Jutting out from the east coast of Massachusetts, Cape Cod has long been a favourite vacation spot for New Englanders. Now, in the year of the staycation, it has seen a resurgence as a popular destination for visitors from across the country. With miles of stunning beaches, quirky historical attractions, and a creative vibe, it’s no wonder this is one of the top destinations in the Northeast.

The problem with being such a popular location is that there are far too many destinations to choose from! If you’ve never visited before, how will you know which town is the best place for you? You’ll need to do some thorough research before booking your accommodation.

Can’t be bothered with that? We got you! We’ve combined our personal experience with hints and tips from locals and tourism experts to bring you the four best places to stay in Cape Cod. Whether you want sand and sea, local art galleries or fascinating historical attractions, we have you covered.

So – let’s dive right in!

Where to Stay in Cape Cod

Magical Holiday Home in Cape Cod – Enchanting Cottage

Enchanting Cottage

Airbnb Plus properties are hand-selected for their stylish interiors and above-and-beyond guest service! This stunning cottage in Barnstable comes with bright and airy interiors. Outside, you will find a cute little deck with a seating area – perfect for soaking up the magical atmosphere in the morning. It’s located just outside the town, so you’ll enjoy peace and quiet in the evenings.

Coastal Retreat in Cape Cod – Lighthouse Beach

Lighthouse Beach

This five-bedroom home is a great pick for large families on a budget! It’s only a short walk from Lighthouse Beach – home of the easily recognisable Chatham Lighthouse. There is an upstairs space with gorgeous ocean views where you can enjoy a laid-back breakfast in the morning. There are boat trips to North Beach Island within walking distance – perfect for a day trip with the kids.

Adults Only Hotel in Cape Cod – Lands End Inn

Lands End Inn

This hotel is a great option when you just need to get away. It’s adults-only, so you can be assured it has a calm and peaceful atmosphere. It’s a five-star hotel, so you’ll have to splurge a little, but it’s totally worth it for the added extras. Besides a continental breakfast, guests can also enjoy sophisticated wine and cheese evenings.

Cape Cod Neighborhood Guide

OVERALL BEST PLACE TO STAY IN CAPE COD
Barnstable
OVERALL BEST PLACE TO STAY IN CAPE COD

Barnstable

Barnstable is more a collection of villages than a town, with seven different neighbourhoods spread across Mid Cape. For first-time visitors, this town gives you quick access to other parts of Cape Cod.

ON A BUDGET
Falmouth
ON A BUDGET

Falmouth

The second most populous town in Cape Cod, Falmouth is the beating heart of Upper Cape. This region is where Cape Cod joins on to the rest of the country, so you’ll find food costs are slightly lower here due to cheaper deliveries.

FOR FAMILIES
Chatham
FOR FAMILIES

Chatham

When we talk about great family-friendly destinations, basically everywhere in Lower Cape is worth considering. So, why did we settle on Chatham? It is right in the heart of the area, so great for transport, and has a laid-back coastal vibe. It’s also the most convenient in terms of shopping and dining.

FOR COUPLES
Provincetown
FOR COUPLES

Provincetown

For couples, Outer Cape offers pristine beaches and charming sunsets! There are loads of romantic restaurants offering excellent seafood and cosy atmospheres across the region. Provincetown is the main centre, but we also like Truro and Eastham for their scenery.

The Best Travel Backpack?!
Nomatic 30L Travel Bag

Pssssst! Not picked the perfect travel backpack yet? The Broke Backpacker team has tried out over thirty backpacks this year! Our favourite carry on backpack is the Nomatic Travel Bag.

Read our full review!

Top 4 Places to Stay in Cape Cod

Cape Cod is a large peninsula off the coast of Massachusetts, so there are loads of destinations to choose from. If you can, we recommend hiring a car so you can hit all four of the main regions within Cape Cod as part of an epic East Coast road trip. This way, you can easily choose one spot as a base without worrying about missing out. Public transport is reasonable in the area, but often takes a lot longer than driving yourself.

