard? Falmouth’s Woods Hole offers the quickest ferry transportation, taking you there in only 35 minutes.
- Pick Upper Cape for: Martha’s Vineyard.
Say hello to central Mid Cape (exceptionally located for day trips), sandwiched between Upper Cape and Lower Cape. Three towns — Barnstable, Yarmouth and Dennis — with beaches on both Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Sound spread out here.
Barnstable — the biggest town in Cape Cod — presents the village of Hyannis, with a complete downtown area that is alive year round. However, one of its highlights, the JFK Museum remains seasonal.
Yarmouth takes you back in time along the Captain’s Mile, lined by over 50 historic sea captains’ homes. Keep an eye out for black-and-gold schooner plaques, marking the houses of significance.
Dennis’ beaches along the bay — Chapin, Mayflower and Corporation — are its biggest drawcards, especially for families seeking calm conditions. On the sound, Sea Street Beach is an excellent spot to catch some rays.
Planning on catching the ferry to Nantucket? The quickest ferry connections operate from Hyannis, with a travel time of 1 hour.
- Pick Mid Cape for: Day trip bonanza & Nantucket.
Best hotels in the Mid Cape
- Village Inn – A historic bed and breakfast in Yarmouth, white-painted Village Inn pushes all the right buttons. Picture high ceilings, large windows, hardwood floors and a screened porch overlooking the tranquil backyard.
- Hyannis Travel Inn – The definition of convenient, Hyannis Travel Inn provides all the essentials within walking distance — from eateries and shops to sights and Hyannis Harbor, where ferries depart for Nantucket.
- Cape Cod Veranda – Pick from 21 contemporary rooms at Yarmouth’s Cape Cod Veranda. Amenities such as a swimming pool, small playground and grill area elevate your stay.
- The Garlands Motel – You quickly get into vacation mode at this sun-kissed Dennis motel. Marvel at Nantucket Sound from the spacious sundeck or take the staircase leading to the private beach below for complete salvation.
- Ocean Club – Experience the joy of an oceanfront location at Ocean Club, sitting on Smuggler’s Beach in Yarmouth. Take a walk along the beach named for its rum-smuggling past, go swimming in Nantucket Sound or just soak up the magnificent view.
Relaxing Lower Cape encompasses the southernmost portion of Cape Cod National Seashore. Four towns call this peninsula slice home: Harwich, Brewster, Chatham and Orleans.
Facing Nantucket Sound, Harwich boasts 11 miles (18 km) of Nantucket Shoreline. Delightful Harwich Port sets a blissful stage with three active harbors and an array of shops, restaurants and galleries.
Protected on Cape Cod Bay, Brewster is a rural town without a traditional town center. Take full advantage of the protected beaches or 1900-acre Nickerson State Park, with an abundance of trails for you to explore.
Exposed on Cape Cod’s southeastern tip, its elbow, the quaint town of Chatham is surrounded by water on three sides. You easily fall for its Main Street, complete with elegant inns, white churches and cute restaurants — all in quintessential New England style.
Tying Cape Cod together, Orleans is where the peninsula’s two main roads, Route 6 and 28, merge, with only Route 6 leading leading north into the Outer Cape. Shop and dine in the namesake village or unfurl a towel on east-facing Nauset Beach.
Pick Lower Cape for: Convenience & peacefulness.
Best hotels in the Lower Cape
- Old Harbor Inn – In Chatham, Old Harbor Inn provides twelve rooms decorated in refined English Country-style. Yet the best spot in the house might be the living room, complete with an atmospheric fireplace.
- A Beach Breeze Inn – This ground-level inn with homey rooms provides superb value in Harwich. Walk to the closest Nantucket Sound beach in 12 minutes, or make it even easier for you and recline on a poolside lounger.
- Chatham Tides – Join other beach bums at this beachfront Chatham hotel, providing unbeatable access to the Nantucket Sound. Hit those inviting dunes, then admire the salty views from the comfort of your own room.
- Old Tavern Motel & Inn – When a motel meets an inn, you have all you might need, and more. Enjoy a spacious, spotless room with a comfy bed ensuring a good night’s sleep.
- Captain’s House Inn – Feel better than ever among singing birds in 2-acre landscaped English gardens, or kick back in one of the Chatham hotel’s sixteen rooms and suites — each has a fireplace, some come with a private whirlpool.
Make acquaintance with the Outer Cape, the isolated area positioned furthest away from the mainland. Here you, from south to north, find four towns: Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown.
As an additional draw, the Outer Cape is also home to most of the dreamy Cape Cod National Seashore, offering 40 miles (64 km) of beaches, ponds and woods facing the Atlantic Ocean.
Eastham is the gateway to Cape Cod National Seashore, which has a visitor center at Salt Pond. Uncover the seashore’s beauty at Coast Guard Beach and Nauset Light Beach, where you find not one but four lighthouses.
Wellfleet features iconic Wellfleet Drive in Theatre, entertaining young and old since 1957.
Truro might be the sleepiest town in Cape Cod; you won’t find any distractions here.
Provincetown sits on Cape Cod’s northern tip. Head to Commercial Street to relish a buzzing mix of shops, eateries, bars and galleries. Wowing visitors a short drive from town, Provincetown’s Race Point Beach is an excellent place to unfurl a towel, especially for sunset.
- Pick Upper Cape for: Cape Cod National Seashore.
Best hotels in the Outer Cape
- Gabriel’s Provincetown Hotel – Choose from a delightful mix of rooms, suites and one-bedroom apartments in the very center or Provincetown, only one block from Commercial Street.
- Benchmark Inn – Set in an 1850s ship captain’s home, Benchmark Inn sits in the East End of Provincetown, especially known for its many galleries. Power up each morning with passionately prepared complimentary breakfast.
- Lotus Provincetown – Occupying two separate buildings directly on vibrating Commercial Street, Lotus Provincetown places you at the heart of the action. The main property features a spa and sauna, perfect after a long day (or night) out.
- Breakwater Hotel – Stay right across the street from the water, with the best of Provincetown just a short drive or healthy walk away — a beautiful yet budget-friendly option.
Where to stay in Cape Cod FAQ
Every area on Cape Cod offers something different. The Upper Cape and Mid Cape are busier areas with excellent connection to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, while the Lower Cape and Outer Cape present the one-of-a-kind Cape Cod National Seashore.
The nicest town in Cape Cod depends on what you’re after. For liveliness, Provincetown stands out for its vibrating entertainment scene of restaurants, bars and galleries.
Spend at least a weekend in Cape Cod, but preferably more. Keep in mind that it during summer can take 2 hours or more to drive from the beginning to the end of Cape Cod.
Make the most of every trip with our newsletter delivered to your inbox.