Several commercial carriers serve the coast of Maine, though airlines commonly connect to Maine's airports after stops in New York or Boston; direct connections from other cities, such as Chicago and Philadelphia, are available. Remember that some scheduled flights to Maine from Boston are aboard small propeller-driven ("prop") planes; ask the airline or your travel agent if this is an issue for you.
Portland International Jetport (airport code PWM), is the largest airport in Maine. It’s served by flights from American Airlines (www.aa.com; tel. 800/433-7300), Delta (www.delta.com; tel. 800/221-1212), Elite Airways (www.eliteairways.net; tel. 800/393-2510), JetBlue (www.jetblue.com; tel. 800/538-2583), Southwest Airlines (www.southwest.com; tel. 800/435-9792), and United Express (www.united.com; tel. 800/864-8331). The airport got a significant expansion in 2011, and there are plans in place for further upgrades in 2018. For general airport information, see the airport's website, www.portlandjetport.org, or call tel. 207/874-8877.
Some savvy visitors to northern New England find cheaper fares and a wider choice of flight times by flying into Boston's Logan Airport (code: BOS), then renting a car to drive north (or taking a connecting bus or train). Boston is about 2 hours by car from Portland, and 5 hours from Bar Harbor. Almost every major airline in the U.S. (and many others worldwide) flies into Boston daily, so the fare competition can result in a better ticket price. Note that Boston's airport can become congested, especially at check-in and security; delayed flights are common; and traffic can snarl. But the fare savings can be large.
When researching fares, also check flights going into Manchester Airport (airport code: MHT) in New Hampshire, a regional hub for Southwest Airlines (see above). The airport is less than 2 hours from Portland by car (1 hour to York or Kittery), and you can sometimes find deep discounts on routes from Southwest hub cities such as Chicago, Dallas, Orlando, Los Angeles, or Houston that don’t already have direct flights to Portland.
Travelers to Downeast Maine might check on rates to the Saint John, New Brunswick (airport code: YSJ) airport, about 2 hours from Eastport by car—just remember to budget additional time for the border crossing.
Finally, if you need a quick connection directly to Midcoast Maine, check with the regional airline Cape Air (www.capeair.com; tel. 866/227-3247 or 508/771-6944), which operates three to six daily flights from Boston to the Knox County Regional Airport in the Camden-Rockland region, using small nine-seat twin-engine business jets. If you book well ahead, an off-peak round-trip fare from Boston can cost as little as $85 per person. Cape Air can also get you from Boston to the Hancock County-Bar Harbor airport in Trenton, just across the causeway from Mount Desert Island, as can PenAir (www.penair.com; tel. 800/448-4226). Elite Airways (see above) runs flights to Bar Harbor from the New York City area’s Newark airport in New Jersey.
From Boston, New York, and points farther beyond, the interstate highway I-95 is by far the quickest way to get to the coast of Maine. Note that I-95 is a toll road for stretches through New Hampshire, as well as in stretches of Maine, where I-95 is called the Maine Turnpike. To reach Portland, exit the Turnpike at Exit 44 and follow I-295 (a free highway) into the city. To get to the Midcoast or Downeast Maine, continue north to Exit 52 and take the Falmouth Spur to connect with coastal U.S. Route 1 North.
Note: From New York City, I-95 can sometimes be congested for much of its length, particularly on summer weekends. It's often quicker to take I-91 north from New Haven, Connecticut, cut north on I-84 toward Boston, and circumvent Beantown via I-495 north, which joins I-95 near Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Road maps can sometimes be deceptive—keep in mind that Maine is much bigger than it looks on a one-page road map. Budget accordingly for drive time. I have noted driving distances or driving times in this book wherever possible, but a good rule of thumb to follow is that 50 miles of rural driving takes about 1 hour if there's little traffic. In summer, passing through a string of busy towns, it might take up to twice that long.
Train service to coastal Maine is very limited, but it does exist. Amtrak (www.amtrak.com; tel. 800/872-7245) re-launched rail service to Maine in late 2001, restoring a line that had been idle since the 1960s. In 2012, service was extended from Portland to Brunswick. Amtrak's Downeaster service operates four to five times daily between Boston’s North Station and Portland. If you're coming from elsewhere on the East Coast, you will need to change train stations in Boston—a slightly frustrating exercise requiring either a taxi ride through congested streets or a ride and transfer on Boston's aging subway system. The train stops in Wells, Saco, and Old Orchard Beach before arriving in Portland, then on to Freeport and Brunswick.
Total travel time is about 2 1/2 hours from Boston to Portland. Bikes can be loaded or off-loaded at Boston, Portland, and Brunswick. The one-way fare from Boston to Portland is $20–$34 (with a discount for same-day round-trips). The line has its own website, located at www.amtrakdowneaster.com, with fares, schedules, and other useful information.
International visitors can buy a USA Rail Pass, good for 15, 30, or 45 days of unlimited travel on Amtrak (www.amtrak.com; tel. 800/USA-RAIL [872-7245]). The pass is available online or through many overseas travel agents. Reservations are generally required and should be made as early as possible. Regional passes are also available.
Express bus service is well run, but spotty, in coastal Maine. You'll be able to reach the major cities and tourist destinations, but only a few of the smaller towns or villages. Tickets from Boston to Portland usually cost between $15 and $30 per person, one-way, depending on such factors as day of week, time of day, and how far in advance you purchase the tickets. Taking the bus requires no advance planning or reservations, but in summer it's still a good idea to buy as early as possible; often you can also save money this way.
Two major bus lines serve coastal Maine from Boston and New York City. Greyhound (www.greyound.com; tel. 800/231-2222) serves Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Portland; Bangor; and points in between with frequent departures from Boston's South Station or New York’s Port Authority. Concord Coach Lines (www.concordcoachlines.com; tel. 800/639-3317 or 603/228-3300) serves Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Portland; and Bangor from Boston, and it also connects a few key smaller towns such as Belfast, Camden, Rockport, Brunswick, and Damariscotta. Sadly, neither line goes anymore to Bar Harbor.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.