Broadly speaking, Cape Cod is split into four areas. From west to east – Upper Cape (closest to the rest of the state), Mid Cape, Lower Cape, and Outer Cape. Towns within these areas are well connected, so we’ve recommended one from each.

Falmouth, in Upper Cape, is the best choice for those looking to save some money. Cape Cod is an expensive region, but goods are slightly more affordable here. It’s also a great spot for taking day trips – including Martha’s Vineyard – which can get expensive if you have to stay overnight.

On the other hand, Mid Cape is excellent for first-time visitors. Right in the middle of the region, it has the quickest connections to other parts of Cape Cod. If you’re not able to hire a car, this is your best chance to travel around without the massive transport times.

Chatham, in Lower Cape, is our top pick for families. Lower Cape is quieter than the other three regions, and there are a few family-oriented activities in the area. Chatham is a great spot for booking a holiday home that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg – hence why so many families prefer this town.

Finally, Outer Cape is the most remote part of Cape Cod, but also the most unique! It has a creative atmosphere that draws visitors from across the region regardless of where they are staying. The secluded beaches also make this a romantic destination for couples – as well as the adult-only hotels on offer.

Still not quite decided? Don’t worry – we’ve got more specific information about each area below, as well as our top hotel and activity picks in each!

1. Barnstable – Best Place to Stay in Cape Cod for your First Time

Barnstable

Barnstable is more a collection of villages than a town, with seven different neighbourhoods spread across Mid Cape. For first-time visitors, this town gives you quick access to other parts of Cape Cod. It was also the first settlement in the region, making it a good option for those interested in local history.

Beyond history and convenience, Barnstable is considered the business centre of Cape Cod. While this doesn’t generally mean much for a tourist, it does make it a great retail centre. If you’re looking to indulge in some shopping during your trip, make sure to check out Barnstable.

Charming Loft in Barnstable: Enchanting Cottage

Enchanting Cottage

With one bedroom, this Airbnb Plus property is the ideal hideaway for couples heading to Cape Cod. The laid-back patio is the perfect spot for an easy breakfast in the morning or a few glasses of wine in the evening. While it is located outside of the main town, it’s easy to travel into the centre, giving you some calm without hampering your convenience.

Inviting Cottage in Barnstable: Dennis Pond

Dennis Pond

If you’re looking for a bit of an upgrade, you can’t go wrong with this cottage. It comes with its own hot tub, and stylish interiors kitted out with the latest in modern technology. Sleeping up to six guests across three bedrooms, this is a firm favourite with families. They’ll even let you bring your pet along if you promise to clean up after them.

Quaint Bed and Breakfast in Barnstable: Lamb and Lion Inn

Lamb and Lion Inn

This highly ranked accommodation offers the perfect balance between comfort and affordability. They have a gourmet cooked breakfast buffet every morning, helping to set you up for the day ahead. The quiet neighbourhood is about halfway between Barnstable and Yarmouth, giving you quick access to both areas. You can also upgrade for a more romantic experience with a private spa bath and a fireplace.

Things to See and Do in Barnstable:

Things to See and Do in Barnstable
  • Easily one of the most unique excursions in the United States, get up close and personal with goats and learn about how they’re farmed in this experience.
  • Beyond the usual malls and chain stores, Treasures & Temptations is an excellent shopping spot where you can grab second-hand items from basically any category.
  • The Historic Beech Tree has a history that’s too extensive for a quick sentence, but make sure to learn about its role in the American Revolution.
  • All Boat and Jet Ski Rentals are great options for a fun day out – we recommend them for beginners looking for short taster courses.

2. Falmouth – Where to Stay in Cape Cod on a Budget

Falmouth

The second most populous town in Cape Cod, Falmouth is the beating heart of Upper Cape. This is where Cape Cod joins on to the rest of the country, so you’ll find food costs are slightly lower here. It’s also a great spot to grab bargain accommodation – especially if you’re visiting off-season.

