The Cape is divided into four major areas and is shaped roughly like an arm bent at the elbow. The Upper Cape—think the shoulder of the Cape—refers to the towns of Bourne, Sandwich, Falmouth, and Mashpee. The Mid Cape—the Cape's upper arm—includes Barnstable, Hyannis, Yarmouth, and Dennis. The Lower Cape—both the bicep and the forearm—consists of Brewster, Harwich, Orleans, and Eastham; Chatham sits right at the elbow. The Outer Cape—the wrist and hand—consists of Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown Each of the Cape's 15 towns is further broken up into smaller villages; the town of Barnstable, for example, consists of Barnstable, West Barnstable, Cotuit, Marston Mills, Osterville, Centerville, and Hyannis.

The islands, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, lie to the south. Martha's Vineyard is six miles off the Cape's southwest tip, while Nantucket is some 30 miles south of Hyannis. Both are connected to the Cape by ferries, and both also have air service.