It’s not just great for budget travellers, though! Falmouth is where you can grab the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. It’s among the most expensive places to travel in the USA, but taking a day trip is a great way to experience it without breaking the bank.

Budget Friendly Cottage in Falmouth: Woods Hole

Woods Hole

This cute little cottage is the perfect option for visiting Cape Cod on a tight budget! It’s located in Woods Hole, so you’re only a few minutes from the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. It’s also right next to a major cycling route – the perfect way to take in the gorgeous scenery of Cape Cod. Guests are given a free pass to Nobska Beach, as well as their own private deck.

Restored Victorian House in Falmouth: Falmouth Heights

Falmouth Heights

This extravagant house dating back to the Victorian era might seem expensive, but it sleeps up to 16 people, making it a cost-effective option for large groups. This beautifully restored home features classic architecture and contemporary interiors. Falmouth Heights Beach is only a short walk away – a great alternative for those looking for some peace and quiet.

Historic Hotel in Falmouth: Inn on the Square

Inn on the Square

This historic hotel lets you experience a small slice of Cape Cod heritage without emptying your pockets! It also comes with an indoor pool where you can cool off after a day of exploring the area. The outdoor patio is the perfect spot for mingling with other guests – making this a great pick for backpackers. Beebe Woods is a minute away on foot, giving you a peaceful location to soak up the beautiful nature.

Things to See and Do in Falmouth:

falmouth-cape-cod
Source: Ryan Brisco
  • New to water sports? Stand-up paddle boarding is a gentle way to get acquainted with the activity – we love this experience in particular.
  • Cape Cod Winery offers a fantastic programme of tasting events every weekend throughout the year.
  • There are a few excellent golf courses in the area – Ballymeade Country Club is one of the most popular.
  • Cape Cod is a beautiful location and the perfect spot for grabbing some lasting memories – hire a photographer to capture your precious moments with this experience.

3. Chatham – Best Area in Cape Cod for Families

Chatham- cape-cod
Chatham is a great area for Watersport lovers and newbies alike.

When we talk about great family-friendly destinations, basically everywhere in Lower Cape is worth considering. So, why Chatham? It is right in the heart of the area, so great for transport, and has a laid-back coastal vibe. It’s also the most convenient in terms of shopping and dining.

Beyond Chatham, you will find even more easy-going villages and unique attractions. Brewster and Harwich are both worth considering for day trips to keep the kids entertained, with family-friendly water sports and local farms to discover.

Indulgent Home in Chatham: Seas the Day

Seas the Day

If you thought Airbnb Plus was luxurious, wait until you hear about their Luxe range! These properties come with a host of added extras that ensure you feel pampered throughout your stay. This particular holiday home comes with a private chef, a driver and spa services – amongst many other lavish add-ons. The idyllic location oozes New England heritage and charm.

Seaside Villa in Chatham: Lighthouse Beach

Lighthouse Beach

This rustic villa is located right next to Chatham Lighthouse – a major attraction in the area. As well as boat trips to North Beach Island, there is also the ferry to Monomoy Island only a short drive away from the property. The house backs right onto the beach, so you won’t need to venture far for your sand and sea fix. The house sleeps up to nine people in five bedrooms – two of which come with ensuite bathrooms.

Rustic Inn in Chatham: Captain’s House Inn

Captains House Inn

This laid-back four-star hotel has a country manor vibe that will transport you back in time to the early days of Cape Cod colony. The rustic interiors include exposed beams, antique furniture and extravagant décor. Formerly the home of a local sea captain, the expansive gardens are the perfect spot to unwind after a day of exploring Cape Cod.

Things to See and Do in Chatham:

Chatham-cape-cod
  • Enjoy the wind in your hair and take in the easy-going attractions of Chatham in this guided bike tour through the town.
  • Desperate for some relaxation? The salt cave spa experience is a unique way to unwind in Cape Cod.
  • Emerald Hollow Farm, in nearby Brewster, offers horseback riding trails that the whole family can enjoy.
  • Hop on board the Monomoy Island Ferry – the secluded destination is home to a large seal colony.
Need some extra energy?
Power Adapter

One of the best investments you can make is a worldwide travel adapter that will work anywhere! The one featured here is tough, reliable and a solid buy – Don’t leave home without one.

Buy your travel adapter on Amazon now.

4. Provincetown – Romantic Couples Destination in Cape Cod

Provincetown

Right on the outer tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown is a must-visit destination for creatives. The gallery district is home to a number of venues offering works from local creatives. The gorgeous scenery and secluded beaches also make this a great destination to spark your own artsy side.

For couples, Outer Cape offers pristine beaches and charming sunsets! There are loads of romantic restaurants offering excellent seafood and cosy atmospheres across the region. Provincetown is the main centre, but we also like Truro and Eastham for their scenery.

Peaceful Pied-à-Terre in Provincetown: Centre of Town

Centre of Town

Another charming Airbnb Plus property, this beautiful townhouse is right in the heart of Provincetown. Simply walk out the front door to discover galleries, cafés, and the creative atmosphere of the town. The stylish interiors create a modern and calming space. There’s also an outdoor deck on the top floor with views across the town – including towards the Pilgrim Monument.

Stylish Studio in Provincetown: Gallery District

Gallery District

Just like the townhouse above, this quaint little studio is right in the creative heart of Provincetown! This artistic energy is continued inside with rustic décor, ornate artwork, and plenty of natural light. It’s a little bit smaller than other options but makes a fantastic budget option for couples heading to the area. The beach is also just across the road – an excellent spot to unwind before heading in for the evening.

World-Class Luxury in Provincetown: Lands End Inn

Lands End Inn

This five-star hotel is for adults only, making it our top pick for couples heading to Cape Cod! Rooms are beautifully decorated with traditional furnishings, and they all come with their own private balconies. The concierge service can help you book local attractions and restaurants, so you won’t need to worry about what to do for date night. If you’re willing to splurge on a romantic getaway, look no further than Lands End Inn.

Things to See and Do in Provincetown:

Things to See and Do in Provincetown
  • Gain a fascinating insight into Cape Cod’s hidden history with this two hour guided walk around Provincetown with a focus on the Mayflower’s stop in the town.
  • Clams are a major local delicacy in New England – and with this quirky experience at the oyster flats, you can learn how to spot and catch them for yourself.
  • Speaking of local delicacies, the Bistro at Crowne Point is a great restaurant for date night, with mesmerising views and an award-winning menu.
  • Provincetown Art Association and Museum is a great starting point for creatives to learn about what the other galleries have to offer.

Final Thoughts on Where To Stay in Cape Cod

Cape Cod is a surprisingly diverse destination with a lot to offer. It’s famous for its beaches and historical attractions, but scratch below the surface and you will also find a vibrant culinary scene and fascinating cultural attractions. If you’re looking for the perfect coastal getaway within the United States, Cape Cod should definitely be on your shortlist.

It’s such a diverse destination that we really don’t like to play favourites – but Falmouth is a good pick for backpackers. Cape Cod is an expensive destination, but the affordable prices in Falmouth make it much more accessible. It’s also right next to the Martha’s Vineyard ferry, making a day trip possible. It’s also a super safe place to visit, and great for the whole family.

That being said, wherever is best for you really depends on what you want out of your stay. We recommend hitting up all the areas mentioned in this guide on a mini New England road trip – especially if you’ve hired a car – to get a good idea of what makes Cape Cod such an exciting destination.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!

And don’t forget to take out Travel Insurance for your trip! I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. They’re easy to use, professional and relatively affordable. They may also let you buy or extend a policy once you’ve started your trip and are already abroad which is super handy.

Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple—just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!

world nomads insurance banner

Do you own an awesome hostel, hotel or apartment? Want to be featured in our list? Email [email protected] to find out how.

Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation, buy a book or sort your insurance, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only link to stuff I’ve actually used and never endorse crap. Your support helps me keep the site going.